Then and Now- My experiences & who I am on social media today.

As a millennial, I have grown up in an age of vast technological advancement and thus with it the birth of social media.

From a young age, I was introduced to the idea of having a social media account. At the age of 11 I convinced my parents to let me create my first ever social media account; Facebook. I had a few friends who were on the site already and we were all eager to connect online with each other and some new friends we had made, who also had Facebook. And thus, my online identity was created. Throughout the years, I would say Facebook has stuck with me as one of my most used social media platforms. Although the types of content I post and my primary use for it has changed somewhat over the years (as Smith, S and Watson, J (2014), discussed; Facebook has developed and changed too, to adapt to the current users needs) I have watched my online identity develop and morph.  In the early days of my Facebook profile, I would often post ‘statuses’ depicting a good/bad/funny event that had happened to me, or would tag a bunch of my friends and exclaiming how much we all loved each other. Another form of my activity would be to ‘like’ a bunch of ‘pages’ that were essential the equivalent to the modern-day meme but in word form (humorous sayings). And most importantly messaging my various friends to all hours of the night via Facebook. My online identity ‘back then’ could be described as juvenile. It was all very new and I was not aware at the age of the full impact of social media and was more or less exploring and just having fun with newfound form of communication. * It also saved me an immense amount of money from my phone bills – instead of calling/or texting my friends, I ventured to almost always just contacting them through Facebook. * Now days I have a much more clear and concise idea of my online identity on Facebook and what I portray (to the world) on this given platform. The days of my various (annoying) daily updates/statuses are over, and instead the only content you will see me posting on my ‘Facebook Wall’ are various photographs. Ranging from an occasional Profile Picture or Cover Photo change to my more frequent Mobile Uploads (similar to an album). Instead of updating my Facebook friends with various, random statuses, I instead update them with various photographs of what I’ve been up to recently. I really enjoy taking photos and editing them with various apps to make them look (for lack of better word) cooler. It’s a bit of a hobby of mine to take, create and edit photos as I see it as capturing a memory. They’re nothing artistic and usually just of me, my friends and my dog but it’s a big part of who I am online. (very rarely) are they fully unfiltered photos on my account, and obviously, this shows that I am not the 100% ‘real’ me on social media. I am very selective with what I post as I know that certain things will not be received well by certain Facebook friends I have (i.e. family, whom would be potentially judgmental of say images of me clubbing or with a drink in my hand). I also like to retain a certain amount of privacy/secrecy to my life. Unlike others who feel comfortable with broadcasting every aspect of their life, I like to keep a lot of things off the internet. Therefore, my online identity is not the full representation of me ‘in real life’.

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Screenshot of 2009 Facebook status, retrieved 7th April 2017

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Screenshot of Facebook Mobile Upload 2016, retrieved April 7th 2017

Instagram. My favourite of all my social media platforms. Many have questioned me on why this is my favourite, as it lacks the same ability of chatting/messaging as Facebook does, however for me, Instagram lets me showcase and explore beautiful photos and photographic memories of both my friends, celebrities and various individuals. I like the beauty and breadth that a single photograph can portray, and to have a social platform dedicated to the sharing or images is something I find incredibly soothing. To me Instagram is almost like a portfolio of images sharing snapshots of my life. I do not post daily or have a scheduled posting regime, but I just post photos of myself and/or friends at different moments, which I can later go back on and relieve the memory/experience of that time. I more so carefully select and edit the best (of many taken photographs) before uploading. Although seems somewhat superficial/vain it is a very large part of my age group and within my friends to be so heavily invested in creating and posting ‘the perfect picture.’ I have been able to distance myself from this idea of creating ‘a perfect self’ online and am content with who I am as a person to not get caught up in all the chaos and mess this can cause, as Amedie, Jacob, (2015). Advanced Writing: Pop Culture Intersections. Paper 2.  States there is immense “social anxiety of stress associated with trying to project a perfect self [online]”. Although social media can be a great device, I have bared witness to the negative affects it can cause, in Instagram’s case the frantic longing for a large sum of “likes” as a form of approval of one’s photo. Although initially I was caught up in this, I was able to distance myself and just be happy with posting images that I like and not be concerned of others ‘approval’ in the form of likes.

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And my least favourite of accounts, not for any reason more than my personal preference, Twitter. As a pre-teen 12 year old I found twitter to tweet (spam) my then ‘love of my life’ Justin Bieber. His constant tweeting was how I found twitter and then followed and tweeted out various other celebrities. Often nothing more than just exclaiming my love for them, as I aged I dropped off twitter, as I found no beneficial enjoyment from it anymore. My next comeback to twitter was last year in a University Media class where similar to this, I was instructed to create tweets and use twitter. As someone who doesn’t like sharing my personal work with others, this was a huge step for me and I honestly did not like it. Once again this year I’ve been instructed to re-surface on twitter and create tweets, which this time I’ve tried to take more in my stride. Between the my old twitter account and the tweets I made there versus the more versatile/thoughtout tweets on my University twitter I am able to see where Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011) Makes comparison between the benefits of having both varying personal and professional social media accounts. I believe that for me twitter is something I will have to work with and break through my lack of self-confidence and develop this platform as my ‘professional’ social media platform (like my about.me) for university and prospects of future jobs.

Imbedded tweets from my twitter profile @maddybeesey

Social media has really given me the tools to explore who I am/who I want to be as well as develop my strength of character on and off the internet. I have already made many improvements of my online activity and how I want to be showcased online in my personal accounts, however I look forward to progressing and exploring the idea of using social media account for educational and potential future work aspects. Evidentially Social media is the future, and it only keeps on growing and expanding, much like our identities.

REFERENCES

Amedie, Jacob, ” e Impact of Social Media on Society” (2015). Advanced Writing: Pop Culture Intersections. Paper 2. h p://scholarcommons.scu.edu/engl_176/2

Brabazon, T. (2012). “Digital Dialogues and Community 2. 0: After Avatars, Trolls and Puppets”. 1st ed. Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing, pp.2-12.

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, n.o extra, Abril de 2011, 47-53. http://eft.educom.pt.

Smith, S and Watson, J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self- Presentation’, in Poletti, A and Rak, J, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp. 70-95

Word Count: 1208

My broader ALC203-related online activity

Using social media for university purposes was a new concept for me, as all my other social media sites I have ever been a part of have been purely for my personal/recreational usage/enjoyment. For this unit, I became a part of twitter, which is still a concept I’m grappling with as the content/purpose of it is vastly diverse from my usual social interactions. Creating an About.me profile was also new as I rarely like to be too public with myself on the internet, however, I came to enjoy the idea of the short/ concise nature of what you can show/the formality it held.  

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