Most APSU seniors were in kindergarten when Myspace and Facebook launched. Today’s college students have grown up in a world of social media influence. Social media tends to be a divisive topic especially between generations. However, each generation has something that sets them apart from the previous generation and the ones that come after. The presence of social media in our lives is not any different from the effects of the television when it was first invented. The generational gap between parents who grew up without television because it didn’t exist and their children or grandchildren who do not remember a time without it is comparable to the social media gap. A popular fearmongering surrounding the television was that it would melt children’s brains if they watched it too often or sat too closely to it. Similar fearmongering exists about social media. An example of this is illustrations of people all staring at their phones missing something deemed worthy of attention, like nature.
Technology will not melt our brains or strip our humanity from us. It only reframes what is evident about people in a different package. Social media is simply a tool and can be justly used or abused. Anything in excess is dangerous, even oxygen. Some cite their concerns over social media with the weight of constant comparison and the fear of missing out on impressionable minds. These are all valid concerns, but humans have always compared themselves to each other. It is just more immediate. In the past, the fear of missing out may have come from hearing people at school or work talking about their weekend. It was delayed, but the feelings have existed for a long time now. We should still address this, but social media did not cause it.
The qualities in humans that social media seems to exaggerate are not new. Social media is an interpretation of real life, not so different from a book or a film. It has a constantly changing plotline and an infinite amount of characters. The good and the bad are neatly compacted within a website or an app. Social media has a way of making things larger or smaller than they are in real life. It’s easy to blame something new for our problems, but you can’t blame the mirror for showing you what you look like.