When I was 13, I registered my first social media account: Facebook. I missed the MySpace craze and Facebook was becoming more and more popular with my grade. Since then, I have learned about and registered with many other social media sites, including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Following the incarnation of Facebook, the number of social media platforms and their users has increased tenfold. For example, in May 2017, Facebook reported having 1.94 billion monthly users worldwide.
Social media opens up new doors of opportunity for many of its users. LinkedIn, a professional social-networking site, helps its users connect with other professionals in their line of work or in their school. Employers are able to view your profile, upload job postings, and message potential candidates. Employers have even branched into sponsored postings on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get the word out about openings in their company. Despite the increasing accessibility to new career opportunities through the World Wide Web, this is also terrible news for those who decide to post that not-so-proud moment from a kegger, as one in 10 people are denied jobs due to their social media postings.
It has become ingrained in our daily lives to check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat constantly for updates or notifications. We look at our smartphones and wait for a like or a heart on a recent post. Every time I get on a bus, I do a mental headcount of the people who are using their phones and tune out the world around them. With the booming impact that social media has had on the world, it’s no wonder why communications is the second most popular college major. We have become a world of hashtags and @insert_witty_usernames. Through the continuing advancements of technology and its integration into our lives, it almost seems impossible to not have some form of online presence and if you don't, it can come off as creepy. One of the first things a college student does when they receive a roommate assignment is look up said roommate's or roommates' social media accounts to see what kind of person they will be living with for the next 10 months.
“Checking in,” a feature that allows others to know your location through a snazzy pinpoint on a map, has become very popular on social media, especially when people go on vacation to an Instagram-worthy destination. On the flip side, when Facebook knows that you are in an area affected by disaster, there is an option to let those on your friends list be notified of whether or not you are safe in your current location. Location services are so popular that Snapchat, a picture-messaging app known for its many artistic and location-identifying geo-filters, has gotten into the arena through their Snap Maps feature. When enabled, those on your Snapchat friends list are able to view your exact location and view other users’ Snapchat submissions in that location as well as anywhere around the world. Although checking-in may be popular, it can also pose security risks to your home such as robbery.
Social media has also been utilized for many different charitable causes. In times of major disaster, Facebook promotes donating to causes with a message at the top of one’s News Feed, with the most recent cause that promotes donating to relief efforts in wake of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction in Texas. Social media has also become a useful tool in other crowdfunding efforts, such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter, as exposing a useful cause to social media generates more traffic and funds.
Through its trials and errors, popular social media platforms have become a way of life for many to document their journeys, especially as my generation begins #adulting. In a world consumed with likes and posed photos, it is a wonder how we can manage to breathe with constantly being innodated with updates and notifications.