Social media, social crisis

By Henry Shorr

Every issue of the Jambar provides more opportunities to date myself as a middle-of-the-pack millennial in a sea of Gen Z. The topic of the week is social media and I’d like to share my journey from Myspace to the present.

I was an early adopter of social media. I think I lied about being 13 to get a Myspace account because all of my friends had one — the best reason to do anything. 

Myspace was wild.

Imagine scrolling your page to your top friends — which was a real thing. You actually displayed to the world who you liked the best and yes, it did cause middle-school drama. You click on your best friend’s page to see how their family vacation was, and are immediately bombarded with lime green, comic sans text on a hot pink page; all while “Tipsy” by J-Kwon blasts out of your speakers because you forgot to turn them down and that song starts immediately.

I joined Facebook when being in high school or college was still a requirement. It was much sleeker but other than that there wasn’t much difference from Myspace in the beginning. 

The real draw was the exclusivity; knowing your parents couldn’t get an account was huge. I think the start of Facebook’s downfall was opening the site to everybody — it wasn’t cool anymore.

Facebook Messenger improved on AOL Instant Messenger — which we had been using since the late ‘90s, Skype gave us the power to talk to friends face-to-face, from anywhere in the world and Twitter let us tell each other what we ate for lunch or how much we loved “The Office.” 

Twitter’s longevity is astounding to me, but it represents the transformation in how we consume content on the internet. Going from Bloggers to Tweeters, we had condensed everything into bite-sized nuggets of information, and now, if we are presented with more than that it is hard to maintain focus.

That was just high school. Instagram came out my senior year. Snapchat was a couple of years after that, along with Tinder, Google Plus, Vine and so much more. Meanwhile, YouTube was quietly becoming a major factor in the social media equation. Influencers abound. 

I don’t even know where to start with TikTok. That one is out of my purview — I don’t even have it downloaded on my phone.

My generation has been living online and sharing our lives with the general public for a while. The generation that makes up the brunt of this student body has been online for even longer.

It can be a wonderful creative outlet; I’ve met Penguins who host podcasts, stream on Twitch and run specialized Instagram accounts. YSU athletes can even make money by making posts on social media.

There’s a dark side, though. People get into a deep hole that can be near impossible to escape. The instant gratification and automatic dopamine response we get from social media isn’t good for our brains. People also get into real-life trouble when they are too “open and honest” online.

In the words of my dude Ferris Buhler: “Life moves pretty fast,” and technology moves faster. Social media engagement has grown exponentially in my lifetime and it’s frankly horrifying to me. 

Never in my life did I imagine myself scrolling endlessly through a feed of minute-long videos, trying to decide if I’m watching an advertisement or not.

Enjoy social media, but it’s best to check those privacy settings every now and then, read some books to make sure you can still concentrate while reading something longer than 280 characters, and go touch some grass.