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Social media has clearly taken over our lives. On the surface, social media provides an easy means to connect with people. Want to find a job? Go on LinkedIn. Want to get in touch with a faraway loved one? Call them through Skype. Want to know what an acquaintance is up to? You can livestream his or her story on Instagram. But if you want to feel alone? Just go on social media for a little too long and you are bound to feel a little lonely. To me, social media is the ultimate paradox of connection and isolation but I personally feel that social media makes me feel more isolated.
As a Public Relations major, I do not post on social media often despite the importance of social media in my field of work. While I have come to understand social media and the nuances of branding and maintaining social media accounts for organizations, the same cannot be said for myself. In high school, I was an avid social media user. But due to a jam-packed schedule and the realization that I was wasting time on social media, I deleted most of my accounts. Then at Pepperdine University, I felt obligated to use social media again after the school insisted that students join their graduating class’ Facebook page. So I created a new social media accounts, believing that it would better connect me with my fellow students. What I did not realize was that most Pepperdine students put a lot of worth in their social media images. So after years of social media neglect, my social media image was subpar at best. Therefore, I found it difficult to make a space for myself on social media platforms because people already seemed to be leaps and bounds ahead of me. Thus, it was easy to fall into the habit of comparing myself to others and feeling like I had to copy what other people did just to fit it on those platforms. In the end, I began to feel like a fraud. Therefore, I isolated myself from social media to avoid the feeling of isolation it fostered in me. For a time this worked because I told people I was far too busy to care about social media. But everything changed when I became a Public Relations major and I could no longer avoid social media.
People often question why I became a Public Relations major since I seem to have such an aversion to social media. At one point, I did think ill of social media but now I am wiser after years learning about its benefits and influence in my PR courses. Today, I respect and value the role that social media has in linking other people, businesses, and the world and I am grateful that it is there when I am far away from the people I love. But ultimately, social media is not the way I connect best with people. I do not feel “connected” by social media. While it is true to say I can contact people, I do not feel that this means I can necessarily connect with people.
I believe that social media is communication of convenience. Therefore, the messages sent and received through social media seem to lack heart, almost as an afterthought. While many people my age would rather stay at home and like each other’s posts, I would much rather take the time to meet and spend quality time with people. While it may not be the most time efficient way to stay in touch with people, I feel much more fulfilled. For me, time is one of the greatest things we can give to others because we only have so much of it.
Aubree Ouellette, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Does social media make you feel more connected or more isolated? The class covers copyright and social media. Aubree is a Public Relations major with a minor in English Literature.
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