Your alarm goes off and you instantly roll over to catch up on what you’ve missed the last eight hours. Before brushing your teeth you’ve already spent 20 minutes on Instagram scrolling and double-tapping.
Have you thought of the ways that your morning scroll influences the way you learn online? What about the other one hundred times you pick up your phone that same day?
I interviewed multiple college students to understand how social media both positively and negatively influences their everyday life.
Our generation is beginning to learn from social media. I wanted to know how and what they learn from having social media at the tip of their fingers.
Students’ responses were varied as some referenced they use YouTube for further clarification on course work or to communicate with others. Others mention how social sites have increased their vocabulary especially when understanding their emotions.
The overarching idea was it allowed access to people, communities and news they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to. “I am able to access people and communities that I wouldn’t normally get to, and do so in a way that uplifts their voices and doesn’t invade their spaces,” Sage Willems, a UW-Madison senior.
We are learning how to socialize and better understand others. This is a type of learning you may not realize is even happening in the moment, but imagine the culture associated with Twitter versus Instagram. We perform differently on each platform because they specialize in different things.
Instagram is more prone to teach us new approaches to cooking and health whereas Twitter may be a forum for political debate.
Another interesting aspect of how we learn about news is how we get to formulate our ideas not only based on the news articles written and published for the general public. Before technology and social media, the only way to be informed about what was happening in the world was from the news. Now, our generation is able to access thousands of other opinions and resources on the internet and social media that contribute to the story that was reported to the public.
Everyone has the ability to share stories and promote education on different sides. However, just because this is available to us doesn’t mean that we will use it. Many people only interact with people in the same community as them that appeal to their personal beliefs. Therefore, even though we can reach out and learn different sides of the story, it doesn’t mean we will.
Along with our exposure to education, social media also creates networks of individuals. This can positively impact relationships with people you may not necessarily be able to see on a regular basis.
You get a backstage pass, whether you want it or not. That being said, sometimes social media promotes a certain “fakeness” that affects our wellbeing. It teaches us what and when we should post.
Facebook is for your “junior year” photo albums and Twitter is for that funny thing that happened to you on your walk to class. These are all learned behaviors that depend on the audience. We were taught we need to post picture evidence we are having fun so others know we are fun people.
Social media continues to morph and change the way we interact in everyday life. It brings us awareness of current events while also making us feel guilty about our mundane lives. Valuable information still lives on your next scroll, so just make sure that your feed represents what you want to educate yourself on.