Social Media and Technology: A Superficial Symbol of Our Generation

Lucille Ausman '17 Contributing Writer

I have thought often of erasing my social media self. Our generation has acquired a strange new gift from social media, which allows us to edit, manipulate, transform and broadcast our lives on a worldwide level. Or at least to the level that people find these personas interesting enough to click follow, friend or like. Our lives are available at the click of a bottom—or at least our social media lives. My sister who will indefinitely possess a better sense of style than me always criticizes my social media presence. My Facebook photos are sloppy. I post to frequently on Instagram, and I struggle to keep a coherent and attractive theme on Tumblr. This has caused me to question my abilities as a blooming millennial. I feel slightly left behind by my peers who seem to have a natural ease in portraying themselves on screen, while I struggle to pick the right filter for my breakfast pic. These were the feelings that led me to tell my sister that I was very much interested in erasing myself from the social media sphere. My sister aghast told me “only weirdoes don’t have a Facebook,” and “what would make me want to do that?” My knee jerk rebuttal was that I am not mature enough to have a Facebook; frankly I am just not ready. This response shocked my sister as much as it shocked myself. I had blurted out a realization that caused me to reflect further on the impact social media has on our process of growing up and our journeys to self discovery. Social media has become something that we generally assume millennials are apart of. Even our parents and grandparents have begun to creep onto the scene. But its widespread popularity has not gone without criticism. Recently there have been many campaigns against social media and technology use. Articles have been published by The New Yorker, Forbes and USA Today all questioning the effects of social media. They propose the argument that social media makes our relationships more superficial and we get a filtered sense of someone: we are only able to see their ideal self. This superficiality is what makes growing up with social media so difficult. The key to navigating social media is to create a persona that can be branded and identified. Whether you want to appear preppy and polished or silly and sloppy is entirely up to you and will likely be welcomed by the social media sphere regardless of what you choose. It is however impossible to brand yourself in all areas of your life and encapsulate this into a shareable form of social media. This struggle is what occurs when you hear people suggest activities for the sole purpose of taking pics to share online. Suddenly our entire lives become focused around sticking to the social media brand and face that we have chosen for ourselves, and much less about the actual activity. “Yoga? Yah I could make a great pic stitch.” This is where my personal issues with social media come into play. I am not ready to brand myself and create a permanent persona for myself online or otherwise. I recognize that to a great degree the activities, people and experiences I surround myself with do not fit remotely into a box. They are often so strange and wildly variant that the idea of capturing them into a Facebook post, tweet or Insta pic is absurd. Social media will never capture the full depth and variety of experiences that one has and that is a key issue to remember when scrolling through you news feed. From any of my social media outlets you cannot see me, but instead a compilation of bits that may or may not be entirely relevant in my life. I also refuse to limit my experiences because it might not seem to adhere to the semblance that is often created by social media. Social media expands the concept of stereotypes to every part of your life: documenting your experience from literally sunrise, through each meal, each outfit and activity. And I certainly don’t intend to live my life inside an Insta square. That being said I still have yet to build up the courage to delete myself from the social media sphere. Social media is also a brilliant tool for communication and for some people it has become an almost necessary function in our daily lives. So despite the superficial and limited scope of reality it promotes, I will proceed to use social media and I will attempt to keep it from jading my perception of people’s characters and lives. However, if the search results for my name on Facebook ever disappear you’ll know I probably won’t be pic-stitching yoga that evening and you’ll have to bump into me on campus to see my #OOTD (Outfit of the Day).