Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Using social media is like second nature to college students; we’ve grown up with them. With 1 in 4 people using Facebook or Twitter worldwide, social networking is becoming a more common part of our culture. Although believed to be a way to connect friends together, Facebook and other social media sites have recently received criticism over their impact on users and activism efforts.

Social media has taken away face-to-face interactions. Increasingly users of social media are becoming dependent on mediated communication. Research shows that although we may be communicating more, the connections we establish with people have become weaker because of the lack of “real time” interactions. It may be more difficult to meet in person, but it is worth it in the long run.

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Social media gives users constant access to people, and allows them to share any aspect or event of their life. Content shared on social media accounts can create a gold standard of limited experiences, making one believe that their own life fails in comparison to their peers. It’s similar to comparing an entire book, to a couple of the most interesting pages of another. Next time you’re scrolling remember that no person’s life is as glamorous as their social media account.

Facebook activism has come under fire in the past year by the ad campaign titled “Liking isn’t helping”. The campaign makes the claim that “liking” on Facebook gives users a false sense of accomplishment when it comes to social issues and making a difference. The images used in the campaign depict sad but real problems in our world, surrounded by thumbs up, or ‘liking’ the issue.

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The viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge also had its critics. You cannot deny that the funds produced from the internet sensation are impressive- 41.8 Million dollars from July 29th to August 21stThe Ice Bucket Challenge made a difference and demonstrates that social media can be used to advocate for a cause or provide awareness. However, many critics felt that posting a video of dumping ice water on your head did not make the same impact as donating to the cause.

Social media outlets have been used to help connect people with other people and events around the world- more frequently though, social media has led to missed connections and misinformation. Use social media wisely.

Written by Dave Parsons, Peer Educator

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