By Aashima Garg
As an computer engineering major, the internet and social media have always intrigued me. I am fascinated by the way that individuals can completely isolate themselves physically yet still be connect to the entire world simply because they own a wifi router, and I constantly explore trendy mobile applications and social media platforms as I hope to one day produce something of my own that helps connect the world. Although I am obsessed with technology, for as long as I can remember, I was constantly reminded to limit time spent on social media, and to use the platforms with caution. I cannot count the number of times I was told that my Facebook profile and my AIM (throwback) messages would be documented in the internet forever. As a stubborn child, I continued to use various social media platforms, but the fear of publicizing internet archives forced me to put my best foot forward online and portray myself insincerely – my photos and statuses were edited for perfection.
Earlier this year, I read about Essena O’Neill’s #SocialMediaIsNotRealLife campaign, in which she highlighted the fact that the images we post online do not represent our true selves via Instagram. In fact, according to Girl Scouts of America, in 2010, 74% of girls agreed that “most girls my age use social networking sites to make themselves look cooler than they really are.” It seems ironic that, for the longest time, we used social media to foster strong relationships, but we only posted meticulously edited photos with vague, impersonal captions. Thankfully, today more and more individuals have started to neglect the idea of internet archives and expose their true selves online. With the creation and rise of snapchat, “finstagram,” and Facebook live, millions of individuals across the globe have the ability to share their every day, unfiltered lives with their friends.
While I don’t think everyone needs to make or use snapchat, finsta, or Facebook live, I think it’s exciting that people who would like to share aspects of their lives with their long distance friends and family have the ability to do so. I find it incredible that over snapchat, I can easily hear the sizzle of my grandmother’s pans as she cooks my favorite traditional lentil soup in India, listen to my best-friend’s favorite band while she’s at a concert in Michigan, and see my sister make gooey s’mores with her friends on the beach in California, all in high definition and on my own time. On finsta (short for fake-instagram (ironic since people expose more of their real selves on finsta than on “rinsta” where individuals often post “artsy”, filtered photos)), I can vent about a tough day or re-live last night’s party and watch my friends try to “juju on that beat” on loop. With Facebook Live, I can watch my organization’s intramural basketball game even if I’m sick at home or watch protests in DC from my home in Austin.
These exciting, liberating, and easy to use technologies are working to make social media interactions extremely intimate and sincere. I can’t wait to see how technology connects the world in the future, and hopefully I’ll even get to help the world make strides towards #SocialMediaIsRealLife!
Aashima Garg is a Fall ’15 Spirit from Dallas, Texas.