Being new at any high school is no easy task. The single-filed sweaty palms and nervous, unfamiliar smiles sprinkled throughout the All School Handshake each year display what teenagers often fear most: each other. However, the internet is a recent solution to combat the discomfort of being new. Uploading one’s identity onto social media platforms such as Instagram encourages teens to bridge together webs of connections and indirectly interact with the people in their lives, even prior to in-person introductions.
Electronic exchanges among newcomers, with returners, or even correspondence with alumni can easily familiarize a curious student with LFA’s atmosphere for social context. These interactions are advantageous prior to arriving to campus, especially for international students. Gaining insight on American culture, receiving advice on homesickness, and listening to stories about life at school may increase excitement about the big move and help new students enter the school year with positive mindsets.
Social media platforms are even useful to returners eager to welcome new Caxys prior to the start of school. Finding new students may seem an odd endeavor, but asking friends about new students and scrolling through LFA tags on Instagram are effective ways to get in contact with new students. From there, direct messages are a great tool for starting up conversations about the upcoming year, and they’re a fun way to make friends and to look forward to meeting in person.
Not only is social media a helpful device for meeting new people, it is also a way for students to bond once they have already met. It has not been uncommon this season to hear the words, “Do you have a TikTok?” passed around clusters of friend groups, as the platform has grown exponentially in popularity and gained interest from a diverse teenage demographic.
Recording, editing, and posting videos on TikTok with friends develops connections in both digital and real social atmospheres. Memories of doing silly dances or reciting memes ultimately bond teenagers within our quirky scope of Gen-Z humor. TikTok and similar platforms are a creative way to pass time when bored, rather than using social media to avoid interactions or isolate one another by retreating to individual bubbles of electronic content.
With that being said, social media does have the capability to divide us. But when it is used to connect us by forming genuine interactions, we as a community can better appreciate the capabilities of our devices and start the school year off logged in.