We are living in the golden era of communication. We are able to do so much via rectangles as small as the palm of our hands. While writing this piece I am also typing to a friend in SoHo, getting ready to video chat with a friend in Paris, listening to music sent to me by a friend, checking in to see where my friends are, browsing articles of interest and then sharing them with friends and strangers alike. I’m also working from home, which lets me to do many of these.
I love it. And if you’re reading this, you probably agree.
We owe our extreme connectivity to the Internet, and more specifically, to social media. Granted plenty of pixels and words have been devoted to the negative aspects of social media, such as brain rewiring and crippling loneliness. I’m not going to focus on that. Because while yes, like all things, anything in excess can be addictive. But I can sincerely say that I find the increase of communication and closeness (whether real or digital) provided by social media to be a positive influence in my life. It allows me to know a variety of things that I normally wouldn’t know (such as the fact a bad call was made the other night in the Packers-Seahawks game, even if I couldn’t with complete confidence tell you what cities those teams represent). Social media allows connectivity in a way high school reunions and the Pony Express couldn’t even imagine. It allows everyone to be an expert on anything, or an amateur Renaissance (Wo)Man.
Perhaps it’s my station in life. I was born in the early 80s, and as the Internet grew and changed, I grew and changed right along with it. During its early days of socializing, when being online was anonymous (a/s/l didn’t include name and interests for a reason), I was an awkward teenager – as if there’s any other kind – who wanted above all things, to be social without being noticed. When Web 2.0 ushered in sharing with the purpose of building an online persona and brand, I was in my early 20s, living in New York, and wanted to be known. Whether my life changed with or because of the Internet, I don’t know. It’s the modern day version of the chicken or the egg.
Now, I can’t claim to be an expert or even famous on any of these social media platforms. I’m usually not an early adopter of any of them (and must give credit to fellow Wheelhouse Review contributor Alison Lytton for being my connection to a good many of them). And I usually top out at a couple of hundred followers on any of them. However, I would like to go over the ones I use, why I use them, and the merits of each.
Social Media I Use Almost Daily
Facebook: Not the start, but certainly the biggest and most widely used. I was definitely an early adopter of this, as it came to my school in 2004, immediately after the Ivy schools. That means I have been on Facebook for over 8 years. That’s a scary thought. I still use it multiple times a day to find out about people’s lives, including engagements, break-ups, babies, and their thoughts on all the things I didn’t want to know and wasn’t too keen to ask..
Twitter: Late adopter to this, because I really think you need a smartphone to use Twitter. I started off with one, and within a year I was the owner of or contributing to 4 different twitter accounts. Today, it’s 7. I find I don’t interact with people too much on Twitter. I use it to learn news, develop twitter crushes, and see if there are delays on the New York City subways.
Tumblr: A great blogging platform that I absolutely love. It’s greatest feature is the dashboard, which allows you to see in real time the people you follow. You also get an inflated sense of being friends with the people you follow. And if you ever do meet them in real life, you’ll have a hard time pretending that you don’t already know everything about them.
Google Reader: Still the absolute best way to get articles and blog posts in one easy location. Not so much social per se, but it does connect easily with other social media platforms, and encourages sharing to those.
Google Chat: Any white collar worker’s saving grace. Your connection to your friends during the work day. Essentially has replaced talking to someone face to face.
Google Anything: There is hardly an element of Google that isn’t social. This article is actually being written in a Google Document, and will then be group edited. I’ll let my editor know via the above Google Chat, and receive edits via Gmail. I also plan EVERYTHING through my Google Calendar, and share events with others as well. Let’s face it, Google = social media.
FourSquare: I often call this the most social of social media. Because you can use it to actually meet up with your friends in real life! I’ve definitely seen friends check in near me and went over to say hi. There are also great specials, deals, and promotional giveaways. Plus, there are points. It’s a game! A game where you get to be mayor of your bank! Probably my favorite.
Goodreads: I’m an avid reader, and am also an extreme extrovert. That’s why Goodreads is so great. It allows me to track my books, see what others are reading, take quizzes, engage in conversation, and competitively track my books per year. It also hosts my book club, which has brought great people into my life that I never would have met elsewhere. Thanks, Goodreads!
Instagram: I’m a very late adopter to this. Like, this summer late. It’s because I’m a lousy photographer. When tourists ask me to take a photo of them in New York, I usually beg off. It’s for their own good, really. However, I do really like Instagram. I like seeing the photos of friends and celebrities, and even enjoy using the filters to make my bad photos more tolerable.
Spotify: Spotify has changed the way I listen to music forever. There are so many songs, but the social aspect is what makes it amazing. I share songs with friends, find playlists my friends have made, see what my friends are listening to, and post the songs I love on all my other social media. How did I live without Spotify?
LinkedIn: I find myself increasingly using this. It’s a great idea, and a fantastic tool for networking and expanding your professional circle. I can only imagine its usage will keep going up as I continue to pretend I’m an adult.
One’s I’m Getting Into
Quora: Let’s be honest. Reddit is intimidating. I keep trying, but keep getting scared and confused. So, I started using Quora recently. It’s actually different than reddit in that it’s question/query based, but the voting and following aspects are the same. It has recently become one of my constantly open tabs.
Radionomy: Another music social one. This one is more playlist driven, and allows more DJing for others than Spotify. Kind of like Turntable, but more reliable and easier to use (also, does anyone use Turntable anymore?).
Klout: With all this social media, how do you know if you’re making an impact? Through Klout, obvi. I still don’t get how to use it exactly, but my friend Todd loves it, and somehow gets free stuff from it all the time. I’ll continue to figure this one out.
NoiseTrade: The reason I’m not social on this is that it’s not currently an option. But it will be. And when it is, I cannot wait to share everything with everyone via that.
The Things I Won’t Do
Ultimately, there’s just too much, and even I have to draw the line somewhere. Those lines include…
Share what I watch and how I work out via the above features: Sorry Hulu, Netflix, Cardiotrainer, etc. I’m not going to let everyone know what I’m watching all the time through your “share on Facebook” feature. This also includes movie tickets I buy.
Pinterest: Arts and crafts has never been my jam, and an online version seems to be no exception.
Clearly I’m missing tons. Tons! But I think that’s a healthy dose of social media, and proves that I do in fact carry on a love affair with it.
Did I miss your favorite? Leave it in the comments!