With seniors stressing about college applications and freshmen experiencing life as Gunn students for the first time, there is a flux of people deactivating their Facebook accounts. Left and right, people are classifying social networking websites as a distracting frivolity that detracts from productivity. Students believe that removing themselves from Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr will allow them to focus more on their studies. True, disconnecting from social media can allow a person better concentration, but those who refuse to engage in it altogether are doing themselves a serious disservice.
Let’s face it: social media is taking over the world. From Facebook’s conception in 2004, it has rapidly become, for the general population, the primary means of communicating. It won’t be long before it starts taking over every facet of our lives (if it hasn’t already). It has almost become an obligation for professionals in the business world to sign into social media, with sites such as Linkedin, where 89 percent of hirees now come from, connecting employees and employers with each other. Many businesses have also already taken to adding a social media sector to their marketing departments. Certainly educational administrators have seen the vitality of social networking, as Gunn is one of many schools that uses Schoology to connect with students. Even students have seen the necessity of involving social media with their academic lives; most are members of at least one class group that they use to post questions or receive help. It is becoming more and more apparent that in order to maintain a successful lifestyle, one must keep up with social media trends.
Staying in touch with online networking has proved advantageous for the distribution of information as well. According to socialnetworking.procon.org, social media is now the main news resource for 27.8 percent of Americans, only 1 percent below newspapers, and a whopping 22.8 percent above other print publications. As the number of connected Americans rises, social media will soon overtake newspapers as the primary and conventional means of newscasting. It’s a sad fact that most of the new generation won’t pick up a newspaper, but publications like Newsweek have embraced Web 2.0, abandoning paper to push for profits online. Social media has become the new face of mass communication and now provides a convenient, instantaneous way for people to receive information. This wider and faster range of data exchange has led to an increasingly connected and informed populace.
Some argue that social media is a distraction that can endanger the grades of teenagers. While this may be true, this claim is too broad to accurately classify it as a detriment to society. There is one reason why it is not social media’s fault: there is an off button. If a student wants to get his homework done, he will temporarily shut down his computer and finish his assignments for the day. If he can’t help himself but to check his screen every five minutes, that’s a problem of his own inability to control his temptations. But that doesn’t mean we should be pointing fingers at Facebook and Twitter; those companies have no responsibilities for a student’s actions. A decade ago, parents would be scolding their kids for talking on the phone for two hours instead of studying. Today, teenagers spend that time on social media. But back then, people were not unhooking their phones and writing articles about why phones are destroying the youth. The same situation applies now, except with a much more prevalent and progressive medium. Ultimately, unproductive behavior is a personal choice.
—Cheong, a senior, is a Forum Editor.