I would have to describe my relationship status with the world of social networking as complicated. I have always been hesitant about trying new networking sites and opening details of my life up to people on the web. But on the other hand, it’s a great tool for sharing information and staying connected. Social media sites have come a long way in the last 40 years and have significantly changed the way that people communicate.
Mashable provides a great infographic in his blog post The History of Social Media. It surprised me to see how many social networking sites were around before the big names like Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter came on the scene. This graphic highlights how quickly social media how grown in a short amount of time, especially in the last decade. Social media has forever changed the way that we communicate and share, as well as how we represent ourselves in the public social sphere.
I remember in high school when I first heard about MySpace; I thought it was pointless. I see my friends everyday and AIM with them every night; why would I need another place to connect with them online? My initial involvement in social media was on AIM. The invention of digital cameras, as well as a platform to share these photos, had me intrigued and enticed me to create a Myspace account. Then it happened, and I was hooked.
The day that I received my @uoregon.edu email address, I signed up for a Facebook account. I liked the idea of it not being such a public sphere, and really liked that you could tag photos of other friends. Once I moved to school, it became a great tool to stay connected to friends back home, and I became a little addicted. I tried to use AIM to keep in touch, but that was so outdated that barely anyone used it anymore. So, I was really excited when Facebook added the chat feature to its site.
I find it interesting how Facebook has changed the way that people interact, especially in college. I have learned the last names of majority of people I’ve met here through Facebook. Becoming ‘friends’ is a way of letting select people see an inside perspective of your life, and is often seen as a stepping stone to building relationships. Romantic relationships are often considered serious once they have become ‘Facebook Official.’
I was very hesitant to join Twitter. I was required to make an account as part of my Gateway Journalism class in 2009; but they never required us to use it. It wasn’t until this term in my Strategic Communication class that I began to understand the power of Twitter. Just last week I scored 6 months of free HBO after tweeting my frustration with their customer service. I hope to utilize LinkedIN and Twitter to build my professional relationships as well as to build a public personality online. Whereas I use my Facebook to stay in touch with old friends and to build relationships with new ones.
My experience on social networking sites has been both positive and negative. I love the way that people can share and stay connected with friends and family. But… it does sometimes scare me that what is on the web, is there forever. I enjoy the new feature on Facebook where you can view your ‘friendship’ with someone, but I find it creepy that you can view other people’s ‘friendships.’ I like being able to scroll down my newsfeed and see when people have posted statuses, videos, photos and links but I do not like when things show up that people do not actively post to share with all of their friends. For example, comments between walls and on photos.
We sometimes open ourselves up so much without really understanding how many people may be listening. The power of the web leaves me feeling a sense of vulnerability; while also feeling empowered, just knowing that someone is listening. It is a place to create, and a place to connect. In the world of PR, I believe it humanizes us. It provides as a personal platform for delivering key messages. It gives professionals a place to highlight their personality, and it takes away a lot of the cookie cuter business practices used in public relations.