Before driving back to Boston for the semester, I went out to dinner for one last time with all of my family members.
As it was right before the start of school, my parents, grandmother, aunt, etc. peppered me with all the usual “back to school” questions, the most notable of which being the inevitable “What courses are you taking?” I quickly ran through my course schedule, with each class garnering a different response. Courses such as Investment Banking (bleh) were met with stamps of approval from my older family members, while others, such as Chemistry in Society, were dismissed as perhaps being a waste of time.
No course, however, generated as much conversation among my family as Social Media in Digital Business. Every single family member seemed to have an opinion on the course, some positive, mostly negative. My father, “You spend so much time on your damn phone already, now you need to take a class to learn how to Tweet?” summed up the majority opinion of my older family members. My younger brother, who told me to “have fun in Spicy Memes 101” represented the opinion of my younger cousins and siblings.
Only my mother, who has used social media extensively to try and promote our family’s diner, thought that the course would be really informative. Having yet to look at the course structure or syllabus, I wasn’t sure who was right.
One thing I was sure of, however, was that regardless of who was right about what the course content would entail, I knew that what I was learning would be important. The average American today spends almost TWO HOURS a day on social media , which equates to over 5 YEARS spent on social media over the course of the average lifetime. So even if Professor Kane came in on the first day of class and said that social media is all about memes, and all you need to know to be successful online was how to create memes, then memes would still be important to learn about because it would mean that people are dumb enough to spend 5 years of their lives scrolling through them. Luckily, that is not what Professor Kane said on the first day of class, and I had to inform my brother that it didn’t look like I would be taking Spicy Memes 101.
From a personal standpoint, I am not a fan of social media. I hate my dependence on it, I hate its necessity in terms of getting invited to parties, reaffirming friendships, etc. I hate that I don’t know where my information is going. I hate that any person, any employer, or anyone else can look back at what I tweeted in 7th grade when I was trying to be cool, or see that picture I was tagged in that maybe got taken after too many drinks at a tailgate. But all of what I have said so far regarding social media: that all of my family members had an opinion on it, that I and many others in my age group have a personal dependence on it, that people spend SO MUCH of their time, so much of their daily lives on it, only serves to reaffirm the fact that it is important, and a crucial aspect of today’s society. It is an entirely new community that we are all a part of, but so few of us really understand. Our first few classes have touched on what it means for society to have this community, what we can learn, how we can use it, who we gravitate to, and why. This seems much more interesting than learning about how Wendy’s sent out some fire tweets, no?
The realization that we are not really talking about social media, but rather are talking about an entire online community, a civilization still in its absolute infancy, is what motivated me to stay in this class, despite Professor Kane’s Day 1 scare tactics. What are this community’s greatest strengths? What are its shortcomings? How do I factor in to this community? How do businesses factor in? Where is this community headed? These are the questions I am excited to have answered by this class.
Professor Kane said in class that we will look back on these first blogs and see how laughably bad they are by the end of the semester. At the time, I doubted him, thinking I could hopefully put in the work and put out something that wasn’t terrible. What I am thinking now is that this blog is so laughably bad because I know so laughably little. I spend hours each day in this online community we have created, and yet I know almost nothing about it or what it may mean.
With that in mind, I’m looking forward to this class and seeing what I may learn.