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By Colleen Francke

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge proponent of face-to-face communication, leaving my cell phone in my room before going out to meet friends, and limiting the overall social media obsession that seems to grace most individuals of our generation.

I can’t stand the need to constantly be connected to one another—the need to find out who did what, when they did it and how they’re going to get out of it. It’s a need that seems utterly invasive and, frankly with limited benefits for all parties involved.

Additionally, as a die-hard lover of holding a book in my hand and turning crisp pages as opposed to gluing my eyes to a Kindle, Nook or iPad, I am devastated at the inevitable truth that all of our print media is going digital.

It seems that all we are doing is becoming victims of technology. Soon, will we even need people to complete jobs, or just robots? Will we even need actors for movies, or simply pixilated beings with various instructions on how to act? It is both a frightening yet seemingly impossible thought, and, yet, we are headed in that direction.But is our love affair with social media all bad?

Recently, an 18-year-old boy from my hometown lost a seven-month battle with a rare form of leukemia. All of us away at college were able to be constantly updated with the news of Tucker’s fight with the Facebook page his mother had started entitled “Luck2Tuck.” The wall was constantly being flooded with kind words, thoughts and prayers as well as posts by Jenny, his mother, on Tucker’s status.

At the news that Tucker had taken a turn for the worse, the most amazing thing occurred. Thousands of wall posts with truly inspirational words of encouragement bombarded the page. I was able to see that we may never meet people, and stories may come from miles away, but we can still feel as if they are part of us.

It could have been my brother.

Social media was able to connect all of us following Tucker’s story and aid us in understanding the true power of the human spirit.

Sometimes, we all need a fresh reminder about our interdependence as members of humanity. At a time where I was feeling so wrapped up in my school work and commitments at the University, I was able to step back and understand our need to encourage one another. Without that Facebook page, I would not have had that extraordinary moment.

Take my brother’s friend. She was dating someone her freshman year of college, but transferred schools and lost touch with him. She met another guy and, after college, they instantly moved in together. Upon their breakup and “single” status on Facebook, that old boyfriend from freshman year messaged her, and the rest is history. They married this October.

When Sandy hit, those whose families were deeply affected started Facebook pages looking for any donations that people were willing to give. Those with no connection to the situation were able to find ways to reach out, even to somehow get themselves to the areas most affected, with information spread on social media sites.

I’m sure you could all find similar situations in your life. What is this telling us about social media? From someone who hates the constant need for interconnectedness and yet succumbs to its wrath more than I’m comfortable to admit, maybe we should reevaluate if it is such a horrible thing that it is becoming so prominent in our lives.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like aren’t only there for us to incessantly pry into one another’s lives. They can bring family members stuck on opposite sides of the country closer together. They can inform us college students who can’t bring ourselves to turn on CNN or NBC to find out about the world that is occurring out there. They can lead to marriages. They can aid in the collection of donations for causes individuals perhaps wouldn’t even have heard of otherwise.

Maybe, as a society, we shouldn’t be so hard on social media. Yes, do not text while driving and maybe turn off your Wi-Fi when you’re studying for finals. Don’t use it for all the wrong reasons when all of the right ones can lead us to higher levels of enlightenment than we could have ever imagined.

And next time you’re on Facebook, forgo the hourly stalk of that person from high school you never even spoke to. There’s a lot more out there, I promise.

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