The Tools to Make or Break A Budding Journalist: How Instagram and Twitter Help Ease Social Anxiety

Zhe is a member of Student Government at Brooklyn College

Starting college, I never thought it would be a normal part of my day to run around my campus and photograph strangers. But in the age of increased social media, that’s exactly what I’ve found myself doing. I’ve taken more than one class during my time as a college student where the professor has pushed me far outside of my comfort zone. Those especially stretching have been the professors that ask me to go around campus with a camera or a notepad and “discover” something.

Now I’ve never thought of myself as a shy individual, but there’s a distinct kind of sting that comes with the rejection of someone refusing to be photographed or declining to be interviewed. While it’s of course well within their rights to not want to be quoted or on film, I had to push past feeling like it was MY fault they declined. When a potential interview candidate declines, and you’re stuck standing there with a camera in hand, alone in the middle of the street, it doesn’t always feel good.

Caffe Bene is a great spot for quiet studying and GREAT macaroons

There’s also the familiar twinge of nerves when you have to be bold and talk to strangers about ANYTHING. Walking into a crowd of people with a notepad is nerve wracking. It’s difficult to figure out when is a good time to interject into a conversation already in progress, or which type of person is more likely to talk with you. It’s a stabbing that pokes at you internally until you’re forced to do something about it.

Youseff has been selling fruit by Brooklyn College for over 7 years

After multiple classes and semesters of feeling stupid over the rejection and looking a little funny in the middle of the street, I think I’ve found my stride. It’s only taken until my final year of college, but this scavenger hunt ignited something in me. For what felt like the first time, I didn’t have the same nerves when starting this assignment. I wasn’t scared to walk up to a group of people and tell them who I was and what I was doing. While I wasn’t by any means 100 percent comfortable, I was WAY more relaxed than I had been in previous situations.

I can’t say whether or not it was this class specifically that pulled me out of my comfort zone, but I felt a different sense of freedom during this scavenger hunt. I’ve discovered ways to talk to people in an inviting way and to accept rejection is not a reflection of myself or my journalism. I’ve learned to use my personality to my benefit and embrace the parts of myself that I previously blanketed during interviews. I also had fun, and I think that’s been the best part.