I guess you could say I’ve had an “online presence” for awhile… after I grew out of using paint on the old dial up desktop computer my family had, I became an avid AIMer. That was my first experience of “virtual communication” and being able to create groups (I believe they were called “chat rooms”) and have some sort of profile about myself (pretty sure it was all song lyrics and inside jokes with my bffs) that only my friends could see. We all knew each other’s screen names and picked up on the abbreviations brb, g2g, and lol.
Now, many years later, I have morphed from sillhill77 to @hilary_gould. Back when I was instant messaging I never would have guessed that I would be getting class credit for tweeting (as a matter of fact twitter didn’t even exist). It’s crazy to think how in the last decade social media has changed so much that now it is even considered a reputable news source. The first place to find out trending news is often looking to Twitter or the ticker on the side of your Facebook feed.
It amazes me that, for me, it all started on AIM and now so much of the world revolves around social media. After working at a tech startup this summer where we heavily relied on Slack it sort of felt like my life came full circle—I was basically AIMing my boss when I was running late or needed to check in with her. I never would have guessed back in 5th grade that I would be using a (similar) platform in a work setting.
It’s crazy to think about the amount of my life that I have spent on a computer or smartphone. I’m not proud to admit it, but often times sitting on the T or waiting for class to start I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed or checking my Facebook. To be fair, not all social media use ismindless—there are many times where I find out news stories or valuable bits of information from social media, but it’s hard to distinguish.
Even in my office over the summer the line between productive social media use vs. social media use for fun was blurred. We had two Slack channels that the entire company (~150 employees) were in– #general and #random. The whole idea was that #general was for important things that were relevant to everyone—and were work related—these often meant new customers who had signed on the dotted line or what was for Friday lunch (this was probably the most anticipated message of the week). The other channel #random was for fun—people posted funny articles, asked people what their lunch plans were, or tried to sell off extra tickets to events. What amazed me was that even in a professional setting this line is blurred—sometimes you had to question which channel was appropriate to send your message to or questioned why someone else chose to send theirs.
I guess that is just the reality of social media, now that it is used for business and pleasure it’s easy to be scrolling through your feed and see news about the stock market or the impending hurricane, but then the next line is the latest Buzzfeed quiz. In reality, spending so much time online is making it harder to separate our two personas—our professional one and our social one. Social media is a powerful tool that is expanding into more and more facets of our life, but learning the etiquette for using it is evolving just as fast.