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Social media’s contradiction

Jack Barnwell
jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com

While attending George Whittell High School’s graduation on May 30, social media was something that echoed in my mind when Whittell Principal Crespin Esquivel gave his opening speech to 23 graduating seniors.

He urged graduates to be responsible with the content they post online, on their Facebook pages or send out via Twitter.

If there’s any piece of advice that graduates should take into the world, it’s that one.

I’ve been guilty of a few Facebook faux pas in my time, ones that have caused me be red-faced the next day. Those days are in the past, mostly because my college friends never let me forget it.

Social media was something I always arrived late to, as well. I never had a MySpace account and I only joined Facebook after some cajoling from other community college students. Twitter still confounds me at times.

Of course, I’ve also learned to keep my social media accounts more secure because some jokesters in the class had the habit of “hacking” for fun. An unsecured computer in my college newsroom could lead to some amusing anecdotes, first through MySpace and later through Facebook.

Esquivel’s speech contained kernels of wisdom that noted while social media has made the world a much more intimate and connected place than it was perhaps 50 years ago, it’s also caused a distance.

One should move beyond just the screen, get to know the people they communicate with.

I do love the engagement Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram has created. It allows me to keep in touch with a few good friends, records a semi-visual diary of their lives or what they’re doing in their professional careers.

After all, if it weren’t for those outlets, I wouldn’t know that two kids crazy for each other became engaged in Hawaii (the Big Island) after five years, or how much a talented photographer has progressed in her career as an artist.

Social media is also essential in my career as a journalist, especially as news media has all but crossed into the digital frontier.

But there’s a lot more to be said to life than can be boiled down into 140 characters or an Instagram.

I’ve always been the type of person who preferred speaking on the phone as opposed to a text message, or the guy who looked forward to a traditional night out at the pub or burger joint than just a back-and-forth over Facebook.

It’s a bit unrealistic to always catch up with friends in the flesh all the time, of course. Careers, relationships and education cause us to spread over time.

Social media fills that gap when people can’t get together in the months and years between get-togethers.

It also enhances the good times when the band gets back together, so to speak.


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