The Overwhelming World of Social Media

My initial reaction to social media thus far is that it is extremely overwhelming. The newsfeed on my shiny new Twitter account refreshes so often that I could sit here all day and read it and the comments from my limited number of followers just to stay on top of what everyone is saying and posting. I am not a first-mover in technology nor social media whatsoever; having created an Instagram account and gotten an iPhone years after my classmates from college did.

Creating a Twitter account for this class was confusing. Is a follower the same as it is on Instagram? What are the rules? It seems redundant to me, with much of Instagram and Twitter overlapping with one another if you follow news accounts like CNN or Fox News. The same news is being provided, just via different platforms. I do see a differentiator in that Twitter is more word-heavy and Instagram is more picture-centric. Otherwise, they are very similar. I get frustrated, however, when the same news is delivered on every single platform, including via text alerts from news channels. Social media is now serving as a source of added anxiety for me and surely most Americans with how often there are updates on the immigration ban or new executive orders being passed just in the past week since Trump took office. It was encouraging, however, to see that Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, stepped up and spoke out against Trump on Saturday, especially since he is head of the president’s social media platform of choice.

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Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, speaks out against Trump’s immigration ban. Getty Images.

Another reason I find social media overwhelming is the burden of having to keep up with it. I am often of the philosophy that ignorance is bliss. Not having had Snapchat until this past spring when my friends and I went to Nashville, I did not have a moral obligation to watch other friends’ Snap stories and know their whereabouts as they posted them on Snapchat. As soon as you create an account in Snapchat, you are expected to keep up with your friends’ accounts and be able to comment on their social media content on the platform as well when you see them in person. If you do not, friends can take a personal offense to this, knowing that you saw they had a new Snapchat but did not open it to see what they were up to on Cape Cod or at a Red Sox game. If I already know they are there, I do not see why I need to view their Snapchats of them at the actual places.

Once I got past my first week of creating a Twitter account, I felt like I started to settle into an exciting new neighborhood with lots of locations to explore as well as some familiar faces nearby as my alma mater, the University of Michigan, and the school’s newspaper which I used to read in print, The Michigan Daily, were two accounts that I began to follow. It was nice making the space my own and bringing in information from sources that I had chosen. Even after a week, I felt somewhat more adept at handling Twitter, but not all the way there yet.

The irony in my lack of social media skills is that I used to work for a wedding website where I sold online advertising, including social media tools, to wedding professionals. I was able to advise the professionals on how to optimize clicks to their webpages and boost Search Engine Optimization. While I could consult on how to set up tweets to go out at certain times with the tools we provided, I would not have been one to advise on what to actually tweet.

Even this past summer at my internship, I helped the company for which I interned boost key words on their website through Hubspot to increase SEO. While I have some knowledge on how things are found via SEO on the Internet both organically and through generated key words, my understanding of social media is limited to my experience on Facebook and Instagram. Understanding on a basic level how algorithms on Google work to choose which pages pop up highest in Google searches is not exactly the same thing as understanding how to smoothly generate a tweet for social media. However, both are important aspects of running the digital side of a business.

I hope to learn about social media from this class and to take a lot away with me at the end of the semester. I want to be more in-the-know and better informed of current events that are going on. By checking the Twitter news sources that I am now following as well as my classmates’ tweets, I see this as an attainable goal. Additionally, I hope to pick up on the Twitter lingo. My first tweets that I generated felt forced because I did not know the jargon to use or the length at which to keep them. These are skills I hope to hone over the course of the class.

6 comments

  1. I can definitely identify with the frustration of overlap across different social media platforms. Once I’ve heard bad news, it’s only a matter of time before I see it again on another feed and I’m sure that can have a negative impact over time. I suppose in the end it’s up to me to decide what I want my different social media platforms to look like. Right now I’ve chosen to only follow people I know closely on Instagram, and not news sources.

    But I would also understand if someone had only few friends who used Instagram, but also preferred to scroll through news via striking images rather than article blurbs. Funny how social media content can often require more maintenance to stay relevant to your interests the longer you use it. For now I guess I’ll settle for seeing the new justice nominee’s face in every app I use.

  2. I’m so glad I found someone who feels that same way that I do. My Twitter account for this class is my first real attempt at Twitter and I’ve added and deleted my Snapchat account more times than I care to count. It almost feels like another job keeping up with everyone on all of their preferred platforms of communication. This begs the question; are there too many social media platforms out there? We’ve already seen some consolidation in the social media industry, but I’m curious to see if there is more to come.

  3. It is interesting that you mentioned the confusion between the etiquettes of each social media platform. There are definitely unspoken rules such as not screenshotting someone’s embarrassing snapchat or not posting two times in a row on Instagram (unless you’re Beyonce, she can do that anytime). But it is hard to keep track of all these rules and learn without learning the hard way by breaking one. Keeping up with all this almost makes social media more of a hassle than its worth sometimes. It seems to me like a lot of my friends are choosing one platform to focus on predominantly, while occasionally looking at others. Great post, interesting to see an opinion/feeling that is very different from my thoughts on social media.

  4. I can completely agree with the amount of social media options out there now. I got Instagram this past year and was a bit surprised at how often I saw dual posts on Instagram/FB (do I like “both”? Am I supposed to “like” Insta first? What’s the protocol there?). The twitter rules also bother me as the restrictions make me less eager to post on a regular basis (every tweet i’ve done so far I’ve had to change my tweet to fit my thoughts in <120 characters…the struggle is real). Someone mentioned the whole "." before a retweet rule and I'm still so confused about what that means. Lastly, keeping up with everyone is quite the challenge now. Too many times now someone will mention "oh did you see my post last week?" and make me feel guilty for missing it.

  5. I definitely resonate with your comment about social media being overwhelming. There is without a doubt an endless amount of content being generated every second, and especially in chaotic times like these, keeping up with it all would be a full time job. I’ve found that limiting my network by following a select few accounts in each category helps cut down on repetition and keeps my feed interesting. Bringing SnapChat into the mix of social media activity adds an entire new level of complexity – and have found myself feeling similarly frustrated by the commitment it involves, and I’ve found taking a break from it every once and a while to be a healthy decision.

  6. I’m not sure Twitter has ever been MORE overwhelming that over the past two weeks. It is hard to keep up with it all, though, even when its my job.

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