Stepping out of the stream

Haylen Jackson

In 2021, Pew Research Center polled 1500 U.S. adults about social media. When asked about their social media use more broadly rather than their use of specific platforms, 72% of Americans say they use social media sites. Many people find it hard to stay away from it, but what about the people who do stay away from social media? How is life without it? What about the first generation to use social media? How did life change when social media became the new thing?
Millennials born in the early 80s were in their teens and early adulthood during the rise of social media.
“I actually first remember Myspace… Myspace, if you look it up, is another social media platform, and people did the same things you would do on Facebook,” said English teacher Janice Webb.
Myspace was founded August 1, 2003. It was the most visited website in the world from 2005 to 2009, and it even surpassed Google in 2006. Since then, social media has expanded to be redirected for different purposes.
“Facebook, in the very beginning, was just people connecting with each other and putting status updates… Then as Facebook progressed, it is now what you know it to be… but there’s also a ton of ads and videos and marketing campaigns now,” said Webb.
Social media has been constantly changing, so much that new social media platforms are coming to light, the newest one being TikTok. With so much social media around the world, people can find it hard to get off of media. Some ways to get off of media are deleting the platforms, turning off notifications or setting a time limit.
Even with social media so accessible, a lot of young people are not engaging with it. Their limits could be their own choice or simply a family boundary.
“My parents just don’t allow me to have [social media], otherwise I would have it,” said sophomore Madelyn Pense.
Leading a social-media-free life works for some. Many teenagers are finding that social media takes away their time or happiness, so they set up their own boundaries.
“I just don’t find myself using Snapchat very often, or Instagram, because I find it boring and don’t find time to use it,” said sophomore Devin Salter.
Salter has these social media apps but rarely uses them. Others get social media for one reason and then get sucked in.
“I actually got Twitter to follow the 6th man [the student section rally group] and what themes were for basketball, and then off-season came and I started following celebrities,” said senior Cailyn Myers.
Eventually, Myers found the Twitter drama was having a negative impact on her and she deleted the app.
“I’d be scrolling through and people would just be fighting in the comments of something someone had tweeted, and I just would get sucked in for like an hour, and then it would ruin my day and I needed to quit,” said Myers.
Even for the first generation of social media users, stepping away from these platforms can offer more personal connection.
“I think that there is a lot of good that can come from social media, but I think that it has also become consuming for a lot of people. So, I see the benefit of taking a step back to what you might consider the ‘good old days’ and just connect with people face-to-face rather than through a screen,” said Webb.