The World of Social Media: A Personal Reflection

small snippet of desktop game minesweeper

As a Cusper, I feel that I had the benefit of growing up in two worlds. In my early years, social media was particularly non-existent. As a family, we had the very typical early 2000s computer room with a monstrous desktop computer that connected to dial-up internet. On this computer was nothing that 5-year-old me ever cared about outside of Microsoft Paint and Minesweeper, which I had no idea how to play, I just liked the idea of it. But as the years wore on, it became clear that I was growing up alongside and with technology and social media.

My friends and I often call this era of social media the “wild west” – an experience that isn’t just unique to my friend group. When I say social media in this context, I am not talking about Instagram, TikTok, or even Facebook. I am talking about open chat forums and questionable websites. But nevertheless, we survived to see the rise of modern social media.

The first form of social media I remember using was, of course, MSN Messenger. MSN played a significant role in my early childhood, particularly from the ages of 10-13. I remember these days with mixed emotions. I often joke that I would pay the MSN gods any amount of money to get my old chat logs back, but as I reflect on my actual true experience, I remember just how ruthless we were. It was in this era of my life that I truly began to understand cyberbullying. MSN was the first time I was able to speak to my friends behind a computer screen and this opened up an uncharted world. While I do look at this era of my life in relative fondness, I do believe that it would be a disservice to not at the minimum acknowledge the damage that undoubtedly came from the platform.

person on phone waiting for others to like their social media posts
Social Media and Likes

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I feel social media, as we know it today, really began to take off. It was during my high school years that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and AskFM began to take off. It would again be a lie for me to say that social media, especially during these years, was only positive. I spent far too much time as a teenager worried about what I posted, if I sounded cool enough, and fixate on how many likes I did (or did not) get. In many ways I was consumed by social media and the serotonin it gave me from insistent social gratification. At the time, I don’t think I saw an issue with this mentality. As an adult, however, I can very much see the negative impact that this had on me growing up.

As I got older, however, I have very much seen a shift in my relationship with social media. Now I am the first to admit that I spend FAR too much time on my phone. I have every form of social media that one could possibly have. And, I have a particular proclivity to spend an hour (or multiple) scrolling through Tik Tok.

I, however, am a self-proclaimed social media lurker. I rarely post on social media anymore. For example, my last Instagram post was from August of last year, and before that I had not posted since August 2019. I do use Twitter and Instagram stories more regularly, but overall I like to take in what I see on social media and leave it at that. I have found that keeping a more private online presence has very much helped me personally to shed the idea that I had to please everyone.

Professionally, however, I am more open to posting. I have had a Twitter account since the 2010s. During high school I would use Twitter to do whatever – I honestly can’t even wager a guess to what I posted, but I’d imagine it would be some sappy song lyrics and a joke I got on Google. When I started my teaching career, I cleaned up my Twitter and I have been using it semi-regularly to post student projects, school events, and anything related to teaching. In the day-to-day of teaching it is hard to keep up sometimes, but I do hope that in the future I can work to increase my social media presence.

TikTok has also played a surprising role in my career as an educator. Now, I have never posted on TikTok, but I spend an obscene amount of time scrolling through videos upon videos. And in reflection, I have gained a great deal from the platform. I am 100% the person that says “I was doing some research” or “I just saw that…” when discussing global politics, current affairs, or classroom pedagogy. In reality, my research was TikTok. I do, however, have to remind myself that not everything I see on the internet is true, but overall, I do honestly feel TikTok has made me a better person – but don’t tell my students that.

Overall, my journey with social media has been long and winding. It has had its up and its downs, but my life right now would be vastly different if social media didn’t exist.

Thanks for reading!

Write a blog post that addresses the following questions and/or statements: Describe your relationship with social media. How has social media affected your personal or professional life in positive and/or negative ways?

5 thoughts on “The World of Social Media: A Personal Reflection”

  1. Hi Mariah,
    Thanks for taking me back to the days of dial up internet and solitaire. I had forgotten about chat and how open it could be for meeting “suspicious people”. I like the way you use Twitter to showcase student learning. Do you follow any recommended people on Twitter? I am always looking to expand my Professional Learning Network. Tik Tok is also a quiet favourite of mine. Teacher Tik Tok has given me an idea or two! I look forward to learning along with you during this course.

    1. Minesweeper, MSN… This post has it all! I think it was around grade 6 when we first had school internet and I remember playing an old text-based online game called Earth:2025. Thousands of hours spent on MSN in high school and ICQ to a lesser extent. Makes me almost miss the internet where we would communicate one-on-one versus now where there’s an expectation to produce, create, and captivate an audience. Simpler times.

  2. Thanks for the comment Kendra! I am excited to see where this course takes us.

    I follow a few different accounts on Twitter, but particularly enjoy Facing History, Education Week, and Reconciliation Canada. I hope you may find something interesting. If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them!

  3. This was an engaging and interesting post to read, Mariah! Much of what you said about your early forays into social media (especially on MSN and Facebook) resonated with me. In my post, I said that I had a mostly positive experience with social media, but some of your comments made me think maybe I was looking at that time through rose-coloured glasses. I guess I will never know the impact social media had on me as an adolescent because it was what I knew and experienced at that stage of my life.

    1. It is an odd experience looking back on social media. I do think that overall social media has had a positive impact on me, but looking back many questionable things happened on the internet in those early days. It does make me wonder!

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