With all of the social media outlets we have in society today, many young adults have become obsessed with their online personas; according to webwisekids.com, 93 percent of children age 12 – 17 regularly go online. Tweens and teens alike spend hours upon hours updating their various online accounts such as those on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Lately, it appears as though it’s all about your online profile. Unfortunately, with this being the case, many have forgotten the importance of face-to-face communication.
Life shouldn’t be this way. People need to stop obsessing over social media, and return to traditional forms of communication. It’s quite sad that less and less people call each other on the phone or actually make the effort to spend time together in person.
Many people spend much of their time selecting attractive photos of themselves to upload to their social media accounts – sometimes even editing the photos to make them more visually appealing. Someone’s profile picture on Facebook sometimes fails to reflect how that person appears on a daily basis. There’s value to staying true to yourself, and it’s unfortunate that many people portray themselves falsely to feel popular among peers.
Not to mention the dangers that arise from online profiles. Anyone can create a Facebook account; on the Internet, you can be whoever you want to be, which is a frightening thought.
A man intent on harming a young girl could create a fake Facebook account, using a photo of an attractive young man as his profile picture, and “friend” the girl. This could create a perilous situation because if the two were to get close enough on Facebook, it could get to the point where they plan to meet in person, putting the girl in danger.
During the summer of 2012, a fake Facebook account was created under the name Sean Andrews. Sean had “friended” many Miramonte students, saying he was moving to Orinda from elsewhere on the west coast and was going to be an incoming senior. A few girls exchanged numbers with him, and carried on texting conversations for a few weeks. After a while, Sean made a status saying that this had been a fake account created by a university in Oregon. The college had done this because they were conducting a study on how teenage girls would respond to an attractive stranger on Facebook. Luckily, it had been a college behind the fake account and not a predator. Despite the lack of danger, many girls felt violated that they had spoken to and revealed secrets to someone who did not even exist.
In less serious cases, students are concerned that some teachers may create fake online accounts to keep an eye on them. This may be beneficial for the faculty but this could violate the privacy of students. It’s up to the student what they want to post on their online accounts, yet, some are putting themselves in difficult situations by posting school-deemed inappropriate things on the internet. A student could be putting their academic life on the line, risking suspension, by posting inappropriate things on their online accounts if a faculty member were to see it. However, it has not been comfirmed whether or not teachers actually create false online accounts to watch over their students. Still, it is dissapointing that many feel uncomfortable online.
What’s more, many people are “friends” with people on Facebook and other social media outlets whom they’ve never met in real life. This is becoming a recurring trend, which is completely idiotic. Why would anyone spend their time confessing their secrets to a virtual stranger? With social media constantly surrounding us, we’re beginning to lose our common sense. Haven’t our parents taught us never to talk to strangers?
Sometimes, two people will message on Facebook for weeks without talking to each other in person. It’s sad that people can carry on riveting conversations with each other online, but when they’re actually together it’s uncomfortable and neither of them can think of anything to say without the protective cover of their computer screens.
People are losing their communication skills when they’re constantly speaking virtually. You’re unable to convey facial expressions, tones and inflections when speaking on the Internet. Consequently, when you’re in person, you’re at a loss of what to say to someone who you speak with through technology only.
Over the decades, live communication among teenagers has become less and less common. If you were a teenager in the ‘70s or ‘80s, you didn’t have to stress about what was happening in the virtual world because the virtual world did not exist. You didn’t have the social pressures to waste your time wondering what was happening on Facebook, Twitter, etc. A girl could get excited when a boy called her on the phone after school. Now, getting “poked” on Facebook is a cause for excitement.
This creates a disconnection between people when they consider simply a poke on Facebook as communication. This is not communication. No dialogue is passed between two people who are poking each other on Facebook; people really should take the time to speak to each other live.
Someone’s online persona should not hold as much weight as it currently does. If one’s online persona wasn’t highly regarded, the Internet could be a safe place. Individuals wouldn’t have to worry about online predators or harming their social lives or careers by what they chose to post online. Furthermore, people might actually talk to each other live rather than chat them on Facebook. It’s important that we don’t lose our communication skills. So forget about your online persona and focus on who you are outside of the Internet.
Of all the resources we publish on The Learning Network, perhaps it’s our vast collection of writing prompts that is our most widely used resource for teaching and learning with The Times.
This list of 401 prompts (available here in PDF) is now our third iteration of what originally started as 200 prompts for argumentative writing, and it’s intended as a companion resource to help teachers and students participate in our annual Student Editorial Contest. (In 2017, the dates for entering are March 2 to April 4.)
So scroll through the hundreds of prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from social media to sports, politics, gender issues and school — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily Student Opinion feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information. And for even more in-depth student discussions on pressing issues like immigration, guns, climate change and race, please visit our fall 2016 Civil Conversation Challenge.
What’s your favorite question on this list? What questions should we ask, but haven’t yet? Tell us in the comments.
And visit our related list as well: 650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.
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