If you asked me what social media was before this semester, I probably would’ve given you a long-winded answer filled with examples and buzzwords like “hashtag” that might have made some sense. If you ask me that question now, I still won’t have a coherent answer, even after an entire class on the subject. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this class (that I got into by the skin of my teeth and a BC UIS error), it’s that social media (and the Internet in general) isn’t what I think it is. It’s so much more.
Coming into this class, I didn’t know what to expect. I missed the opening class, as I wasn’t registered for it yet, so I only had the title, the description, and a few reviews (until I got access to the Canvas website) to make an opinion. All I really knew that it was a class on social media (which sounded cool), there would be a copious amount of tweeting (not bad), and it was 2.5 hours. Other than that, I had no idea what this class would be like, and I am so glad that that didn’t scare me away.
I knew coming in that social media is important, and would become more important as the years went on. There’s a lot of fluff and nonsense floating around the Internet of course, but at its core, the data and the business implications it provides are immeasurably good. This class has only confirmed that. There’s Facebook, a literal treasure trove of personal information, ready for companies to take dig around and search for some loot. There’s Twitter, now an “official” medium for news, where information travels seemingly faster than the speed of light. There’s YouTube and Instagram, where regular people with a talent (“talent” is debatable in some cases), a good personality, and a camera can transform their entire lives. Social media is powerful, and soon, everyone will know (if they already haven’t figured it out by now).
One thing I’ve taken from this class (other than the ability to drop the word “algorithm” into any conversation) was to never discount anything. Look at the “Damn Daniel” video. Who knew that a kid with white Vans and a friend who admired them would reach so many people? Who knew that we, as people on the Internet, would react in such a similar manner to make some simple Snapchat videos go viral? That piece of “nonsense” garnered some marketing wins for Clorox, Vans, and The Ellen Show. Social media has provided a place where almost anything, good or bad, can happen and be seen by the world, as long as it’s recorded and put on the Internet.
So, in my first post, I said it would be interesting to see what I’ve learned, what I’ll know, and how many more puppy Instagrams I would follow. I’ve learned that there is so much data out there about me, all because I’ve put it out there (among plenty of other things), I know that the future is nigh, with artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and virtual reality headsets that exist in real life, and not only in The Jetsons, and sadly, I’ve followed zero puppy Instagrams since January. If anyone has any recommendations, feel free to leave them in a comment. It’ll be prime procrastination-from-finals material. It’s been a great semester, and I’m glad that I got to spend part of it in such a great class.