Major social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, along with many others, are avidly used among a large percentage of Americans born in the last few decades. Before entering college, I was aware of these platforms, but not particularly interested in any of their services. Like many, I had seen the warnings on television or by teachers to avoid using social media excessively. They’d often point to studies showing depression in teenagers and young adults who use social media extensively and on a regular basis.
I suppose I agreed with these assessments, as I could imagine getting sucked into that world and obsessing over what people thought about me at every moment.
So I made a decision not to put myself through that potential hardship and went through high school without an online presence — which at the time wasn’t all too strange. We were a small enough group of students where we saw each other daily anyway.
But then I started here at San Diego State, and I began to really see the grip social media has on so many people, and why it has become quite important to many individuals in my age group.
Snapchat is the biggest platform I’ve observed so far. Instead of exchanging numbers with new friends people make, they often exchange snapcodes. I’ve been in many conversations where someone has pulled up their snapcode for me to scan, only for me to awkwardly inform them I’m not on social media. I can see the appeal in this, however; after just a week, I feel compelled to download Snapchat myself so I don’t miss out on communication between my friends.
I don’t have anything against anyone who has a large social media presence — in fact, I envy the people who are able to balance their normal lives with the need to keep posting interesting content online. That’s probably the main reason I’ve stayed away from these platforms, as I simply don’t feel my life is interesting enough to warrant consistent posting. Who wants to see a picture of my coffee at eight in the morning?
However, I have been given a unique opportunity this semester in my RWS 200 class with Mr. Jacob Hubbard. We are required to create a Twitter account and consistently post our thoughts on class material. This is a new experience for me, one that I hope gives me a fresh perspective on the world of social media. Despite my hesitations, I’m always interested to try out something new, and perhaps this will flip my perspective on this world I have yet to personally explore.
While I still am not a fan of how addictive these platforms can become, I can see their appeal, and I’ve noticed quite a few distinct differences between the way individuals with and without social media handle social events. When I take pictures, I take them just for the memories. Hopefully I can look through my photo album a few years down the road and remember some of the random and fun things I did as a freshman. When someone with Instagram, for example, takes a photo, it’s often mainly to update their profile with whatever interesting event they’re attending. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but sometimes, even subliminally, it affects the way people think about a social outing they are participating in, adopting a lens of how to post about things rather than how to simply have fun.
I can see myself being convinced in the future to join more social media platforms ― they are meant to draw in new users, after all. But for now, I just hope the best for anyone who feels they are overly attached to their profile.
Patrick Doyle is a freshman studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickDoyle100.