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  • Writer's picturePAYTON HEBERT & MASON COLE

Social media Dividing Us Or Bringing Us Together?


Unites:

Payton Hebert


I went to a Disney resort once when I was thirteen. On that trip, on my various pool days I made several friends from places all across the country, and even one from Scotland. In our parents days, getting on the plane to go home would be the end of those connections. I, however, had the luxury of my phone to keep these strangers in my life, and now we talk nearly every day over Instagram.


Social media has obviously evolved the ways we communicate with each other, and I will admit it is not all positive. I see social media as a bigger picture of the world that we live in, and I argue that everything we experience online, at least in negative capacities, is stuff we will eventually experience in real life. No one is immune to judgment or mean people or all the things social media naysayers see at face value. Social media just expedites the rate at which we experience these things. 


Conversely, social media also expedites the rate at which we make connections. This is mainly because of the way social media operates in trends that generate discourse, whether that be online or in person. I guarantee you I can ask anyone walking down the street what color the dress was, and they’d have an answer for me, which can lead to a conversation, a debate, or any other form of connection. The same goes for internet slang. We have created an entire means of communication centered around words made famous on the internet, such as “tea,” “slay,” or “cap.” The list goes on and on. It is hard not to argue social media brings us together when its culture has become commonplace. 


So much of social media is intertwined into our interactions in ways we do not even realize, which is why we will not realize how close it has made us until years later. In the same way our parents bond over their experiences with 70s technology and the limited television shows they could watch. We can bond over so many influential events or people or memes because of the way they present themselves to us on social media. Social media allows for these moments in history to exist beyond an instance because of the way they expand into trends. If the dress existed in our parents' time, people would have forgotten about it instantly because it never got a chance to be significant. Social media allows moments to become consistent conversations, which is why it can bond us so effectively to one another. 



Graphic by Pat Carbone

Apart: 

Mason Cole


Even though social media does create unity, in my mind there is no way you can say that it creates unity for everyone. It does generate unity by gathering together people who have an interest in similar things and live similar lifestyles. But, and you probably already know what I am going to say next, it splits us apart and destroys any kind of unity that was created through the age-old practice of bullying.


As someone who has been bullied for my appearance many times on social media, it is disheartening when you are simply placing your opinion of a post online in the form of a comment, only to get then several comments making fun of your weight, appearance, sexual orientation, or something else of the sort. I always found the idea of social media to be an escape from what bullying can do to someone in person, but when people can see your appearance and know what you look like, that is all they may need to pounce.


You can also say it has been destroying the concept of unity through sparking political violence and uprisings. As you may know, X (formerly known as Twitter) played a prominent role in the citizen attack and raid of the United States Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as other similar acts of violence and propaganda spreading not just in the United States, but across the entire world. This act of spreading hate and misinformation can feed the movement to turn us against each other via social media, so we must be vigilant about our media habits as we move through the 2020s, especially with our current political landscape being as volatile as it is.


Even beyond political debates, I think social media conversations are often hostile and unwelcoming. People go to social media knowing they can have anonymity, which leads to people being more confrontational and brutal than they normally would be in my experience. This also means that interactions are less sincere, with people on either side only looking to defend or attack rather than hold civil discourse. For this reason, I do not think it’s fair to say social media is creating a bridged world. If anything, it is just ruining how we interact with people. 

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