What is it like to grow into adolescence alongside classmates as well as smartphones, to learn how to write a history essay while also learning how to make friends laugh in 150 characters, to master an Instagram follower-to-like ratio while perfecting a resumé? My generation seems to know nothing else, as we have had the privilege of being able to grow into young adults as social media grows omnipresent in society. Social Media has basically made its way to the top of society’s priority list, a friend we make sure to keep in touch with.
So why should undergraduates study social media? 20-somethings know technology. After all, we grew up with it. It seems to be a native language we all speak. Twitter is used for news and pithy puns, Facebook, for your Aunt’s annual fourth of July barbecue event, Instagram, for the creatively inclined marketers and aesthetically pleasing party girls alike. Everyone finds their digital niche and sticks with it, so of course our generation can talk-the-talk. The ability to integrate a meme successfully into a digital conversation is a more natural skill to us than using the correct form of “your.”
However, it seems to me that the ever changing digital space is a screaming abundance of unmanned territory. The tech space is constantly growing and showing different sides of itself, both good and bad. It is intimidating to try to conceptualize and successfully utilize social media because of the reality of the rapid pace of its innovation. How can individuals, groups, companies, and even industries maintain fluency in the digital language of social media without being engulfed in the negative side effects?
Social media is so much more than any number of likes or retweets. It’s so powerful that the attempt to harness the power and optimize its use can be studied in an entire semesters worth of material. This fact was brought to light to me after stepping foot into the Social Media and Digital Business classroom for the first time on August 30th. Who knew you could talk about the implications of technological innovation and social media for over two hours? The idea of taking social media to crowd source answers to otherwise thought to be dead-ends by experts was a novel idea to me that reinforced the notion that social media is more than what meets the eye. I like to think my classmates sat alongside me that first day with a similar sense of both enthusiasm, jazzed up about how cool technology is, and fear, questioning how on earth it is capable to actually try to understand such a dynamic, uncontainable tech. It’s overwhelming, the sheer amount of opportunities the digitization of society presents.
The perfect example of the reach that social media has is the ISYS6621 blog posts — you’re telling me that I can write about anything as long as it connects to social media? I left the first class knowing for a fact that the lack of structure and infinite possibilities of topics would leave my paralyzed until I to disciplined myself as the due date loomed imminent. Technology and innovation is the most far reaching industry as it can be implemented in all aspects of life.
This is why undergraduates needs to study social media, and this is why 47 peers of mine and I are in this class. What exactly are the implications that come along with a digitized world? How do businesses stay up to date and make their operations, products, and services more streamlined and efficient? How can we take our fundamental knowledge and predisposition of understanding technology and use our skills for the betterment of the world as a whole and make social media play a positive role? As the world learns more and more about the ways of social media, it is all the more important for my generation to understand as we gear up to take on the adult world.
Looking forward to this coming semester, I want to be able to speak social media — really speak it. As a major tech nerd, its invigorating getting to see everything that new tech can do, but I know that I’m currently ignorant of the half of it. The consistent innovation is exciting and worth keeping up to date with even after the semester is over, and I’m hoping the skills I gain from this class will allow me to do so. I loved the emphasis that Professor Kane put on the fickle nature of social media: that it can be both positive and negative, not always a good thing. How can we as a generation, blossoming into full-fledged members of society, accurately and effectively utilize this awesome power we’ve grown up with. As for now, I sure as hell don’t know but I’m hopeful we’ll get there.