Plugged In- Column by Maureen Aloff

To me, social media is like candy. Everyone puts the sweetest parts of their lives on social media, which is why I think everyone likes it so much; it is just the good stuff about them. Like candy, social media can provide a small pick me up as part of your day. Having a piece of chocolate or a couple of Starbursts can satisfy a sweet craving, but eating a whole box of chocolates or a couple packs of Starbursts makes my stomach turn, much like spending too much time on social media makes me feel lethargic and gross. Like candy, social media is great in moderation.
I think social media is an easy way to stay connected to your friends and acquaintances, even after you go your separate ways. Getting to see what my older friends are up to at college and following some people I met on a cruise in 2014 makes me smile because I can still see what’s going on in their lives without talking to them directly. That might sound silly, but I don’t want to intrude on their lives, especially if I haven’t spoken to them in a while. Social media enables my socially awkward tendencies, but in a positive way. Social media, Instagram mostly, also allows me to reach out to these people when I want to without it seeming random by commenting on their posts or direct messaging them.
I mainly use Instagram to follow my friends, people who I have met in real life, but I don’t think there is shame in following “influencers” or public figures, however I would just suggest refraining from obsessing over these celebrities. After all, I don’t really care that Kim Kardashian posted a new booty pic, but it still got two million likes, so obviously someone does. I may not follow many influencers, but I do enjoy going on the Instagram explore page. I use the explore page to find outfit inspiration and comedy. It is a diverse and helpful feature that I think is another positive part of Instagram.
I consider Instagram to be the most rosy and happy of the social media apps, and Twitter to be the more satirical and news filled. I use Twitter to follow more political figures than friends, so it is the place that delivers the majority of the news that I consume. I believe that we live in the age of information, meaning that we live in a time where there is more information available to us than ever before, and social media is the mainstream gate to it. This is a major benefit to people my age because social media allows us to change our apathy into action. It was just over a year ago when the survivors of the shooting at Stoneman-Douglas High School used social media to express their outrage and to organize a nationwide student walk out. Those students were able to cause mass action, and it was all through social media. More recently, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her social media accounts to keep in touch with her constituents and explain her proposed bills, which I think is a revolutionary use of social media. Social media can be used to spread awareness; it can be used for good.
Social media can help us stay connected, but it cannot replace face to face interactions. As much as I enjoy posting pictures from winning football games and retweeting the latest Trump screw up, I understand that social media can never replace real world conversations. For as much as I like ice cream sundaes, I know I can’t have them for every meal. Just like candy, social media can be good, in moderation.