Ah, social media. Not a day goes by where we are not constantly checking our news feeds for status updates or new photo posts, despite various studies and news reports that correlate social media use with lowered self-esteem. Like most millennials, Marist students as a whole can’t live without social media, but are still very much aware of its downsides and some have even gone on social media cleanses, so to speak.
Kelly Stohr, a sophomore, initially stood up for millennials and their frequent use of social media. “For our generation, it’s less bothersome. It’s part of our society, it’s a part of our life every day, and it’s unavoidable. I believe that it’s more bothersome for those who grew up in a different generation.”
Even though she was quick to defend social media, Stohr also pointed out its drawbacks and reflected on something her friend went through online. “Someone called him out on a certain part of his lifestyle, I believe it was on Facebook, and that was kind of alarming. It kind of made me realize how easy it is to be bullied on social media. It’s one of the downsides to using it.”
Senior Abby Prowant believes that the media tends to exaggerate social media’s negative impact on society, but there is some truth to what they say.
“Although I would say that the effects are not as negative as the media says they are, there are times when it’s too much and I need a break. But generally, it helps me. I like that it helps me stay informed.”
Stohr mentioned that she took a complete break from social media over the summer. “I kind of decided that I would sort of separate myself from it, lay back and just enjoy nature,” she explained. “And it was freeing, being way from it all, not hearing my phone buzzing all the time. I did it for a month, and when I went back I realized how much I missed it.”
Sophomore Ariana Held says that she often takes short breaks from social media, especially during the summer. “It becomes stressful trying to keep up with everyone and when I start comparing myself to other people,” she explains. In the summertime, she says “it seems like everyone is doing fun activities and I’m working.”
She describes the breaks as “a refreshing experience because I stop comparing myself to what everyone else is doing and it gives me a chance to focus on myself.
Senior Alex Spiess does not find social media to be particularly stressful, referring to it as a “form of entertainment.” He especially likes scrolling through photos on social media, claiming that “people can relate to images. They like seeing photos, they like looking at videos.”
Stohr and junior Jamie Durso also enjoy looking at apps like Instagram as budding photographers, with the latter stating that “the appeal of Instagram is simply that it is a great place for me to share my photos, with friends, classmates, family members, and other people. I love taking photos and documenting my adventures, so it’s nice to have a place where I can edit them and keep them together.”
While some touted the benefits of posting photos online as a tool for expressing oneself, many female students were open about their negative experiences scrolling through photos on social media. Sophomore Alyssa Hogancamp says that looking at photos on Facebook is generally more stressful for her than looking at people’s status updates. “Photos say a lot that a status can’t,” she demurs. Lili Yurch, also a sophomore, agrees with Hogancamp, stating that “no matter what the photos are of, it’s hard not to compare them with some aspect of your life. Whether it’s how you looked or what you did over the weekend, a lot of the times you’re like ‘damn, I wish I looked like that’ or ‘damn, I wish I went to a party like that.’”
Prowant recalled a recent incident where she stumbled upon pictures of a friend at a party without her. Of the experience, she says, “it was upsetting to see pictures of him with friends having a good time. I just got mad and deleted his number after I saw the photos.”
Alyssa Pitonzo, a junior, says that “looking at people’s pictures either makes you feel left out or like you’re missing out on something.” Another concern for her when looking at photos is the possibility of stumbling upon an ex-boyfriend with a new girlfriend, she says. All of these concerns made her decide to cancel her Instagram account a year ago briefly, and while she called the experience, “pretty nice,” she also reported feeling “a little disconnected.”
Fellow juniors Kerry Coughlin and Colleen Lampe also talked about how this feeling of being left out caused them to take breaks from certain social media sites for a period of time.
“I deleted my Snapchat for a period of time and felt extremely relieved not knowing what my friends were doing 24/7. I did not miss it at all,” says Coughlin. “I took the break because I felt as though I was overexposed. I did not want to reveal every aspect of my life over a social media platform.”
Lampe took her break from social media back in high school. “I had deleted my Facebook for a few days and it was definitely a weird experience for me. I never realized how much I was addicted to it because I was constantly thinking about it.”
Coughlin also states that social media has become addicting for her, and that “they are distracting and make time pass in an abnormal way.” She has considered deleting either her Instagram or Twitter accounts as well but has “yet to act on it.”
Yurch describes herself as “a little less wired then some other people my age,” especially nowadays. She often shares posts from other websites more on Facebook than posts any original content such as status updates and photos. “I really don’t care that much about seeing what other people are up to,” she proclaims. “Over the years I feel like I’ve learned how to ignore some stuff and just not care about it.”