Social Media Impacts Lives
November 4, 2021
In a year of social media caused problems, teachers and students share their thoughts.
Social Media Impacts Views of Reality
Rachel Hicks. CTE teacher, business and finance teacher, and the Department Chair for the CTE department believes social media can influence people by giving them a false sense of reality.
“I think it can give us a false sense of what other people’s realities are,” Hicks said. “Things like Instagram where everything is a filter, we view these filters and think that is reality.”
That false of reality impacts people’s viewpoint of themselves and their lives.
“It kind of harms our thoughts,” Hicks said. “It can kind of hurt us and the way we view ourselves. And the way that we view their lives and thinking that this perfect filtered life is real when probably it’s not as real as we think it is.”
Junior Anastazia Mujimu believes that social media can bring on mental health issues from the actions of others.
“First of all, cyberbullying, many teenagers and younger kids go through this because of social media, and it can take a toll on their mental health,” Anastazia said.
The false sense of reality is only one part of the problem with social media according to Hicks.
“The toxic part of social media, I think, is we have to be mindful of who we follow,” she said. “I think we have to keep in mind that they’re putting their best foot out there, their best appearance out there.”
Social media can contain some highly traumatizing things so Anastazia has made it where if she sees anything disturbing she takes proper action to try and get it removed.
“I’ve tried to report the accounts and tried to get it banned, but that is about all I can do to help,” Anastazia said.
Then there are the posts that get taken down. Those decisions seem random at times with some bad posts left up while minor issue posts are taken down.
“Some people get community guidelines violations for the simplest things that really aren’t anything bad but then you see creators out there that are posting incredibly offensive or inappropriate things that anybody can get to,” Hicks said.
For instance, students saw a TikTok video with a kitten being killed by teenagers. Despite multiple reports, the video was left up for weeks. That is an extreme example of the problem.
“I think that companies that run social media platforms need to do a better job about creating algorithms and processes within their systems to be able to watch for those things, and to act accordingly,” Hicks said.
Anastazia , tries her best to look at the positive part of social media and attempts to share anything and everything she can to bring awareness to others.
“There was a recent situation on Tik-Tok that I seen about the Texas Abortion law, and I took a great interest in it, so I started to spread awareness on my social media platforms to the point where I’ve posted countless times on my stories and my feed,” Anastazia said.
On top of that students add to the problem any time there is an emergency on campus.
The first response often during an emergency is for students to pull out their phones and record the situation, but Hicks finds that disgusting.
“The reality of somebody having a medical emergency or they’re being in a fight, and the first reaction that people have is to record is extremely bothersome to me,” Hicks said. “I don’t know where we broke down culturally.”
Over all Hicks believes there are some positives to social media despite the negative parts.
“I think it has a lot of positives, but I do think it has a lot of negatives,” Hicks said. “I think we have seen that since its inception, and since its popularity has grown throughout, throughout our country.”
Overall her view on social media is positive despite all the bad things because it can make things better for people who are in a rough situation.
“Social media sometimes helps some kids that sometimes have a tough situation going on at home, so you can’t really talk to anyone,” Anastazia said. “So, because of social media, they can reach out to others, and they can help them.”
Staff Members Share Opinions On Social Media
Social media and its effects on school are still being discovered. Many have different things to say about social media in general and its usage at school.
“Social media is the biggest negative at school,” Russell said. “I think that social media is by far the biggest distraction for students at school.”
Russell said that social media is a one-directional platform and not suited for conversations, but more suitable for shock value posts.
“Say a tweet,” Russell said, “you need to put your ideas out there, people can respond to it. But there’s so many that you can’t converse with all of them. They’re just responses. Sometimes their responses are just like thumbs up, sometimes their responses with a smiley face. And so, it doesn’t create any depth of discussion like when you have a discussion in person. In a true discussion, you can say something like, whatever your beliefs are, and then the other person would say what their beliefs are. And then you explain to them why and they explain to you why. And then you can either empathize with them and understand or you can disagree cordially and then separate. Social media lacks feeling and depth.”
Assistant Principal Wat Harden can see both the good and bad in social media. On one hand, Harden said that problems can come with altercations.
“That’s when the whole negative side of social media comes about,” Harden said, “because not every event in the building should necessarily be recorded and sent out. A common issue is just students feeling the need to record every single thing and then share it out, because then it gives one perspective one view of what’s going on here but that’s not necessarily always the case.”
However, Harden points out that that social media can be useful even if one-directional.
“We can keep parents and community members involved and up to date,” Harden said. “Whether football scores, volleyball scores, or senior events, we can get information out in real time. When I was growing up, you had to look at the newspaper, look at the news and so you had to rely on those forms of information, and as for social media you can immediately get up to date information.”
Dr. Winston McCowan, CTHS Principal, agrees that social media has its place.
“I know a majority of our students rely on social media a lot,” Dr. McCowan said. “And so, as a school administration we try to, when we want to get a message out, we use social media, we use Twitter, we use Facebook, we use Remind, we use all those different avenues because we know those are the platforms that students utilize the most.”
Dr. McCowan does, however, acknowledge that social media has downfalls that have negative impacts on our society.
“It’s a good place for rumors to spread,” Dr. McCowan said. “It’s a good place for people to talk negatively towards each other, and it causes problems with cyberbullying and things of that nature.”
Looking at the pros and cons of social media, school counselor Courtny Gregg said that she could see how social media could be used for academic purposes if it doesn’t become a problem or distraction.
“I think it can almost be an addiction for both students and adults,” Gregg said.
“Some of the freedoms that people take with it [social media], that maybe they wouldn’t in person. I think they feel anonymous behind a social media profile or screen and just say things that are unkind, more freely than they might, if a person was face to face so I see that side of it too.”
Avid teacher Carol Hatten thinks that phones are a real problem in the classroom when used incorrectly as they often are.
“I think that students should not have their cellphones in use for personal things at school,” Hatten said. “I think if they’re using their cell phones for academic things, I’m okay with that, but if you are disengaging from the learning to engage with your social media, you’re not using your school time wisely, and you’re missing out on instruction or you’re missing out on completing the assignments. And so, your social media should wait until you get out of school.”
The use of social media and cell phones in general has caused a decline in interaction between students, school librarian Mylie James said.
“I think there are times that it makes me really sad that the kids aren’t connecting with each other in person anymore,” James said. “When they’re sitting and eating lunch with their friends, they’re just on their phones. And so, I think it pulls some of our brain power. I think that social media can sometimes have negative influences on things like cyberbullying, rumor spreading, and putting other kids down because when you’re behind your device it’s a lot easier to say negative things than it would be for you to say to someone’s face.”
While social media has just as many good points as bad points, there is a time and place for it according to US History teacher Rachel Head.
“I feal like sometimes it [social media] is a distraction,” Head said. “In the classroom, I’ve been told that my room has excellent lighting for doing Tick Tocks, and while I appreciate the compliment on my room’s lighting, I don’t appreciate my class time being used for filming Tick Tocks.”