Let's face it: we live in a world where technology is everything. Most of us can’t even go an hour without checking our phones. I know I can’t. And I am not talking about waiting for a text from your significant other, I’m talking about the be-all and-all, you know: social media. Lately I have even been worried that the light from my iPhone is actually affecting my vision, so that just shows you how prevalent social media is in my life! Yes, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac but I know I’m not the only one who usually falls asleep while scrolling on my smartphone. So here is a little taste from my point of view of the evolution of social media, and why if we took part in it, we got a free degree in Advertising.
If you are like me, you have been on social media since the dawn of time, aka MySpace, where you could always count on Tom to be your friend. I remember the good old days (as a 12-year-old), spending hours making my profile perfect with a layout in the best shade of pink, an on-point About Me in the cutest font, and a music playlist that showed how cool I was (or thought I was back then). The most important thing was composing my Top Eight. Being moved down to number two by your boyfriend was absolutely unacceptable, even if the kid who took your place was his best friend since birth and you had just met that month in Algebra 1. MySpace was my empire to post as many duckface peace sign selfies taken on my Pink Razr as I wanted, and trust me, I did not hold back.
Then as middle school ended and high school started, MySpace died (RIP) and Facebook emerged! No longer could I decorate my profile to my liking (sigh.) Instead my eyes were opened to being tagged in photos, where I quickly learned how to untag myself, because yikes, real candids are usually not cute (it's all about the posed candids, guys). People posted albums with everything off of their digital cameras, and I mean everything. What was wrong with a little pick and choose, I have no idea, but no one took that route. If you were at a party and taking pics with someone, no matter how horrible they were, they were bound to be on Facebook the next morning with you tagged in them all, which made for a lot of untagging. I realized that, unlike my catchy name on MySpace, I actually had to use my real first and last name here, there was even a place to put my address and phone number in (I mean, what could be wrong with that?). Let's just say Facebook took a little getting used to, as I mourned my beloved MySpace perfection. However, of course I caught on to it and became just as obsessed with it as everyone else. Stalking became much easier with tagged photos too, which was a definite plus.
Right on schedule again, as the high school chapter of my life ended, so did my chapter on Facebook, for the most part. I still had my profile up but I never used it, and no if I don't use Facebook I definitely do not want to accept your request to play Candy Crush, so literally stop asking! Anyways, it was as I started college that I discovered the Holy Grail, Instagram. And yay, I finally got my first iPhone—yeah, I know I was a little late to the party. Fashionably late. Whatever. Insta and I had an inseparable relationship with each other from the start, truly love at first post. Not having to read people’s statuses about their break up or misfortunes like it was their own personal diary was truly a delight! Instead of posting a million photos from an event, I could just choose my favorite (yay)! And the joy of filters came into my life, so if I wanted to make myself look like a different person or wanted to seem artsy I could! I was really a filter girl only until I discovered InstaSize, which would allow me to post an entire photo instead of just a square crop (thanks to the app store!) but much to my delight, I could still edit the photo directly on Insta (phew)! And talk about the captions, I never knew people could be so witty! Tagging became a thing again, which I was actually happy about this time, because it’s just against the/my rules to post more than 2 posts a day (unless you want the dreaded unfollow), so thank god other people are posting things of us too! So get at me on Insta peeps, it’s all I do (just kidding, kind of). I will never let Instagram die, so if anyone out there is thinking of starting the next social media platform to plow through and take its spot, think again please!
And then came SnapChat! What is there not to love about something that can only be viewed for 10 seconds or 24 hours, and then it disappears forever. Talk about a major stress and pressure reliever! As much as I love my bae Instagram, Insta posts can be very stressful at times, especially if you have perfection OCD like me (undiagnosed). Snap is the perfect way to creep on your friends to see what they are up to, or to see if they are purposely ignoring your texts and you see them snapping and not responding to you (sorry not sorry). Also, it's the perfect way to post foodie pics, because who does that on Insta anymore. It always makes me laugh to see how different people present themselves on Instagram versus Snapchat. Essentially Instagram is how you want people to view you, and Snapchat is raw footage from your life- AKA what you really spend your time daily doing. You only post things on Insta about how you are a merit scholar and then on Snap you turn into a tequila shot champion (we see you!).
Get That Degree
Over the years your parents may have gotten on your case about how much of your life you are wasting on social media. But don't worry, all of those endless hours of perfecting, posting, and creeping have actually taught you something. Although you may have not been in a classroom, MySpace, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat acted as your teachers. What subject, you may ask? Advertising! You have involuntarily been taking a decade long crash course in Advertising, and the brand that you are selling is YOURSELF. At this point I think we all definitely deserve something for our efforts. I mean come on we basically grew up on social media, yikes that sounds scary doesn't it?! We may not receive actual credit for our selfies and clever captions, but we are now professional advertisers based on our experience through social media.
Sorry to tell you but you have actually been selling yourself through social media for all of these years. Take it through the lens of an IG post (lol see what I did there?). First you take the selfie, then you edit the lighting to make it look perfect, then you think of the perfect set of words to caption it, you even tag all of the name brands that you are wearing, you use geolocation to let people know where you were in the photo, and then finally after lots of time and deliverance you make the post. So, everything about that is an advertisement, selling something, YOU. I mean face it the phrase “do it for the likes” wasn't created for no reason. Or “pics or it didn't happen”; we literally have to prove or sell ourselves through these posts. Not to say that I’m not guilty of it too, we all are. In presenting ourselves in a certain way online we are literally creating our own reputations. Forget about rumors, we can set the tone to be whoever we want to be. That doesn't have to be a negative, not at all. I think sometimes this actually pushes us to spread positivity, achieve success, and strive for greatness if we use this tool in the right way.
Selling A Lifestyle
In essentially every professional advertisement, advertisers are trying to get consumers to buy products by selling a certain lifestyle. Well in selling ourselves as the brand, we are selling a certain lifestyle as well. Wether we are yogis, foodies, world travelers, pinot grigio enthusiasts, millennial young moms, fashionistas, entrepreneurs, models, and so on, we are all selling a lifestyle that goes along with what we post. Selling that lifestyle of pictures of you and your friends on a yacht, on a luxury vacation, doing experiments in a lab, walking down the catwalk, working behind a desk with a killer view of downtown are all examples of selling your brand aka you. You have even learned how to create captions which sometimes could probably make it big in the advertising industry. I never knew how clever some of these people I have known forever can be! This may seem narcissistic, but really it's not. There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself and being proud of the things you are accomplishing, if expressed in the right way. Everyone is just trying to create their own online presence, and if you haven’t and have literally no idea what I am talking about, you should probably monitor or censor yourself at least a little. I mean we are all looking for jobs at this point in our lives, so its probably best not to post pics of us upside-down drinking out of a keg at a party, but hey to each their own. This just shows the huge emphasis of IG vs. Snapchat, you may still be upside down chugging at that frat party on Snap because the video will disappear in 24 hours.
We Want Likes
I hope you are not one of those people who buys likes on Insta! I mean what are followers anyway if they are not real. I don't seek validation from robots but hey maybe tech is REALLY your thing. I know it is so that people think you have more followers than you actually do and so that you get more likes on your posts, but keep it real! Just because people think you're someone doesn't mean they will automatically jump on the bandwagon and support you. But I hope at the end of the day likes are not what give you validation, remember there is a whole other world outside of the social media sphere, you remember that thing called the real world? I know likes seem like people are buying what you are selling, but simmer down.
Making It Big
Yes I know it may seem crazy (and we all wish it could be us) but there are people out there that literally get paid to be themselves. Apparently they did a great job advertising themselves, selling the lifestyle, and thus gaining likes and followers because of it. And celebrities just use these platforms to make themselves even more famous (and it works). But hey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Face it, we live in a digital age where an online presence can literally change a person's life. Look at Bieber who became one of the most famous celebrities from YouTube, or fashion bloggers who can make up to $15,000 on one post. It can happen! I mean personally I wouldn't bank on making it big off of Instagram, but there are plenty of people who are Insta-famous that made it happen.
Whether you choose to accept it or not this is the world we live in. When it comes to social media it is not just silly selfies like it used to be in 8th grade, it's actually creating our online personas and selling ourselves as good candidates to potential friends, employers, boyfriends, other social media gurus, and anonymous followers (who we may actually never meet but feel like we know through their posts). However, don’t get so caught up in selling yourself, selling a lifestyle, and doing it for the likes that you don't see that at the end of the day it's not the real world. Whatever the reason your favorite form of social media does it for you, don't forget to live life off screen as well.