“No phone at the table,” addressed my mom. “It’s Thanksgiving! You’re addicted to that phone!”
Mom was right. I am addicted to my phone. I developed such an intimate relationship with my phone and social media that I was spending Thanksgiving dinner with Instagram instead of my biological Gram.
It’s not just me! Millenials, in general, have developed an intimate relationship with social media. I realized this when the tragically unexpected news of Paul Walker’s death blew up on Facebook. Scrolling through my News Feed, I read different stories pertaining to what happened. There were even arguments developing through Facebook comments as to whether or not Walker was the driver or passenger and if the accident happened at a charity event or while driving to one. People were terrifically adamant that false information was true, exclusively due to seeing something posted on Facebook. Their relationships with the social media phenomena was so intimate that they trusted the first speculation they read on their News Feed. We barely trust a meteorologist who studied for years to predict the weather, but we’ll believe the first thing we see on our News Feed.
After reading a post that drag racing may have been involved, it made me question what rumors would circulate about my cause of death when a newfound trusted source of news is also the world’s largest gossip ring.
So, I had a friend post three little letters in a status: R.I.P., with my name tagged. No details. Just R.I.P. I instructed them to post it, then delete it after 30 minutes. I wanted to see how long it would take for rumors to spread about my cause of death if nobody knew specific detail, and how many people would believe the rumors coming from their news feed.
After taking a nap for a few hours, I woke up to find out that the news of my “death” blew up. One person saw the post, causing them to post, creating a snowball effect of memorial sentiments. It was alarming that out of nearly 2,000 Facebook friends, only a few people took the initiative to further investigate what happened, or if something happened at all. An alarming amount of people took the news verbatim.
Within a few hours, from one simple post by someone else, rumors developed that I was hit by a car, I committed suicide, that it was a prank, that I was doing a social media experiment, and that I was in a car accident. People were looking up flights for a pending funeral, my fraternity’s Facebook group suggested to gather donations to send flowers to my family, and posts were piling up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. NO SPECIFIC INFORMATION WAS REVEALED, but facts and rumors were spreading like the clap at Senior Week in Ocean City!
I was not hit by a car. I didn’t kill myself. No car accident. Definitely not a joke, or even a social media experiment. It was a statement.
Millenials need to be less intimate with social media! Just because we self-penetrate to pics posted of people we want to have sex with doesn’t mean Instagram is our girlfriend, just because your profile can be deleted for posting inappropriate content doesn’t mean Facebook is your government, and just because you read someone is dead doesn’t mean News Feed is a credible news source. It’s not that easy to get rid of me. Just ask my parents.