To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Humanity’s increasing descent into a virtual cyberspace world feels rather disturbing, to say the least. How much digital reality are we as analog beings truly equipped to handle? On the other hand, I can’t help but acknowledge a number of its perks: 24/7/365 ability to socially connect, business opportunities, and great referrals, to name a few. Perhaps a brief narrative of my social media experiences will help me better gauge its overall impact on my life. It’s been an interesting ride, to say the least.
Like so many other Generation Y guys and gals, my social media experience started with MySpace. I must have been 23 or 24 when I began to absorb the MySpace craze. Every acquaintance and friend seemed to have their own profile, and I soon became impressed with the creative content and layout included in some on their personal pages. Being as young as I was, I obviously had to jump on this “cool” bandwagon. My first page was a rather lackluster effort and my impatience convinced me to shut it down soon after. You see, MySpace had failed to fill my social voids and keep me constantly entertained, so once the glam and glitter wore off, I received learned a lesson I didn’t want to swallow; MySpace was a great resource but a poor idol.
By the second time around, though, I swallowed the moral pill and gave MySpace another go. No, MySpace would not help me find Romeo and MySpace would not make me Ms. Popularity , but I could still enjoy the platform. Always wishing I was in a different dimension, different world – hell, even a different planet, I certainly vented this desire while creating my second profile. To give you an idea, my background picture included a floating tree. Some considered my personal page fantasy fluff, but I preferred the word “ethereal.” In retrospect, I consider this first of my social media marketing efforts. Look at my cool tree. Listen to my Enigma music. Look at the Hindi symbol I don’t even understand the meaning of. Aren’t I just so “spiritual?” I won’t lie, I was trying too hard to be something I already was, but hey, you live and learn.
On the Myspace channel, I got my first tastes of hackers and trolls, stupid arguments via online message, and those horrifying moments when you’re like, “Did I really share that?! No, no, no!” (Based on experience, I definitely don’t recommend posting on your social media accounts when you’re deliriously drunk. If you insist on embarrassing yourself, revert back to the timeless classic of drunk dialing. Your loved ones may find out, but chances are lower the World Wide Web will.) I’ve also experienced the pros and cons of treating social media like your psychologist. Sometimes, venting my struggles proved helpful after my friends gave me therapeutic feedback. Other times, they went dead silent or offered sugar-coated pop psychology advice I hated. Treating social media like a therapy appointment is similar to treating your bartender like a shrink – beware.
On a more positive note, Myspace also exposed me to some very fascinating information. For instance, I’ll never forget the experience of watching a video one of my friend’s MySpace pages. The video described the miraculous impact numerous meditators (including notables such as the Dalai Lama) had on Washington D.C.’s crime rates years ago when they committed to constant meditation for an extended period of time. Furthermore, I was also able to reconnect with friends I had not heard or seen from since elementary school. Last but not least, I found out interesting qualities about people I may have otherwise never know. Often, when I tuned into my friend’s profiles and learn more about their own personal world, I was received needed perspective and a relieving hiatus from ego.
In hindsight, while MySpace gave me some hard-knock lessons on social media do’s and don’ts, the social platform also afforded me some golden experiences as well. Perhaps, I’ll eventually give MySpace another go – I never really understood why Facebook stole MySpace’s popularity – but for now, I’m content to remember all the antics I pulled on the site. Last but not least, I’m certainly happy I learned early on to not treat social media like a god, although from time to time, I still need a few reminders.