Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have become deeply embedded into our daily lives. These apps allow us to easily connect with friends, share life updates, express ourselves, and be entertained. However, they also amplify the most routine and mundane aspects of our existence. The resulting “banality of life” can leave us feeling dissatisfied, envious, and inadequate as we compare our lives to the carefully curated realities presented by others. This article explores the influence of social media apps, the concept of the banality of life, and their effects on our self-presentation and self-perception, as well as tips for finding meaning amidst moments amplified by social media.
Over 4.6 billion people around the world now use social media regularly. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have billions of active users. These apps now consume, on average, 2 hours and 25 minutes per day for the average user.
Clearly, social media apps have become deeply intertwined with modern life. They provide entertainment, connection, and self-expression. However, they also amplify the most routine, and ordinary moments of everyday existence. Philosophers have described this focus on the routine over the exceptional as the “banality of life.”
Rise and Influence of Social Media Apps
Social media apps evolved from early web forums and chat rooms. Sites like Friendster and MySpace began connecting users online in the early 2000s. Facebook, founded in 2004, soon became the dominant platform.
Today, apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have billions of users. Their key features enable communication, self-expression, entertainment, and commerce. Users can interact with friends, share life updates, post photos and videos, and buy products.
These apps exert significant influence over various aspects of life:
- Personal – Social media affects leisure time, relationships, self-esteem, and well-being. Photos often depict idealized realities.
- Social – Apps connect people but also spread misinformation and enable cyberbullying. They affect how people interact.
- Professional – Employers frequently check social media when hiring. Apps are used for professional networking and promotion.
- Cultural – Social media shapes cultural narratives, trends, and norms. Viral content influences pop culture.
While they provide connections and entertainment, excessive use correlates with depression, anxiety, insecurity, and FoMO (fear of missing out). Apps clearly amplify specific aspects of life. But what exactly do they amplify?
Concept and Phenomenon of Banality of Life
The term “banality of life” was coined in the 1950s by German philosopher Hannah Arendt. She used it to describe the humdrum routines and ordinary aspects of daily existence that represent most human experience. It contrasts with profound, sublime, or exceptional moments.
Arendt’s phrase “the banality of evil” also critiqued how normalizing horrific acts enables morally deformed mindsets. The commonplace can blind people to atrocities metastasizing in plain sight.
Sociologist Ralph Keyes’ 2006 book “The Post-Truth Era” describes the “banality of life” as “a zone of stuckness and acquiescence makes us settle for truthiness and look away from reality.” Social media apps encourage truthiness and distraction.
Apps don’t amplify the extraordinary moments of life. They highlight the mundane: breakfasts, commutes, work breaks, household chores, meals, lounging on the couch. They take life’s routine humdrum and blow it up into seeming profundity.
Effects of Social Media Apps on Self-Presentation
On social media, the banality of life gets edited, curated, and filtered to maximize likes and shares. The most exciting and picture-perfect moments get amplified. Messiness and difficulties are hidden.
Apps encourage strategic self-presentation aimed at enhancing status and popularity. Users carefully construct digital personas – often distorting reality. This fuels social comparison and affects how people perceive themselves.
Common self-presentation strategies on social media include:
- Impression management – Sharing content to be viewed positively by others, such as happy relationships, travel photos, and professional accomplishments.
- Self-enhancement – Promoting positive traits, success, and desirability by showing off. This boosts self-esteem.
- Self-expression – Presenting identity, values, beliefs, and vulnerability for connection. This satisfies the need for belonging.
The consequences of self-presentation on social media are complex:
- Unrealistic expectations – Curated feeds imply everyone else has an ideal life. This raises expectations.
- Social comparison – Comparing lives breeds jealousy. People feel inadequate relative to carefully curated realities.
- Identity confusion – Online personas may not reflect real life. Teens are especially vulnerable to identity distortion.
In summary, social media encourages strategically exaggerating the extraordinary and minimizing the mundane. This affects how people perceive themselves and their lives. Envy and dissatisfaction often result.
Opportunities and Benefits of Social Media Apps
However, social media apps also provide opportunities for creativity, connection, and emotional expression – if used consciously. Potential benefits include:
- Creativity – Apps provide tools for creating and sharing music, art, videos, and content.
- Connection – They facilitate strengthening relationships and forming communities.
- Expression – Personal experiences, emotions, and perspectives can be shared.
- Education – Knowledge is easily accessible and shareable.
- Inspiration – Uplifting stories motivate and spread hope.
- Empowerment – Apps mobilize activism, fundraisers, and campaigns for good.
With mindful use focused on authentic connection over validation-seeking, social media apps enrich life. Examples of apps bettering people’s lives include:
- Connecting distant loved ones via video chat
- Sharing news of major life events and milestones
- Expressing creativity through content creation
- Organizing charitable initiatives and activism locally and globally
- Discovering new perspectives and knowledge
- Finding communities that provide empowerment and support
The benefits of social media depend on motivation and mindset when engaging. Conscious usage focused on authentic connection provides meaning amidst the mundane.
Strategies and Tips
Achieving balance is key for social media apps to have a positive impact. These tips help find meaning amidst the banality amplified by technology:
- Be more mindful – Monitor time spent mindlessly scrolling. Set limits and take social media breaks to be present.
- Don’t compare lives – Remember that curated realities don’t show the full picture. Comparison breeds discontent.
- Focus less on quantity – Tune out validation-seeking through likes and follower counts. Prioritize quality connections.
- Express your real self – Share authentically instead of seeking to impress. Vulnerability fosters intimacy.
- Limit the use of filters and editing – Posting heavily edited and filtered content makes life seem more perfect than it is. Share real moments.
- Engage with content thoughtfully – Don’t just scroll – pause to read, reflect, and engage with content that matters to you.
- Take social media breaks – Regular breaks from apps allow you to reset and be present. Try a digital detox.
- Savour the offline moments – Put your phone away to experience time with loved ones fully. Cherish real connections.
- Find balance and moderation – Be intentional about balancing online and offline time. Don’t let apps dominate.
- Focus on life’s simple joys – Share and appreciate everyday moments of joy and beauty that technology amplifies.
- Give back to others – Use apps to share useful information, spread hope, and support communities.
- Reframe how you define success – Don’t measure self-worth by social validation. Find purpose in real-world impact.
- Practice gratitude and mindfulness – Appreciate the blessings in life. Apps allow us to share and magnify gratitude easily.
- Keep perspective – The mundane moments can provide peace, beauty, and opportunities for mindfulness. Cherish simplicity.
- Foster digital wellness – Monitor your emotional responses and how you feel after using apps. MinimizeNegative impacts.
- Value authenticity over perfection – Aspire to share your real self, not some idealized or falsified identity.
- Focus on intrinsic over extrinsic motivation – Post to connect authentically, not to gain validation through likes and comments.
Social media apps have become deeply embedded into modern life. While they provide entertainment and connection opportunities, they also amplify the most routine, mundane aspects of everyday existence.
Apps highlight the ordinary over the extraordinary. They encourage carefully curated self-presentation and social comparison with unrealistic standards. This often breeds feelings of dissatisfaction, envy, and inadequacy that distort self-perception.
However, with mindful and intentional use focused on authentic connection, social media can also enrich life. The tips provided in this article can help people gain perspective, foster digital wellness, and find meaning amidst the moments amplified by technology.
Achieving a balance between online and offline engagement is key. Being conscious of how apps influence behaviour, self-presentation, and self-perception allows us to maximize benefits while minimizing negative impacts. With self-awareness, wisdom, and authenticity, social media apps can elevate our experience of life’s simple joys and pleasures.
The banality of life will always be part of the human experience. But by being thoughtful about how we engage with technology, we can use it to nourish gratitude for the blessings that surround us every day – if we take time to notice them. With effort and intention, we can find purpose and meaning in both the exceptional moments.