Social media is one of the most influential aspects of how young adults interact. According to a 2015 study from the nonprofit group Common Sense Media, teens spend almost 6.5 hours online per day, with almost a third of that time spent on social media. This exponential growth in social media usage affects our generation tremendously; after all, we are the first ones to grow up with this ubiquitous technology. We communicate with friends, keep in touch with relatives, and create relationships with people we’ve never met face-to face. We know that social media is enjoyable, but we may be oblivious to the negative aspects.
Social media is unprecedented in its ease of connecting friends, families, and strangers. With a few clicks, people can connect through popular apps such as Snapchat or Instagram. Social media also allows people to quickly connect with others whom they may not see or talk to often, creating an interesting paradigm of what it means to be a “friend” in this online world. We can share whatever moments of our lives we want with friends we see everyday, as well as with others who we might not see daily. Often we know more about someone from their online profile than their “real world” self, for better or for worse.
Although social media can be very beneficial, it can also have some potential negatives. It has become so engrained in our society that it can distract us from real life. Rather than having a conversation in-person, many people may choose to use social media to hold a conversation. Many things can be lost or misinterpreted in an online interaction. It’s important not to lose the give and take of face-to-face interaction. Paradoxically, social media can also isolate people as they experience a greater sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), constantly witnessing the fun experiences of others. Therefore, social media can simultaneously connect and isolate people; an interesting trend to keep an eye on as the growth of social media further progresses.
In summary, social media is very useful and enjoyable, but our community should be aware of the negatives as well as the positives that come along with it. As you complete the daily course load here at Belmont Hill, be conscientious about how many pauses you take for the online world that could make your work less efficient and friendships less immediate. And remember, technology and social media is a tool, not an appendage.