Non-fiction by Maya Coseo
I don’t have an Instagram account. I don’t have a Twitter account. I don’t have a Vine account. I don’t use Reddit. I don’t have a MySpace account; I was too young to have one when it was cool. I do have a Gmail account and a Facebook account. Social media is one of the greatest evolvers of society today, yes. But even young people may get fed up with it. Why? I’ll give you some examples.
I never see my friends. Outside of school, we’re too busy with homework, family or boyfriends to hang out. And, with growing amounts of AP classes, the SAT and ACT, and finding jobs, and getting our licenses, we’re swamped. Not to mention the extracurriculars. I personally play a varsity sport and edit for my school’s newspaper. I go to practice five days a week and write, edit and create a page each month for my newspaper.
I have a few best friends. Recently, one of them and I were talking about our Spanish homework. She “laughed out loud” when I said that “I don’t know” about how many questions we were supposed to answer. I never saw her face. I never heard her voice. I was texting her.
Now, I would estimate that about a quarter to half of my conversations with my friends happen online. They last for hours. We talk about everything. My computer becomes my best friend. We’ve all become very fond of iMessage, too. Now, I have entire conversations and don’t even see my friends’ faces. My parents say, “Get off the computer.” What they don’t understand is that the computer is my social life. I couldn’t talk to my friends without it; a lot of them don’t have phones, just iPods or computers.
Another aspect that’s strange is this: I’ve become the grim reaper. With the recent deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, I was the informant. Neither of my parents is involved in social media other than email. I broke the news to my mom about Robin Williams. It’s not fun. It can also take a more personal turn. During hurricane Sandy, I was the only link to my East Coast relatives. My aunt dutifully updated us on their situation and I had two news sources about the hurricane: one thousands of miles away and one in the room with me.
Fortunately, the duty of informing can also take a lighter turn. I was the first to know in my immediate family that one of my numerous uncles was dating. When it came up in conversation, I informed my parents that his girlfriend looked nice and had weaned my uncle off Panda Express. Not an easy feat.
Stranger still, I’ve become a virtual translator for my parents and Grandpa. People tend to think that social media is only for the young, and they’d be right that the majority of people who use it are young. But, older people use it, too. My father is somewhat of an amateur photographer and he happens to take photos of my rowing team. Not a lot of the other parents bring their cameras or are as good photographers as he is, so he’s become the unofficial photographer of the team. Since he’s my dad, the task falls to me to send out the photos to the team. I post them to Facebook and tag my teammates. My father, though very wise, does not understand the workings of Facebook, nor the intricate system for sucking the most likes or shares out of a photo. Nor does he understand that maybe a photo might be good, but does my teammate really want that one of him sweating all over Facebook?
My mother also does not understand. She doesn’t understand that sending, “Hello from the Coseos” to your aunt’s page would be read by all of your friends and her friends; and frankly, she should call your aunt if she wants to talk to her. After all, I’m not a messenger.
Strangest of all, I feel old, left out, and unaccomplished. Yes, me: a sixteen-year-old, savvy in social media, who knows lingo like selfie, filter, and tweet, feels old and left out. Why? Simply because I don’t use Twitter, Vine, Instagram or Reddit. I believe in simplicity, and Facebook and Gmail are enough for me. I also refrain from those sites, especially from Twitter and Instagram, because of my view on the selfie, but that is another matter entirely. Mostly, I feel left out because I don’t know what happens on Instagram or Twitter. I don’t know what so-and-so did last night or who she’s dating or what he bought. I feel old, seeing articles in the news or on TV about a fourteen-year-old making millions while I’ve got maybe $150 to my name. This may be why I also feel unaccomplished.
So yes, I may be tech-savvy and young, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I may not be following Beyoncé on Twitter; I may not depend on likes on my selfies for confidence. I definitely don’t appreciate the pressure, perceived or real, to use all of these sites. Social media may be cool, but its #overused and can be @nnoying.