By Sam Rubin
Elm Staff Writer
These days, if I have a positive interaction with someone, the exchange of phone numbers, Snapchats, Instagrams, etc., follows.
Social media is almost like social currency. An “I don’t use social media” is surrounded by questions and controversy. “Why not?” some ask, the tone suggesting anything from supposed superiority to downright drunkenness. I have even gotten an “Are you o.k.?” in response to not having an Instagram account.
I am OK, by the way. I’ve just never seen the point. I do not feel the need to document everything I think and do and share it with the world. That is just me, and I do not mean to accuse any social media users of doing that. Everyone has their own reasons for using them, like staying connected to those who are distant or being up-to-date on social news.
People are more connected today than ever before due to the internet and social media as a whole. While some older people like to believe social media is killing human interaction, I find that it has had the opposite effect.
Calling it “the stuff” is a pretty apt description because social media is like a drug. It is highly addictive; the attention, the approval. People are always seeking validation and an easy way of gaining it is online, but what if your feelings are not validated? What if they are, instead, criticized?
There are definitely a number of problems with social media. When one does not receive that acceptance or validation through likes or shares it feels as though the world is imploding.
From working within several organizations, on campus or otherwise, I have learned that a lot of people cannot take criticism. It is a tough thing to swallow sometimes, and, under the protection of a computer screen, internet critics are not so courteous when dishing it out. This is how “social media wars” happen.
I sat down with freshman psychology major, Lauryn Konieczka, to talk about whether quitting social media is worth it or not. Konieczka is an avid social media user. She is active on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest and a number of other sites.
“I feel like I have to [use social media], like it’s the normal thing to do. It’s almost like if I don’t have it then I’m not part of society. And yeah, it stresses me out, because I feel like if I don’t use it for a certain amount of time that I’ll miss something or miss out on something,” Konieczka said.
We discussed the connective benefits of social media. We even discussed social media wars or feuds, something Konieczka has had limited trouble within her experience. She did quit social media at a point, just to take a break from it.
“I don’t think anyone cared because everyone else was so concerned with their own social media,” Konieczka said.
Under the protection of a computer screen, internet bullying runs wild, but while there are plenty of issues with social media — like dependency, increased stress and internet bullying — many people, like Konieczka, have experienced a number of positive online interactions and have had a positive experience overall from social media.
People are communicating far more than ever before, and, if anything, in-person interaction is able to happen at a far greater rate because people are able to organize social events easier via social media platforms.
There are just so many platforms, like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr. That does not even scratch the surface. Not to mention, there are blogging sites for pretty much any topic you can imagine, which leads to the creation of so many different subcultures on and off the internet.
For the purpose of staying connected I do not recommend quitting social media, and if you do not have social media, you should definitely try it. There is bound to be an internet subculture for you.