My first foray into social media was in the third grade when my brother set up an AOL Instant messenger account for me. The gesture was nice, but I don’t think I actually used the account until a few years later. It was only a year after that that I first heard about Facebook. Although I was too young and Facebook was still exclusive to certain schools, my older brother was in college and had an account. I remember wondering why he liked it, but because he is my older brother, I wanted one too.
In 2008, I finally joined Facebook. I signed up at the encouragement of my friends, it was a cooler way to stay in touch than AIM was and it made enough sense. Back then all I really did on Facebook was write on friends walls and play jetman. I find that interesting now because it shows how much Facebook has changed and how my use of it has changed. I can’t remember the last time I posted on someones wall, maybe a happy birthday here or there but not a conversation like I used to have. Jetman doesn’t even exist anymore to my knowledge, although that was one of my favorite parts of Facebook back then.
I’ve now had a Facebook for almost nine years, a significant portion of my life. It shaped social interactions throughout middle and high school. I know a lot of kids at BC who met their roommates through Facebook before freshman year. It has become a part of every day life for so many people, not necessarily as the main act, but its always in the background. Pulling from my own experiences, I don’t use Facebook to interact with people that much anymore, it is mostly a way to kill time when I am bored. I’ll scroll through my newsfeed and watch the videos, maybe send the ones I find funny to friends, but thats about it. I’ve found that the whole Facebook experience has become very antisocial. But where Facebook has fallen off, I think other social media platforms have picked up.
Like on Facebook, I’m not a big social media user on other platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, or Instagram. However, I find that people seemed more engaged on these platforms. I joined Instagram at the urging of some friends when I was a senior in high school, it was the new thing and everybody was getting it. I honestly love it. I don’t care so much for the drunk photos or constant selfies that some people post, but I love the creativity it brings out of some people. I’ve always enjoyed photography and so Instagram has allowed me to follow some people whose work I really admire.
I have friends who focus a lot on the number of likes a post gets on Instagram. I’ve never really cared how many likes my posts get because I generally post things for me. I understand getting a personal high in likes feels good, but it doesn’t bother me when I post something that isn’t as widely liked. I saw one of my best friends sisters complain when one of her posts only had 250 likes, that was a weird thing to see. But I guess thats where we’re headed.
Twitter and Instagram share a trait that isn’t shared by Facebook and that is the friend concept. Twitter and Instagram both have followers instead. I remember in high school people talking about ratios of following to followers as if that was what made someone cool. As someone who didn’t create a lot of content I never really cared what my ratio was. I can say with certainty though that I have always followed more people than have followed me. As much as I enjoy Instagram though, I never really enjoyed Twitter. I liked following one of my brothers friends, he always had something funny, and stupid, to say in 140 characters or less. But in general, it never called to me. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I don’t have much of a drive to constantly update people on my activities or thoughts, and so Twitter really didn’t make sense to me. I have found that interacting on Twitter for this class has so far been more exciting than my past experiences, but that is in part due to the conversational aspect of it.
Snapchat is the most social of the social media platforms I use, I actually converse with people on it. I would still rather text someone than read the limited text on Snapchat but I like being able to send snaps to my friends and staying more connected with people. I like that it has a story function, although I think people need to learn proper story etiquette. I’m interested to see where Snapchat will go next, they introduced their glasses this past year and my friends who have them seem to enjoy them.
Social media has found its way, increasingly, into my life over the last decade. My use of the platforms has changed over time and Im sure it will continue to do so. I’m curious to see what will come next and what might be on its way out in the next few years.