Internet Bytes: Social media habits raise risks, rewards for users

Brooklyn Bass, Staff Writer

Rontrell Gentry, junior, begins the day with the ringing of an alarm clock. Sleep is cut short. With a slight groan and closed eyes, the groping begins. It continues until Gentry’s tablet is recovered from the charger. From here, messages are checked and social media networks, like Instagram and Tumblr, are scrolled through until the most recent update from last night appears on the screen.

“I can’t just not check my tablet in the morning,” said Gentry. “It’s just something I do.”

Gentry is not the only one who starts the morning with social media updates. Michael Lavender, senior, checks his feed and even takes the time to post a selfie or a screenshot of his favorite song.

“I try to post once a day,” said Lavender.

For the average social media user, accessing social networking sites has become an integrated component of one’s daily routine. According to the Huffington Post, there are 575 likes and 81 comments by Instagram users every second. In 2012, there were 175 million tweets sent every day, as reported by Infographics Labs.

The Dilemma

Although increased social media use has its positive effects—creating jobs and connecting people on a global scale—there is a sense of animosity towards it. Some find that others are braver and more open about their lives on the internet. The “loves of their lives” for the moment are announced with clever hashtags like #WomanCrushWednesday and #ManCrushMonday.

“I feel that it is an appreciative thing—a way to show appreciation for someone you have feelings for,” said senior Diamond Jones. “It’s a sweet gesture.”

On the contrary, enemies are confronted with harsh, shrewd words—behavior typically not apparent off computer and phone screens.

“You don’t have to see the person’s face—just the computer screen,” said junior Jillian Pritchard. “So, it’s not a lot of pressure.”

Junior Briana Hudson finds that social media is a contributing factor to ultimately stunting face-to-face interpersonal skills.

“People lack physical interaction,” said Hudson. “They would rather stay inside than outside.”

Catfished

Frighteningly, a selective group of people exaggerate their online personas to very deceptive levels, which is commonly referred to as “catfishing.” By creating fake profiles or overly editing their photos, people are inventing new lives.

“I have never been catfished before,” said senior Myeisha Jamison. “But I think a girl I know is catfishing people. Her picture on Kik is never of herself.”

Nev Schulman’s Catfish, a documentary and an MTV reality show, explores the amount of dishonesty found online. After being “catfished” himself by a middle-aged woman posing as a young adult, Schulman acquired a sense of devotion to aid those facing similar scenarios. On his show, online scammers and deceitful internet users get busted by the very technology that makes catfishing possible.

“On Instagram I thought I followed an old buddy from middle school,” Jamison said. “I found out that it wasn’t her. Some girl has been creating fake profiles of people throughout high school.”

Assuming false identities can reach criminal levels. Sexual predators and financial schemers use the internet as a tool to prey on and contact those most active on the internet.

“People are crazy these days,” Jamison said. “You gotta watch out.”