My understanding of the media has significantly changed over the last two weeks, let alone the previous month. One month ago, I used the internet and media courses in a completely different way than I do right now. At school, I felt that I didn’t need to check Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat all the time because I interacted with all those people that I would online in person. My life was lived outside of social media because hanging out with friends was more important. Now I also see how little I used Netflix or other streaming sites. To use those sites at school meant that I had to find an hour or two out of my day to sit down solely focus on the show or movie. Most days, I did not have that time, so it was almost a reward when I did.
But now, after the first week of online learning, my interaction with the social media that I rarely used has become a massive part of my life. Online classes are an enormous part of that where Instead of waking up with my regular school routine, I roll out of bed and turn on Zoom. Professors that once did not use any technology in class are now using canvas to post grades (which is a huge plus). I was using twitter more to read about updates on the virus and any breaking news that was happening. I was using Instagram and Snapchat to check in with friends more frequently, and 100% I was spending more time on Netflix watching meaningless shows like The Tiger King.
What I began to notice in all of this was that I almost felt that everyone was using media sources the way that they were meant to be used. Everyone uses the cliche, “Social media brings people together.” But I don’t think until now that saying that isn’t a cliche. Every Thursday and Friday, my parents grab a bottle of wine and open Zoom on their Ipad and have a virtual happy hour with their friends from all across the country. Twitter is now a place where I have seen people shift from posting meaningless tweets, to posting important updates about their lives, or about what is happening with COVID-19 news. It is almost as if twitter has become the site that it always wanted to be.
“Teens often turn to sites like MySpace for entertainment; social voyeurism passes time while providing insight into society at large.” This quote is even more true now where everyone no matter your age is now online and using media sources to not just pass the time but actually create meaningful connections in a time where we all need it. Social media use is providing insight to see how people from all walks of life are dealing with the hand we have been dealt. In the end we are all turning to social media to interact with others, so we all have a greater understanding of how these sites should work.
Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, edited by David Buckingham (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007), Page 10