October 31, 2009: My Last Day of Freedom

 

November 1, 2009 was the day I got a Facebook. I am fairly certain I was the last person on the planet to get a Facebook as my parents were highly against a site that would release information about myself to the internet. Quite frankly, I am grateful it took them so long to allow me to get one because at least I had a few extra months of not suffering from ghost notifications (a self diagnosed and self created symptom where I believe I have a notification on some social media channel and have to constantly update my feed to check if anything has occurred in the past 30 seconds).

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Let’s be real with ourselves, this was a monumental day for all of us.

The Implications of This Account

This was one small step for Facebook, just another measly user, but one giant step for Alexis. This one new account led me to Twitter, getting an iPhone (so now I wasn’t the
dreaded person in the group chat with green messages), Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn,tumblr_mam2h1mcta1qzabkfo1_1280_preview.jpg and all the money I will never see again because of the constant stream of advertisements of cute bags and shoes (that I absolutely do not need) that have now cluttered my feeds. I relate this to when people get tattoos, it is hard to get just one and not another one. Once you get your first social media account, you can’t just stop at one.

So while I can complain about this so-called lost freedom, my constant tie to my phone, my always dying battery, and the countless days of my life lost to scrolling through newsfeed, I can’t thank Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg enough. Without them I would have lost touch with many friends, wouldn’t have the strength of my relationship with my family members, and wouldn’t the ability to see parts of the world that without these devices and platforms would not be possible.

My Evolutions with Platforms

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Perhaps this was my last day of freedom, but this was also the first day of what has now become a critical part of my life. I won’t deny I spend an obscene amount of time on social media platforms; however it has evolved since I was first on the scene of social media. Initially I used to to publicize my conversations (I still don’t understand why we did this). I would write on my friend’s wall to say “Hey, what’s up?” because I was too lazy to pick up the phone and call them. I now use Facebook as a main source of my news by following my favorite news sites and publications so that I see them first at the top of my feed. I initially used Instagram and Snapchat to try and share “all the cool things” I was doing with my life i.e. eating avocado toast, making cookies, etc. Now I use them to share pictures of my face with weird filters and following travel bloggers to see places I may want to visit in the future. My own evolution is constantly changing in terms of how I personally interact with these accounts.

I am an Enigma

5a76735715e6f1ad9b7a678c7a3a980a24cfe5b0.gifI know the way I interact with social media isn’t novel or innovative as there are millions of people using these platforms all with different motives an initiatives: some are broadcasting their opinions on politics, fashion, how their latest experiences at the 7/11 was, some are sharing pictures of their children, events they attend, trips they have taken, their news shoes on the pavement, and some are just there to watch all of this happen. I  realize that everyone has a personality, or what some call, brand, on social media, and we are the only ones in control of this so-called brand. We, more than any generation before, have to be very cautious of this brand because our future employers can see that last party we attended or what we said about the latest election. This brand is also ever evolving and updating. For instance, I am now cleaning up my accounts as I enter the working world. It now becomes more appealing to be more of an enigma, flying under the radar on these platforms as to not bring much attention to myself due to potential criticism from future bosses or colleagues. It is important to stay updated with these platforms as society does not appear to be ignoring or getting rid of our relationship to social media anytime soon; however, it is important to find a balance on what is shared with the entire world.

Presence and Gratitude

So while I am aware of my constant connection and checking of social media, maintaining this so-called brand, and preserving my relationships through these platforms, it brings about a reminder that there is more to life than what is seen virtually. While I look forward to all that technically has to bring in the near future such as AI, VR, even self driving cars, I hope that society will develop a greater focus on the ability and necessity to remain giphy.gifpresent. I know we will implore how companies utilize platforms and where the future of social media is going in class; however, I hope we also discuss the limitations the future holds for us. I am the first to admit that these platforms have become somewhat of a prison as it has trapped me into taking away from special moments. Whether that is traveling and stopping to take pictures just to be posted, or enjoying myself with my friends and feeling the need to story our meal together. I have tried to put a greater focus on the importance of being present by now turning off my phone when I am with people and focusing more on the moment then on the lighting of the picture.

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 2.27.48 PM.pngAdditionally, social media has oddly enough made me a more grateful person. I know how toxic it can be for influential teens and young people as we are constantly being exposed to “perfect lives” and people who “have everything”. But rather than a focus on what I want/don’t have, viewing social media through a critical lens makes me grateful for what I do have. What I used to feel as FOMO when looking at pictures or snapchat stories from other people, I am constantly reminded of what brings me happiness in my life that I don’t necessarily have to share with the world. Not just through my own network by from reading posts about the world around us, it reminds me of how lucky we are to ever be focused on this “FOMO” and “perfect lives”. I look forward to discussing the beneficial and positives ways of using social media through purposes of activism, the power of the hashtag, and education on inspiring and important issues through these platforms.

We Are Not Special 

My opinions are novel ones. In fact, due the internet I am sure hundreds of people have voiced these same statements on statuses, tweets, blogs, and articles. Many people can relate to one or many of the above statements as we have all interacted and have been influenced by our usage of social media by one way or another. But just because my ideas aren’t new, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t voice them. I know I am merely adding to the infinite and growing world of posts on the internet, I am also hopefully connecting and resonating with readers. It is easy to pick apart the negatives associated with our connection to the virtual world; however, we would be limited ourselves if we weren’t tapping into these resources.

We do not have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it. – Erik Qualman

There is so much to be said when it comes to social media both in terms of my personal use as well as the implications these platforms have to the whole of our society. Whether it is the criticisms surrounding our social interactions through text and not words, or our ever decreasing attention span to the positives of our shrinking world and sharing of issues we may never heard of without the internet. I look forward to the many discussions surrounding these ideas and more in class as they are becoming ever more relevant to ours and future generations.

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Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 2.46.33 PM.pngSo, while my life has never looked the same as it did before October 31, 2009, I am constantly reevaluating my interactions with social media in order to maintain my own, new, and ever evolving, sense of freedom.

 

 

6 comments

  1. Nice post. I’ll be interested to see how you reflect on it at the end of the semester, and if anything has changed.

  2. laurenmsantilli · ·

    I agree with your statement about social media making you more grateful in a sense – I think I’ve come to post less on social media as I’ve realized what brings me happiness isn’t the same as others, and I don’t necessarily have to share this with the world. It’s funny when you mention going to dinner and having to “story” everyones meals – definitely something I’ve come to recognize and stop doing as much to enjoy being in the moment more. I’ve also tried to encourage friends to have phone-free meals (although I haven’t had great success).

  3. laurencondon23 · ·

    I really enjoyed reading your post, especially the section on how social media detracts from us being truly present while interacting with friends and family. Reflecting on my social media use throughout the years, I’ve come to realize that the times I am having the most fun and the best conversations, I forget to even consider capturing them with photos to post. This realization has helped guide my social media use, resulting in me being a less active user so that I am better able to enjoy the places I am in and the quality time I am spending with people I care about instead.

  4. I see a lot of overlapping points between your post and mine, but I like how you delved into self-branding and gratitude more.

  5. ^ I clicked send by accident. So continuing from there, I remember reading a psychology paper on teenagers on Facebook and how it may have to do with an increase in depression and social anxiety, for the reasons you’ve stated about displaying the “perfect life” regardless of the reality. Turns out there was only a minimal, positive correlation between depressive symptoms and Facebook use when it was done with judgmental intentions. Although the results of one study cannot disprove or verify whether online activities can make us less happy, I think it definitely puts in positive light what we can do with social media with the right objectives in mind, bringing together rather than separating and isolating.

  6. This is a great post! Very personal and sincere. I could relate to multiple points throughout it. I too have noticed how my SM use has evolved over the years. I have shifted from being active on Facebook (I still use it) to being more active on Instagram (it is definitely my top battery killer), adopted Snapchat and Twitter.

    The most relatable argument for me was about presence though. I have noticed how much I tend to have my phone in my hands, and I am actively trying to scale back. There will always be an urge to check for notifications, or capture and share some special moment with friends/family. I have come to realize that most of the time, notifications can wait. I try not to miss the moments worth capturing though, but try not to do it at the expense of “social time”. It is a work in progress, but I am sure I will find the perfect balance at some point.

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