Kannan Headshot_sketchSocial media and quick communication are an integral part of college life, so much so that I wonder what college was like before everyone had phones. How did anyone make plans or get together quickly? Last-minute changes must have certainly been frowned upon.

The most recent changes and innovations in the way of communication have garnered much support as well as criticism. I, of course, am talking about social media. It is constantly around us and in many different incarnations. The majority of apps on my phone, and I imagine on those of many others, are social media. I realized the extent of my own dependence on such communication when my phone broke. I was shocked at how many times I subconsciously checked my phone, only to be reminded by my own reflection from the unresponsive screen that it was broken. It had quickly become a nasty habit of mine.

In that sense, perhaps because I cannot imagine college without texting or Facebook events, I would argue that technology has made it possible to do more. The iconic ALS ice bucket challenge of last year and the amazing collective energy of the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program group the summer before last school year, to name a few great events, would not have been possible without a social media platform.

On the other hand, I wonder what price we have paid for constant interactions and communications. I pushed off getting a Facebook account for as long as I could. I succumbed to the pull after I met people from London on my service trip and it was evident that social media would be the easiest way to keep in touch. Before that, when people would ask me why I didn’t have one already, I would answer honestly that it felt like giving up a part of myself. It would be adding what seemed like an unnecessary distraction.

Before the era of Facebook, everyone had to be more involved personally in relationships to ensure they lasted. Now, a few swipes of a finger can create a false sense of connection that potentially jeopardizes the depth of the friendship. Using a phone to actually call people has all but gone extinct. Hearing a person’s voice is significantly more gratifying than reading a 140-character tweet.

I am by no means saying that we should cut all forms of social media and revert to pre-21st-century lifestyles. No, I realize the new frontiers made possible by social media. It is a new form of expression, of putting oneself out there to share with friends. It is a platform to exchange ideas and spread awareness for a cause. It is a way for friends living many miles apart to know what is happening in each other’s lives. Above all, it is a place to experiment and test the waters as we grow into our identities. What we do need to be wary of is substituting the online communication for face-to-face interactions.

Deep, long-lasting connections cannot be made from simply liking a picture on Facebook. Maybe there is even something to be said for the process of drifting apart, which social media neither fully prevents nor allows. People grow in different directions, but social media keeps a rope tied to acquaintances of the past. The friendships worth preserving require more effort, but they can get lost in the clutter. As much as we depend on social media, it comes with its own shortcomings.

Anushka Kannan is a rising sophomore in the McDonough School of Business. Preserving the Past appears every other Friday at thehoya.com.


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