Some say it’s a fad, that it’ll disappear someday soon. We’ll someday relegate it to the “Remember when” category of conversation, along with things like Rainbow Bright, the Ford Pinto, and parachute pants…at least, according to some people. Personally, I feel that social media is permanently changing the face of communications. The way that we, as humans, interact is forever impacted by this “fad.” I can completely and honestly say that social media has changed my life in remarkable ways. In fact, I’ll list some of them for you.
1.) My career. It didn’t influence my career or alter my career. It gave me my career. Not only is social media a staple of my day-to-day responsibilities (and has been in every job I’ve had since I was 17), but it is the direct reason for four of the six internships I’ve had to date.
2.) My mentors. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have three outstanding mentors who care a great deal about my personally and professional success. Social media played a major role in all three of these relationships. My boss from my first ever marketing and communications gig, got me hooked on strategic social media implementation. Our shared interest and passion was valuable in building a strong, lasting professional relationship. While I haven’t worked for Matt in some time, I still value his opinion and try to check in with him every time I am in my hometown. The second mentor on my list found me through Twitter. He invited me to experience an internship at his advertising agency in Wisconsin, and even offered me a place to call home while I fulfilled it. He is always supportive, encouraging, and willing to lend an ear or offer advice anytime I ask. Finally, we have my newest mentor, who I also met via Twitter. She took me under her wing during and especially stressful period of life. She coaxed me out of my comfort zone and brought me to my current internship, in California, 2,100 miles (and a large case of culture shock) away from home. There is nothing I could say to properly convey the profound gratitude I have for these people, and others who have offered their guidance and support along the way.
3.) My friends. Not only is social media a must for maintaining old friendships over long distances, but it is a fantastic means for building new relationships. College meant that my childhood friends split in different directions. My best friend moved to California when we were 19, and social media was the primary means for keeping that strong bond alive. Moreover, many of the newer friendships I’ve gained because of social media are strong. These are the sorts of friendships that blossom despite distance, and remain firm over time. I’ve gained some valuable comrades and metaphorical family members because of social media.
4. ) My experiences. A perfect example would be my current life situation. I’m doing an internship in California, over two thousand miles from home. In the last month, I have experienced more new and exciting things than I can even begin to list. All of this is possible because of social media. All of this is happening because I dared to try a new communications tool on the Internet.
5.) My outlook. This whole big wide world because a lot smaller thanks to social media. We have access to viewpoints, issues, arguments, and information we would have never had before. Because of the things and people I have been exposed to via social media, my views and perspective regarding both myself and the rest of the world have shifted permanently.
6.) My self-awareness. When you put yourself in a situation where you may be interacting with any number of strangers at any given time (i.e., Twitter, Google+, etc.) you have to develop a self of tactfulness. You have to be more alert to your own words and actions. Once, I was accused of having no “inner-filter.” Now, I realize I run most of my thoughts through a battery of tests regarding how politically correct, well-worded, and efficient they are. (That’s not to say, I don’t occasionally have a slip-up where I say something awkward, inappropriate, or even slightly offensive…I’m human, and I’m young.)
7.) My critical thinking skills. I am not a digital strategist, by any means. Not in the least. However, I spend a lot of time and effort on the art of successfully conveying a message over social media. This has helped to encourage creativity and an innovative spirit, both of which are valuable to a young professional.
8.) My opportunities. Doors continue to be opened through social media. My life continues to shape and twist due to the new opportunities provided by social media. The entire world is literally at my doorstep, and because of the connections and networks I’ve built, I have infinitely more possibilities than ever before.
This is just skimming the surface. Social media continues to adapt my daily life in little ways. However, the big changes, the big effects, are indisputable proof that social media is a truly and lasting part of society.
So tell me, how has social media influenced your life? How does it continue to change your life?