A recent report says that the average smartphone user checks Facebook 13.8 times a day. For college students, that number might be even higher. Our constant access has made social media our generation’s primary means of receiving and processing information.
It is not unusual to find out where your friends are, learn about a new restaurant or hear about a heartbreaking tragedy for the first time on social media. The last few months have been particularly difficult, with newsfeeds serving as a constant reminder of the inequities in our society. Most recently, social media has framed the narrative surrounding recent deaths on our own campus.
With all of this in mind, perhaps now is the appropriate time for our generation to redefine the role of social media. A tool that started off as a way to connect with old friends has evolved into a way to keep up with current events and we have the responsibility of regulating it. We seem to forget that what we may find interesting and important, others can find triggering.
It was impossible to scroll through a newsfeed this summer without seeing videos of racially charged violence at home and horrific acts of terror abroad. It was as if the only way to process the news around us was to take a break from social media altogether.
Awareness is at the center of many recent policy developments, but we cannot forget the impact it has on our peers. We cannot allow awareness to supercede the needs of our friend or overshadow their experiences. We should all be considerate of the emotional exhaustion caused by scrolling through newsfeeds where everyone feels like they are required to make a statement on events that happen every day.
While dialogue may be the key to understanding, our friends on social media should not be caught in the crossfire. In the world of Twitter fingers and Facebook fights, there needs to be a sense of order for those who want to be able to share a positive life experience with their friends.
Social media platforms continue to evolve and being aware of our impact on others must be a part of it. We cannot control our peers and how they behave but we can all take steps to ensure that our social media footprint is positive.
Yamini Bhandari is the undergraduate student-elected trustee. Samari Gilbert is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the former president of Black Students United. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Trustee Viewpoint appears alternating Tuesdays this semester.