Life of an Eighth Grader: Hashtag Generation – Social Media’s Effect on my Life (or lack thereof)

In Mrs. Joiner’s English class the day before I started writing this article, we were reading a very interesting editorial. It was as a whole about how grammar affects how we are perceived in this day and age, but the part that caught my eye the most was how our generation’s overexposure to character limits in social media and spell/grammar check has affected our ability to use proper grammar in more formal situations. That got me thinking: how much has social media affected our lives? And, as the natural self-centered progression of thought goes, this question eventually turned to, “How much has social media affected my life?”.

This is a difficult question to address, as it really depends on what you’d call social media. Is it just the places where you directly connect and interact with other people, even anonymously? Are websites like Deviantart and YouTube social media as well? What about online gaming? I decided to divide the definition into three tiers. Tier 1 encompasses all places where people can post something/perform an action and receive feedback of some form. Tier 2 narrows this down to personal forums, though this only eliminates online gaming. Tier 3 shaves this off a lot more, eliminating all sites where you cannot communicate with someone directly and/or in real time. A better way to explain this would be places that do not surround the posting of creative content and the awaiting of feedback. Think of YouTube’s comment system vs. a YouTube livestream: one is cumulative communication, the other is instant communication.
When people think about “social media”, the sites that come to mind can usually be encompassed exclusively in Tier 3. I mean, who thinks of the Tier 2 YouTube as “social media”? Or online games like the .io websites, which fall exclusively in Tier 1. Yet, in a way, they are. People can communicate there, and some sort of response will usually be initiated, whether it be a comment someone leaves on their video or their little snake being eaten by a bigger snake maneuvered by a more experienced player.

To be honest, I don’t feel like it’s affected me to the same degree that it has my peers. I’m not sure why, but I just never really saw getting into that as the most important part of my life. I never even really breached Tiers 1 and 2 until the fifth grade, which marked my first few significant ventures into trying to fit in with the hashtag generation. To be honest, I’d like to see a study performed in our school about how the age in which we are exposed to websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram affects our personality and performances in certain areas. I’m rather introverted, and my attempts to understand a lot of what my peers are talking about usually ends in confusion for me and reactions ranging from patronization to pure hysteria from said peers. That’s not to say that I haven’t been involved in it; it’s just that I tend toward Tiers 1 and 2 rather than sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Vine, and that makes all the difference.

Social media has changed the meaning of a lot of what we do. It’s become a culture of its own, and while I can’t say I’m surprised, having been born in a generation in which this was the norm, the scale of it is rather impressive. The Internet has become a culture of its own, and the subcultures within that culture have been integrated flawlessly into the traditional measurements of popularity. And with the way it’s shifting every day, it makes me wonder how it will all develop in the future. I just suppose we’ll just have to see what develops, and how every new integration with technology brings fascinating social developments.

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