Viewpoint: Social media friend or foe in the classroom?

Now that we have reached the halfway mark for the summer, many of us start dreading what is looming on the horizon: the new school year. New classes to stress over, new teachers to load up the new work, and new books and supplies. It seems that with every new year, students find new things to hate about school.

When it comes right down to the point, why are we even here? Do we really have that strong of a desire to throw money into an institution with thousands of people paying thousands of dollars every year to have massive amounts of information crammed down their throats daily, or do we have another driving force in society?

Higher education is a necessary step in today’s society if you want to be gainfully employed. A bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma of 20 years ago. If we want to get anywhere in life, the minimum of a bachelor’s degree is almost always required. So why do we come to dread the time we spend in a classroom?

It comes down to the pace of society. If the Internet still didn’t exist, we would not have distraction during class, nor the desire to check an e-mail and say, “I need to be in contact with so-and-so to make sure they know I’ll be late to their party.” Without texting and its immediate response system, we would have to actually plan our time so that we could still talk to a friend and be somewhat productive while doing homework.

What about Facebook, or the new Google Plus? We survived for so long with only instant messengers or less in school, and yet nearly every laptop in every classroom is bound to have social networking sites on it at some point during class time. Is society really that distracted with the outside world? Do we really need to have a foot out the door at all times, or do we just want to always be in the flow of things, despite the classroom requirements we signed up for?

Hopefully that isn’t the case for most students. Hopefully we have the attention span to sit through an hour-long class and focus on what is being said, rather than what our friends are typing about this weekend’s party.

We still would find some kind of distraction, though, wouldn’t we? Music, a good book, or something else we would rather be doing? And yet, many times, our stressors become our best friends during finals week, when we decide to shut off our lives because we think we’ll fail our classes if we don’t. So why do we allow the stress to take over for two weeks out of the year, when we could avoid it altogether?

The challenge is this: Try not to let stress rule your life during finals week. A little bit of mild stress daily over your classes to avoid the end-of-finals-week crash could really save your outlook on school. Who knows? Maybe it will even give you the extra energy to stay in school longer.