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In high school, we always had that one group to look up to that showed us how to be “cool”: how to dress, where to party and most importantly, if we fell under the “cool” stereotype, too. Now, as a freshman, I find myself turning to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds to replace that void.
Social media has arguably become the dominant form of communication for young adults. In our generation, communicating is more than two people having a face-to-face conversation; it crosses borders, smart phone screens and wifi connections.
Why is this significant? When your friend’s Instagram post about having a “kick ass” time in college reaches 200 of her friends, it affects those people. Through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, we are communicating messages of what college should look like.
Freshman psychology major Nicole Rodriguez does not believe social media is a good representation of people’s lives.
“People act so different on them,” Rodriguez said. “They’re like, I’m going to try and be cool.”
She admitted she was guilty of doing the same.
Rodriguez explained that social media cannot tell the whole story. Instead, authors of posts think each one out meticulously, making sure that the posts will earn them some sort of street cred with their followers. If every post is filtered and deliberated over, how can our college experiences be seen as authentic?
Similarly, senior finance and accounting major Gesa Deutz thinks that people change the way they are seen through the use of social media.
“They want to be cooler than they are,” Deutz said. “And they want to make someone else jealous, and they want attention.”
Deutz points out many young people use social media to make someone else jealous. And that is exactly what is happening.
Unfortunately, we compare ourselves to these unauthentic posts countless times a day. Every time you open your Instagram app, it affects your own self perception. This especially affects freshmen. As first years, we are constantly trying to figure out what exactly we are supposed to be doing, and that’s where social media comes in. It becomes our guide; we use it to compare our own experiences with our friends’ to make sure we are on the correct path.
We compare our Saturday night to our best friend’s tweet about what a crazy party he went to. Suddenly, our movie night in seems lame and definitely not what we are supposed to be doing in college.
Deutz said that now, as a 22 year old, she is not as reliant on social media as she once was.
“I post less, I check less and I just don’t give it too much attention anymore,” Deutz said.
It seems that as freshmen, we are more likely to feel pressure from social media than upperclassmen do. As we learn to establish ourselves, we will stop caring so much about what everyone else is doing and focus on our own success.
The fact is there is no right way to do college; that’s that best part. Figure out what college is going to mean to you. Don’t try to judge your success based off of the tiny snippets you see of other peoples’ lives because it can make you feel completely unsatisfied with your own.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Katherine Galambos at Katherine.galambos@Colorado.edu.