The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Opinions about social media differ on campus

In an age where Taylor Swift has seven times as many Twitter followers as North Carolina has residents, it may seem we are more virtually connected than ever.

For the rest of the world, this may be so, but for Guilford students, social media infatuation is not exactly #trending.

In fact, some students go as far as rejecting popular sites, like Facebook, in favor of old-school interactions.

“I have a Facebook, but I don’t go on it,” said Early College junior Erin Goeke, who credits the platform’s competitive nature as a reason to stay away.

Privacy is also an issue for Goeke, who describes the site as “nosy.” She mostly communicates by text or talk but also uses Snapchat, which she prefers for its direct messaging options and “smooth coding.”

“On the phone, there’s still a disconnect,” she said. “But when you can see a picture of your friend along with a text, … it brightens your day.”

Senior Conway Boyce has not broken ties with Facebook completely but has developed a new perspective on it after spending a semester in China.

“Not having (social media) for so long … made me realize how much time I spent on it doing nothing,” Boyce said via email interview.

As it goes, distance can make the heart grow fonder, but it can also lift the fog from what was actually an unhealthy relationship.

“I also realized how fast things travel on social media,” Boyce said. “Once you post something, anyone across the world can see it.”

Boyce currently uses Instagram and Snapchat, which are both phone-based and image-centric. While abroad, however, his platform of choice was Tumblr. He uses the site largely for creative purposes.

“I like to share my art, to get feedback,” he said. ”I have also been inspired by other artists through what they’ve shared.”

Tumblr, a blogging platform often associated with strong social justice leanings and pretty pictures set to ambient music, is quite popular at Guilford.

Several campus organizations, such as WQFS, the Yachting Club and the Friends Center, have frequently updated accounts. The campus’ primary users, however, are individual students.

“Tumblr allows me to be antisocial and look at things I find aesthetically pleasing,” said senior Layla Rafaoui. “(Tumblr provides) poetry, writing and art.”

Rafaoui also thinks that sites like Tumblr can serve as refuge for those that may not feel comfortable finding their voice otherwise.

“It helps them to have a platform they can easily escape on,” she said.

Other users on campus share the sentiment.

“It’s a great tool for those who may not have the capability to speak out outside of social media,” Goeke said.

Students seem to agree that the benefits, or detriments, of social media are largely situational, and that personal limits must be set.

“There (seems to be) a link between social media dependence and pretty intense depression,” Rafaoui said.

Generational differences may influence time devoted to online platforms but not necessarily opinions of them.

“I think if your time on social media doesn’t interfere with your professional, scholastic, or real-world social life then it isn’t a problem,” said CCE senior Rodney Barnhardt.

“The virtual world is convenient, quick and unobtrusive,” said Barnhardt, who uses social media to keep in touch with friends and plan events. For him, however, it does not compare to the “real world.”

“There are things cyberspace can’t give you in interaction: … nonverbal clues, touch (and) spontaneity,” he said.

Perhaps it makes sense that at a school as small as Guilford, students would favor direct contact to generic online musings. There is an authenticity to “real” interaction that the virtual world just does not have (yet).

“I don’t think it’s healthy to ever imagine that what someone presents on social media is all they care about or all of who they are,” said Rafaoui.

When it comes to social media use, students at Guilford value balance however elusive it may be. Additionally, what constitutes “balance” may differ from person to person.

“A lot of my friends have entire circles that they have met solely through online platforms,” said Goeke. “To each their own.”

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