Social media outlets a source of news in an age of entertainment
By Jamie Dye
With Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr, students’ free time has been steadily evaporating since the rise of social media, but these sites are also helping relay important events to a generation that does not watch the news or read a paper.
Many students spend upwards of three hours daily on social media sites liking their friends’ statuses, reposting pictures of cats and pinning ambitious craft projects.
What they may not realize is how many current events are reaching them through social media.
Senior psychology and sociology major Christen Barnum admits that she uses the Internet for her entertainment, not for news sites.
“I get on to keep up with my friends, get neat craft ideas and watch all the viral videos everyone is talking about,” she said.
Although Barnum and other students may not be conscious of it, they are hearing about news events that friends or fan pages are posting or reposting.
Senior English and history major Maria Martin admits that she gets news from Facebook that she would not have heard otherwise.
“My whole feed was in an uproar about the Disney/Star Wars thing, and before that, my friends were posting articles about Hurricane Sandy. The only reason I remembered to watch the last presidential debate was because someone was tweeting about it,” she said.
Social media sites are not only guilty of spreading news, they are invading the mindless diversions of the Internet with awareness.
“I don’t have to pay attention to it at all. It’s just absent -minded entertainment,” Barnum said of Facebook.
Even as senseless surfing, social media expose people to pressing issues that they may not have otherwise heard about.
Currently, the news stations do not have much to say that interests the average college student, especially not when television is full of hyper-violent, less realistic and uninteresting programming.
Nevertheless, social media have empowered people, letting them use the portals as means to reach people unwilling, or without the time, to keep up with the world.
“I heard about the attacks in Libya on Twitter. It was right next to my friend’s tweet about her breakfast,” Martin said.
The popularity and ease of social media have made the Internet everybody’s soapbox. Politically conscious and up-to-date friends are keeping people in the loop, but even those posting their own opinions are still bringing attention to current events.
Social movements such as Kony 2012 and breast cancer awareness month depend partly on social media for disseminating information
Senior English major Amanda Pate realizes the impact of such media on her understanding and awareness of events.
She said “I love the idea of being connected to other people, ideas, or friends, but a lot of times I hear about current events for the first time when somebody posts on Facebook. I don’t watch the news all the time, but I guess some of my friends do. It’s really pretty convenient.”