August 2016: Risesponding to Social Media's Influence on Communication

Social Media's Influence on Communication
art by Charis

Charis: Too often, adults will make fun of millennials, constantly complaining that they are always on their phones and have ceased to socialize in real life; this isn't the case. Social media and phones have increased the means of communication and have allowed for a different outlet to reach friends, both old and new. I met my best friend on Twitter and our friendship only evolved because Facebook messaging exists. Instagram and messaging apps have allowed me to find Risen and to meet so many new friends as a result of this. I'm even work as an assistant, solely using Facebook to upload photos for the company and to communicate with my boss. With so many different outlets for communication, plans are made possible and it's as simple as DMing a friend a Yelp review for a restaurant for the night, thus creating even more social interaction- something baby-boomers claim has gone extinct. Social media hasn't hindered communication, but rather has stimulated it. 

Claire: While I am a huge fan of social media, I have recently had a change in attitude towards them. I believe social media poses an incredible opportunity to interact with new people and form new bonds, but I believe the relationships we form through social media need to be evaluated with a close eye. In the past month, I had deleted almost every social media account I had, except for Twitter. I was beginning to notice a trend of false intimacy, and can distort the way we view relationships. For example: snap streaks. There is a lot of pressure and value put behind having a long snapchat streak with someone, even though most of the conversations held through snapchats are extremely superficial. But, having a long snap streak often leads us to believing there is a close relationship due to the amount of communication. Social media has made it so much easier to communicate, but I think extra effort is needed in order to make the communication meaningful.

Sam: I am definitely a victim of the ever-constant pull of social media across the board. Whether it's dm-ing friends with the latest funny text post over Instagram, or snapping a funky filtered pic through Snapchat to five people at once, the draw to social media as a place for laughter and a good time is unending and certainly hard to resist for many. But fun and games are not the only things that social media offers within the realm of communication. The Arab Spring movement was fueled largely in part due to the vital aid that Facebook messaging and groups provided to the citizens of Egypt. These tools helped individuals organize meetings, plan protests, and spark national outrage and action that ultimately toppled a corrupt government. In other areas of the world, social media has provided a space for similar outreach causes such as #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag used to spread awareness of the brutal kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian girls in a raiding of their region by the terrorist organization Boko Haram, and #GiveElsaAGirlfriend, another hashtag started by Alexis Isabel Moncada, a teenage girl who tweeted out her now world-famous opinion that the character Elsa, of the iconic film Frozen, deserves a girlfriend in the next film of the franchise. As a whole, social media has influenced the modern world in countless ways and forms and I'm excited to see where it takes us as time goes on. 

 Social media has had so many different effects on not just communication, but the way we see the world. Social media has changed our standards. We see fashion, politics, and even fame in a different light. The new norm is constant communication. With Twitter and Instagram, we always know where people are and what they’re thinking. We see curated feeds on social media that make the lives of the account owners seem flawless. I can’t speak for anyone else, but seeing nothing but smiling, skinny people with perfect lives makes me feel pretty inadequate. I constantly compare myself and my life to what I see on social media, even though I am both guilty of doing the same and know that social media does not reveal the entire picture. For example, with Snapchat, you can show everyone who’ll watch 10 seconds of how amazing your life is. Your trip to Chicago, your date night on the lake, you and your best friend at a concert, it can all go up for people to admire. But let’s be real, it’s kind of irritating. Seeing how perfect and amazing someone’s day has been every single day gets old fast, but everyone still does it. They hide the parts of their lives they don’t like and show off the nice parts to everyone. It’s toxic and it strains the relationships of those who can do those things and those who cannot. Nowadays we look up to Instagram models who post pictures of themselves on beaches in expensive swimsuits and at private events as the new ‘real’. I’m not saying it’s fake, but it’s not obtainable for the normal person. Most people cannot afford to vacation on tropical islands and attend multiple concerts a month. This kind of attitude has made social media into a black hole of marketing and unattainable goals.

On the other hand, social media has done amazing things, like allowing people to connect with their loved ones over video chat. For example, this article shares stories from different people who have connected with their dying family members to talk to them one last time. It has also allowed people to make friends with similar interests, educate themselves, or find support online. Risen has done all of that for me, and I wouldn’t have found out about it without Instagram. Social media can be very destructive if you don’t remember that you only see part of the picture, but it can also be a safe haven and a positive place to grow and learn.

Edythe:I love social media. I really do. I use it every day and if you're reading this, chances are you do too. I think social media is a really great outlet to showcase things like your art of music so that you can reach a larger audience. For a lot of people it can boost their self esteem when they post a selfie and people compliment them. It really allows anyone to be able to talk to anyone around the world. It's a pretty wonderful thing. But we can also agree that there are some downsides to social media. It allows people to portray false fantasies that other people envy, like having constant trips to the tropics or having the "perfect" body. The truth is, and it is a truth that many of those Instagram hotties have allowed, you can pick and choose what goes on your platform. A famous youtuber called Zoe Sugg has come out with videos talking about her battles with anxiety and that the world that we get to see in her videos are only a tenth of what her life is actually like aside from the clothing hauls and makeup tutorials. Back in 2015, Instagram famous Essena O'Neill (@essena.oneill) revealed that social media was consuming her life, and she changed captions of old photos to the truth, telling her fans that she was sponsored, the poses that seemed natural took countless shots, and that she was miserable being stuck in this culture obsessed with perfection. Thousands of others have followed suit as well. I guess what I'm trying to say is that social media has made it easy to show people the best parts of your life.

But like I said, I love social media. It also has its benefits. Social media platforms make it easier to communicate with people you might've never met in just your town. It allows people to stay in touch with the news of their own countries and around the world, so you don't necessarily have to leave your room to be able to travel to different places. It makes it easier to spread ideas and inspire creativity in other people to create whatever it is that makes them happy. Social media has changed communication by simply making it easier to reach a broader audience. Whether this is good or bad, I believe it's a mix of both; the rest is for you to decide.

Tyler: In my experience, social media has been the pioneer in many of the friendships I have made. It has been a way to express myself and show who I am as a person. I think that social media has hindered the way we communicate though because it enables us to judge based solely on what we see. Seeing a certain picture can make us jump to certain conclusions which can be a positive or negative thing. For instance, someone could be in a relationship with another person and see that that person posted a picture of one of their exes. Obviously, seeing something like that would lead you to make assumptions and when going to confront your partner, you could be close minded. Social media hinders personal communication in that way. On a positive note though, social media like Instagram and Twitter are platforms that allow people to speak to thousands of people at once and spread awareness to certain things. This in turn can spark conversations that can lead to forming friendships. Adults everywhere complain about how times have changed and how the youth today don't form proper friendships, failing to realize that people exist all over the world. There are 8 billion people in the world, it would be too convenient to have your best friend live 15 minutes away from you. Social media makes it easier to reach people all around the world and has formed so many friendships that, in my opinion, it is a good thing.

Daniela:  Social media has become an essential to most teenagers, young adult's, and adult's lives. We however, are primarily targeted as a demographic as we have practically grown up with the internet at our fingertips and are children of the digital age. Communication is far more quicker and easier through the use of social media and this serves as one of the many benefits of the grand scope that it has. With the click of a mouse I can easily get in touch with relatives in Peru, Italy, New York, etc. This same scenario is played by others who have loved ones that live miles and oceans away from them. While social media may connect others easily and create a greater level of intimacy that previously wouldn't be existent due to distance, it can also take away from that intimacy of our interactions. Texting quickly replaced the once common phone calls. Also there have been one too many times that I have gone in public and observed groups of people together yet most looking at a plastic screen in their hands.

Upon reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr this summer, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the large impact that the internet and social media has on my life. As said before, we are children of the digital age and therefore are accustomed to easily reaching information and people with just a click due to tools such as Google and Instagram. Carr's novel details the effects that the internet has on the brain and I found myself relating to a great part of it. Due to being used to easily access any information, we are constantly looking for stimulation of the mind. This involves constantly refreshing our Twitter pages or constantly messaging people in the hopes of entertainment. This can however can lead to a disconnection rather than connection with others as we pay closer attention to online interactions rather than real ones. In conclusion social media is a tool that is essential to millennials and is incredibly helpful to spreading ideas and connecting people. It can however, also serve the opposite purpose and trivialize real-life interactions.