Students stuck in social media bubbles limiting awareness

Although many students have grown more aware of politics, theories, and the idea that tragic events such as 9/11 can happen, they remain inadequately prepared to recognize when these situations present themselves.

As technology rapidly continues to evolve and increase in popularity, students are supplied with devices that have the potential to distract them from their surroundings.

Most students who are now in college were only in elementary school when the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred. Although some were too young to understand the impact at the time, other traumatic acts of violence, such as the recent shooting that ended on the main campus of Santa Monica College, might have been avoided by some if vigilance was higher up on their priority list.

Manny Guevara, an SMC student whose girlfriend was at the college during the time of the shooting, said that it is difficult to really understand the scenarios that can play out in an ordinary day.

"It can happen here at school," said Guevara. "It can happen anywhere, and so many things make you wonder, who’s next? What if you were in there? They didn't deserve to die."

At least 900 Americans have died in mass shootings within the past seven years alone, the majority of which were killed by people they knew, according to a USA Today article.

Laura Guild, an SMC psychology professor, said it can be difficult for a student to be aware of their surroundings when they are more worried about keeping up with social media.

"They feel the need to check; they don’t want to be left out, and they don’t want to miss anything," said Guild. "It's so consuming and it keeps them in this bubble so that they’re not aware of what’s going on."

Guild also attributed some of the unawareness to the overwhelming sense of helplessness.

"Sometimes the way that they deal with things is through a psychological defense mechanism," she said, "where they just kind of shut off the awareness of what is going on around them."

Sgt. Jere Romano of the Santa Monica College Police Department stated via email that students shouldn't be so engrossed in cell phone conversations or reading of instructional materials that a person's basic functionality is inhibited.

"Pay attention to the environment, people watch, and understand the Santa Monica College ebb and flow so one could recognize when something’s not right or out of place," Romano said.

According to the SMCPD, cases like a female student excitedly spinning around and walking into a passing electric cart or a pedestrian distracted by electronic device walking in front of moving vehicle and is struck can be avoided.

Jessica Stuart, an SMC student, said she believes that students need to be more aware of some of the situations they get themselves in.

"Be aware of your surroundings and the people you hang out with because you might end up getting in trouble or hurt depending on who you hang out with," she said.

"It's about teaching faculty how to manage students in distress and teaching students how to manage other students in distress," he said.

With the right preparation and precautions, students can be more aware of life-threatening situations.

"You never know what is going to happen, but the best thing you can do is be prepared for it," said Guevara.

A few simple efforts to remain safe on campus include attending Campus Safety trainings hosted by the campus police, reviewing the crime alerts and safety bulletins and utilizing the police escort service after hours between 6 and 10:30 p.m.

Jonathan RamosComment