“What social networks do you use most often and how or why do you use them? What do you find interesting or important about social media?”
The evolution of my social media use has been a slow one. When it comes to technology and gadgets, I’ve always lingered intentionally ‘behind the curve.’ It was 2003 before I gave in and bought my first cell phone. Ridiculous, I know. I’m not sure why I’ve had this tendency, whether it’s from a little fear of the unknown or a pervasive aversion to change. Either way and along the same lines, I got a late start with social media. And I’ve been a slow adopter with every new type of it to surface.
My first foray was with Myspace, and that ended up being a successful and enjoyable experience–not until after I nearly committed suicide trying to figure out how to basically just copy and paste code to design those old personal pages. I got it all figured out though. And at the time Myspace gave up the ghost in diversion to Facebook, I had a healthy blog readership and was edified by social media’s advent in my life.
I was very slow to switch to Facebook. (According to my “Facebook Movie,” it was 2007 when i joined.) It was such a different animal than Myspace from what I could discern, plus I was really comfortable over on Myspace. Regardless, like everyone else I didn’t really have much of a choice to switch if I wanted to stay connected. And I did want to stay connected. As was the case for many of us, those first social media applications were so significant at re-establishing and maintaining especially long-distance contact for me that I had arrived at a place where I pretty much relied on their use–if only in personal situations.
My early Facebook foray was slow and limited. I stayed quiet. But that didn’t last for long. Now, especially because I have recently relocated some 7 hours away from friends and family, I’ve actually come to sense Facebook as a sort of stage. I’ve always been a performer or entertainer in some capacity, so having an audience is almost a requirement for me to feel normal. Since I’m not doing any literal performing currently, it’s almost like I utilize Facebook as a ‘song and dance’ outlet. In addition, I don’t have many friends here in Memphis yet. Facebook allows me to once again maintain that long-distance contact that has now taken on even more significance for my life.
There are only a couple of other social media outlets I use on a regular basis. Among those, I’d say Instagram is my second-most-frequented behind Facebook. It’s easy to understand that, especially when I just indicated that I look at much of my social media activity as being ‘on stage.’ I’ve had a Twitter account for probably about a year, but it’s been idle. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that until this semester of grad school I had only tweeted one time. That has all changed significantly in even the last few days, however, as I’ve come to understand the utility of Twitter and how it can actually be a more professional social media outlet and one that’s pleasantly challenging to learn. I’m enjoying my preliminary days tweeting. Also, as a part of grad school I’m now launching into the world of WordPress and Tumblr for the first time. I’m still so green at these two sites that I’m afraid I’ll have to withhold any evaluation about their roles in my life–yet. 😉
Beyond those few social media, I occasionally use some social networking apps specific to the gay community. Since I’m still fairly new in Memphis and it’s notoriously and particularly difficult to network with other gay people in a typical social setting, I primarily use these apps to meet new, like-minded guys. Grindr is where I invest the bulk of my online time in that arena. I only occasionally use two other apps called Scruff or Jack’d. But regrettably, I’ll have to say that my forays into this type of social media use are rarely successful for what I’d find them most useful for–as a social endeavor to make new friends and meet others in the gay community. I find that most members on those sites are typically just looking for sex.
It seems to me that the primary and most significant importance of typical social media is connectedness. That’s personally applicable, considering my recent relocation and the fact that since the age of 27 I haven’t really lived near the friends and family I grew up with. Social media allows us to continue to stay in touch with others and in many cases to develop more significant relationships with people whom we night not have really even been close with before social media’s advent.
On a professional level, it occurs to me that I have yet to directly discover how social media operates in that arena. My last business/professional role dates back to 2003, before social media really existed. Having only worked in the restaurant business in the interim, I’ve never been in a professional capacity with social media as a component of the workplace. As a social-only social-media-user, I have seen the value and power of the applications. And my first few months as a journalism graduate student have certainly been indicative of how important and integral social media use has become to professional society while I toiled away in the service industry. But I’m eager and excited not only to become socialized to professional social media use, but also to become as savvy as I possibly can so I can join the rest of the world in using these media phenomena to the betterment of my own professional future.