Posted Up In Hillside

“When I was abroad and didn’t have wifi for one or two days, I would miss so many Instagrams” my friend Christina mused. We sat in Hillside with our New England Classics in one hand and our phones in the other. “And then when I would finally get wifi,” she continued, her eyes bulging, “I would have to sit down for thirty minutes to fully catch up with my feed”. Though I wished my Instagram addiction wasn’t so much that I couldn’t miss a day or two of posts, I knew that I shared this FOMAP (Fear Of Missing A Post) with her. I have to check out what my friends from abroad are doing, how other BC students spent their game day, and what ridiculous Zumba class Gronk is teaching this weekend for charity. I like the brevity of the application: you get the gist of a user’s entire experience with a simple photo and a few words. Thus, catching up on Instagram shouldn’t be all that long of a process—but with most users missing 70% of their newsfeeds on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that two days without Instagram is cause for distress. I personally check Instagram at least ten times a day—and that is, without a doubt, a minimum estimate.

In professor Kane’s article One Size Does Not Fit All in Social Media, he contends that college age students utilize social media to explore and develop personal and professional identities. I would have to agree, considering that my Instagram handle is now a nickname friends routinely use to get my attention around campus. Instagram has been my favorite application since July 15, 2011, the day I shared my first photo: an overexposed and unimpressive shot of the sea with a sailboat off in the distance. Since that day, the application has become a full-blown addiction—not just for myself, but also for a whopping 500 million active users. I take my photos pretty seriously (#yesfilter), and want to make sure I get the caption and timing of the post just right. I’ve nearly gotten it down to a science—but there’s always more to learn.Image result for instagram gif

A few roommates came over to sit with Christina and me. Surveying the crowd from our high top table, one waved to a friend and asked “Did you see him in the BC Snapstory today? Hilarious”. I hadn’t, as I do not follow the “@wearebc” Snapchat account. Despite this, I still manage to watch snippets of over two hundred people’s lives each day. With the use of Snapchat, constant sharing of location, experience, and social group has become expected. Like most of my classmates, I participate in this culture of oversharing. Though Instagram is undoubtedly my favorite social media platform, I have been an active user on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Vine at some point in time. Despite the seemingly frivolous nature of using so many social media forms, I found most to be useful in their own way. Each platform serves a separate purpose for communication, and caters to a specific community that I am involved in. Facebook, for example, is best for mass communication with family and friends. LinkedIn contains my professional network, and monitoring connections and companies has been helpful throughout the internship and job search processes. Twitter is partially entertainment, but it also provides opinions on recent news and global trends. Vine and Pinterest, though valuable tools for certain companies, are applications I have mostly used for mindless fun. This being true, I am approaching this class from the perspective of an avid albeit uneducated social media user with primary experience coming from the use of personal accounts.

Still mulling over our Instagram feeds in Hillside, Christina and I complained about the odd posts of high school acquaintances and pondered the consequences of unfollowing their accounts. “I’d just feel so bad. I can’t. She’s a good family friend,” Christina reasoned. I agreed. Today, our actions in the digital world are almost equally as substantial as our actions in the physical one. Unfollowing someone you know even slightly feels deeply personal, as you are quite literally expressing the sentiment “I don’t “like” you anymore”. Despite the novelty of social media platforms, I think the most interesting element of their existence is the psychological need these applications fill for users. This being true, I am excited to learn more about the human needs and social constructs that drive platform participation. Further, I am interested in exploring how organizations can mold their strategies to effectively use these communities to further their mission. Conversely, I think it is important to evaluate those companies that failed to incorporate social media and digital business into their strategies and learn from their mistakes. Image result for unfollow gif

If nothing else, my seemingly insignificant conversation at Hillside demonstrates the (somewhat terrifyingly) large role social media plays in our daily lives. As the semester continues, I am excited to explore this role and learn how we can best utilize its presence as future employees of the digital world. Thank you for the read—I “like” you all already!

 

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and down the million dollar stairs to Hillside if you’re ever in the mood for a coffee and a chat.

5 comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! I remember returning from abroad and hiding my phone under my pillow for the first few days because I couldn’t handle how reconnected I was with everyone and everything. Now, it’s second nature to check my Instagram feed and Snapchat multiple times per day (maybe even hour). I agree that social media, in certain ways, fulfills psychological needs and can’t help but wonder how this need evolved over time. What existed before FOMO and FOMAP? How did we stay in touch in the daily lives of the family members we only see at Christmas? If we ate our first new england classic of senior year, but didn’t snap it, did we really go to Hillside?

  2. vicmoriartybc · ·

    I was relieved reading what you and your friend said about wifi and Instagram while abroad, because it means I wasn’t the only one who felt that way when I was there! I also have fond memories of my first Instagram post, although I don’t remember the exact date. (It was a picture of a water bottle that I posted in my high school homeroom). I agree that now, I can’t imagine my life without the site. Actually just a few minutes ago, I felt like I had forgotten to do something today, and when I opened up Instagram, saw that I had not refreshed my feed in over seven hours. I think it shows just how important social media is to us that we feel a tangible absence when we don’t use it for a while. This is a really interesting and funny post!

  3. I totally relate! Instagram is also my favorite social media platform and I have an almost unhealthy obsessive relationship with it. When I am away from my phone, the moment I return I carefully scroll through my feed, making sure I don’t miss a single photo. Filtering is also a modern form of art and I can spend half an hour just filtering a single photo for Instagram. The politics of Instagram is such an interesting topic to explore, whether that includes an analysis of someone’s caption, or what the act of an unfollow really means. Great post!

  4. emilypetroni14 · ·

    The overload of information is definitely overwhelming. Aside from major news stories, you could refrain from social media for a week or two and not miss anything and miss everything at the same time. Posts are so mundane much of the time, yet we still scroll through and read them. I think its important to limit the users you follow to quality posts so it is less overwhleming.

  5. I relate to this 100%, as many others do. I’m still amazed at the amount of social affirmation that people need. They spend all that time filtering their photos and curating their Instagram feeds to get the perfect aesthetic and collect dozens (or even hundreds) of likes, they make sure their Snapchats are funny and accompanied by witty captions so that friends will laugh and “snap them” back – it’s a crazy phenomenon, how much time is spent on one’s digital image. Of course, I do the same thing. And it’s definitely a strange transition to go from using social media for entertainment purposes to thinking about it in a business context.

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