I was born in 1972 when social media had not yet started, it was in high school 9th grade 1988 that we were introduced to the most basic computer programming, our final was being able to program the computer to “make the bird fly”. It was a very short program lengthwise about five seconds long that showed the outline of a bird flapping its wings, but programming wise it was a long tedious process of entering commands. The computer was an Apple II and we used a DOS (Disk Operating System), we learned terms like the boot, reboot, and basic programming terminology.
College was the real start of knowing computers for me, Social media had not yet taken off (this was in 1991 to 1994), I myself did not know too much about it other than what I did at college. I believe in 1997 until 2001 SixDegrees.com was a social networking service. For me, social media started with chat rooms and learning the world wide web in the year 2000. That’s when I obtained an AOL account and was able to connect to people via email and chat rooms. At the time, I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world, I could talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time. And most interesting was the freedom of being able to be completely anonymous.
It was in 2003 that signing up for MySpace was “the thing” to do. A lot of friends from work had asked me “do you have a MySpace?”, which left me dumbfounded because I had no clue what that was and intrigued because it sounded amazing. Once I signed up I think that’s where a lot of interesting things happened and I learned a lot about how people can behave on the internet. Soon came a “more desirable” social media that seemed to be geared (initially) towards young adults which were Facebook. I resisted I’d say for about three years, I was familiar and comfortable with what I knew (MySpace). But most people and business were moving to Facebook, so I signed up. This was in 2007 and I still have a Facebook to this day. More social media forums have come about, some of the more popular ones are; SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Skype. I have One other social media account (SnapChat) and think that between Facebook and SnapChat I have what I am confident keeps me “in the loop”.
Social Media is so important to our lives, I live in California and am able to connect daily with family in Mexico, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, and New York. It has afforded us as a people all around the world the ability to be close without being close in proximity. Via the shared status, pictures, and live feeds I am able to see what my family is doing. I literally feel like I am there to celebrate, comfort, and share life experiences with friends and family. I have done face timing which is amazing and thinking back to when we saw the cartoon the Jetsons, we are there. We are able to talk to people in real time and it’s just incredible.
The importance of social media is great I feel due to it allows connectivity to family and friends when you are physically unable to be present. I have a friend that could not attend her grandmother’s funeral, and her cousin went live on Facebook so that my friend could, in essence, be at the funeral with the family. It may not be conventional but it meant the world to her, she grieved with her family as one would if they were present and obtain some closure because she was able to see the whole process. On the same note, I have been able to keep up with family and friends for birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers, and all sorts of celebrations. I feel that social media allows us to be so much more connected to each other because we share so much of our lives via social media that we as a people feel we are able to get to know others more intimately. I know a few couples that met on social media sites and are now married with families. It’s a critical part of life nowadays to have a social media account, both my parents who are 70 and 67 have a social media account. They live an hour away but we are able to connect and they feel they are able to share our day to day lives with each other.
With so many features of social media, one can find a job, sell something, look for services needed, and even look for specific people. My husband had a tumultuous childhood and was separated by force at an early age from his mother. The teacher that helped him was paramount in finding his mother and getting him back to her. Years later after we married and I heard the story, I sought her out and was able to find her. We are still in contact with her and she knows how much we appreciate her brave acts of kindness. We have visited with her and feel she is now part of our family. All of this would not have been possible if not for social media. Along the same lines, I myself was able to connect with childhood friends that I had lost contact with even family that I never got to meet because I moved states.
I feel that most of us use social media on a daily basis. Some use it as a forum to vent, others to dialog, and some to journal their journey. I have on occasion left my phone behind and although I am ok I do feel something is missing if my family goes somewhere or is celebrating something and I am not able to share my happy event with family and friends. So, to me personally social media is critical and part of my day to day life.