Social Media: forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).
This is straight from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and according to their website the term “social media” was first introduced in 2004. Although the term was introduced 10 years ago, social media was around many years before (remember racing home from middle school to get on AIM?). Matter of fact, the first e-mail, which is considered a form of electronic communication, therefore is a form of social media, was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. The receiver of that e-mail? Ray Tomlinson. He sent it to himself. (Who else was he to send it to?)
Anyway, let me step away from my “Social Media History Professor” role and step back into the role you all have come to know and love (hopefully). This has been on my mind ever since I saw an advertisement on Facebook regarding Instagram a few weeks ago. No where in the definition above does it say anything about social media being a competition for virtual “trophies” forming in the shapes of “likes”, or stating you need X amount of friends/followers to be considered superior to your peers. So, why does it feel like the most common forms of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) have become a competition?
Let me explain: these forms of social media are meant for sharing views/opinions, allowing friends/relatives to see pictures of your most recent girls night out (those pictures that are “safe for work”), sharing videos you created or found on the internet, staying in touch with friends from the past, and many more things. But, why do I keep seeing advertisements on Facebook with, “Want 1,000+ followers on Instagram?! Click here to get your free account!” being the call to action? Or, comments on Instagram from accounts that state, “follow me, I’ll follow back and like 50 of your photos!” Is that what social media is about now-a-days? Having more followers or more likes for statuses/videos/photos than your friends do? I hope not, because A) I feel like I’m back in high school again, where you’re only cool if you have a lot of friends (at least that’s what the majority of high school kids think, unfortunately), and B) in my opinion, a narcissistic society can stem from these virtual “trophies” (if it hasn’t already).
I’m being 100% serious when I say this, and I’m actually a little upset that it happened: I had more to say about this topic. I was interrupted by an office birthday party involving cupcakes, and it caused me to lose my train of thought (who doesn’t lose their mind over cupcakes?!). Now please excuse me while I finish off my 3rd cupcake, because, well, having a fast metabolism allows me to do these wild and crazy things (the 3 cupcakes is a lie, I only had one. But, I do have a fast metabolism, which explains the bod). If I do happen to come across the other things I had to say regarding this topic I’ll post it later. Until then – don’t worry about how many likes your last picture got, or how many followers you have; these things aren’t considered resume stuffers.