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Social Media: Friend or Foe?

cody bourque -- Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:07am

Something I’m sure we can all agree upon is how dominant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ have become within many cultures around the world. The tools of connecting people with one another are helpful in our society. Today, our lifestyle is geared around social media. No longer is it just the younger generation who is leading the pack. Over time, our population as a whole has become infatuated with social media. According to a study done by, as of 2015, 73 percent of the U.S. population has at least one social media profile compared 2010 when it was only 48 percent. With the percentage growing every year, the problem of our social media dependency will only increase. 
Facebook allows us to stay connected with friends and family that we may not physically be able to interact with on a regular basis. It has become a large platform for sharing news articles and widespread movements. Google+ is quite similar to Facebook in the sense that we are able to share thoughts, ideas, and news with people all over the world. Google+ is also utilized within quite a few of the online courses we offer  at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The application helps students interact with others via instant messaging and video conferencing. Students are also able to share work with others and communicate efficiently as if they were together in a physical classroom.

The benefits of social media are endless when it comes to connecting ends of the world together through a medium that allows complete independent expression of one’s self. Looking at social media through a subjective filter, we can see that there are some of the negative impacts that social media has on us, especially when we are enrolled in online course. Having school work and pleasure mixed on the same medium can be  often tempting. I will be the first person to admit that if I’m working on any sort of school work on my computer, it is very hard for me not to click on Facebook or Twitter to see what’s the latest news or happenings on my newsfeed. Why does this happen? I know that I shouldn’t be on Facebook when I’ve got an assignment I’m working on that’s due soon. Seeking engagement through social media instead of completing the task at hand is something that is learned.

I struggle with this every day. Whether I’m walking around campus or sitting at home, I’m tuned into social media. Either I’m checking Facebook for a new trending topic that my friends are talking about or scrolling through Twitter to see what’s being tweeted and retweeted by my friends. Being logged into social media is no longer the correct term, because when do we ever logout? I honestly can’t tell you the last time that I logged out of a social media account unless it was because I got a new phone or computer.

As in any situation, knowing the problem exists is the first battle in the war. How do we combat our urge to stay logged in and tuned into what’s being shared on Facebook? Well, easier said than done, we could close the browser window and forget about it. But is that truly something that we can do without opening up Facebook five minutes later? I think it is much more complex than that. Some of us have let social media become a necessary part of our daily activities. Checking Facebook periodically through the day when we have nothing else to do at the moment becomes normal. Swiping through our Twitter feed while waiting in line to get food passes the time. As a society, we have let social media go beyond its objective purpose of keeping us connected with others. If social media has become a necessity in your life, then it is going to be almost impossible for you to do any school work on a computer without checking Facebook first, and then checking it again 10 minutes later.
How do we win the war against social media? It’s about winning the small battles. While waiting for your food, keep your phone in your pocket and take in your surroundings. Make observations about the world around. Maybe even strike up a conversation. Rather than thinking of it as another chance to check Facebook Twitter, we should focus on the task at hand at each point of our day. Disassociating social media as an escape from a task we are doing during the day is the key. If we are able to stop using social media as a crutch for our boredom, then we are making the necessary progress. So when it is time for us to sit down and do school work for our online course, we won’t seek an escape through social media that is right at our fingertips.
Your success in online courses depends on you being able to draw the line where social media cannot cross. If students allow their time on social media to bleed into their study or homework time, then their success in online courses will falter. In order to achieve success in an online course, we have to break away our unconscious dependency on social media