By: Sarah Dussome
October 11, 2016
With its endless opportunities to share photos, videos, and personal status updates, social media impacts our privacy to a certain extent whenever we use it. While everyone has the power to control the content they upload onto their own accounts, there’s unfortunately nothing stopping friends from posting that awkward picture of you from junior high days or your mom tagging you in a family picture for all of her friends to see. It’s true that Facebook is equipped with various degrees of privacy settings and that you may change your Twitter or Instagram account from public to private, but chances are you may find yourself inadvertently oversharing even with members of your online circles. For example, my brother once posted a link to a YouTube video containing several curse words; shortly after, our aunt left a comment saying “Your uncle and I would like to know what these words mean.”
Needless to say, it didn’t take my brother long to delete the link, and he has not shared any more explicit content on social media in the years following the incident.
Due to social media’s ever increasing popularity, it is not uncommon to come across anything from videos of momentous events such as weddings and graduations to links to funny videos to pictures of the flower your barista made in your latte foam. Social media often allows us to keep up with people who are important to us, especially if we do not see them on a regular basis. On the flip side, the content we post on our own accounts often reflects our unique personalities and allow others to see what is going on in our lives. However, social media is not without its disadvantages. I think many of us are guilty of spending time on it when we should be studying or engaging in face-to-face interactions; similarly, social media may also be used to substitute real life conversations with online ones and may sometimes be used as a shield if one or both participants deem face-to-face communication inconvenient or intimidating.
Despite its disadvantages, social media is an essential part of 21st century communications. It not only helps us maintain existing relationships but also provides a sense of community on an international level and keeps us connected to the things we care about most.