I’ve always been interested in social media.
It all started when I was in middle school. Just like almost everyone else my age, I had AOL Instant Messenger and absolutely loved it. Through AIM, I could talk to my friends online silently – a concept that was completely new to me at the time. Previously, if my friends wanted to get in touch with me, they would have to call my house phone, so this was a much easier alternative. AIM changed the way I communicated, but I had no idea what the future of online communication had in store for me.
Soon after, Myspace became THE thing to have, but my parents wouldn’t let me create an account for safety reasons. I lived vicariously through looking at my friend’s accounts on their computers at sleepovers, but it wasn’t the same. I had been using an alternative, Xanga, for a while, but it just didn’t compare to the “cool” factor of Myspace.
By the time I was in seventh(ish) grade, I had taught myself how to make Xanga layouts, AIM buddy icons, and much more. Pretty impressive if you ask me, but I still wasn’t allowed on Myspace.
As Myspace got bigger, Xanga died down, and I was forced to find something else to use. In eighth grade, I heard about a new Myspace lookalike – Facebook. I figured since my parents hadn’t explicitly told me I wasn’t allowed to have a Facebook account, I could get away with making one. I tried to convince my friends to join the site, but most of them didn’t think it would catch on. While a few checked out Facebook due to my persuasion, almost everyone I knew just stayed on Myspace. I loved Facebook, and truly saw potential in it being just as “cool” as Myspace. Unfortunately, not many other people my age did.
To my surprise and excitement, Facebook began to grow. However, with the site’s growth came my parent’s knowledge of its existence, and I was quickly forced to shut down my account as a result. My parents were extremely upset with me for going behind their backs and creating an account on a similar “Myspace-esque” website, and I was grounded for quite some time because of it (sorry mom).
Looking back, I now see just how persistent I was. After being forced off of Facebook, I joined Tumblr. The online blogging community was full of hours of infinite scrolling, and I couldn’t get enough. A few of my friends created accounts, but they also kept their Myspace accounts. The two weren’t really comparable in any sense. I kept my Tumblr, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied.
Next, I discovered Twitter. I used Twitter to follow my favorite celebrities and band members for the most part. Additionally, a few of my friends joined, so we would Tweet stupid things about each other. At this point in time it was 2009, so I had a phone with text messaging, but not internet access. I opted-in to receive text messages every time one of my friends or favorite celebrities tweeted, and that’s how I stayed in the loop. I guess you could say it was the beginning of what would go on to become push notifications.
Finally, at the end of ninth grade, Facebook had become a much more popular social media site. After much consideration, my mom agreed that I could create an account under one condition: that she would make one as well, and she would be my “friend.” I quickly agreed, and was finally a Facebook user once again.
In the years following, both AIM and Myspace’s popularity died down, and Facebook rose to the top with Twitter not too far behind. By the time I was in high school, everyone had a Facebook, and most people had Twitter as well. It was remarkable to see how quickly the way I used social media and online websites had completely transformed in just a matter of a few short years.
My journey with social media has certainly been an interesting one. I consider myself so lucky to have lived through these social trends and watched them transform over the years. Looking at social media today, it’s hard to believe how different everything was 5 – 10 years ago.
But why is my journey worth talking about? I’m sure many others my age also had similar experiences on social media in the early-mid 2000’s. However, despite similar experiences, everyone’s relationship with social media is completely different.
Today, many people opt-out of using certain social media sites / applications for personal reasons, but I find myself more interested in them than ever. I know that my interest in social networking at a young age shaped who I am today. While many teens tend to follow the trends of the crowd, I walked in the other direction in search of something new. My relentless desire to try any and every social platform expanded my knowledge, and left me with an extremely open mind. Ultimately, social networking sparked my interest so much that it has become a prominent part of my career in social media marketing.
I strongly believe that social applications and websites have the potential to change our lives and the way we communicate with each other for the better. I know my social media journey is a special one, and it’s not over yet; I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the years to come.