We all started off senior year knowing that the g word was looming. Luckily, back in September, it was still far enough away that we could all happily ignore it. We tailgated in the mods, road tripped to Clemson, went to MAs on Tuesdays for senior night and pretended like we’d all be on the Heights together forever. Then Christmas break rolled around, followed quickly by the 100 days dance (when the countdown became too real…), a trip to Punta Cana, Showdown and suddenly, it’s the last week of classes and the g word is getting harder and harder to ignore. Even though we’re all wishing it was just the beginning, it’s really starting to feel like the beginning of the end.
[BC social media team’s latest video released last week, created by Sean Casey]
As I sit here and write this post, I realize it’s one of my last undergraduate assignments ever. While I’m not choked up about leaving behind group project meetings or late nights at the library, I am having trouble imagining parting with the people I have spent my four years at BC with. It’s these people-my roommates, friends, teammates, professors, classmates-who have made my college experience so incredible and hard to say goodbye to. Life as we’ve known it for the past four years is about to be turned upside down and the people I’ve depended on will no longer be just a few steps away.
One of my biggest takeaways from #IS6621 is our unprecedented ability to maintain real, meaningful relationships from just about any where in the world through social media. Even just this semester, I feel as though I have gotten to know a lot of you through blog posts, comments and Twitter posts. (I must say I was a Twitter hater when I started this class but have come around to see the value in sharing content and starting a conversation that everyone can be involved in). I have quickly learned that social media is much more than a useless addiction or distraction from doing anything productive. It’s an outlet to keep up the friendships and relationships that I have been lucky enough to have in my life for the past 4 years.
Yet another takeaway: know what platform is appropriate for what audience. While I’d love to keep in touch with some of my professors, I don’t plan to do this on Snapchat or Instagram. I’ll save those for my friends, while something like LinkedIn, Facebook or just an email here and there may be the better options for talking to a professor. Throughout the semester, I’ve really learned the importance of understanding and distinguishing between platforms. Coming into the class, I just grouped all of these sites as “social media,” not realizing that all of them have a different purpose and strategy.
When I think about social media in the context of life after college, I can’t help but think that Sherry Turkle was wrong when she said that we are “connected but alone.” When I think of the word “alone,” I picture myself in New York City in an apartment the size of a shoebox just starting my new job and feeling completely lost. The idea of social media keeping me connected with my best friends at BC, hearing of their struggles with the real world, and getting constant reminders that we’re all in it together, makes me feel far less alone.
By no means do I assume that social media will be the only form of communication or a relationship I’ll have with those I don’t live close to. There is no doubt in my mind that weekend trips will be planned, BC tailgates will be attended and constant chatter will happen over text and the phone. I now realize that social media can enhance those real relationships and fill in the gaps maybe mid-work week when we’re in need of a boost or on Sunday evenings when the scaries start to set in. Debatably, my greatest takeaway from this class is that social media doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s okay to rely on the good parts when we need it without feeling guilty about becoming an “addict” or like we depend on “fake relationships.” There are definitely downsides and threats of overuse but there’s also a healthy balance and an opportunity to integrate our digital lives and our real ones.
Graduation (there, I said it) is just a little over two weeks away. I’m trying to soak in every BCism while I still can-eating Mac and Cheese on Thursdays, walking around the res, getting in one last #GassonGram, taking my favorite spin class at the Plex. But, I’ve also started coming to terms with it all coming to an end. Mostly, because I know we are all going to go on to do incredible things (yes, cliché but probably true) and we have the ability to stay connected through it all. We can share in each other’s successes and struggles with the tools of social media.
Thank you to everyone for making my last semester at BC one of the best and congrats to all of the seniors graduating!