September 12, 2016

TRUSTEE VIEWPOINT | On Conscientious Social Media Use

Print More

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 associate-editor@cornellsun.com. Trustee Viewpoint appears alternating Tuesdays this semester.

One thought on “TRUSTEE VIEWPOINT | On Conscientious Social Media Use

  1. Historically, Student Trustees have been strong advocates for freedom of speech and transparency. I am sure that many events at Cornell trigger a variety of emotions in the students that witness them or read about them later. If Cornell is doing its job in educating students for a life of learning, it will teach students how to analyze what they read and to control emotions in favor of rational discourse and analysis. Most Student Trustees from the past would respond to “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.” with a pledge to be forthright and to make his or her op-ed pieces or social media comments important for all Cornell students to read.

    If a student finds social media too “emotionally exhausting”, try unfriending all but 200 people and unfollowing all but a dozen twitter feeds. Better yet, configure your smart phone so that facebook and twitter stop pushing content to you. Cornell students have the rare privilege of drinking from the wisdom of some the brightest and most creative minds. Focus on what Cornell has to offer, and leave the fire hose of social media for your alumni years. There is nothing wrong with taking a “a break from social media altogether.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *