Social Media: For business or pleasure?

24 Jan

Those of us who were born in Generation Y have an interesting relationship with social media and the internet.  Being part of the last generation to have experienced life without a computer, albeit briefly, we have witnessed the change and growth of the internet from a unique perspective.

My personal experience with social media has left me unable to transition to using these websites professionally.

My first memory of a household computer dates back to age six.  Our computer ran Windows ’95. We had set it up in our laundry room and I used it primarily to play Putt-Putt Joins the Parade.  There was no such thing as an internet connection in my world, and that was okay.

By the time sixth grade rolled around, just five years later, I was on Neopets.com and AOL Instant Messenger. I remember having to beg my parents to let me get my own email address.  At the ripe old age of twelve years old, I was starting to develop a life on the internet, chatting with kids my age in different states on Neopets.

Scary as I’m sure it was to my parents, AIM chat rooms fascinated me.”A/S/L?” became a question I both asked and answered daily–the first time in my life I had given any sort of information about myself to a complete stranger.  It was fun to meet new people, of all ages and backgrounds.

In seventh grade, I experienced blogging for the first time, on Xanga.com.  My middle school friends and I would blog about our days, post transcripts of funny AIM conversations and fill out those copy/paste surveys that would circulate the website.  Later, after Xanga was banned from school computers, LiveJournal took its place.

In 2004, my freshman year of high school, I made an account on MySpace.com (“A Place for Friends”) and it was all downhill from there.

What makes the online experience of Generation Y different from that of X or Z is that we essentially grew up at the same time as the internet and social media.  We know what life is without it, unlike the younger generation, but we also didn’t have to learn a complete new way of life, as many of the older generation has had to do in order to keep up with the times.

Given my history with social media, having experienced it in its infancy, I find it difficult to accept it as having any purpose outside of social entertainment.  The fact that Facebook and Twitter actually have validity in the professional world is something that I have yet to completely come to terms with.  And do not even get my started about workplace Facebook “background checks.”

Facebook to me was a safe-haven, from early 2006 till sometime in late 2009, when parents and relatives finally started to catch on.  Now, Facebook is the topic of every family gathering. I’ve seen too many friendship and family issues hashed out in the comments of cryptic status updates.  Too many times has my dad called me to get me to take down a status update that he found offensive.

Ironically enough, as I write this the South Park episode featuring Facebook comes on TV, reiterating how big of a part of our lives it has become and how seriously people take it on a social level.

While I understand HOW social media can operate as an extremely useful tool in the world of business and public relations, I have difficulty taking it seriously.  I have spent too much time being consumed with Facebook as a casual user.

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