OPINION: Out of state, out of mind?


Attending college can mean a student is hundreds of miles away from the place called “home.” For some, leaving home to go to college can be one of the hardest things to endure, even if they are only a few hours from home. Out-of-state students do not share this luxury. Getting up and moving to a new place to start a new life takes courage, especially when it is almost impossible to return home whenever a student pleases. With more than 24,300 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, the K-State community is stocked full with people from all over the world.

What is the next best thing to seeing your loved ones when students have the inability to go home and see friends whenever they please? The answer is social media. Staying connected to other people is what makes humans human. There are endless amounts of social media outlets to choose from. Connecting to friends and family is easier today than it has ever been, thanks to social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many more.

Elizabeth Chevalier, a graduate teaching assistant in Spanish who came to K-State from New York, said that phone calls are a more personal way to get in touch with people she cares about. There’s not always enough time for that, though.

“Social media provides a way for us to keep in touch on our own time, and allows me to communicate what is happening in my life to all of my friends and family at once, rather than texting or calling each one individually,” Chevalier said.

The only downside to relying on social media to keep in touch with loved ones is the lack of personality it holds versus seeing and talking to people in real life.

Madeline Barber, freshman in communication sciences and disorders, is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She said it has been an adjustment to not be able to communicate with friends and family on a daily basis.

“My favorite social media, however, is Tumblr because some of my very best friends use it and when they blog I know their heart, not just the highlights of their lives they post on Instagram or Facebook,” Barber said.

There are many added benefits to using social media to stay in touch. There is not a lot of time commitment that comes with social media use, whereas texting, emailing and phone calling can be time-consuming. Sure, social media may not be as personal as face-to-face interaction, but when you’re looking for a quick fix, it does the trick.

Social media is the quickest and easiest way for Janelle Feldmann, sophomore in mass communications, to stay in contact with her friends. She came to K-State from Denver, Colorado. Feldmann said that Twitter is her most commonly used social media when trying to stay connected with friends.

An Aug. 23, 2007 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication study titled, The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites,” sought to determine whether social media really did help keep friendship ties. The study showed that social media, like Facebook, helped maintain relationships as people move to different communities. Although people may be removed from their communities, the online world can be used to support relationships and keep friends in touch.

Whether it is a quick text, tweet or photo “like,” staying up-to-date with family and friends via social media is important. This method can seem impersonal at times, but it is important to remember that it is OK to use the resources around you to maintain long-distance relationships with friends and family.