Media Mania


Greta Reich, Feature Editor

In today’s world of unprecedented times and uncalled for opinions, social media is there for us at every turn. Whether or not we want it there is still up for debate, but it cannot be denied that media has shaped the last decade of our lives and our futures. 


Authorial note:

As someone who uses social media every day, I started off writing this article as a chance to show others some aspects of social media that I don’t think get enough attention. Social media has the ability to raise often muffled voices or to bring together communities from across the globe who share a certain passion. I think social media gets a bad reputation for its negative aspects, and not enough credit for its positive aspects. However, as I interviewed other students and teachers about the topic, many of their opinions did not align with my ideas, so this article will showcase both sides of the argument. I hope that as you read you also stumble across a new idea or opinion that informs your own thoughts on social media. 



One of the biggest draws of social media, and a huge part of why it exists at all, is the community it can create and maintain. Facebook (now known as Meta) – which arguably acted as a catalyst for many other widespread social media platforms – gets its name from an actual physical Facebook that many colleges passed out to freshmen so they could learn about their new classmates; essentially, it was a way to find new friends in a new community. 

Ben Canning, physics and Digital Arts Academy (DAA) teacher at Sequoia, as well as a student at Stanford when Facebook first came out said, “We had a physical Facebook, which is where the name came from, which is literally a book of all the freshmen in your class. So you go to Stanford and you want to know who’s in your class, you can see what dorm they’re in and just a picture of them and that’s it…Like just a way to kind of [allow] people [to] connect.” 

The origins of social media as a concept is community – the want and need to find people like yourself. And while social media has changed in countless ways since 2004, this idea of community and connection is still central to it. Especially during the pandemic induced quarantine, social media served as a medium for this connection. 

“Being so isolated from face to face contact, the only way that we had to connect was through screens — that was such a lifeline when we were locked in our houses for weeks and months, and sometimes years,” IB English teacher Emily DeVoe said. “But the way that social media use has changed and grown over the last two years – I don’t know whether it has amplified the pandemic stuff or the pandemic stuff has amplified it, but they have had an amplifying effect on each other.”

The ability to find and stay connected to those outside of your daily realm of life is one of the reasons that social media was able to grow into what it has become today, even before the pandemic. The community one can find online does not have to be a community they know in the real world. Social media can connect people through a shared interest in a band or a specific group that you identify with. You can find others like yourself on sub-Reddits and discord chats and Tumblr threads – it creates an amazing accessibility to find friends. 

These intangible spaces are vital for youth who don’t feel accepted or respected by those around them.

 “If you’re in a marginalized community, and you don’t know anyone else who’s in your community, whatever that community might be, and all of a sudden now you’re able to connect to somebody [through social media] – that’s huge and a net positive,” Canning said. 


The connections formed through social media can be used not only in personal lives, but in politics too. Social media has long been used to spread information and political messages – from the Arab Spring in the early 2010’s, the 2017 #MeToo movement, the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, and most recently, the war in Ukraine. The Arab Spring used Facebook as a way to organize an uprising against the government; #MeToo gave sexual assult victims a safe place on Instagram to share their stories and take a stance; the BLM movement began after the video of George Floyd’s murder went viral and flocked to social media to protest because COVID-19 limited in-person protests. Now, hackers and social media activists are using their technological skills to bypass the Russian government’s censorship. 

An article from March 4, 2022 in the MIT Technology Review by Chris Stokel-Walker said that “more than 1,300 ads mentioning ‘Ukraine’ are currently running on Facebook and Instagram targeting users based in Russia.” Both platforms have since been banned in Russia. 

The ability for social media to be used as a platform for social activism was not necessarily the primary intention of Zuckerberg or Spiegel or Dorsey, but as many things on social media do, it has expanded far beyond the creators intent. Those communities that formed through shared interests or identity have grown big enough to make change. For example, in 2020, the BTS fandom (aka the BTS ARMY) raised $2 million dollars in under 24 hours to support the Black Lives Matter movement. They also “took over white supremacist hashtags on Instagram and Twitter” and “even successfully sabotaged a Trump rally in Tulsa by reserving hundreds of tickets for seats that they never intended to use,” said Lucy Blakiston on Shit You Should Care About, a popular social media account popular for giving updates on everything pop culture and politics. The account itself is an example of how social media is used to both form communities and inform the public about pressing issues.

“But then there’s the thing of fatigue,” said Pablo Aguilera, Ethnic Studies, Economics, and AVID teacher. Despite this ability of social media to be a platform for good, it wants to move fast and quick. Trends and fads are born to be forgotten within weeks, going just as quickly as they came and causing a rapid decrease in attention spans. Combine this with a constant bombardment of information telling you about war and death and it becomes very easy to be mentally drained and feel this fatigue.

“So I think that like two years ago, it was like everyone was on Black Lives Matter, and then it kind of just faded away. Right? But […] those causes [are still important], I mean, look what’s happening right now in Ukraine, everyone’s like, ‘Oh, Ukraine, Ukraine.’ I mean, similar things are happening in other middle eastern countries, but we never actually care mainly because we have white European countries [to think about],” Aguilera said. “So everything’s still controlled by the system. Does it outweigh it at times? It could. There’s some good that comes out of it, but I just don’t know if [the good is always] there.”


Mental Health:

This fatigue can come in many forms, not just from drowning in activism. The most common critique of social media is that it gives unrealistic expectations of what someone else’s life is like, and therefore what your life should be like. 

Especially as students and humans who are still maturing, we might feel an extra pressure to be on social media constantly. 

“Since [I started] teaching, the rise of cell phones and the ever connectedness has increased tremendously and the levels of distraction by students have increased tremendously,” Canning said. He added, “Some of that is also the rise of the kind of addictive nature of the apps […] As soon as we started carrying around phones where we can get the notifications […] we’ve just seen an increase in usage for students, family and friends, etc.”

When you’ve been on social media for so long, or at least had it around you for most of your life, it can become a center of your life without you meaning to. 

“I sometimes feel a little dependent on it, which is an issue,” freshman Ethan Politzer said. “Tik Tok is so addictive and it’s like scrolling on a slot machine. Like that’s basically what it’s doing. I feel like we all know how addictive it is. And I don’t think that stops us. Because either you’re in the loop or you’re not.”

The draw of social media is not a new concept though. Fitting in or being a part of a larger group has always been a want, throughout generations. 

“You’re always trying to do what is the sticking thing. It’s always been like that. I mean, even before cell phones and computers and social media, we would all be drawn to do these cool things…So I think [social media is] what it is now,” Aguilera said. “Every single generation almost has a different thing, right? So for me, when I first started teaching, everyone was on Facebook and the draw was there. And I remember when Instagram came and it was like, the next five years [everyone was on that]. And then it became Snapchat and then it became Tik Tok… it’s constantly evolving, but the pattern remains the same, where you feel like you’re left out if you’re not using it.”

Some people actively avoid this cycle of distraction, refraining from even downloading social media apps. Junior Ciara Carroll, who has never had any social media accounts, said that one of the things that deters her is “social media’s effect on body image.” She added, “I am someone who’s self conscious about my body image. So I can always kind of empathize with people that suffer from that. I feel like social media can really affect the way [you see yourself] because it is something that kind of just makes you really conscious of your self image and stuff like that.”


The idea that social media is solely a good thing or solely a bad thing is simply inaccurate. 

“Like all technologies and tools, it’s all about how you engage and use it,” Canning said. “It’s all about dosage, or moderation. I think the deck is stacked against us when it comes to many apps, games included, with respect to tech. They have people who are trained psychologists figuring out how to increase engagement, so it’s not even a fair fight as an individual going up against teams of people trying to get you to engage more […] Being mindful of that as we engage and participate in things […] do it with moderation and to take breaks. So, to summarize, I’d say tech and social media can be great. [But] everything in moderation.”