My name is Cameron Ballard. I graduated NYU Shanghai with a BS in computer science in 2017, and have ben living in Shanghai doing research since then. As a child, I was somewhat hyperactive, and didn't really learn to read until I got Pokemon Blue and grew tired of asking my parents what the in-game dialogue said. Since then, I've had a love for computers, but didn't start coding until my sophomore year of college. Since then, I've grown increasingly interested in the social effects of recent technological growth, and hope to spend my life studying how to improve humankind's relationship with our tech. Here's my resume.
I've always had a mixed relationship with social media. In middle school, I got my first phone. I had to share it with my brother and my parents checked the messages at the end of every day. Before I had even discovered myspace, I was already learning to censor myself in technological communication. In high school, I started using iChat and Facebook because all my friends were doing it. The contact with friends was great, and I have many happy memories of sitting at home after school and avoiding my homework by chatting online. Unfortunately, like many things in high school, it began to feel like a popularity contest. If I wasn't talking with my friends every night, I felt like I was missing out. If I didn't have as many friends on Facebook, I felt like I wasn't cool enough. At the same time, using Facebook and iChat felt inauthentic. I didn't act like myself, I acted the way I thought people wanted me to. Instead of responding like many classmates and curating my profiles, I "rejected" social media as an attempt to define myself apart from the herd. Despite my outward self-righteousness, I still lurked online, and inwardly obsessed over my popularity.
Junior year of college, I struggled with isolation and confusion over my sexual identity. As part of the treatment I sought out, I started taking adderall, eventually leading to a long Facebook post in which I came out publicly. I felt like I had no one to turn to, and Facebook was a way to externalize the feelings I couldn't process on my own. I was fortunate enough to have amazing friends who supported me after it became clear I was suffering, and with their advice I deleted my posts. I didn't want to broadcast all of my internal struggles online. I have since stopped using most social media, as I personally do not find it fulfilling. While a powerful tool for many endeavors, Social media is NOT a replacement for human interaction. I hope to encourage others to be more conscious about their use of online platforms and more critical of the content they view. You only see what people want you to see. Don't mistake your feed for the truth.