Column: Senior reflects on life without influence of social media

Living without social media keeps Caitlyn Richey’s life beautifully simple

In+a+photo+shared+on+Facebook+and+taken+by+a+close+family+friend%2C+Lanay+Renstrom%2C+senior+Caitlyn+Richey+is+captured+in+a+candid+laughing+moment.+In+the+attached+column%2C+Richey+shares+her+experience+having+a+flip+phone+and+choosing+to+not+have+social+media+platforms+throughout+high+school.+

Lanay Renstrom

In a photo shared on Facebook and taken by a close family friend, Lanay Renstrom, senior Caitlyn Richey is captured in a candid laughing moment. In the attached column, Richey shares her experience having a flip phone and choosing to not have social media platforms throughout high school.

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Fear of missing out, social anxiety, depression, comparison, isolation, poor body image, sleep problems, technology addiction — I have been able to avoid all of these through the social media-free lifestyle I have chosen to maintain throughout high school.

I didn’t get a cell phone until December of my freshman year, and when I did, it was a flip phone. People always asked me, “Did your parents ground you?” “Why did you get your phone taken away?” or “How long until you get your phone back?” They would be quite surprised to hear my cheerful reply that I have never been grounded or had my phone taken away and that this was in fact my real phone.

Contrary to what one might think, living in such a technology-oriented world with a flip phone didn’t burden me, but rather kept life beautifully simple.

Senior Caitlyn Richey does a classic ballet pose — a first arabesque. Rather than spending time on social media, Richey dances for 15 hours each week in addition to staying on top of homework assignments, choir rehearsals, and spending time with friends and family.

I didn’t — and still don’t — have time for social media in my life. Taking honors courses, participating in church activities and service, dancing on my studio’s ballet company, and being a member of PHS varsity choir, six honor societies, and the Millennial Choirs & Orchestras keeps me quite busy. Without the distraction of social platforms, and using my phone simply as a tool, I have been able to develop skills, make real connections, build genuine relationships and enjoy fun activities. I have learned to be the master of my time.

I had to say goodbye to my flip phone the summer after my junior year, and even though I don’t have it anymore, I still choose to have a device that does not provide access to social platforms.

From everything I see and hear, social media can present a false reality — a facade of people’s best and a narrow lens of experiences and actual situations. It has been heartbreaking to witness peers’ priorities transition to the latest trends or being more concerned about what others think of them, rather than what God thinks or even what they think of themselves.

I enjoy the freedom of being fully present, true to myself, staying out of drama and have been able to gain a clearer perspective of what is most important in life. This simple and non-comparative lifestyle fosters confidence, and makes it easier for me to remember that my worth and happiness does not come from followers or ‘likes.’

Senior Caitlyn Richey and her sister, sophomore Lauren Richey, take a selfie together while at a two-week dance intensive at Brigham Young University over the summer. The sisters got to be roommates and spent time together doing something they are passionate about. Both agree that not having social media allowed them to “make the most of this experience” as well as “incredible memories and friendships.”

Choosing not to have social media at this time has largely benefited my relationships with family and friends. My sister is truly my best friend, and we enjoy spending quality time together without the influence of screens. Being present and in the moment when we are together, rather than endlessly scrolling through a feed to pass time, has allowed us to continually get to know each other better and make fun, lasting memories.

Being present has also allowed me to see experiences for what they really are, learn how to start and hold meaningful conversations with youth and adults, make new friends, and be a good friend to others. In finding different ways to connect, I enjoy having conversations over the phone with friends who live far away or connecting through video calls, text, email, etc.

Although I will likely get social media in the future, and look forward to the positive aspects I will allow it to hold for me, choosing not to have it during this time of my life has been an incredible blessing. I have gained wisdom, perspective, time-management, communication skills, self-confidence and healthy habits that will carry with me throughout my lifetime.

When I do choose to use social media, I am committed to using it only as a tool — to connect with people and resources that uplift me and bring the same peace I have found in the beautiful simplicity of living without it.

Do you have social media? If so, which platform is most beneficial to you?

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