By Kathryn Cambrea, Editor in chief
It’s not that I once had a Facebook or Instagram account, and then made the decision to click off. I never had social media.
As a college student, I vividly remember growing conscious of social media. I feel that it was slowly growing in the peripheral of my childhood, existent but not affecting my own life. Still, I scurried outside, marveling at the indentations in the sidewalk under my bike, lifting the pink flowers resting on the grass under the weeping willow tree in my front yard. But as I grew older, I believe I was in third grade, I remember when I discovered YouTube, and would amuse myself with the music of Taylor Swift, and videos of babies laughing. Even then, I did not fear social media; I didn’t even know what it entailed. I never thought that such a platform among others would truly impact the lives of many people, igniting a change in American culture.
By the time I was in seventh or eighth grade, social media truly scared me. I was taking a drama class in the theater at my school, and a substitute teacher was present one day. A girl in my class, joined by other classmates, thought it would be hysterical to run around the theater, cameras on their phones aimed at fellow peers, and scream the word, “Vine.” Sitting with a few of my friends, we looked up just at the moment that this girl wanted us to, so she could capture our hilariously confused reactions on Vine. Whatever that was, I thought.
I had an idea that it must have been a social media platform, but I did not completely understand what happened. I felt that any amount of privacy and respect I had was just violated. When I told the substitute teacher what happened, he answered with a mere shoulder shrug, an expression that spelled, “I don’t care.”
And now, neither do I. That was an older man, surrounded by a much younger generation. Only, I am a member of the same generation of youth, which now consists of college students. I feel disgusted by a seemingly much younger generation than myself for being isolated from social media, and the irony is that I am one of them.
I have become habituated to the point where like the older man, I do not care. People constantly take pictures and record videos to the point where I feel helpless. If I am part of a picture someone takes, there is no apology. There is no deletion of the photograph. There is no removal of it off of Instagram or Snapchat. Rather, my baffled eyes are met by a smirk or no reaction. Or, a reason is given to justify taking a photo of me at my expense, like that on Snapchat the photo “disappears.” Or my reaction was too great or funny to not freeze. If people want to take and share photos of them and their friends, I have no problem with that, as long as they ask permission. When a photo is taken of me, I don’t know where it’s going, who will see it, and in what context it will be presented. I have found out from people who I know that so-called friends have posted photos of me with them, meanwhile, in reality, I just stood next to those people to be courteous; I didn’t think the photos would be plastered on the Internet.
When it comes to my presence online, I feel like an object in that I have no consent and no control. Photos of me may be out there for the likes, but I truly do not like that at all. Whether said photo of me appears to others for the blip of a second or longer, or no matter what excuse is made to take and post the photo does not make it any better. All someone has to do is ask if he/she can take the photo and if he/she can post it. But even then, is it worth it?
I am aware of the idea that social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have power. My friends and even strangers speak of TikTok recently. As much as I despise the idea of people submitting to social media, I admit that one day, I might join in. As a writer, I may want to start a blog. I do not consider it to be a social medium, but I do have a LinkedIn account. To me, it is professional, not social. If I want to talk to my friends, I either do so in-person or via the phone.
Since social media make the lives of other people so much more accessible, we naturally are only more curious. I admit that I have scanned the public social media Instagram and Twitter content of celebrities. Also, I enjoy listening to music on YouTube, and occasionally revisiting specific channels. So, social media does reach me. But, I do not need it. I can close the tab at any time and revert back to my true life. If I created a Facebook or Instagram account, I feel that my life would become more complicated, and my screen of both my phone and my computer would consume me. I already struggle at times to turn away from either screen due to Google and YouTube. If I created social media accounts, would I ever turn away?