Social Media, More Than A Decade In
Can we still consider social media to be a fad?
I used to be very reserved about the concreteness of emerging social media outlets as an adolescent. The appearance of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat all came as such a strange thing to me. At my introduction to the internet, websites such as eBaum’s World, Funnyjunk, and YouTube were at the forefront of my attention for young laughs and entertainment. The internet opened up a whole new world for me and my friends to share and enjoy simple laughs and wonder all together. It was a fad. When MySpace rolled around the corner, I had thought that it was just another cool way to pass time. Back then we could customize our own profile pages to our liking -glistening our backgrounds with different layouts and adding games for our friends to play-. To me, I thought that this was the epitome of social success and communication. Then came FaceBook. What was the point of it? We already had MySpace, why would someone go around and make another website that was practically the same thing? By the sounds of it, we couldn’t customize our own pages, or display our “top 8” friends for others to see. It was just MySpace with less individuality…right?
Unknown to my knowledge, FaceBook had been around since as early as 2004, only a year removed since MySpace’s own launch. I didn’t know at this time that FaceBook had been growing steadily and once it hit it big, I decided to give it a go. Admittedly I was maybe a year or two late compared to some of my friends, or the older “kids” and student at the time. This would be a trend that would follow me up to even now. Regardless, FaceBook took over as my primary medium for online social activity. This was it. This was the new “epitome of social success and communication”. What more could anyone else possibly provide…?
…then came Twitter. And Instagram, and Tumblr, and Snapchat, and Reddit, and yadayadayada yippy ey. All these new fads came to my knowledge. Most of the time I would find out about them through my friends, or people around me who would use these mediums. This was a time when memes were almost nonexistent and even so, many memes were just ripoffs of Tumblr anyways. I wouldn’t really know about these “new” social media sites if it weren’t for my peers. Yet, I never “hopped on the bandwagon”. I never saw any of these new things as anything but a “fad”. Why did we need these things? Twitter? Tumblr? Facebook did the same exact thing; we could post our thoughts and then share these thoughts with our friends as if we were blogging. Instagram? Facebook had a photos feature where we could post albums of pictures. Why did we constantly feel the need to make these unnecessary fads when FaceBook already handled the functions of these other social media. Given time, everyone would drift away from these things until all that remained were niche communities of people who wanted to feel “special”. I truly believed this…yet it wasn’t the case.
These websites remained and grew into phone applications, and they didn’t go away. All the way through high school I never acknowledged them. I didn’t get into the fad that was Twitter and Snapchat, and all these other “foolish things”. Social media was cool and fun…but it wasn’t supposed to be this tantalizing. These applications shouldn’t have been so varied and so enticing that it would seep into our normal lives and pry us away from reality. I was always appalled, in high school, by the continuing lack of physical interaction between me and my friends when we hung out. We would go out to eat, or hang out at a mall, and then we would sit down. The initial instinct, for everyone, EVERYONE…was to take out their phones and just stare at them. Social Media was not a fad. It was our reality. Social media, and the advancement of it and technology was never stopping. It wasn’t slowing down. So with that said, with social media being here to stay…..what do we make of it? Is it a good thing?
It took me until now to really let it seep in. I just got onto Twitter, but yet I still laughably refuse to use Instagram and Snapchat. At this point it is all just so tiring for me to keep up or try to feel like I want to try. I noticed that as social media mediums grew in number and function, so did its competitors. Today, FaceBook has incorporated most of the functions that make other applications so popular such as adding a story; Instagram has done this as well among others. Social media thrives when new functions get bounced off of one another, and it keeps us connected and informed with not only the news, but with our own interests. I use FaceBook and Twitter, primarily, to socialize BUT ALSO keep tabs on the NBA. I get news on Twitter from Insiders that I follow and I get to learn updates instantly as they happen almost real time. This era of information technology has me wired in, now making me the victim of my own apprehensions. I am constantly glued to my phone screen, checking updates on sports or just scrolling through my news feed out of utter boredom. It became my “go to” thing to do. There was once a point in my life where I knew what the absence of the internet felt like. Nowadays, it’s hard to picture reality without it.
The internet is not a fad. It is our reality. It is for some, our life. Some, need to stop treating it like it is a fad; I know I have.