Letter from the student body president

courtesy of Cyril Leahy ’21

The school’s “Would you rather…?” surveys have been quite interesting. While some of the questions are intentionally lighthearted, others reveal interesting dichotomies of Haverford men.

     Staring at my screen, I thought the answer to the question was obvious: Does anyone really want to get rid of movies? Coming to school the next day, I was flabbergasted—there was a cohort of students who were adamant about keeping social media. I walked through the halls and looked at students, their eyes matching mine; each one was friendly, but I was curious what was behind their gaze.

     Going home, I went to work on my college applications. Meticulously reading and revising occurred from the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and my mind wandered to adolescent men’s common 2 a.m. mindset: “deep thoughts.” 

     I felt it was apropos to dissect the responses to the survey. I was at least thankful a majority of the students elected to retain movies. But I thought about a world without social media. I tried to place myself in the shoes of those students who voted against movies.

     I myself have a hard time paying attention for two hours. I do despise a poorly paced film, which viewers increasingly encounter. I go to the movies for the snacks and the experience; the plot and character arcs merely accent my time. With that said, I knew I was correct.

     I placed myself within a world devoid of social media, and I saw a world I often wanted: a world without the anxiety to open your phone and see the side of someone’s face. A world where physical interaction is prized as it once was. A world where words are valuable and experiences are not trivialized by six second videos and “memories.” A world where the streaks you saw were made by the rain on your window.

     You have heard the evils of social media before; and you discuss its benefits. You are able to talk to other people and see them more often. You build stronger relationships. And I suppose this is all true. And I suppose that social media may be so distasteful to me because of my lack of social “clout.” I don’t talk to the popular girls, I don’t have super tight friends, I don’t post pictures of me doing the things I do and get the likes that some of you crave. 

For me, social media stagnated my growth. You spend moments coveting an ideal of yourself you can never achieve in reality.

     But my lack of presence has allowed me to hone myself in real life. I have found the chinks in the armor of a social atmosphere. I find the right moments to make jokes, to say hello, to send that icebreaker Game Pigeon. For me, social media stagnated my growth. You spend moments coveting an ideal of yourself you can never achieve in reality.

     I suppose that it might be a bit cliché to start a trend of levying “challenges”, but I ask you to undertake this challenge and see what happens to your mind: just delete social media from your phone for two weeks. Ask people to text you. You may begin to realize the people you “talked to” and “liked” were just faces you saw on a screen. And maybe you’ll finally work on the face you see between the clicks: your own.