It’s not media, it’s you

The great potential of social media is largely wasted with irrelevant chatter.

Tiffany Trawick

Social networking sites have become an important part of college studentsâÄô lives in the last several years.

When we were younger, our social lives outside of school most likely revolved around clubs, youth groups and after school programs rather than the Internet. But now, almost everyone is also plugged in online in some way.

Not only has this become another way for us to connect with family and friends, but it has also become one of the most important phases of the job application process âÄî employers use these networks as a way to consider potential employees. Social networking makes it faster to connect, faster to communicate and even faster to share information.

But what information are we sharing?

You would think with tools this powerful, we would use them to be making a great impact, to benefit others and the world around us, to stay informed and to inform others. But instead, itâÄôs impossible not to notice the mass of irrelevance we share using these networks.

Take Twitter for example. Twitter is set up so that users can post statuses throughout the day and reply to or comment on other peopleâÄôs updates.

If you want to see whatâÄôs popular, or âÄútrending,âÄù there is a section called âÄúTrending TopicsâÄù that will show popular topics, sometimes denoted with a hash tag.

These Trending Topics have a way of revealing what our society finds important or tweet-worthy. TodayâÄôs âÄútrendingâÄù topics? #YouNeedToShutUp and #BeliebersGOTSWAG.

It surprises me that there are not more conscious trending topics, and that most of them revolve around pop culture or blatant idiocy. Most of the information is not truly useful to users. There is a lack of focus on important matters such as hard news and social issues.

But it is hard to define this use of Twitter and other social networking sites as a problem âÄî meaningless pop culture seems to be what the great majority of people want. It looks like a large percentage of users on Twitter are content with the lack of edifying information shared on the site.

After all, the trending topics are only a reflection of what the people themselves are posting about and interested in.

The Twitter Help Center further explains this, saying âÄúthe trending topics reflect what new or newsworthy topics are occupying most peopleâÄôs attention on Twitter at any one time.âÄù

What does that say about what we find important as a society?

Twitter is being misused in many ways. It has the capability to be a powerful tool, yet the bulk of its use is unproductive.

Instead of Trending Topics about the âÄúswagâÄù of Justin BeiberâÄôs fans, would it not be more beneficial to hear and share about the upcoming elections, or global news that tends to go unreported by mainstream American media sources? 

There is a lot more the public should make themselves aware of, and social networking sites such as Twitter are the perfect means by which we could share the information necessary to do so. But for some reason, other, less meaningful topics take over these apparatuses.

Of course, these networks are also made for fun, to joke around and simply engage with friends.

But when irrelevance is whatâÄôs trending, we all need to stop and think about what this says about our culture. What we value as a society is something reflected in what we share and learn, and maybe even more so by what we donâÄôt.