YANG | Thoughts from the Subway

I worked in a research lab at a university in my hometown this past summer and, for the first time in my life, experienced what it’s like to have a long commute — an hour and a half each way standing in a hot, humid, insanely crowded subway car. Most of my fellow commuters spent these long and miserable daily trips on their phones, either scrolling through Weibo (think Twitter) feeds, watching viral videos, playing online games, binging the newest hit TV series or reading trending articles on Wechat (a Chinese amalgamation of Facebook and Instagram). Hundreds of commuters with headphones on staring down at their smartphone screens was quite a sight be behold but also incredibly frustrating, especially when I had to transfer lines at one of the busiest stations downtown, and had to follow a massive crowd of people up flights of stairs to another platform, a process slowed down significantly by those who were too absorbed in their phones to even walk properly. Despite my frustration, and because social learning is a natural thing that we all do, a few days into this commuter life, I also started killing time by spending it solely on my phone, going through my Weibo feed more times than necessary, replying to comments, reading Wechat articles that I normally wouldn’t care for and, when all that was still not enough, busted out my VPN to go through Instagram and Twitter. Yet, as you may have guessed by now, aggressively working my way through every social media platform every morning and evening did not make me feel “more connected” to friends and family, all the articles I read did not make me significantly more knowledgeable in certain areas or enlighten me on social or political issues, nor did the viral funny videos make me happier.

Guest Room

GUEST ROOM | My Snapchat Filter

It’s a well known fact that we have been surrounded by technology in almost all aspects of our lives. With buzzwords such as AI, deep learning, blockchains coming every month, technology now commands a lot of attention. And not in a good way. By surrounding, I mean a constant bombardment. By commanding attention, I mean controlling us.

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DUGGAL | Political Introspection

I recently got back on Twitter, and it has been an experience. I haven’t been on Twitter since high school, and I returned to an entirely different world than the one I left behind. The last time I was trolling around on Twitter, I was 14 and subtweeting Coldplay lyrics at my AP Physics lab partner. Ryan, if you’re reading this, please note that while in retrospect I understand that the time and effort I put into finding the perfect lyric to encapsulate our (completely made up) relationship could have been better put to use attempting to achieve anything higher than a 2 on our AP exam, subtweets were an important part of my teenage experience, and I think you should be honored to have been a part of that. This time around, however, I joined with the intention of using Twitter as my news source, and while that has remained true, Twitter has also been something of an interesting experiment in how people today interact with one another and their respective opinions.

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Researchers Study the Influence of Social Media on Memory

You probably remember that embarrassing photo you posted on Facebook last summer or the one in your family photo album with your two front teeth missing. Ever wonder why? It might have something to do with the way these memories were shared. A recent study by Prof. Qi Wang, human development,  reveals that posting personal events on social media make those events significantly easier to recall. Wang is interested in studying social cognition, specifically how memories and personal experiences help shape an individual’s identity.

TRUSTEE VIEWPOINT | On Conscientious Social Media Use

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.

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Friendsy, New Social App, Launches at Cornell

“We love working on this, and our goal is to create as many meaningful connections between college students as possible,” Murti said. “We’ve made over one million matches and counting.”

Photo Courtesy of FSC Interactive

MOHAPATRA | What’s in an opinion?

Having devoted the better part of my free time to social media (and not proudly so), it has been remarkable to witness the  transformation in the kind of material that crops up in my feed. There have been  tangible shifts, to the extent that everyone I know seems to have become a political activist at some level. Recently though, I have gotten into too many spats with people who have pulled out articles they saw on their Facebook feed on the alleged perpetuation of rape culture by the present-day Indian society, or people who have quoted a friend’s tweet verbatim to back up their point about the presidential primaries, only to stand corrected after being presented with a news report that speaks otherwise. I have become extremely wary of these quickly formulated opinions: while everyone is at perfect liberty to air theirs, generalized statements featuring charged words make me immediately put my guard up. I think this largely stems from my worries about where such opinions originate and whether they are informed or not.

Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports

AKABAS | Bracketology: Who/What is winning 2016?

There are many things that literally everyone on Earth hates, such as hangnails, hotels that charge for WiFi, late-2000s M. Night Shyamalan films, and that moment when you don’t check your phone for an hour and there are 257 unread messages from a single group chat when you come back. There aren’t many things that literally everyone on Earth loves, but one of those things is March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. A single-elimination bracket – the concept that you need to win every single game to stay in it – is ingenious. I support using the bracket concept whenever humanly possible, so let’s make a bracket to determine who or what has had the best 2016 so far. The competitors were determined subjectively by me, and the seeds, listed below, were determined primarily by number of Twitter followers (credit to former Grantland-writer Rembert Browne for this idea).