Social Media Takeover
I remember the day I got Myspace. I got caught up in all the hype of it. I didn’t like to go too hard and mess around with the HTML coding (I wonder how many people found out that they had a knack for programming from those Myspace days), but I obsessed over my “Top Friends”. It made my shallow little heart melt when my friends would put me up there. I liked to post witty crap that was only funny to one person: me. I brooded like any angsty teen and posted poetry. It was silly, but that was what was in for my generation. Well, as you can tell now reading this, that has all changed. Myspace is dead, and Facebook is the king. Social Media became a giant that wasn’t just the “cool thing for the kids”, it embedded itself into all of our lives and into the internet itself.
What It Was Before
My first true blossoming into social media was with Facebook. It’s sad to say, but I was pretty tame and well-balanced with Myspace. It was Facebook that devoured me whole. I joined it back when it was the elitist thing to do–it was only open for college students, so we had our own little “safe space” to frolic and post our crap in. Couple that with the ever-evolving technology in digital cameras and camera phones, and I found myself possessed into constantly posting photos with updates about my life. It was a great time because it allowed me to get to know all my new dormmates, classmates, and friends in other colleges. It gave me extra information to use to get to know other people, thus lending a great hand into my social development as well.
It was the best! Facebook in its infancy was pure communication. It didn’t have all these pages, or groups, or reposting memes or whatever content. The overwhelming majority of content was original, and created by the user base itself. Much of it probably wasn’t as impressive as the stuff you see people posting today, but there was something oddly alluring about the baby that would become a juggernaut:
It was genuine.
Soon, other juggernauts were being born, and other would-bes among them. More and more, people were starting to enjoy the gratification that came from friends and strangers alike applauding each others’ stuff. Twitter, YouTube, Skype, whatever. The craze was on, and anyone who’s anyone had at least one social media outlet (probably before it was called social media). If you didn’t, then you were probably some lame old person or a formula-drinking infant baby.
Its Progression My Late-Teens
Myspace imploded, and Facebook was becoming the Chosen One. They opened the floodgates by allowing even more people onto their platform, and all these other random wannabe Myspaces came up. As for me, I was living it up. I had gotten a digital camera as a gift, and I was taking pictures of anything and everything and posting it up. Just like many other people in my generation, there was this incessant paranoia to log and record every single waking minute of my life with the fear that I would lose it all someday when I’m old and demented.
I posted like mad. Every time I met up with a friend, you’d see a status update of “Guess who I’m with!?!?!” or with every ridiculous holiday, you’d see a “Happy St. Paddy’s day! Who wants a Guinness with me!?” I lived and breathe online, and it was strange because I found my reality and my online persona slowly merging together.
Prior to sites like Myspace and Facebook, the internet was always a sort of mysterious Wild West. I met a lot of my friends through the internet back when we would just hide behind black screens and usernames (Gameboy88, Kickinaglass81, natakuoo5, and into its final resting place of makenshizero). It was weird then to see that the guy I went to class with could see my online persona, or my sisters, or my crazy uncle. It was all out there, and I was relishing in it because I was finally getting attention for all the little things. How gratifying!
When I graduated college, my abundant diet of social interaction was cut into a fraction. I worked for a small company (maybe 15 people in the office max?), and the only other people outside of coworkers that I saw each day were a bunch of Indian children (we serviced a very privileged and educationally-driven group in Ohio). Social Media became my outlet; my escape. I was in Ohio with just my girlfriend (who is now my wife <3) and a few friends–nothing like my days back home. Social Media helped to fill that gap. It let me catch up with friends and family, and even allowed me to get to know some people from my past that I never had a chance to really sit down and truly meet. There were many friendships that would never have been if not for Social Media. It just made being social so much easier since I didn’t have to schedule time to go see someone, or memorize their phone number to call/text every day. I could just look up their name, their profile, see what they’re up to, and it’s like we already interacted without me needing to do so. What a sweet deal!
There are Ads in My Feed; My Friends are Ads
Things have greatly changed. I don’t know when it did, but Facebook started having integrations with anyone/everyone. YouTube was proving to be lucrative, and so everyone wanted to start their own channel to make money (I’ll be damned if I didn’t day dream about that either), and there was proof that companies would give popular Instagrammers free stuff! You could be rich from your influence on Social Media! Well, everyone and everyone wanted to chase their dreams of being stay-at-home millionaires. Then came the hollow, cheap, and fakeness that plagues Social Media today.
There are ads everywhere–don’t get me wrong, I understand that a company offering access to the greatest and strongest social member base doesn’t do things for free–and all I see in my feed these days are useless memes, clickbait half-assed articles (You Won’t Believe What This Boy Said About Ants!), and advertisements. What makes it worse is that a good portion of my friends are now walking advertisements.
I get it, it’s a fine line to walk because you want to be supportive of your friends and their endeavors, but there’s gotta be a line somewhere. When I check out your profile, I want to learn more and catch up on you, not buy some Essential Oils, learn about Herbalife, or click on your referral link to some money pyramid scheme. It’s annoying, and I don’t blame my friends for trying their best to cash in on their local and microcelebrity to try to get ahead and get paid. Hell, I’m a hypocrite with this too because I advertise my blog every once in a while too.
Social Media has transformed right before my eyes–and I’m starting to become wary of it. I don’t post every damn day like I used to, and I’m okay with that (not to mention I finally have realized that my daily musings just aren’t important). I don’t repost random political crap that just appeases my echo chamber of friends.
“If you voted for X, unfriend me now.”
— Another huge problem exacerbated by Social Media.
It’s taken many steps back in my life. It still carries great importance–nothing allows me to catch up with friends and family better right now–but I am no longer dependent on it like I once was…
…and that makes me glad.