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Social Media Through the Screens of Two Very Different College Students

How much time do you spend on social media a day? Is it an integrated part of your day, so much so that you don’t even notice the hours you spend scrolling away? Or are you more conscious of your time online? The really interesting thing about my generation is that we can remember a time when social media wasn’t a huge part of our lives.

I know, that’s a crazy concept to even consider. But it’s true. I can remember my middle school years when Instagram was an up and coming app and Twitter was only for celebrities. Flash forward six years and these platforms now rule the internet.

I decided to interview two college students about their vastly different social media use and discuss their varying relationships with these popular platforms.

Nicole Mcnerney-social media enthusiast

How much time do you spend on social media a week?

Okay, so according to my screen time tracker, I spend around 40 hours a week on social media just on my phone. Yikes.

What is it like running a professional social media account for an organization vs. your own account?

I spend so much time professionally working on social media and perfecting a company’s brand that I tend to not focus as much on what I post on my personal accounts. I obviously care about how I’m presenting myself but I don’t have to worry about the specifics that come with corporate social media.

Would you be interested in working with social media as a career?

My whole career will be surrounding social media and using it to effectively brand and market a company. Because the platforms are free to use and you can generate free promotion, I think it’s one of the best things a company can do.

How does social media make you feel?

It depends on the social media platform that I’m using but often I follow people and companies that inspire me. I truly try to make an effort to not allow it to affect the way I think, but that’s not always easy because we see a snapshot of someone’s life and it’s easy to compare ourselves from one person to the next.

Why do you think social media has become such an integrated part of everyday life?

Just like how mainstream media is 24/7, I think social media operates the same way. No matter the time of day, you can always get information whether you want it or not. This can be toxic though because you can create a habit of keeping up with people’s lives, both the good and bad parts, and you always want to see more.

Tanner Shipley-social media pessimist

What is your relationship with social media?

I would say I love it from afar. I don’t like to be personally absorbed in it. There are a lot of things I like about it like the ability to keep in connect with people I don’t see all of the time, as well as memes. But ultimately I find that the more I use social media the less mentally healthy I feel.

When did you first notice that social media didn’t make you feel good?

Well, I actually had social media, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, for a long time, throughout high school and at the beginning of college. But I just noticed after a while that I spent too much of my time, especially on Instagram, just scrolling whenever I was bored. That kind of weighed on me so I made the decision to get rid of it and it just ended up making me feel a lot better.

Do you ever feel disconnected because you no longer have any social media?

Definitely. I hear a lot less about trending news and popular culture. While I don’t love that feeling of disconnect, it’s worth it to me because I feel like I’m spending my time in more productive ways.

How do you fill all of your new free time without social media?

I try to think of a monthly goal for myself, for example, baking, swimming, photography, stuff like that. It feels good knowing when I’m doing these things that I’m doing something beneficial for my life. Sometimes I do find myself watching Youtube videos and that can take up some of my time, but I generally try to stay away from that.


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