Whenever I’m around my nieces, Rory, 16, and Cameron, 13, their relentless TikToking, Snapchatting, and FaceTiming annoy me. I’m puzzled by the amount of time they devote to their online lives. Then something sobering happened to me recently. Out of curiosity, I looked on my iPhone to see how long I had spent on it that day. Seven hours, 42 minutes. I was sick about it. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and texting clearly occupy more time than I realized. (Apologies to my nieces.)
Connectivity has become a crutch in our culture. It seems every meal we prepare must be captured and posted. Every emotion is adorned with a hashtag. We seek out pity or praise for that quick little hit of dopamine. And it’s often disingenuous: I comment on the Facebook posts of people I probably wouldn’t talk to in person. Who among us can’t relate to that statement?
Why is social networking . . . not working? Why are we hooked on digital platforms that foster inauthentic relationships? These questions surfaced among our staff months ago, and we decided to devote an entire issue to answering them. We hope it provides you with some clarity.
And because I’m too proud to neglect mentioning it, my niece, Rory, who is pondering a career in journalism, coauthored the teen suicide article in this issue with me. She, like so many in her generation, has wisdom to spare.