Throughout the nation, various social media outlets influence the way people communicate with each other. Deerfield is no exception. As members of a close-knit community, Deerfield students are obliged to ask the question: How do increased social media outlets affect the ways we connect with and treat each other?
In many ways, social media allows students to stay in touch with each other throughout the day and stay connected. However, such effortless accessibility can be harmful when used without discretion. Yik Yak, an app which allows users in a certain geographic location to anonymously post comments on an open forum, came to Deerfield last spring. After some people exchanged hurtful comments on the app, the Administration discouraged its use and later shut it down.
Blake O’Neal ’15 noted, “Oftentimes, the effects of social media at Deerfield can be negative because kids really don’t know what to put [up] and where to put it, or that anything they communicate with their friends could very likely haunt them later.”
The ability to post anything without identification allowed students the opportunity to hide behind a screen and avoid responsibility for their words.
“The difference between communication on Facebook and Yik Yak is not the forum,” said Samantha Chai ’15, “but being accountable for what we say. We saw how quickly the anonymous Deerfield Compliments became inappropriate on Facebook, yet we can question each other and voice our opinions respectfully on our class pages.”
However, there are also positive outlets on campus, including the Deerfield Student Forum Facebook Page, which has accumulated 487 student members since its formation in early January.
The page serves as an open discussion board that addresses issues on campus and allows students to speak casually with one another about topics ranging from fan buses for athletic contests to the controversy of the recent drug searches using dogs in dormitories. The team’s mission statement reads, “To bring the Deerfield Academy community together through positive discussion of school issues and current events, as well as to provide a logistical platform for those interested in addressing the student body at large.”
Jared Armes ’15 and Nicky Conzelman ‘16 founded the Deerfield Student Forum. “So far,” Armes commented, “I think it has been going well, but we would really love to see more student input. We’ve had a few great posts that have generated meaningful conversation, but the more posts the better.”
Molly Murphy ’15 said, “I think that integrating social media into culture-based discussions is good. It makes it easier for students to participate, because they don’t need to take time out of their day to go to a 45-minute Greer chat. I think that projecting them over social media weakens the statements, however, because nothing can simulate the courage that a face-to-face iteration of your opinion in front of your community members takes.”
In addition, Deerfield’s literary magazine, Albany Road, recently created an Instagram account that features student work and recently held a competition for the best photography submission of those who posted Instagrams with the handle @albanyroad.