Thinking about how social media is so integrated in my life is mind boggling. I rely on it as a huge means of keeping up with distant friends and families life. I am able to watch people’s kids grow up from a distance. We communicate, share, and bond over many of the memes, videos, and content that can be found over several different platforms. Without social media many of the relationships I have today would’ve faded into the background, and many of them wouldn’t have started at all.
I grew up in the “Early Internet era”. I remember the first computer being set up in my house. It had a disc drive which I was told was a big deal because, “it could read stuff very fast”. Many of my early memories on the computer were playing minesweeper, pinball, and a disc game The Time Warp of Dr. Brain. These were not multiplayer games, but me and my 3 siblings at the time had fun taking turns.
I do remember when it all changed and I had an email created for me at my friends house, firstname.lastname@example.org. Her dad made it for me and showed me that I would be able to talk with my friend even when I was at home. Interested I went home, we downloaded MSN, and after several phone calls there it was I could talk to her on my computer. The following year when I went to summer camp people were exchanging MSN accounts to talk after we all left. It was the first time that people were staying in touch when we weren’t in the same city and I thought it was awesome!
Later in life this would be where friends and I would gather around to talk to other groups of friends and try to coordinate plans. We didn’t need the phone anymore because you pre set up these times at school and met online. Beyond MSN people were starting to get into Whyville. This was a platform that you could create a persona for yourself online which in my head was my first taste of social media. You were on the internet with a floating head that you tried to make look like yourself and were just on the internet connecting with friends and strangers.
The Rise of Web 2.0 would be the turning point in my love/hate relationship with social media. As a teenager I loved always being connected with my friends and see what they were up to online. Connecting with people and of course remembering their birthdays. It was addicting. I logged on frequently when it was on my computer. Then it moved to my phone and it felt like I was too connected. The negatives of viewing many people’s fantastic lives and feeling as if I was doing nothing. It was around the time of Facebook and Instagram that I started to get more self conscience with how I looked, what I had, and the experience I could afford.
As an adult in his late 20s I find myself avoiding social media. I use it to stay in contact with my distant friends and family. I have found myself more private on social media and not willing to share about pictures, or posts about myself. I also untag myself in posts and pictures that I actively try to avoid while out in my real life. I also distance myself from “keyboard heroes” that I know in real life. I do get tired of online personas and would rather a phone call then a direct message on a platform. The only social media that make me laugh is TikTok which I am on their anonmysly just to observe and not be interacted with. This could be a repercussion of having a job in the Education sector where we are held to higher standard both on and offline.
Positives that I do see and experience are on the communities that are built online. Many people feeling lonely can almost always find a community of people that are experiencing the same as them. There is also the communities of learning new skills are amazing. This has helped me in my DIY projects around the house, small business ownership, and my teaching career.
As social media continues to grow I know that it has many positives that can be accessed. There are also negatives that need to be taught to younger generations. The balance of being “too connected” and experience life. I see the ramifications of children being too connected daily and confusing it for experiencing life. My goal is to help educate the younger generation to have social media as a connection tool and not a substitution for interactions.