published Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Harpe: Using social media makes us a better, closer society

Corin Harpe

Facebook and Twitter have always suffered from negative connotations. Throughout the years there have been threats and research studies making us to feel guilty about participating in social media.

Threats came in the form of "you will never get a job," or "your information will be saved forever." Studies claimed that human interaction is a thing of the past, or they advertised the extreme amount of time wasted on these sites. Everywhere you turned there were red flags.

In some cases I agree with the negativity, but deep down I believe that social media is one of the best things that could have happened to us as a society.

For years my primary reason for enjoying Facebook was the way in which it actually brought people together. I never understood theories claiming that it hindered human interaction, if anything it has allowed for excessive interaction.

Not only can I keep in touch with old friends, but I know exactly what they are doing on a day-to-day basis. Information is shared quickly and immediately. I even have an idea of what it means to live in other parts of the country based on the pictures and videos that my friends post. If anything happens to one of my friends, he or she could notify 1,000 people or more, all at the same time.

I come from the strange generation where much of my childhood was spent without the Internet, and especially without social media. In fact, Facebook only became prominent my first year of college and, even then, it was limited only to college students.

Texting is another example; I don't know how I lived without it. I can say that it unknowingly impacted how I live my life, or at least made it easier and more interesting. I vaguely remember the days of middle school when you had to wait for your friend to get home so that you could talk to them on the phone. Now, say your friend is at soccer practice, he or she can send you instant live videos of practice.

It is baffling to examine how far we have come in such a short amount of time. As an English teacher, I have come to appreciate social media even more because of its ability to share articles and other literary pieces. Back when Facebook was new, I had an insight that it might create a more literate society because, instead of relying on verbal conversation, we would now have to write to one another.

It may be my particular group of Facebook friends, but I have noticed that there is less sharing of statuses and more posting of articles. And not just news stories, but pieces that inform us of psychological phenomena, societal issues or even nostalgic items that have a bit of history in them. I feel that I have become a more informed individual by having constant access to new information.

It is not just me; these articles are usually being posted because they are popular, which means many people are reading them. So we learn this information together and collectively expand our insights, which is amazing, and all the more so by forming a common thread of knowledge.

The capability of social media to give any one person a voice that can be heard by millions is also a feat. It allows people more freedom and ability to impact others. To me, social media sites are nothing but beneficial as they allow for a closer and more knowledgeable world.

Contact Corin Harpe at corinharpe@gmail.com.

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