The social stress of college groups

As the end of senior year draws nearer, students are ready to move on to the next exciting endeavor: college. Many look forward to the first step toward adulthood, a taste of real independence, and for many, this anxious anticipation is released in different ways. So like everything in our tech-savvy, Internet-crazed generation, these feelings leak onto social media, and accepted student Facebook groups become a sort of Mecca for the over-excited high school seniors.

Of course these groups have advantages. They create a great forum for future classmates and allow for students to easily introduce themselves and even scope out potential roommates. But the lack of social cues in these groups can be somewhat astounding, leaving me worried that I’ll be surrounded by a herd of noobs when I start college in September.

There are a few types of people I’ve seen repeating in different groups: the class clown; the person who wants to be totally outlandish and draw attention; the socialite who has posted 45 times since the group was created in mid-December (I counted); and the “I’m different and cool and I’m always gonna talk about it so please be my friend, I’m desperate” person. And believe me, they’re all just as irritating as the others in their own special ways.

It’s not to say making friends is an easy quest. I myself face the dilemma often: Should I post about myself? Should I hold back? Will people think I’m weird? Perhaps college-group navigation would be easier if there was some sort of unspoken code like the ones in real life that say you can’t scream “bomb” in an airport or sneeze in a crowded elevator. Honestly, all I ask for is some order!
And I guess it’s especially difficult because part of meeting new people is being yourself, and perhaps you are a socially awkward, hyperactive Facebook user, but what about the impressionable others? What happens when they drive potential friends away because they think the norm is to post too often? It’s too unpredictable, it’s too difficult to navigate.

I remember in sixth grade, I had the first “don’t talk to strangers on the Internet” lecture in my computer class. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, duh…” and yet now I wonder if it still counts as I debate on introducing myself to my future classmates over the Internet. These Facebook groups are everything we’ve been told to avoid in terms of online friendships, so of course nobody knows how to navigate them while continuing to appear completely sane. I say just do what you’re comfortable with, but remember that your posts are subject to the scrutiny of 400 strangers, and at the end of the day no petty friendships made on Facebook are going to last the next four years once you actually get to know people.

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