Sean Lourdes Discusses Becoming a Global Community at the Expense of Our Social Wellbeing
In just a few decades, humanity has evolved from being largely fragmented to being part of a true global community. Nearly one in every three humans on earth owns an internet-connected smartphone and a huge percentage of those people are also on social media platforms such as Facebook. Humans now have unprecedented access to both information and each other, allowing diverse opinions to be heard and barriers to be broken down.
Yet for all the ways the internet has brought us closer together, it’s also tearing us apart in just as many other ways. While it’s easier to build or maintain relationships through social media platforms, those connections are often superficial says magazine publisher and philanthropist Sean Lourdes. And while there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, they are increasingly replacing real-life relationships that are far more important for our mental health, rather than supplementing them.
Screens Are Dominating Our Lives
Adults in the U.S now spend close to seven hours every day staring at screens, or nearly half their waking time.
Constant tracking of their social media engagement and consumption of other forms of addictive content like video games are rewiring brains to crave constant dopamine hits. Sean Lourdes explains that the result is shorter attention spans and less interest in the things happening around them, including interacting with other people and cultivating real relationships. In this way, our online social status is rapidly replacing our need for any real social status or interaction, with devastating consequences for our mental health.
Social Media Increasing Depression, Loneliness
Social media usage causes two different phenomena to play out: the fear of missing out, and the constant comparing of yourself and your social status to other people. Both itches can never be fully scratched, instead becoming constant mental obstructions and sources of endless stress.
Depression among Millennials and especially women — who are typically more active users of social media — is on the rise. And rather than making them feel more connected, people who spend more time using social media tend to feel lonelier, which harkens back to the superficiality of the contact.
Sean Lourdes states that the dopamine hits convince us to keep soldiering on and making more posts even as we ultimately feel unfulfilled by it all. In fact, we come to rely on them more and more to feel those brief surges of happiness as we slowly lose interest in other things.
Sean Lourdes’ Final Thoughts
There’s no easy way out of this spiral, either for individuals, or for society. Even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who surged into Congress through her adept use of social media, recently confirmed that she has quit her personal Facebook and is drastically cutting back on her usage of other social media. She called it a “public health risk”, citing the depression, addiction, and escapism that it can lead to.
Sean Lourdes is confident that with further education and awareness, we can make use of the internet and social media in a way that enhances our lives rather than consuming them, allowing us to get back to what really matters while still being a part of the global community.
Check out: https://www.thelourdesfoundation.org/main/