Social media an unwanted institution

Despite the growing popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, students at the University of Oregon voice distaste.

By Kirsten Ohlendorf

Eugene, Oregon-Social media on a university campus is inescapable. A recent study conducted by USA Today found that 95% of college students nationwide are on Facebook or Twitter and spend an average of four hours on the sites per week.

Despite the popularity of social networking, students in the humanities department at the University of Oregon wish it did not exist. Interviewed students believe the sites are useful socially but ultimately more hindering than helpful.

“Facebook is like a necessary evil in my life,” said senior Zachary Kirihara. “It helps me to connect socially, but then it also makes me reliant on it.”

He tries to keep off the site as much as possible but often ends up logging in at least five times per day. When in lecture he cannot help but scroll his newsfeed to avoid boredom.

Kirihara does not see social networking as an academic tool. The only time he uses it for school is when he is looking up friends that are in the same classes. He finds the sites more distracting than anything else. “There are a lot of kids on Facebook and Twitter during lecture when they are supposed to be paying attention.”Other students in the department agree with Kirihara in that Facebook is not a tool for school but “a tool for creeping on people,” as senior Elliot Wagenblatt put it. Wagenblatt believes that social media decreases his ability to be productive and causes him to become “easily distracted when doing homework.”

At the UO, the move from face-to-face to online interaction has not only created the distracting environment highlighted by Kirihara and Wagenblatt, but has also changed the way business is conducted by faculty.

Matt Cooper, a communications specialist in the university’s college of arts and sciences, no longer feels the need to connect with clients in person to adequately conduct business. He uses Twitter and Facebook to release information to his staff instead of meeting with each of them individually. He acknowledged that managing business this way is impersonal but he said, “It’s so much faster than going through traditional ways like calling and getting coffee.”

Cooper said that digital media has “exponentially increased the depth of sharing and distributing information.”

Students in the department do not deny the power of social media stressed by Cooper but they still maintain their want to rid themselves of their “addiction,” as Eric Mathews, a junior Japanese major called it.

He uses Facebook to connect with other students at the university who are also learning Japanese, but like Kirihara and Wagenblatt, he wishes he were not so reliant on the site.

“I wish that Facebook didn’t exist because it takes up too much of my life.”

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