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Eckburg: Unplugging is no longer an option

IPhone with screen lit up
A phone with TikTok open sits with headphones on a table. (Collegian File Photo)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In 2021, opting to remain without an online presence does more harm than good.

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By having an online presence, you allow potential employers to learn more about who you are outside of work, which can lead to you being perceived as well-rounded and relatable — getting you the job.

According to Career Builder, “Nearly half of employers … say that if they can’t find a job candidate online, they are less likely to call that person in for an interview — 28% say that is because they like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview, 20% say they expect candidates to have an online presence.”

As college students, we are already dealing with adapting to virtual learning and spending a lot of time online amid a pandemic. This, coupled with the social pressures already created by online interactions, can feel like too much.

As real life and social media continue to intertwine, we need to recognize that our consumption of media is, at times, overloading our emotional capacities. It is no longer a feasible option to remain offline while also entering the workforce, so, as college students, we need to make sure to adapt to this entanglement with our mental health in mind.

The impacts that media consumption has on our mental health has also been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and our obsession with being informed on current events now has its very own nickname: ‘Doom Scrolling.'”

Social media, in recent years, has experienced a shift in what is considered profitable content. When Instagram first launched in 2010, users’ feeds were full of images of cats, motivational quotes and food. Now, Instagram models flood feeds, promoting flat-tummy teas and hair vitamins. Instagram is no longer casual.

At this point, we have all heard the phrase “social media is the highlight reel of people’s lives” and, although true, we do not also acknowledge the real-world pressures created by social media.

We know to scroll past the ostensibly flawless figures on our screens, reminding ourselves ‘social media is not reality, but we forget that reality is also not reality,'” Melissa Kerman writes in her article “Social Media is a Highlight Reel, but so is Our Reality.”

Although social media is by no means the cause of comparing oneself to others — which has existed since the dawn of adolescent angst — it certainly exacerbates the need to feel as though you are putting your best foot forward even if that means sacrificing your own mental health.

The impacts that media consumption has on our mental health have also been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and our obsession with being informed on current events now has its very own nickname: doomscrolling.

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The University of Georgia’s director of the Games and Virtual Environments Lab, Sun Joo Ahn, stated in The Washington Post, “Seeking out information is something we tend to do even during normal circumstances in order to make informed decisions.”

“Unfortunately, a lot of information is negative these days, and we’re motivated to pay more attention to negative news — and remember it longer — because it has a direct linkage to our survival,” Ahn said.

A person records a TikTok on their phone. TikTok is currently one of the most popular social media apps. (Collegian File Photo)

It is easy to sit on your phone and sink into the depths of the internet late into the night, but we need to take a step back and ask ourselves how we are feeling, and if the answer is overwhelmed, how to properly address those feelings. 

There is good news though. Being overwhelmed by social media and your overall media consumption is an experience shared by many, and both are issues that need to be addressed through introspection and asking for help when you need it. 

As college students, we are already working to adapt to virtual classes and interactions. Now, our academic and social interactions have been transferred online, which adds to our need to feel connected and informed — doomscrolling has become our unified coping skill. Although having a presence online is something that is necessary for things like networking and exposure to potential employers, a line needs to be drawn regarding media consumption for the sake of our emotional well-being. 

If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. If you feel uncomfortable discussing your feelings with your family or friends, you can text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis counseling. 

Bella Eckburg can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @yaycolor.

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About the Contributor
Bella Eckburg, Opinion Director
Bella Eckburg is a fourth-year journalism student with a minor in criminology and criminal justice and is currently serving as The Collegian’s opinion desk director. Eckburg hails from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but she’s no skier. Instead, she spent her time in the mountains exploring her love for writing and painting, which she brought with her to Colorado State University in the fall of 2019. Journalism gives Eckburg the opportunity to explore the Fort Collins community and life on campus through a critical lens. She enjoys writing about local history, sex and relationships, queer culture and social media’s impact on this generation of young women.  In her free time, she loves to watch trash TV, write horror fiction and listen to podcasts. As opinion director, Eckburg wishes to help every writer build upon their AP Style skills, boost their confidence and find their voice. Regardless of your personal stances, every opinion has a place on the opinion desk, and Eckburg works hard to make the desk an open and safe environment to have discussions about the community and campus. Her favorite part about working at The Collegian is meeting so many interesting and incredible people who are passionate about telling the stories of Fort Collins and CSU.  Eckburg is excited to continue working with The Collegian for another year and hopes you’ll find the time to come to the newsroom in the basement of the Lory Student Center to strike up a conversation or sign up for the many available reporter trainings to join the team.

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