Social media affects relationships: My experience as an onlooker


People today do much of their communicating through social media, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

By now, everyone is sick of hearing how social media is ruining our lives in every conceivable way. If I had a dime for every adult I’ve heard criticize social media use I could afford to retire straight out of High School. That being said, it wouldn’t be so hard to see why if we would only look up from the problem for a moment.

While I initially refused to get a Snapchat or Instagram or whatever because I thought my life was too boring to warrant reporting anything, I can safely say that I would never want to get on social media because of what I have seen among students at Northwest.

“(People) aren’t aware of their own surroundings,” junior Jarod Webb said.

From my experience, that is certainly true. Walking through the hallways, I see people mindlessly absorbed in whatever the latest drama is, or whatever new meme some celebrity came up with.

Seeing all this, I can’t help but think back to my days in middle school; I was never the most popular kid, but I had friends, and these transitional periods were our time to talk. We didn’t need social media to find things to talk about for us, we’d just say whatever came to our minds.

I now live far away from these people, and online programs like Skype are great for staying in touch with them, but I would prefer seeing them all in person any day of the week. Social media has replaced the preference for most people.

“It gets to be a problem when they spend more time online than they do offline,” sophomore Charlie Chen said.

We have collectively grown complacent with only interacting through text and the occasional picture that we have forgotten what is like to really communicate with each other.

I remember when I started at Northwest I reached out to someone who didn’t seem like they talked very much to try and make friends, only to learn that they had a huge web of connections through social media and had no interest in talking to me.

And I get it. Part of what makes social media attractive is that it allows for people to make large numbers of connections at once and provide a sense of being surrounded by friends, even though there is hardly any actual conversation going on between them.

For the adults in the room thinking the younger generation is doomed, worry not; in my time observing others, I have noticed a few shining beacons of hope who keep their use of social media to an absolute minimum, like Chen for instance.

“I only look at social media when I get really bored,” Chen said.

Kids talking about sports, asking about the test in Latin today or even just how the day is going tells me that not everyone is so absorbed in their digital relationships that they have no time for actually talking.

Seeing people at lunch tables with two or three of their close friends having a meaningful conversation instead of staring at their phones is one of the happiest things I’ve seen.

While social media isn’t going away anytime soon, we have to realize that no matter how many memes we post or videos we share, it can never substitute for actual friendship.

“I believe in quality of friendships,” Webb said.