While my first social networks included MySpace and MSN (oh the good ol’ days), my experience with Facebook was the most memorable. I recall that I was 13 years old, still too young to use the website without parental consent. While it was very easy to lie about your age and simply create a profile, being the goody two-shoes I was I asked my mother if it was okay that I create a profile for this website. My mother really had no clue about the network as it was so new and hesitantly consented to my request.
For a large portion of my teen years, Facebook consumed my online time. There was never a time that a Facebook tab would not be open while I was online. The idea of interacting with your friends in a space that combined text, visuals, and so much more was something I had never experienced before. It was exciting, easy to use, and easily accessible, factors very important for a teen who grew out of being an active kid and more into being a couch potato.
At that time in my life, I really did not have a clear identity. I was still very young and thus questions such as “Who am I?” never really presented themselves. I was still care-free and used Facebook without thought to that. I recall that most of my timeline consisted of hilarious updates about my life and what I was currently doing as well as edited-to-shit photos using Picnik. Further, MSN eventually lost to Facebook’s messenger as I could both chat and scroll on the site at the same time.
Fortunately, I never got myself into sticky posting situations that I would regret now. My good ways persisted through being taught that information online is permanent and can greatly affect your life in the future, even if the content is deleted. This was very important to me, and while some of the stuff I posted was silly, I always thought twice about content that I posted and how it could negatively affect me in any way now or in the future.
Further, I was always aware of being cautious of content consumed online. Exposure to explicit content or bugged links was very easy and seemed to be more prevalent back then. From an early age I was able to identify sources of fake news, clickbait, or content that would possibly expose my computer to a bug.
Therefore, present me is pretty proud of young me for always being alert and aware. Many of the topics discussed in RTA902 in my opinion come down to the consumer and how they are proactive and/or react to social media content. Technology and social media can be detrimental to those who do not proceed with caution and second guess everything they read or consume. While this may seem tedious, adopting this practise from a young age has made it second nature and has prevented me from ever regretting something I consumed or put out onto social media.
The one area I would tell my younger self to be wary of is regarding online communication and mental health. Easy online communication mixed with being young is not a good combination. Children often always say what is on their mind, and social media has made that ability easier with less immediate repercussions. Therefore, I often found myself getting into heated private conversations online, in which my emotions regarding them would not be shared with anyone physically but would rather fester in my mind. These emotions often evolved into anxiety and the ending of relationships.
Physical communication, especially at a young age, is so important in learning how to deal with situations and work well with others. Fortunately, I grew up when the internet was just taking off, and therefore had no social media for much of my childhood. I am thankful for this because I believe that my communication and problem solving skills are much stronger had I grew up with technology and social media. Parents cannot always fully control or see what their children do online, and thus most children alone are not equipped mentally to handle many situations that social media presents. Therefore, I would tell my younger self that online communication is not always the best option and is never the best option in communicating important or argumentative information. It is important to speak to others in reality if you feel that information online is affecting you emotionally so as to avoid any further mental issues down the road.
Overall, I would say that my time on Facebook as a teen was memorable in a good way. It taught me how to be cautious and to always second guess information consumed. It provided me with a creative outlet and connected me and continues to connect me with my growing network in an interactive way.