Opinions, Column

What Social Media Has Taught Me

Whether you realized it or not, the last of the 90s babies are in college at this very moment. That’s right, people, the children of 2000 are “adults” now. That said, the next wave of college students at BC will be the heart of Generation Z. In my opinion, there should be a clear line through the middle of this generation because of the technological improvements made within these 17 generational years.

When you were in high school, you probably noticed that these kids had an Instagram account by the time they were 11 years old. By 13, they had more than 1000 followers. Who are these juveniles? How could more than 1000 people care to follow them?

When I was growing up (9-13 years old), phones did not have touch screens yet. The Firefly—a cell phone designed for kids— was the most popular and controversial device to give an adolescent, even though it was just limited to calling Mommy, Daddy, and 9-1-1. Even when my parents decided to give me a phone, all there was to do was text and call … I know. How could anyone possibly build a relationship with just those two modes of communication? Popularity in elementary and middle school was not based on how many likes your latest photo had. Popularity was based on how many friends you had in real, physical life.

Enough of what’s wrong with this current world. The following are things that social media has taught me as a user, observer, and a judge of humanity (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

  1. Stalking is WAY easier than crime shows depict. Although the word “stalking” has become more light-hearted in the wake of social media, the principles are relatively still the same. A definition on urban dictionary said it best, “the urge to frantically know everything about a person by searching their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and sometimes even Pinterest.” The lesson to be learned here: stalking is generally accepted and presumably okay.
  2. Cyberbullying was only relevant in the early 2010’s. Social media as a whole took a gut check to the ego when the movie Cyberbully came out in 2011 and shined a light on offline effects of online bullies. Since then, attention has strayed away from people who are bullied online. Even our President, in an ironic counter his wife’s BE BEST campaign, habitually bullies a new victim every hour or so. Harassment online has become a custom in this society, so there’s no need to fear legal action. The only possible action is to fine you up to $2,500 (if you’re in 14 specific states). But harassment related to someone’s (just for people in grades K-12) race, color, nationality, sex, disability or religion is where the government draws the line.
  3. The key to friendship is a follow and a like. Social media has taught me to question all friendships when the number of followers is not equal to the number of likes on a post. You’ve probably had conversations with your roommate about wanting to unfollow people that are irrelevant to your life now. We all know the repercussions of the drastic unfollowing, however. The need to know who in the world decided to unfollow you has become such a secretive demand that there are plenty of apps to tell you who the culprit is.
  4. The Art of Passive-Aggressive Indirection has been mastered by this generation. The “suspicious” or “hinting” post to how someone is feeling allows people to be as vague as they please while contracting all the sympathy they can manage. There are a few types of these indirect posts. For example, on Twitter, someone that you know that is in a relationship might post cryptic lyrics to a breakup song, like “thank u, next.” He or she might be indicating that they are now single or that they are over their current relationship. Normally, people who post such indirect tweets try to get people’s attention or want a reaction from their friends. Another example is on Snapchat. Let’s say that someone posts a black screen with the words, “I hate everyone, people are so fake” and nothing else to define the problem. Typically, we see this situation play out with multiple people replying back to the person’s story asking “What’s wrong?” or “Are you okay?” The vague posts like the previous two examples are very irritating because more than half the time, people who post these stories or tweets will respond to their friends with, “nothing is wrong” or “I just like the song.”

Social media has changed society in many ways, good and bad. Communication has been redefined by technology and the people who use it. My final words on the subject: Be aware of what you post online. It might be cliché, but there are a significant amount of people who forget this from time to time.

April 11, 2019

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