Social media: communication friend or foe?

Does the seeming obsession with constant flow of information interfere with our real communication and lack of fact checking? Facebook, Twitter, at one point MySpace, and other forms of social media have become a place of information and insight for users and also formal organizations. The phrase “it’s not official until it’s on Facebook” can even be heard as new posts are added to a users page.

Social media lends itself to on-the-spot information updates including births, wedding proposals, and even job updates. Vacations are documented as the trip progresses with pictures and updates to the cities and venues being visited. Even on the lowest level users update who is hanging out with whom, or the hang out spot for the night. The rapid information update could leave a gap in communication.

College students claim the top spot in Internet usage and 60% of their daily consumption is spent on social media ( The next three age groups combined only add up to 63%. Needless to say Western Carolina University students know a lot about social media trends.

“Facebook makes people less personal,” says junior Jessica Russo.

The lack of face time that social media creates causes people to question the updates less and trust what others are posting more even if the information is false. A study from stated that a user spends on average 15 hours and 33 minutes per month on Facebook and about 23 minutes each visit, mostly just reading information.

“We trust the information other put on Facebook because we post truthful information ourselves, so therefore automatically assume others post truth as well,” commented junior Elizabeth McEwan.

The problem then becomes what truth is creditable? A trend widespread in social media, especially on Facebook, is “hacking” where a user will be logged into a computer or mobile device and another person comes and changes information on that user’s page as a joke. Senior Kaycie Jones says she sees this frequently with birth dates.

“Someone will hack my Facebook and people who just said happy birthday [to me] a month ago will say it again. They don’t pay attention. It’s just repetition.”

“Hacking” can especially affect the older audience and create quite a communication gap. Despite the large audience in the college age range (about 30.9% of users according to, Facebook was actually the 3rd most visited site in 2010 by users 65 and over (  Kaycie, Elizabeth, Jessica and others agreed that older “friends” on social media, especially ages 30 and above, believe false information more than others.

“It’s a technology gap,” Kaycie says. “They talk awkward on it as well. It’s the same with texting.”

The distance between the language of social media may have to do with the time spent learning and interacting with the interne. According to coherent social media 70% of 18-24 year olds use social media several times a day compared to 35% in the 55-65 range. College students spend twice as much time using social media and have mastered fluency.

“People revolve around and depend on social media,” sophomore Hunter Flynn says. “I rely on [social media] more than Google or even other sources. Mostly to socialize and keep in touch.”

The high dependency may be the reason for the lengthy visits to the social media sites, or it could be something else.

“Addiction,” says sophomore Eli Russo. “Well maybe not, I just don’t have anything else to do.”

Social media has inserted itself into the lives of people all over the world, and especially in America. The demand for the constant information is a growing trend; a trend that could create an overall gap in communication through generations as well as face-to-face interaction.