This semester, Vanguard University of Southern California in Costa Mesa welcomed incoming freshmen. As an observer of the campus as a senior, the social interaction does not appear to be as social as it could be. In fact, it seems that social media has taken the place of purposeful social interaction. Interaction from student-to-student is much different than it once. Back in the 1900s, if we wanted to ask a question about something we did not know, we would have to go in person to ask for the answer. There was no texting or much of calling someone on a phone for that matter.
Communication was limited to mostly talking in person or writing letters. There was a wait time for a letter response, and if one had a telephone, then a conversation could take place as soon as the other person answered the phone. But back then, few places had telephones since they were still being developed. Instead of walking next door and telling a friend a funny story or what they were thinking, all one has to do today is go into their latest social media account and post. While this may be an easier way to tell a friend something, the connection is not as strong as it could be if a conversation or comment was told in person.
Most people may not realize how much time is spent per day on social media, but it is often the one thing they turn to when one has a spare minute or while they are waiting for a class to start. For friends, social media offers a way for us to relate to one another on a new level. It gives us something to talk about. What would it be like to not have phones for a day? Think about it: the actual social interaction between people would skyrocket because it would be the only way to communicate. If we wanted to hang out with friends, we would all end up saying something or have a higher chance of really getting to know someone on a personal level.
A fellow Vanguard University student answered questions over e-mail about the way she spends her time on social media. In her response, she stated that she spends the most time on the Instagram app. Despite Tik Tok’s latest relevancy, which came out in 2016, this student spends more time on Instagram; which came out in October 2010. At the time she was just fourteen years old and used Instagram because “friends were on it at the time.” In this instance, social media became a way to stay connected to her friends. She wanted to have something in common or even be able to understand what her friends are talking about by keeping up with what they do.
This student also said, “I don’t post much at all anyways, I just like to scroll.” It is as if social media has become one big commercial ad. This student said, “I like to look at hair, nails, makeup, workout videos, outfits, funny videos, quotes, and the news.” When asked if having 10 or 100 followers would affect how much she would be on Instagram, she said it would be the same as it is now.
Despite the actual purpose of social media. Inspiration is one of the many things that social media has to offer; however, it does have its downside. As this student said, “there is always something bad happening in the news, and people get easily offended. It can make [social media] less fun.” Despite this being said, she would consider social media a good part of her day, “when I use other social media, not just Instagram, I laugh a lot.”
So is social media actually social? Is it actually helping us to get to know one another on a deeper level? Or is it just giving us one more thing to talk about? While this answer is dependent on oneself, what can be said of social media is that there are pros and cons. We have opportunities to get inspired instantly more than we did in the past; we have the chance to share a quick message and get a response right away while we are still “in the moment.” The growth of technology continues to grow year by year, and let’s hope that new and old relationships grow along with them.