Personally, when I first joined this class I was still figuring out if I genuinely liked social media or just used it to keep up with my peers. Is it self-absorbed to instagram everyday? Upload all the happy times on Facebook? “No everyone’s doing it.” Or “be yourself” and “do what makes you happy” are usually the go to responses. But, from my perspective, I either felt pressure to keep up or fear of being left behind if I abolish the use of all social media accounts. It was a constant back and forth in my head every Sunday when I debate whether to instagram my #gameday in the #mods joining the #SundayScaries movement authored by my generation.
I limit my social media to Instagram and Facebook (barely). I solely use Facebook to keep up with my social circle’s events for the weekend. Twitter is a whole other leap of faith I have been petrified to tackle. So why did I sign up for a course literally called, “Social Media and Business Development”? I heard it was easy…(kidding!). I signed up because I believe in putting myself outside of my comfort zone in order to learn and grow. After this course, after being forced to tweet four times a week, write a weekly blog post around the industry, and comment on my classmate’s blog posts, if I still have an internal freakout regarding posting on social media, I will just hang up the towel.
The truth is, I fully understand the power and movement of social media, and the relevance of digital maturation amongst companies and organizations, but I have trouble understanding how that fits into the lives of everyday people like myself; it is a lot of upkeep, and frankly it is not even an accurate depiction of everyday life. Truthfully, it sometimes seems like one big hoax. With that being said, the silver lining of enrolling in this course is Professor Kane’s, “Achieving Digital Maturity”. In his writing, I found the fearlessness of Cardinal Health to fail insightful. When discussing the small “i” experiments and their failures, the company is “not afraid to create a slide that describes 42 failures and four successes,’ says Stutz. ‘The sooner we stop working on an idea that isn’t panning out, the faster we can move on to the next, better solution” (Kane 10). Perhaps this is my turning point.
It is not necessarily just the frequent social media posts, but it’s understanding the use of it and the legacy that it leaves behind. All of the tweets, photos on Instagram and Facebook are insights into an experience or emotion one was having at that moment. It is a learning process for ourselves and those around us. It is about understanding our place in the social media industry just how Jacqui Canney explains, “not everybody sees digital as changing the way you work,’ […] ‘it’s an education to teach people that it’s not really just about technology” (Kane 6).
I took Canney’s words as a clean slate for my opinions and biases regarding social media. It’s not about the upkeep, or the self-absorption, or the appearance, but leveraging social media to understand the cultural traits of my peer group and then applying those characteristics to create something meaningful in the world, friendships, business opportunities, humor, etc. An Instagram user I feel takes full advantage of social media and digital maturation is the instagram phenomenon @humansofny. The 7.2M follower account is operated by Brandon Stanton and was founded in 2010. Stanton uses it to record the realities of everyday people around New York City and beyond. With their photo, the caption is a part of their story. Below are a few examples.
Stanton understands the relevance of cultural traits of today and uses them to create a connection amongst strangers; social media is only the messenger. Stanton remains digitally maturing as he posts photos of present and current day emotions and stories that help develop the next cultural trend and emotion. Perhaps he relies heavily on pathos, a quality that evokes some sort of emotion, to remain digitally intune, as he is sharing the stories of real people and no exaggerations. If one story does not touch you, the next one will. I believe that Stanton is the education that Canney explains is not solely technology. He is the teacher as well as the textbook. He connects with strangers, discovers the material or research and relays it to his students. Digital maturation, whether is for a business or an individual, is about understanding the behavior, patterns, realities, characteristics, likes and dislikes of today’s people and transforming it into something valuable; I believe that is at the crux of social media. What fascinates me further, is that this idea of culture is completely arbitrary and dynamic; always changing and never still.
The adjectives used today to describe people will be different tomorrow and the day after that; culture is forever evolving as well as technology and social media’s use throughout everyday life. Afterall, that is the objective of digital maturation, not to adapt, but to find a way to mature with the evolving characteristics that make up today’s culture. With that being said, my pessimism and skepticism has converted to enthusiasm and excitement to learn about how technology and social media is used as an insightful tool to understanding one another.