My Experience With Social Media

Social media has radically changed the way we send and receive information on the internet. Because of the nature of its design, social media gives everyone a voice online. One can now share what is on their mind and if one is focused, he/she can build a large following and influence a lot of people.

Social media has also created a new frontier for businesses. Companies that could not afford traditional advertising can now reach out to a global audience at a very cheap cost.

I must confess, I have been slow to adapt to the use of social media. This because, I have seen people spend hours on social media even when they have urgent things to do.

I also feel that social media encourages the sharing of personal life events with others; even private things that are better kept to oneself. When you log into your Facebook profile, the first thing you see is a blank status box at the top prompting you to share, “What is on your mind?”

I did not want to join the crowd of people broadcasting events from their personal lives for others to see. Social media platforms like Facebook provide a very human feel to communicating online that I was eventually sucked into different networks because of that quality.

I joined Facebook in 2009 and immediately began searching for old and new friends I have known in life. I have been able to get in touch with people whom without the creation of Facebook, I would probably never have been able to chat with again.

I thank Zuckerberg and the team involved with Facebook for making that possible.

As I familiarized myself with this new online reality, I noticed a lot of my friends would post nice photos and get a lot of likes. I too wanted to a piece of the action so I began investing in that area.

I had a blue Nokia Express music phone with a 2 megapixel camera that I would spend a lot of time with trying to take the perfect selfie. I would spend afternoons taking pictures of myself wearing ray bans, nice looking t-shirts and stylish black jacket.

The return on my investment was 50 -50. Sometimes people would like my pictures and at other times they would ignore my photographic master pieces.

Another area of the Facebook interface that I wanted to make big on was posting exciting statuses. I would surf the internet looking for sites such as www.status99.com that offered cool statuses.

I found sites that would give me funny statuses, crazy statuses, love statues and even philosophical statuses.  I would again feel very disappointed when no one would like my statuses after I had spent hours on the internet looking for the perfect one to copy.

Besides that, I was jealous of friends who had more than 1000 friends while I was struggling to get more than 100. I began sending friend requests to anyone that had a nice picture on their profile.  

It dawned on me one day that I was trying to be someone I am not on Facebook, so I gave trying to do so. I have only 364 friends to date on Facebook and that is okay with me. Facebook has created a very effective platform for communication.

The greatest lesson I have learned is that I should not allow it to define my worth as a person.

twitter icon 9a by Marek.Sotak is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The next social network I joined was Twitter. A while back, I used to watch a lot of Sky News telecasts on DSTV and the news anchor would tell viewers to follow the channel on Twitter as the show was going on.

I was still getting used to Facebook, and here I was presented with another with another social network. I would also hear people in conversation with each other say, “Follow me on twitter, or my twitter handle is @jimmystone.”

Words like #hash tags were also unique to Twitter at that time. For me to enjoy this network I would have to learn the language of the platform which I did not want to do so.

The greatest downside for me about Twitter was the idea of having to follow someone else. I would rather have people follow me than I having to follow them. In my mind, Twitter made some people leaders and others followers.

The Facebook concept of being friends with someone else, made more “social” sense to me. However with time, I put my negativity aside and gave Twitter a chance. One thing I have come to appreciate about this network is the speed at which users are able to receive information about current affairs.

After joining Twitter, I decided to join Whatsapp this year. I found that the whatsapp platform enabled me to send messages and receive replies in a much faster manner than Facebook and Twitter.

Because of this, I ended up becoming a little addicted to Whatsapp. Whenever I received a notification beep on my smart phone, I would stop whatever I was doing and grab my phone to see who had sent me a message.

Even when I was praying in the morning, I would grab my phone as soon as I heard the beep. Things got even worse when I joined a few groups because I would receive tens of notifications every few minutes.

I solved this problem by putting my phone on silent for much of the time. I eventually muted notifications from certain groups to prevent being distracted by incoming messages. I am now in control of how I use Whatsapp.

This is a little of my experience with social media. It has radically changed the way we interact with each other as human beings. It remains to be seen whether this change is for better or worse. One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay.

Can You Etch It by Alan Reeves is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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