Thursday, 10 May 2012

Love me or hate me, still an obsession: social media milestones

Today I accidently, after months of reluctance clicked a wrong button and got Facebook Timeline, and it freaked me the hell out! My very first status update, photos of my hair go from short to long to blonde to brown to red, ex boyfriends and ex coworkers, holidays and boozy night out, days I was all to happy to remember and nights I'd rather forget all appeared in front of me... Yikes! How is it that only now has it become clear to me that I am one of the millions of twenty-somethings who grew up on social media? Even with the proof right in front of me. And, why is it that even though it's been a part of us for as long as we can remember we're all so reluctant to welcome social media into our lives.

Someone, not me: "I don't tweet... I don't care what you have to say in 140 characters or less"

Yes you do, and that's why you're complaining to me about the fact that you have to hear my opinions about the Apprentice, and then you have to read them again later online. You then hate that you laugh and hate that you have to admit I might be funnier in 140 characters. Then to top it off, you hate that if you had twitter you would retweet it. And then probably tweet about the Apprentice too.

I don't care what people say, swerving to the left to avoid the social media bandwagon does not make you anti-socialism, non-conforming, anti-consumerist, or anti-anything. What would we have done without, dare I say, Myspace. Our high school days would have been spent vandalizing desks and googling Josh Hartnett (more so than we did), rather than MySpace stalking the very real teenage crush that sat opposite us. We loved MySpace, we loved that it gave us an identity, that we could prove how indi and alternative we were by adding a Midnight Juggernaughts or Taking Back Sunday sound file to our profiles, we loved how we could find our best 'MySpace photo' angle with our friends and most of all we loved that we could be mouthy teenagers in a globally public, yet still somehow private forum.

Then post-graduation Facebook came along, it wasn't as pretty but god was it cool. We signed up, because signing up meant we had moved on from MySpace and high school, and we were cool because we could unload even more information about our private lives into a public sphere. We could also connect to people, and places and things. We could 'Like'... olives, and cats, vintage and John Hughes films. We fell victim to social marketing campaigns and hated that the internet now somehow knew all our interests, even though we knew we had ignorantly told it them. Social media had become clever, more clever than us.

Twitter started flapping about, and of course we loathed it. By this point, I was a proper (young) professional marketer and not only trying to find my own online voice, but also that of the theatre shows I was selling to a middle aged, social media illiterate audience. I didn't care that someone I worked with had a roast for dinner, but I did care about cheap tickets and exclusive information about things, and I did care how many followers I had even though I never said anything of interest... I was determined to find the balance, in 140 characters or less.

Facebook status updates got shorter and became tweets, while blogging became the next big thing. As we grew up, and got smarter so did our need for online interaction. By now we all had smart phones and we looked the tech-savvy social media junkie part. Our tone of voice was out there but visually we wanted to brag about stuff that no one would care about offline, so we embraced Instagram.

Now everyone I know Instagrams and tweets, and instead of writing home we blog and share a link on our Facebook walls. Next, in an incarnation of Facebook liking, blogging and Instagraming someone in the big old internet world has given us Pinterest. At first glance I of course think it's pointless, another 'creative' channel for anyone who lacks creativity, a hub for pro-ana sites and home decoration. And you know what, with no surprises I hate it, while knowing perfectly well it's only a matter of time before I embrace it. Before it marks another social milestone in my life.

PS. I just pinned myself to a picture of a cat with a pink cupcake on it's head. Shit.

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