Do you have a Twitter account? How about a Facebook? Perhaps you’ve seen or posted pictures and videos on Instagram or Snapchat? Well, if you live in the United States, then there is an 81% chance that you possess at least one form of social media. Over 262 million Americans use social media in varying degrees, from those who log on once to create an account to those who religiously use, check, and update their profile and status on a daily basis. Over the past decade, social media has grown from simply being a form of communication to becoming a source for everyday news, as well as necessary amusement. From posts complaining about the government to short videos about funny fails, the Internet has it all. Social media has now become an outlet that connects the user to the outside world, while remaining on one’s desk or in the palm of one’s hand.

So what exactly makes social media so important in the 21st century? The short answer is that the potential uses of social media sites are endless. For example, college students such as myself are looking to join clubs and organizations once we begin the school year. Rather than waiting to be swamped by all the pressure, work, and decisions once the school year begins, it is much simpler to log onto Facebook and browse through the accounts of clubs that my specific college offers. Once I find a club that I am interested in, I can simply join the group account, which will allow me to be constantly updated on new news and events occurring through the club. I can also use this opportunity to ask specific questions I may have about the group, association, or college in general and receive a plethora of responses. At the same time, I have a YouTube channel called Freezeflame, where I regularly upload soccer/FIFA content. By logging onto my Twitter account, I can notify my viewers and subscribers when new videos are released, as well as ask questions about what types of videos they want to see. In the meantime, I can ask my subscribers to post or “tweet” me questions for a Q&A video, using a unique hashtag that will allow me to find questions rather quickly. And when the clamor and rush of a busy day has died down, I can go onto Snapchat to leisurely watch videos and photos my friends have posted about their day, and even post my own pictures and videos to show my followers a glimpse of my daily life. The potential uses for all forms of social media are endless. Of course, there are countless more reasons why people use social media, but the bottom line is, we all use it to stay in the loop, so to speak. We all use it to stay connected, whether it is to ingest the daily dose of important news and world events or to start a war over whether the dress is black and blue or white and gold.

One question you have probably heard numerous times is, “Hey, did you see [so-and-so’s whatever]?” Feel free to insert names of friends, celebrities, sports players, music artists, and more in the brackets. Example may include, but are not limited to, Josh’s tweet, Drake releasing a new album, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal against Barcelona, Kobe Bryant retiring, Drake breaking up with Rihanna, Pokemon Go’s release date, Youtuber KSI leaving the Sidemen group, Drake getting back together with Nicki Minaj; the list goes on. The point I am trying to make is that whenever an event, action, or post experiences a boom or surge on social media, literally everyone with remote interest in the topic begins to discuss it. And there is nothing more lonely than being left out of a lively conversation simply due to the fact that you have absolutely no clue as to what is happening. This lack of awareness can also reflect a sign of ignorance, especially when discussing politics, sports, and tragic events such as Harambe’s death. One unique characteristic of social media is that it allows you to watch and view any events or news you might have missed, regarding any of the aforementioned areas, because let’s be honest, you are not going to see or capture every major event live. However, with YouTube, for example, you can go back and watch that Presidential debate you missed, or the highlights from the Barcelona v. Real Madrid game. Social media also allows you to both view others’ opinions and express your own on any given topic. Rather than remaining close-minded on a particular subject, you can begin to see the same topic in a different light, from an angle you had not previously considered, while having the same impact on others. The opinions of others can be vital in making important decisions. As an incoming college freshman, my future goal is to enter medical school, which consequently led me to choose Biology as my major. Later on, I found out that my school offered another unique major, known as Psychobiology. By asking fellow students online, I learned that Psychobiology covered the same requirements for medical school as Biology, but offered two additional benefits. The first of which was that the major was a combination of both psychology and biology, giving a new spin onto the otherwise standard subject, while the second was that Psychobiology upper-division classes were psychology-based, rather than biology based, making the overall major both more intriguing and slightly easier than my initial choice. Without access to social media, I would not have known about the differences and perks of each major and would have consequently remained with a Biology major.

The vast, ever-expanding Internet simply defines the current state of the twenty-first century. Social media, in all shapes and forms, offers a multitude of uses for all users. Both casual users and fanatics can utilize social media for all their online needs, may it be communicating with loved ones or remaining updated on important news. Whether you use social media for communication, posting pictures, expressing yourself, or watching videos of puppies absolutely kill the Juju Challenge, we can all agree on one thing: Social media has undoubtedly become an essential part of our daily lives.