Standpoint

Be Careful What You Post Online in a Small Town

St Andrews loves a good night out; no one can deny it. Just look at the next morning’s photos, and you’ll find faces drowned in glitter, fancy dresses, and drinks clutched in hand. Even with outsiders’ sub-par opinions of our town’s typical night out, there are definitely ways to find fun, and friends, with the help of social media.

You venture to the Bop on a Friday with a tipsy group, stumbling into 601, where music, bodies, and darkness hit you full in the face. Shots are always a good idea – everyone knows that! Dancing, too; so you bust some moves, and when the camera finds your face it seems all too inviting to strike a pose: you know you look good.

If the flash of a camera snap doesn’t wake you up, the next day does. Groggy and uncomfortably unsure of how you found your way home, you reach for the extra limb: social media. With blinking eyes and a pounding head, you timidly check Facebook, Instagram, the (now infamous) Snapchat story, and, almost holding your breath, your messages. Piece by piece the night fits itself together through a succession of glorious photos; on the ground in the street? Check. Posing with random strangers, face shining with a sheen of sweat? Check. Perhaps even your friends managed to snap where last night’s dinner went, too?

The headache subsides, eventually, throbbing away with litres of water and the tang of Berocca as you lie in a mess of pyjamas and blankets, the laundry that you still haven’t done ridiculing you on the other side of the room. There’s glitter on the floor, and half-empty Dervish wrappers festering in the corner, and, with a sigh, you try to blur out what snippets you actually remember. But, scrolling through your camera roll, nausea begins to creep back up, and you’re in the bathroom again, wondering why you can’t count the number of shots taken on your fingers.

Social media is undeniably one of the most important aspects of our generation, whether we like it or not. Pervading every aspect of our life, it’s impossible to sit in a lecture without watching the girl in front of you perusing Zara’s latest Fall Collection, or frantically searching for those extra Christmas Ball tickets. If you’re lucky, the person next to you might even be watching your own Snapchat story, almost expired, from the previous night’s extravaganza; you turn your head slightly and hide behind the shame.

Everyone is aware of the dangers: there are those who were rejected from Harvard, for example, over offensive internet usage; the caution when applying for jobs, and for university; the phrase “don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see!” It is important, and embarrassingly difficult, to remember this, especially when the buzz of the evening truly kicks in. The act of being judicious with online social life cannot be stressed enough.

It’s not all bad though! Social media helps us in every walk of life; school, socialising, job prospects – we have everything at our fingertips. Yet, as much as this is a blessing, it curses us with the ability to simply tap a screen to instantly upload the glories of the night for all to see. Where you thought you could forget about it, maybe decide not to drink so much next time (that’s what they all say), and brush it off as what my Dad once called “youthful extravagance,” you’re only reminded of losing your debit card, Student ID, coat, and money, and crying to the bouncer at the Union. If only you could forget.

Photo: Marketing Land

So, if there’s one thing we learn from being extravagant youths, it’s that social media will never leave us alone. Your friend list creeps up with strangers that you meet in happy circles, and sometimes you sit and sift through it, cringing at the sheer number of unrecognisable names. At least, it helps to form friendships, even if these sometimes unintentionally endanger our reputations. Social media has an ugly side – of friends sprawled on the golf course, or crawling along the hallway – and also a beautiful one. With all the photos from the Opening Ball, Reeling, The Bop, Halloween, and more, it is important to not get too caught up in the evils of our modern day world; we must only remember them, and watch our backs.

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