In the beginning I wasn’t a social networking person. My first network was myspace and I was 23. I remember setting up the account and having fun with the theme and choosing my music. I was excited at the prospect of connecting with old friends and reliving old experiences. I was hooked line and sinker.
A few years down the road when I was traveling outside of the US, I came across Facebook. Many of the Europeans and students I met had an account, and so one afternoon in David, Panama I joined the masses.
But I told myself that it was the last one ~ no more social networks. I wasn’t getting into anything else.
A part of me already felt exposed as I pasted pictures and updates on Facebook. I was becoming friends with people I had known many years before, and I wondered what they thought of my life or the way that I looked. Sometimes I stopped myself before updating my status ~ fearing what would be said.
It felt awkward, but everyone was doing it…and there were many aspects of it that I enjoyed.
Then I became a student at the top journalism school in the nation, and I realized my efforts to unplug were getting ready to be completely decimated.
Within the first few weeks of class I was prompted to open a Twitter account, begin a blog and start jumping into the social networking world head first.
I had heard about Twitter and figured it was just for bored people who wanted to let everyone know what they are doing, like that friend on Facebook who updates their status continually throughout the day, “getting in my car, going to the mall, found a dog.” Blah..blahh…I wanted nothing to do with it.
But a guy who sat next to me in my newswriting class had a Twitter account, so I began asking him about it and he briefly introduced me. He used it as a social tool ~ one to communicate with friends, family and watch celebrities.
So I opened my own Twitter account and began a blog. The blog wasn’t a big deal as I had kept several to document my travels through the years. I had some sort of experience with them.
Twitter was boring for quite a while because I didn’t know who to follow or what I was doing. I had stage fright about what to say or what was appropriate. In the beginning, I followed lots of celebrities and while their lives didn’t interest me ~ I didn’t know what else to do.
As I got to know it better I became adventurous and finally checked out who my favorite sources followed. I was amazed at the types of people and organizations I found. All of a sudden I had journalists, media bloggers, news organizations etc. at my fingertips, and I was stoked.
I am not going to lie ~ I felt pretty silly for not understanding it before ~ but no one had shown me or explained it to me.
Now, I love Twitter because it is my favorite way to read the news. As an ADHD woman, it can be overwhelming for me to look at newspaper web sites. All of the black lettering and cut up spaces make my mind race, and I am rarely interested in the top stories.
For me, news has become so general that the stories I find most interesting are often hidden in the back or found through links. Twitter finds them for me ~ and I dig that.
I am able to scan through tweets from several different news sources instead of having to surf from page to page on one web site, and can keep up with what other journalists are thinking or writing about. It offers me opportunities to engage in discussions about media and learn about the art of blogging (not that I have a clue yet:) from specialists.
I don’t use Twitter for the social networking aspects yet, but I am becoming more familiar and getting to know certain personalities better. Down the road these contacts may be useful and I definitely appreciate their insight, but for now I will stick to reading the news my way.
It just goes to show that all of these social networking sites and organizations should be sifted through carefully. The ones that can benefit us should be embraced, and the others left aside.
Our time is too valuable to let it be sucked up online anymore than we already are.