Trapped in a "social" world dominated by likes

Greetings. I am a 22 year old, on the cusp of finishing my undergraduate studies as a Psychology major. Being a 22 year old at this time, is quite the interesting social experiment. I have always viewed myself as a social guy, but after cutting down on my usage of social media/screen time, I have felt as though I am slowly isolating myself from my peers. I am having a hard time relating with others my age now, as I never realized just how much conversations emerge from what is going on via social media and/or what is taking place on someones phone. Is it just me?

I was a big user of just about all popular social media sites: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Snapchat. Snapchat is the last app I still have downloaded & frankly I still spend some time on it, my goal is to delete it by the end of the Summer. Slowly, I have been shifting my time away from these apps and transferring this time wasted into time being usefully spent reading or just simply just noticing my surroundings/ being more present in the moment. Downloading the app Moment, has been a great help to track just how much time I used to/still waste on these “social” apps.

I am greatly concerned for my generation as this dependence to this artificial world of “likes” and the growing amount of time spent on screens is quite alarming. Coming across Tristan’s TEDTalk was definitely an eye-opener, and I want to do what I can to help join this great cause in fighting for a more humane design when it comes to our tech. I long for the times before me, when one was able to just give one a ring to hangout rather than being on call 24/7 whether it be for work, loved ones, or friends.

I find myself sticking out as a sore thumb, as one of the only college students I know of that is greatly concerned with the increasing onslaught of these advertising-based models of apps blindly manipulating our everyday actions. I am looking forward to learning from you all on how to educate, collaborate, and more importantly understand how to make life less of a strange dystopia ruled by likes.

Looking forward to chatting with you all in the meanwhile!




Hey there AB!

I’m a fellow 20-year-old who has had a similar experience (and coincidentally also a psych major!). After starting to cut down on my social media use I have noticed not only how much others spend on it, but how resistant they are to put their devices down. However, I’m working on ways to educate my friends/family without sounding condescending or like I’m lecturing them. Similar to you, I’ve also found that spending time on self-development including exercise and reading (kinda forgot this existed) has been much more fulfilling than how I used to spend my time.

It sounds like you’ve been experiencing mindfulness when you say that you’re in the present moment and noticing your surroundings more often. I would urge you to look into the topic. The app headspace is a great way to practice mindfulness, and I’m currently involved in an internship which turned me on to it (we’re called mindhood if you want to check us out).

In regards to sticking out, I think others will look up to you when they start to realize how happy you are without social media. You could be the motivation they need to quit or reduce their consumption.



HI there! I am so glad to see some 20s something in this forum !
I am personally mid thirties and I also feel trapped between 2 generations : I get along with older women ie 45 + and enjoy spending time with younger people in their 20s ; as part of my personal project I have been interviewing teenagers as well as your generation about how they perceive the future of the online world and I have been astonished by their answers!
I did the same with the older generation and mine… and once again the despair is realising that people my generation have so little awareness about how, why, what … and all together thrive on LIKES and sharing silly unless posts of either crap content (tinted with fear factors) or flooding our online feeds with personal pictures of their kids!
But the craziest is that little to no awareness of the online world makes them soooo scared about everything while they are actually sharing everything! I really need to find a way to help them somehow!! Maybe your generation can help! As you are the ones who were born with Internet already here.


Hi Adam!

I am having a hard time relating with others my age now, as I never realized just how much conversations emerge from what is going on via social media and/or what is taking place on someones phone. Is it just me?

It is not just you. I am also 20 and currently an undergraduate at a university. What you wrote is exactly what I would write. The quoted text caught my attention because I also notice people talking about topics that everyone (who can’t let go of their phone) seems to know about. And what surprises me is that the information they are consuming and discussing is garbage—mental pollution. Just go to the YouTube home page and you’ll see what I mean. It might be even worse on Facebook, but I woudn’t know.

Studies, such as this one, have proven that Facebook (and possibly other social media) negatively impacts your well-being. Reading about the effects and observing my own life led me to the same conclusions that you made.

The worst part is when people are so dependent that they use their phones while driving. Not just making a call, but actually staring at their phones for several seconds at a time! I have seen this many times; it is not a rare occurrence. So I am starting to think the “social world dominated by likes” is a threat to public health and safety.


I want to offer you deep respect and support for what you’re trying out, exploring and learning from the experience. As someone who grew up without even a mobile phone, and was in my late 30s before much of what’s omnipresent now started to emerge, I can say that I have come to realize how profound a loss it is to have our lives mediated by screens, curated versions of fictitious lives - I joined in with everyone else on all aspects of technology including quite a bit of social media and have gotten completely off since November 2016. I won’t trade a democratic republic for whatever it is I’m supposed to need from social media - and in the process I’ve come to realize how little time most people now give to actual face to face interactions without screens. It makes me sad, and mad, and it also makes me choose to keep going out in the world to be around people, even when ordering something from my laptop is more convenient, or texting is easier. All that to say, you’re asking such important questions - and it’s up to all of us to make choices, not to accept that the state of things is inevitable. There’s no one to do this but us - so glad you’re joining on on the journey.


I feel sorry for younger people who did not know the world without mobiles and apps. I feel there are very few people in their 20s or younger in this forum, and I fear it’s because they perhaps don’t understand the full scope of the problem.

When I was young we were all raised on computers as well, but the mentality was very different. There was a cultural shift – back then we were questioning authority, and also more mature. There was also a different mentality even before my generation, that people would work to help the world rather than to help themselves.

It’s not just you @_adambartley, I’ve had the same experience with my “friends”. People on social networks and your classmates are actually not your friends at all. They’re just looking for online followers and likes. All of my real friends know how to reach me even though I don’t use social media, and of my real friends most of them agree with me regarding social media. I went though many years when I was first felt hurt by my former classmates, social media “friends” who were nice online but actually total jerks to me in real life. I then stopped associating with them altogether and my life became much better and I’ve never missed anything. I suppose the quality of people you can meet in real life and who share your interests will be higher than random people you knew in social media because you just happened to go to uni with them.

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Thank you Adambartley. Great to connect with you here. I am a Software developer from India. TED Talk was an eye opener for me and I am spreading the awareness about Centre for Humane tech to as much people around me as I can… Also great to network with you.

I completely get you khkey.
However i believe there is a way to develop our own healthy online/offline balance.
But the tendency is leading people to addictive online patterns that are really messing out our offline world.
I attended a family gathering yesterday and realised after few minutes that despite politely asking me about my recent Californian road trip , they were all too drowned to their phones using silly snapchat features ( involving face recognition…) and what appears to me as useless media content to even pretend listening to the insights i had from my trip overseas…
Sad but real but not desperate yet.Times like these are where people need help

A very noble thought- likes mahevus cherish approval; societies has progressed through fortitude

@_adambartley Trust yourself and carry on- you are a leader and are not alone feeling like this- you will just have to seek people out. Real leaders usually have to seek companionship because they have their own thoughts, especially young leaders. You will begin to shape your world slowly and you’ll wake up one day surrounded by people- this is what the turbulent 20’s is all about- finding your way in the adult world.

Start by beginning a tech free zone club at your school- and you might find others your age with your thoughts. You will be the seed for others, so make a place for people your age to hang out. Talk about the health risks, but most of all, just play and be yourself!! The university probably has your same concerns so maybe they will even make a physical space for events. The older generation has your same concerns so hang out with them- the ones who respect your wisdom. Bring card games and old school fun!! You’ll probably get some old fogies but that’s ok- they can be an avenue for passively demonstrating the connection without devices.

20 something’s should feel free to lead this movement to get freedoms never experienced- this is your birth right to connect so go for it!! Everyday I hope more people thinking like you will follow that innate feeling to connect.

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@Audz your articulation of the different perspectives from 1/2 generations to 1/2 generations are so important. Often I feel the same way- I’m at the upper end of that range and am concerned- What is heartening is the 20 something’s view. 40 something’s know what they are missing because they lost the humane connection they once knew- but the brave 20 something’s dig deeper to fill that gap and this is so positively awesome. I too see the 30 something’s benevolent & blind tech use, even when questioned or challenged. Good for you for digging deeper- good for all of us.

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any of these twentysomethings still here and posting? i would love to hear some updates on your experiences.

incidentally, i have the same problem—and i’m, like, really ancient. one thing that’s worked for me is actively reaching out to people as individuals, rather than constantly posting for the entire world to see.

example: i walked through a beautiful forest this morning. when i was still on IG or FB, i might’ve posted a photo and written a bit about it. now i savor the experience for myself. maybe i’ll take a photo, but i’ll do it hella mindfully. if i feel the need to share the photo, i’ll send it to one or two friends, along with a personal note, not a generic post.

i take the time to process my experiences solo. it’s much healthier. my brain and emotional life are going gangbusters with this! i’ll write poetry on my forest hike, write in my journal at night. no one clicks “like” on this stuff, though some of the poems do get published eventually. this integrates my experiences in a really different way compared to posting every photo and preening for likes.

and i chitchat with random strangers. i go out in public and buy things from real stores, get money out of real banks, send postal mail, talk to librarians, etc. it’s weird! there’s a whole world full of real people out there. but you have to go find them. honestly i do not miss social media one iota.


Through observation and reflection you have seen the false in what your peers call “social”. This lead to a change in your behavior which your peers observed. Since you have created a gap in their “social” radar by removing yourself, you have given them space to reflect. You have already begun helping your peers.

There are 7+ billion people in the world. Isolation is not that easy.


@magdalen good for you! The random conversations that you have with people- sharing details about your walk when out and about is a excellent example of the human connection that people seek and are gratified by. Cognitive and language skills are used to articulate and reading people’s responses- all very complex and taken fir granted years ago!! - When you look in the right place- you shall find. I think social media is a tool for keeping in touch with extreme moderation. Technology should never displace our organic human connections.

Here is a thread I started that reminded me of your experience…