Am I getting old?

 

Each day in class is a new discussion of social media.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram.

Every year something new comes out, and it’s all the rage…at least for a while.  Between watching girls plan a Pinterest wedding during lecture or catching the not-so-covert Snapchatter at the bus stop, I’m starting to get a little worried.  How’s this affecting our generation, and more importantly, the younger ones behind us?

I’m not an old sourpuss quite yet.  I don’t think our brains are turning to mush or the next generation won’t even have spoken conversations with one another.  But at some point, we’ve got to step back.

I’m tired of all the OMGs and people ignoring me because they’re engrossed in a smartphone.  And I’m tired of the endless selfies (looking at you, Kim K).  In the words of a wise white girl, “I can’t even.”

Social media is great.  The ways in which we can connect across the globe are incredible. But while we’re so busy trying to connect to the world, let’s not ignore the world itself.  Stay in the know, but also put down the iPhone once in a while.  Stop posting Instagram photos of the Grand Canyon and actually BE there.  Our generation needs to be innovative, but artificial intelligence can’t be where that innovation ends.  We are the ones who created the new technology for social media, and we are the ones with the brains.  That kind of power in knowledge is irreplaceable.

You might be thinking that I just sound like a 90s kid reminiscing about good ole dial-up.  I’m really not.  I’m saying that we should be asking ourselves what we can do with technology, not what technology can do for us.

These concepts are nothing new, but they may sound weird coming from a 21-year-old.  I just know there’s a whole wide world out there to experience, and not just on a screen.  Trust me, it’s not the end of the world when Snapchat stops showing your best friends or when someone posts an unflattering picture of you.

Life moves on and so will social media.

 

Net neutrality: an epic fail

I’ve been hearing about the net neutrality debate for months now, and it seems like neither side is getting anywhere.  It’s just a bunch of thrown punches, and no one is looking to surrender.  FCC vs. Republicans.  Big companies vs. Democrats.  The list goes on and on.  I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted by it all.

Among the cat fights and petty slaps, both sides have forgotten one fundamental thing: neither one has it all figured out and neither one is completely right.  Everyone has his head buried deep in the sand…or maybe lost in his own party’s butt.  That’s kind of Washington’s specialty, right?

So maybe by taking a step back and assessing the overall concepts of the argument, we might get somewhere.  Let me preface this by saying that I do not profess to know everything about net neutrality, nor do I know all of the ins and outs about it. But I’m a daily Internet user, so I think I have a right to say my peace.

First of all, a government-run Internet functioning as a public utility should not be an option.  We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot here.  I know the government wants to protect neutrality, and I respect that.  But let’s be honest, any overreaching project the government takes on tends to become slower than a bear right out of hibernation. And don’t forget the gobs of red tape and bureaucracy, which will no doubt lessen the quality and accessibility. Say it to yourself: government control of the Internet.  I think I just heard George Washington turn over in his grave (at least about the government control part).

Now, as for the big companies. It certainly isn’t fair for them to hog all of the bandwidth and create a little Internet monopoly.  Just like government control, this is also limiting the freedom of the Internet.  Part of the beauty of it is that anyone and everyone can communicate.  A person’s Internet use should not be limited because he isn’t a CEO of a media corporation.  And your large portion of bandwidth should not be awarded to you because you were able to pay the steep price.  That’s opening a door straight into disaster.  Once again, the titans are squashing the guy next door.

So Democrats: lay off the public utility idea.  That’s just another bad idea with a hefty price tag.  Take your hands out of this pot.  And Republicans: stop sacrificing yourselves at the feet of corporations and instead take up the cause of freedom of speech.

Companies may have a right to pay money for what they want, but there is no way this right trumps the 1st Amendment.  Allow the FCC to go after companies who abuse bandwidth to maintain neutrality.  But leave the regulation there.

I’m not buying it

A couple of days ago our JOMC 240 class had a pretty lengthy discussion about Facebook.  Apparently most people think the site is dying out among our generation…or that we’re growing out of it.  Honestly I was surprised, especially since some people admitted they still scroll through their newsfeed several times a day.

So I’m saying here what I didn’t get a chance to say in class.  I’m not buying this whole “dying out” thing.

I think there is a difference between posting on a site and accessing the site.  In my book, accessing it still counts as usage.  I agree that users are posting less content on Facebook–I’m guilty of this myself.  The award for posting definitely goes to Instagram.  But people are still ON Facebook.  You don’t have to post something to use the social network.  How can you say you’re growing out of it when you still scroll through it every day?  There is always something new to look at on the site (evidently someone out there is still posting).

Let me make a few points:

1. It’s strange for someone not to have a profile on the site.  2. People are still signing up. 3. People communicate frequently via Messenger or Facebook groups. 4. You can’t go one day without seeing a “like us on Facebook” ad.

Facebook will die out one of these days.  As older people are signing up, it becomes less and less relevant to younger generations.  And yeah, it’ll probably just become a virtual address book.

But is it happening now as we speak? Nah, I don’t think so.

What’s all the fuss about?

I’m just going to say it.  I don’t have an Instagram.

[insert pause for gasps]

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly see the appeal of it.  I’m not trying to defy social constructs by refusing to partake in social media.  I have Facebook and Twitter, but the thought of having an Instagram is daunting to me.  I already have enough trouble trying to generate content on those other two platforms.  I barely post anything on Facebook except for the occasional picture or Merry Christmas status, and I’ve gone days without tweeting anything.  Sometimes I’ll joke that I just don’t have much say, but that’s not entirely true.  I have plenty of comments to make throughout the day, but I don’t usually feel compelled to take the time to share it with my followers.  It’s easier to continue on with the day.  I would rather read other people’s posts than take the time to post one myself.

If I have so much trouble posting words (which happen to be my thing), how am I going to come up with photos to post?  That’s what turns me off from getting an Instagram.  What could I possibly take photos of besides the occasional birthday or basketball game?  Pretty flowers I see on my walk to class?  The 14 billion coffee cups I consume in a year?  Now I just feel like a basic white girl.

So I agree with danah boyd’s response to the Andrew Watts post on Medium.  Watts makes a lot of generalizations that don’t apply to all of our generation.  Instagram seems pretty great, and it’s surely all the rage.  I don’t discount that at all.  But it’s not making Facebook and Twitter obsolete quite yet.  And yes, this is coming from a 21-year-old college student.  I was alive during the birth of social media and am now living in the age of it.

Who knows, maybe I’m overthinking this whole Instagram debacle and will end up having one in the next six months.  In the meantime, I think I’ll hold off on that and keep thinking of things to tweet.

Let’s talk about Yik Yak

It’s less than two years old but yet it’s already worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Most people know it as Yik Yak, but I like to call it the trashier version of Twitter.  Let me back up that statement.  Yik Yak has the same scrolling timeline concept as Twitter, but it’s quite a different atmosphere.  The posts are voted up or down, and with enough down votes, a post can be removed from the timeline.  But that sure doesn’t weed out the obnoxious posts where every other word is profanity.  Maybe I should call it the drunker version of Twitter.  I’m a big girl.  I don’t mind the occasional explicit post, but when it’s EVERY SINGLE POST, it can get exhausting to read.  On Twitter I usually enjoy reading my friends’ posts and sometimes even read a couple of interesting articles.  But scrolling through Yik Yak is just one big eye roll for me.  Maybe I’m looking at it at the wrong time, but whenever I open the app, it feels like a way to waste time.  I don’t think I really get anything out of Yik Yak.

Let me suggest the reason for such low quality.  It’s anonymous!  When people can hide behind a screen, they suddenly feel the need to say anything and everything.  There are no consequences.  Not many people will post something that’s offensive and full of profanity if it has to appear beside their name.  But take away the identity, and all bets are off.  The anonymity factor has always been a partial reason for the low quality of anything…whether it be comments on a news website or a bomb threat (remember that controversy on Yik Yak last semester?).  Now I’m not saying Yik Yak should get rid of anonymity because then it’d be the same as Twitter.  But I am saying that we can’t expect to get too much out of this particular social site.

Sound a little harsh? Sorry not sorry.