Social media is the revolution of our time. With the concept of “likes,” social media has the power to influence, change, inspire and impact the world around us.
Social media has made its impact on every single generation. However, I don’t believe social media impacts any group more than college freshmen. Freshman year is the year we want to figure everything out. All college freshmen want to make it seem like they have it all together for others. You are leaving behind old friends and an old life. It’s only natural to want to impress others who you’ve known for years. The problem is when the fantasy of a picture gets separated from reality of life. It can be so easy to strike a pose, slap on a big smile, and convince your followers you are “living your best life” at a college party. However, in reality, you were miserable there. When somebody else sees that picture, it's only natural for them to begin comparing experiences.
How do we fix this? We have to start by knowing that social media doesn’t always show the entirety of somebody. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that you will never know.
In life, we only want to highlight the good stuff. Nobody wants to log onto social media and see something negative. The problem comes in when we focus too much on impressing others then bettering our own lives. It’s perfectly fine to acknowledge the fact that we might not have it all together. There’s no need to live an artificial experience when you can be living authentically. College is known to be one of the biggest and more important times of a person's life. It's time we grow up, and part of growing up is making mistakes and embracing what’s not perfect. If you aren’t doing something that somebody else has posted, you aren't doing anything wrong.
Social media also plays a huge role in facilitating connections. It can be a factor that brings people together. Other times, it can be what drives us apart. Sometimes, a person's social media is used to see if a person is worthy enough of a relationship. At my college freshman orientation, everyone was exchanging social media usernames. I, however, do not have a huge social media presence. I have quality followers, friends that actually care about my content whenever I do post. I love to live presently. However, low numbers do not look good to others. So how do you tell somebody there is so much more to me than what can be seen online? Over time I’ve learned you just don’t. If a connection is worth it, people will want to know more about you, from you. There’s only so much a tiny square can show you about somebody’s life.
Social media can also damage confidence as much as it can give it to you. In the past, I remember deleting posts right away if I hadn’t gotten enough comments or likes. I remember so many times wanting to put something good out about my life, but worrying if anybody would care. It’s amazing how much trust we put into our following, and how quickly that can be gone. In college, we try to put trust in strangers, in hopes of gaining friendship. If that doesn’t reflect in our social media, we can start to put ourselves down and make us doubt our worth. It’s crazy how much a little corner of the internet can have so much of our minds and energy.
Social media continues to shape our world, our views, our perceptions and our ability to move forward. Social media shapes the college freshman by altering our perceptions of what life and what the college experience should be. Life is more than the perfectly edited pictures seen on Instagram. College is not perfect. Life is real.
You and your college experience will still be unique and beautiful regardless of how you document it.
Lead Image Credit: Upsplash