Impacts of more access to social media

Caitlyn Lofland, Samrah Abbasi, Features Editor, Editor-at-Large

After using social media for many years as a way to talk with friends, senior Emma Chassman recently created an Instagram account for her fashion interest.

“I decided to make a fashion account because I wanted to inspire others to wear outfits that make them confident,” said Chassman. “I know I have the ability to inspire others about the latest fashion trends and influence [people] to broaden their style.”

Along with connecting with her family members abroad through social media, senior Francine Dadrass said she uses social media to take more of an active role in global issues, specifically climate change.

“When I repost facts about climate change or pictures of the Amazon [Rain] forest, I want to show people the reality of the situation,” said Dadrass. “People won’t necessarily take [a post] seriously unless it is from a credible source, so sharing posts from credible accounts on Instagram makes it easier to show people where the information is originally from.”

Chassman said she initially started using social media in seventh grade because many of her friends had it and she posted pictures of her and her friends. Chassman said she now uses social media for a fashion account on Instagram separate from her personal account.

According to Marc Smith, sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer-mediated interaction, throughout the decade, social media users tend to switch between apps as new ones are released to avoid monitoring from their parents, and because the apps show more advertisements and other unwanted content.

Smith said as social media has become more popular over the past ten years, users have found more creative uses for it.

“Social media has been positive,” said Smith. “People are able to find other groups of people who share often very narrow interests, people find new friends, find new interests, find new cultures, follow new music [and] join new movements.”

Smith said people have altered the ways they interact with social media due to new security and privacy concerns.

“[A] big shift over the past ten years is from public or semi-public discussions to far more closed and more private chats and group chats,” Smith said.

According to Nicole Kraft, associate professor of clinical communication at The Ohio State University, the rise of the smartphone since the early 2010s has contributed significantly to the increased use of social media.

“The [distribution] of the iPhone was a game-changer,” said Kraft. “It created a one-stop shop for people to access the internet.”

Smith said while there are many positive new ways to use social media, there are also many harmful impacts on people.

“When people … show their best possible side, [social media users] develop a very skewed sense of what other people’s lives are really like, so as an information source, the internet doesn’t really care about the accuracy, truthfulness or helpfulness of the information,” Smith said.

Chassman said posts and advertisements can be portrayed in an artificial way, especially because of the ability to photoshop.

According to Smith, Instagram can be especially negative for some users due to the lack of authenticity.

“If Instagram actually showed you pictures of the actual moods of people during the day, it would not be the experience it is today,” Smith said.