Reel in your social media net

The area’s off-campus residents see a rise in theft at the start of the school year.

Luis Ruuska

Like many of my peers, my first introduction to the social networking world was Facebook.

In my first few days of Facebook, I sent out friend requests in batches to anyone and everyone I had mutual friends with. In a matter of weeks, I amassed more than 800 friends; most I had never met in person.

I used to not give much thought about the fraction of people that I appeared to know online. In fact, meeting these Facebook “friends” was
almost a treat.

However, I recently realized just how artificial and unsettling it was to be “friends” with so many strangers.

Worse yet, I looked at the amount of people I had hidden from my timeline simply because their posts annoyed me. It was more than 80.

The epiphany hit me: I needed to be active on social media.

I began to unfriend people I didn’t know and people whose posts annoyed me. Weirdly, I felt a pang of guilt each time I hit the unfriend button.

This notion of guilt over something so trivial seemed foolish, but I realized why I felt ill from my Facebook baptism by fire.

Unfriending someone is the equivalent of telling someone you don’t want them in your real-world life. There is a dramatic weight that comes with disconnecting with people in cyberspace.

Social networking sites were never meant to be a substitute for reality, but now 72 percent of all adult Internet users are using them. In many ways they have become an alternate social reality. We’ve learned the hard way that online actions can have real-world consequences, so we should be active in constructing our digital experiences.

We have a right to pick and choose who we want to interact with online just as we do in reality. We have a right to surround ourselves with the people we like or want to know. We shouldn’t feel obligated to blindly connect with people for the sake of connecting.

Ultimately, we don’t tether ourselves to worn-out or even unhealthy relationships in the real world. Why should it be different in cyberspace?

Be active about creating your social media experience. I promise it will change your experience online.