Confessions of a social media-free teen

Sonora Taffa, opinions writer

My mother knew what twerking was before I did.

Yes, it is true. We were on a mother-daughter outing to the grocery store, when an obnoxious radio host threw out an unfamiliar word. “What is TWERKING?” I asked my mother. She laughed at me and proceeded to explain the details of this new form of dance.
How is it possible that my mother knows more about pop culture than I do? I do not use social media outlets. And by that I mean I’m just a weirdo who doesn’t use my smart phone for anything other than texting and calling. While my technologically-stunted existence may appear mildly pathetic in the eyes of many, I actually prefer it that way. In order for me to explain why, we must go back to those delicate years of early adolescence when I had my first tenuous encounters with social media.

I was a seventh grader with painfully short side bangs and purple braces, cruising along and doing my best to avoid complete social isolation. Suddenly, a mysterious force called Facebook began to enter the minds and conversations of nearly all my peers. It appeared to be an Internet site where children could post bad selfies of themselves, thus inadvertently demonstrating their level of social success. I did not find this concept particularly appealing, for I had painstakingly sought to avoid any documentation of the awkwardest years of my life. And so, I resisted the Facebook obsession. Well, I resisted it until I self-consciously slunk onto the Facebook scene my sophomore year, a good two years after it had stopped being cool. Yeah, I was that kid. I still call it “the Facebook Machine,” because I think I’m really funny and quirky. People do not tend to laugh, but this does not discourage me.

Anyway, by sophomore year, kids had abandoned Facebook for bigger and better things. Twitter had taken over my school in a sudden and successful coup. This new and exciting site allowed teens to share their witty inner musings with the world. Instead of stalking each others’ pictures, kids could stalk each others’ personalities. It was a huge improvement over Facebook.

At least I thought so until my peers began to obsess over their “Twitter ratios,” asking each other for “tweet advice” and obsessively analyzing who the latest “subtweet” was about. Twitter drama became a plague that preyed upon the most devoted tweeters of each class, driving them to new heights. Any temptation I experienced to join the fad died as kids began to live-tweet every microscopic detail of their mundane lives.
At this point in my criticisms, I feel I should admit something: I have a Twitter. In my defense, it was a requirement for a journalism class. My emoticon is an egg. I follow two accounts. One is The New York Times and the other is Maureen Dowd, a famous opinion columnist.

And these are the complete confessions of a social networking pariah. Although I may feel embarrassed from time to time, all I have to do is listen to my friends complain about their Internet addictions, and I begin to feel better. According to Nielsen’s annual Social Media report, Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social media sites in July 2012 alone. That is a total of 230,060 years spent in a single month by Americans tweeting, Facebook stalking and wasting time in general. With that much time spent online, no wonder kids talk about having absolutely no time for homework. So all things considered, I am happy to remain oblivious. Sure, I’m not always up to date with pop culture and I may not seem as cool as my mom. But I’d rather spend more time in the real world and less time in the online world of twerking, memes and Candy Crush.