Remember the good old days when there lived this little thing we used to call privacy? It wasn’t too long ago. In fact, I still vaguely recall this magical period of time in which it still existed. But now, we live in the dark ages in which the Internet is our ruler and we are its minions. And if the Internet is at the top of the totem pole, then Social Media is his right-hand man, his partner in crime, the Robin to his Batman, if you so please.
Behind all of my nonsensical phrasing, there is an honest opinion about social media and its effects on our society. It has been an opinion of mine –and has only strengthened more in the months that I’ve been here at college- that with all of the diverse types of social media available to us, especially our generation, we’re kind of losing a sense of privacy and a sense of who we are along the way.
To me, the privacy-loss aspect of social media isn’t as big of a deal as the identity-loss aspect. For example, on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can alter the privacy settings so they abide to how much of your profile, account, etc. that others are able to view. But nevertheless, having all of your personal information on the Internet and out on the surface just doesn’t seem right
What really bugs me most about social media sites, namely Facebook, is that although we are putting all of the hobbies, musical interests, sports, and pages we enjoy into our profiles, it just feels like a “fake” version of ourselves. Granted, I have a Facebook and I like updating it with the newest movies I’ve seen, books I’ve just read, or bands that I really like, and I believe that my opinion applies to me as well. The best way I can describe how those of us who use social media are losing their identities is like this: it seems like we only put onto Facebook what we want people to see. So when people look at us through the pages of our Facebook sites, they are not getting the true picture of who we are, but rather a morphed picture that we created, only showing the best sides of our personalities.
I’ve seen this more recently in the months that I have been at college because it seems that no matter where I turn, anyone is using social media at any given time. Long gone are the days when going to an event (such as a concert or a party) meant enjoying the time you were spending there and just being in the moment. Now those days are replaced with an unmentioned contest of who can get the best picture and upload it to Instagram before everyone else. Recently, I was hanging out with a group of friends and before I knew it, a war had erupted over how many “snipes” everyone could get of each other on their phones and Snapchat accounts. For a while it gave me a good laugh, but it just seemed to ruin the moment for me eventually, because I realized I was in a room with six other people and everyone was staring at his or her phone instead of having a conversation. So it goes.
So with that anecdote, I will end this week’s column. I hope that the next time you go on social media or feel the desire to do so while with a group of friends, you take a second to reconsider. Yes, it is true that we only have one life to live, but that fact doesn’t have to beckon the need to capture it all with a phone’s camera lens.
Rachel Alfiero is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.