Students believe the effects of not having social media outweigh the benefits of having it

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Junior Vinod Rajakrishna found himself sitting alone on the upper field while the rest of his soccer team was practicing for thirty minutes all because of a social media mishap. 

“I ended up being thirty minutes late to practice,” Vinod said, “because I was just sitting alone at the upper field while everyone else was at the other field, so after that, I knew I should probably get Snapchat just to stay up to date, but it was actually a pretty funny experience.”

Although this particular dilemma was caused by the lack of social media, it is up for debate on which would be more problematic: not having social media and being semi left out of the loop, or having social media and growing up with the toxic thoughts it implants in young students’ minds. 

Some high school students such as Vinod have opted to steer clear of social media platforms as much as possible, unless, of course, it’s necessary or practical for something like a sport. Otherwise, he is untouched by the never-ending void that is scrolling for hours through pointless videos, posts, and comments. 

However, people still judge whether you post or not, and sometimes, Vinod feels that judgment or, more simply put, shock when people find out he doesn’t use the common platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. 

“Sometimes, when someone asks me something that’s on Instagram, one of my close friends will say I don’t have Instagram,” Vinod said, “and the person I just met will be extremely shocked because it’s just an assumption now that everyone has Instagram, Snapchat, all of that stuff.”

Rather than being upset or even slightly bothered by their shock, Vinod is simply surprised by it. 

He explains that social media is a recent thing. When looking back even as recently as two years ago, TikTok was not relevant, so sometimes, it surprises him how quickly everyone grew and adapted to the new world of social media—whether that be a good or bad thing. 

“We have evolved so much in even just the last ten years,” Vinod said. “Obviously, when we were little we weren’t using phones or anything, but even if we weren’t children all those years ago, social media still has never been this predominant in people’s lives until recently. All of the sudden, the norm is to have Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, et cetera, and if you don’t have those things, then you’re the odd one out. When it used to be [that] it was strange if you did have it.” 

Much like Vinod, sophomore Wyat Butler agrees that although social media has taken possession of so many other people’s lives more recently than ever, it was never—and still isn’t—the center of attention for him. 

Wyat explains that he finds it to be more of a pointless time filler rather than having it lead to anything productive, and he would rather fill his free time with things he knows are going to better him, especially in the long run. 

“Social media has never been a center point in my life,” Wyat said, “so it wasn’t consuming me before, but it would just get annoying when I would have two hours of downtime, and I felt like I was wasting my own free time [on social media] when I could be reading or practicing.”

All of the sudden the norm is to have Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc., and if you don’t have those things then you’re the odd one out. When it used to be, it was strange if you did have it.”

— Vinod

In addition to taking up his free time with meaningless videos, Wyat also found it to be distracting from the things that really matter, and since deleting platforms such as Instagram, he now has a better sense of time management, and balancing the things that mean more to him than a thirty-second video. 

“I do more in my life now [since deleting it],” Wyat said. “Lots of little things that I enjoy. I noticed that with Instagram, it was more like instant gratification because when you see something you really like, it’s kind of instantly stimulating, but having to read or focus on your schoolwork for longer, by the time you finish it, I think the reward is greater, and you end up being more satisfied with your time.”

Freshman Ashle Schenck has similar beliefs as Wyat when it comes to social media in the sense that the benefits of not having it outweigh the slight inconveniences the apps might cause on occasion. 

“I never really felt like it was important to download social media,” Ashle said, “even when it seems like everyone has it, and I just figured that since it wouldn’t have any benefits, it would just take up space on my phone.” 

Ashle feels if you are using social media, it can be more of an informational thing rather than the waste of time and distraction many use it for. But, if you choose not to have it, in return, you feel freer of the everyday, simple drama that social media can sometimes cause.

“Social media to me is a source of information that can be good or bad to have,” Ashle said. “I understand why some people love it and others hate it. To me, I am glad I don’t have it because it makes me feel better to not have to get worked up over other’s drama. Others like to get into other’s drama because it is interesting to them, or it distracts them from their own. So, while I understand why some like it, I like the freedom that comes with not having it.”

Whether you have it or not, all students can agree that social media is a strong factor in students’ lives, and Vinod, agreeing with Ashle, feels that sometimes it’s better to just go without it. 

“Social media is very powerful,” Vinod said, “and can be used in many different ways. So if you do have it, I think it’s important to be careful what you post, and think about what other people might do with what you post because it can get messy, especially when things end up in the wrong hands, so sometimes it’s easier just to go without it.”