ISHPEMING - From Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest, social media is everywhere. These days, everyone seems to have at least one of these accounts - except for the few who have opted out.
Northern Michigan University Freshman Amer Mansoor, a communications and pre-med major, is one of those select few. He doesn't have any social media accounts. When Mansoor was in high school, Facebook had just started to become more popular and a lot of his friends were getting accounts and encouraging him to get one too, he said.
"I never really saw any practical use in it. I enjoy hanging out with my friends, I'm not an anti-social guy, but I feel like it's sort of a time waster and it really distracts me from my homework," Mansoor said. "feel like if I wanted to talk to somebody I could just contact them in other means such as email, call them up on the phone or just go see them in person."
From left, Amer Mansoor and David Cleveland study chemistry while Chris Nyland looks at Twitter on his phone recently in the Payne-Halverson Hall lobby at Northern Michigan University. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Mansoor said he never had a MySpace page but his roommate did create a Facebook account for him as a joke at the beginning of the year. According to Mansoor, he got on the profile a couple of times but never really liked it.
"I just saw it as a gossip source, people would just go on there and talk about rumors. So I deactivated myself after a couple of days," Mansoor said. "That was (my roommate's) attempt to try and get me to go on Facebook."
Mansoor said he gets pressure every day to get involved in Facebook or other social media networks from friends and other people, but he refuses to get one.
Mansoor said this creates some problems and he misses out on some things because of not being plugged in to social media. One problem area: he's a member of the Associated Students of NMU, the student government organization on campus.
"I'm on ASNMU and every day they talk about how they are going to add stuff to their Facebook page,"Mansoor said. "Sometimes they post notes, agendas and minutes on their page and that can be a problem sometimes. I always have to email the chair of assembly and ask her, 'can you email me things?' and she goes ahead and does it, but it can be inconvenient sometimes."
Missing notes, agendas and minutes from an ASNMU meeting is not the only thing that Mansoor said he feels like he misses out on.
"Sometimes they advertise things coming up here at NMU and I won't know about it until someone actually mentions it to me. Or birthdays in general," Mansoor said. "I don't know when people's birthdays are. On Facebook, people know automatically, but I don't, so sometimes I don't know when my friend's birthday is. That can be a problem."
According to Mansoor, he found a fix to that problem. Mansoor said one day he went around to all of his friends in the dorm and asked them when their birthday was and then put it in the calendar on his iPhone.
"I will get an alert two days before someones birthday that way I can text them or get them a gift. So I am able to solve my problems," Mansoor said. "Even though I don't have a Facebook I will find some other means, whether it's sending them an email or going to just talk to them or setting alerts on my calendar."
Mansoor said he might get pressured into getting on Facebook, but he tries to discourage his roommate and other close friends from using theirs so much.
"Sometimes, I'm concerned for them. I don't try to force them to stop using it, I just suggest to them that maybe the drop in their grades is because they're on their Facebook half the time talking to their girlfriend or something similar," Mansoor said. "I try to encourage them to just talk to people - like their girlfriends -face to face. That way they won't be distracted as much, I hope."
Mansoor said he hopes to be a doctor some day and that he hopes to apply the communication skills he learns at NMU to the medical field.
"It's important that you are able to communicate with people effectively (as a doctor) and that's why I think it's important to have interpersonal communication skills, meaning face- to-face interactions and not having to rely on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest to talk to people to figure out what their problem is and what needs to be done."
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org