College Acceptances in the Age of Facebook

Rachel Stone Acting Co-Editor-in-Chief We have become brands of ourselves. This is neither a psychological musing nor a statement of Fitzgerald-esque disillusionment, this is a quote taken from my father upon hearing my explanation of what exactly Facebook was. He’s right, of course. We have become excellent self-publicists in this new age of social media, painting our own portraits in pixilated pastel. We have come to realize that we have a perpetual audience, and we act accordingly. This has power, and regardless of whether this power is enough to destabilize an African warlord, it still has enough to reign over independent opinion. This “audience dynamic” has come to affect our most personal choices, notably college acceptance. In a culture where Harvard graduates are superstars, it is unavoidable that your audience will reflect this at least minimally. Whether we like it or not, in most instances the number of likes you may receive upon posting a status of “Yale 2016” and “College of the Redwoods!!!” will generally vary proportionally to the reputation of the college (another pseudo-brand in and of itself). “It’s weird,” mentioned a student currently deliberating between a small, liberal arts college and a more well-known Ivy League school. “It’s not like I’m making my decision for Facebook, but rather it begins to feel like more people would be proud of me if I posted about going to an Ivy.” He went on to state that, “with Facebook, college acceptance isn’t just a strictly personal choice, but a choice that is broadcasted to your whole stratosphere of Facebook friends.” However, you may argue that this will always be the case. It’s society, Rachel, not Facebook. At this, I might perhaps withdraw an old lecture-pointer from my pocket and proceed to draw up a few charts and statistics to prove my point. But as this is an editorial and not a video chat, you will have to make due with my argument instead. It isn’t just Facebook – that part is true – but rather it’s what Facebook is. Facebook is a microcosm of society, neatly packaged and fluorescent. We can see in three seconds if something is socially acceptable or not, and it is basic human nature to be influenced. So what do we do? Well, we could preempt all of this by not posting about college acceptances, but why must we? It is an element of significant pride and accomplishment, and our friends are probably going to end up mentioning something anyway. We could take up residence in a vacuum, or perhaps a nice little cave east of Southport. We could hold a middle finger to society and choose what makes us happy, dammit. Or, we could simply acknowledge that this “audience effect” exists. But as a junior in that strange limbo between premeditated anxiety and perpetual terror, I at least have some time to decide.]]>