As far back as I can recall, there was not as much social media available or if there was, I was not a user of it until I was 15 or 16 when MSN messenger was the app of choice. Where the big exciting thing would be to get emails or account information to be able to add friends from school, sports camp, etc. with the hope of staying in touch and being social.
Fast forward to grade 10 (2003), I received my first cell phone that had no text message capabilities, only enabled to make phone calls. I was one of the first of my friend group to get a cell phone, and I thought I was darn pretty cool! Once my friends began getting their own cell phones, I discovered text messaging and how cool and convenient it was. After this discovery, I was irate with my parents that my phone was not able to do that! Needless to say, I was able to convince my parents to let me enter the text messaging world, and it is still strange to think how big of a deal that was going to be in terms of communication in the future.
I remember being introduced to Facebook by a classmate in first year university around 2008, and not thinking too much about it. It was not long thereafter that I created my account, I became hooked and was a regular on the app. This new app meant that MSN messenger was slowly being phased out of my life. I began adding and posting like crazy and I can recall when the like button, messaging capabilities, etc. were introduced. Each new feature fed into my addiction to the platform. As new platforms were released, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, TikTok, I have a tendency to cave and become addicted to them just as fast as I did with FaceBook.
With that said, the majority of my interactions on the web/with social media falls into the Web 2.0 and Social Media eras with some brief interactions in the Early Internet.
My experiences with social media have been generally positive, but I do have some hesitations or concerns. I was never the victim of any sort of mistreatment, but as an educator I have seen the ugliness of what that can look like. With the presence of social media today, I am truly grateful it was not around when I was going through grade school. As an adult, I feel social media takes up far too much of my time affecting some aspects of everyday life; which is something I am working towards changing!
Currently, I feel my personal relationship with social media draws comparisons to a roller coaster with plenty of ups, downs, twists and turns! My engagement tends to fluctuate, depending on the time of day, day of the week or even time in the year (the more time I have, the more engagement with social media platforms occurs). The contrary is also true, engagement decreases as available time decreases. The latter is where I would like to see my engagement with these platforms, as I feel that I spend far too much time on these platforms and miss out on the moments of being present in any given moment without the distraction of an app.
I feel much better when I reflect on my day or my screen time notifications inform me I haven’t spent copious time throughout my day attached to my screen. I find that these platforms are incredibly addicting and believe that this has been ingrained in me that I must be constantly checking for updates, for fear of missing out or FOMO! This has served as a much more difficult habit to break!
I do not consider myself as an active participant on these platforms with my posts being limited in quantity but also who can access them. When I do decide to post or engage, I tend to leave personal opinions or biases out and focus on the positive happenings in the world, sports, funny videos, or on the rare occasion some major personal milestones. This mindset stems from the thought of the significant spotlight teachers are placed under both in both our personal lives as well as our professional one. We are active members of our communities and need to be aware of how (and what) we are posting can affect our standing within these different communities.
Professionally, I find it harder to engage with social media for a number of reasons, but specifically consent, confidentiality and privacy. I feel that I would like to use these platforms with my teaching practice, however, remembering to post regularly, as well as keeping up with the ever changing dynamic of who is in your classroom and whose families have consented.
This hesitation again stems from the judgement that teachers face should they post something that someone does not agree with or something that does not align with the school divisions policies, beliefs or mission. For these reasons, I find that it is just easier to abstain from including these platforms in my professional practice.
Social media is an aspect of our everyday life, and is continually changing and adapting; it is not going to be going away anytime soon. I know personally, I would like to see my engagement/usage of these platforms decrease, the only way I will be able to accomplish this is to be a more conscious person, trying to be present in the moment and resist the urge to log on!