CON: Social Media and Inauthetic Interactions

Inauthenticity and Cruelty Through Social Media Is Often Cited by Worried Parents and Community, Yet Questions Remain as to the Viability of Ignoring Modern Outlet

Jackie De Melo, Opinion Managing Editor

Almost every teenager has heard the infamous phrase from a parent or a relative: “Why are you on your phone so much?” An eyeroll and an exclamation of “I’m not” or a short explanation precedes from the teenager.
What is baffling to me is that there are individuals who neglect to realize that phones and the access they present via social media is an important venue for interaction and conversation among teenagers across the U.S..
As technology has advanced and cyberspace has expanded, the 21st century can be dubbed the era of smartphones and social media. The classic phone call to a friend of the past is left in the dust.
“More than nine-in-ten teens (94 percent) say they spend time with friends on social media,” Amanda Lenhart of Pew Research Center said in a 2015 study.
One may ask, why is this percentage so high? Before I present the answer to that question, let me pose one myself. Society expects teenagers to balance a full school day and hours of homework that follow, a sport and/or extracurricular activities, seven to eight hours of sleep and a nutritious diet. Where does one fit in an active social life?
Why the percentage is so high is because in the growing age of technology, teenagers usually opt to communicate with their friends via social media when they are not in one another’s presence. This primarily occurs during the school week as face to face interactions are limited to the class and after-school environments.
A long-awaited Saturday night comes along and there is an exclamation of relief: finally you get to see your friends. Gathered in a living room or around a restaurant table, the conversation and festivities begin.
“When I am with my close friends we are not on our phones because we have a constant flow of conversation,” freshman Sierra Pasternak said.
Pasternak brings up a valid point as when in good company, phones slip out infrequently. A time when phones do come out is when one wants to take a picture or video for Snapchat to document the good time.
Snapchat is one media outlet that proves popular amongst teens and for good reason; it is a quick way to document a moment in time, whether it is a picture with friends, a funny video, a scenic picture and more. With this tool, the sky is the limit.
In the background, I hear the baby boomers and even the occasional millennial complaining about how Snapchat is a useless piece of media used to flaunt how “cool” one is. A bias argument this is, I must say, particularly when it comes out the mouth of those who use social media other than Snapchat. Using social media, yet continuing to argue that a social media outlet does not fulfill an authentic or sufficient purpose is contradicting.
On that note, the authenticity of social media’s interaction is normally questioned. However, the social media world presents far from insubstantial or basic-leveled interactions. On the contrary, with the growing activism in the millennial and teenage population, social media has transformed into a popular outlet for both receiving political news and voicing one’s opinion.
“Young people have the remarkable power to create dialogue on critical issues, and these conversations a�� often on social media a�� are the first step in enacting real change,” Sarah Terrazano of the Odyssey online said.
Communication via social media broadens the horizon of a user’s ability to communicate with friends, activists and public figures, among others. As there is to all things, social media presents both pros and cons but the positives outweigh the negatives.