They Call it “Social” Media for a Reason


By Holly Parkin

In Defense of Social Media drawing_web
Graphic by: Johanna Wong

Scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed the other day, I came across a link to a video by a Mr. Gary Turk titled “Look Up: A Spoken Word Film for an Online Generation.” Turk’s five-minute sermon spoke out against social media and the technology to which mankind has become “slaves.” Claiming that “this media we call social is anything but,” Turk detailed a theoretical story of a man never meeting the love of his life on the street, simply because he was too wrapped up in his cellphone to look up and say hello. However, by the end of the video, I felt more annoyed than inspired.

Turk is one of many to jump on the anti-social media bandwagon that has grown alongside the empires of Facebook and Twitter. It’s always the same old story – social media distracts us, it keeps us addicted to a screen, it creates insecurities, and so on and so forth.

I like social media because I can choose whether or not I want to use it. Do anti-social networking activists truly believe that humans have become completely devoid of interaction with one another? That people no longer fall in love or have meaningful discussions? All of this is just as present in today’s society as it was 50 years ago. People still have discussions around the dinner table, people still make new friends, people still fall in love every day. And in some cases, thanks to social media and messaging, these types of important interactions can be had across miles and miles with the simple click of a button.

That’s not to say that Turk and other critics of social media don’t have a point. It’s true, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to converse with someone who’s constantly on their phone, perusing their Instagram feed or sending Snapchats (and I’ll admit, I’ve been both on the receiving and giving end of this more than a few times). But everything needs to be taken in moderation, social networking included. Children don’t need to be entirely dependent on iPads for entertainment, and schools don’t need to resort exclusively to laptops or other devices to keep education progressive. But that doesn’t mean this technology can’t be helpful. There have just always been critics who try to find the fault in technology and claim it is destroying society.

Social networking is, without a doubt, more of an assistance in my life than a hinderance. Without Facebook or text messaging, there would be no way for me to quickly and effectively contact relatives and friends living far away, or even those living on the other side of Mill Valley. Without Tumblr, I never would have had the chance to get to know people from Seattle, New York, Germany, England and Sweden. Although social media haters claim that these types of platforms are limiting our interactions with one another, I have found that such quick and easy communication has only broadened my social circle, and made it easier to keep in contact with the friends I have. And maybe I would rather use my trusty Google Maps app to find my way around a city than ask a stranger for directions, the only benefit to the latter being the .0001 percent chance that they end up being my soulmate.

After finishing “Look Up,” I was immediately hit by an overwhelming sense of irony surrounding the film’s popularity. The one place that had consistently led me to this video was none other than what Turk was actively speaking against in his video–Facebook. Without social media, Turk would not have had as much widespread success with “Look Up.” Facebook and likely dozens of other social networking platforms all contributed to Turk’s Internet fame, so it seems hypocritical for him to denounce such entities.

Turk’s film is merely another example in which the anti-social media bandwagon fails, and doesn’t add anything new to the age-old anti-technology argument.

Then again, if these people have such a huge problem with social media, maybe they should just take to the Internet and complain to their millions of followers about it. As Turk has shown us, it’s a clear road to success.