Social Media Through MY Ages

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We live in an age of constant updates, reposts, comments and likes. Who we are as an individual is greatly defined by the person we present ourselves to be on our social media sites– mainly because the majority of our ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ are (barely) acquaintances whom we might have met once at summer camp back in 1998. However, oddly enough, this doesn’t stop us from wanting to know exactly what they are doing, with whom, and how. Through the years, I feel we use social media different. Not just because one year we enjoy posting 140 character statuses and the next we can’t get enough of putting vintage-y filters on pictures of our pets. As we change and grow, the way we use and even interpret social media changes with us. But alas, this is far from a scientific discovery. Instead, I shall dazzle you with my own personal experience: Social Media Through My Ages.

Background for this– I was born in 1989. Graduated high school in 2007. College in 2011. Do the math, figure it out. Where in the world was social media at each point in time?

2003: MySpace made us realize that we could only have a certain number of “top” best friends. Like middle school needed more drama.

2006: Facebook stopped being an Ivy League gossip column and became accessible to everyone 13 and up.

2010: Welcome to Twitter, where brevity is the soul of wit.

2011: Time Magazine calls Pinterest a “top” website. Pin that where the sun don’t shine, Martha Stewart!

2012: Instagram hits over 100 million, because sometimes words are hard.

(Oh, and WordPress: 2003. Thanks for the outlet, guys!)

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Don’t pretend like you didn’t love these too!

Young’un Social Meda: The only way to describe this Age is: Foolishness. Myspace taught me so much about myself– mainly in the form of answering really deep information for my profile like who my favorite boy band was that week or the number of letters in my crush’s first and last name. Soon sparkly doll pictures could be added and at that point I absolutely knew I needed my own computer (Kids, back in my day, a “first computer” meant a 50lb clunker that took up at last 35% of my total tiny room space. I think I even had to move my blow-up blue sparkly chair out to make space!). Hours were spent changing backgrounds or, more importantly, finding the “cool” websites for those “cool” backgrounds (and glittery pictures, did I mention those?). On the plus side, my extensive use of MySpace supplied with my limited knowledge of HTML. If you wanted to make your profile REALLY cool, you needed to know all the secrets. So in-between IM-ing with friends, thinking up some pretty sweet Away Message (most of mine were quotes, like Mark Twain quotes, and I remember thinking that I was pretty darn cool for that), and updating my MySpace page, I slowly realized I had less and less time to interact with my friends face-to-face. Oh well, maybe we can have a sleepover tomorrow night and check out our MySpace pages as we doodle with gel pens and watch the latest episode of Lizzie McGuire. Sigh, nostalgia.

Early College Social Media: Surprisingly, little changed in our intents and purposes, but the format became much more sophisticated (by which I mean no more glittery pictures…well, for a of couple years). When we were younger, posts were all about trying to outdo and impress. I remember going away to college and feeling the intense need to prove that I was “having a great time” and had made all these fantastic new friend. Truth? While I did make great friends, my first year was plagued by homesickness and anxiety. Not that my social media pals would ever have known. Nor would I have known any fear or sadness taking place in their lives. Everything was dorm rooms, parties, new friends, awesome campuses, and “oh man, so much work!” Maybe our close friends knew how we really felt, but the 500 other people you graduated high school with were under the belief that everyone but themselves was living the best life ever. Of course, it also just occurs to me that maybe I’m alone here and everyone else really WAS living the BEST life ever their freshman year of college…

Current Social Media: At this point in my life, I find that my use of social media is primarily used for its originally intended purpose: keeping in touch with people who are in all different places. Well, that and a healthy dose of “stalking” those I might not know quite as well. We grow older and our friendship groups expand and disperse. There are the people we grew up with, the people we went to high school with, the people we went to college with, the people we used to work with, and then the people who are currently still in our lives, but– all factors considered–may soon also become former friends/schoolmates/coworkers, like the rest. Then, there is the element of contrast and compare. Face it, we look at other people’s lives and we, not so much envy them, but observe them in a selfish sort of way. Maybe we think: well, that would be nice. And in other situations we smile and think: good thing I didn’t end up like that. Whether it’s for daydreaming, self-affirmation or just to see what other paths people have traveled, something about social media keeps us company and support as we continue down our own path.

My Parent’s Social Media: And then there are the group that I will call “my parents,” though that’s technically not correct since none of my parents really partake in social media. For the most part, the baby-boomers whose social media presence I’ve studied are usually the parents of friends or even older coworkers. These “parents” are of a generation where they are just old enough to not have had it for most of their lives, but just young enough to learn the basics. The majority of their use is for reposting: recipes, chain posts, and the more than occasional “let’s see how many likes we can get for [insert often silly, probably fake reason/noun here].” Of course, it’s also used to keep in contact with friends. Many reconnect with former schoolmates or workmates. These are even more intersting reunions because rather than having become “facebook friends” while still knowing each others, these two will have been separated for decade before reconnecting. And, let’s face it, the kid who lived next door to your mom when they were growing up, is not that same person at 18 as they are at 58. There are whole lives to be caught up on. Oh, and of course there is the main reason why many “parents” have signed up for social network sites, though they’ll never admit to it and have since caught the social media bug themselves: They’re spying on their children. I mean, how else are you going to know what’s going through the mind of your 18 year old son. He’s not going to share with you directly but he will, oddly enough, share with 600 of his closest friends. No shame, parents. No shame.

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Oh, and these gems. Parents love these gems.

Years have passed, websites have developed, and vehicles of communication have multiplied (oh, have they multiplied!). The only constant in this crazy world is that things will continue to change: social media channels, technology, and our lives. And we will continue to come up with new and exciting ways to find out what a person we met once back in 2003 (you know, a cousin of a friend’s friend or the like) is up to now. And that’s okay. For whatever purposes we use social media, it will be there for us.

Facebook & I have changed our relationship status to ‘It’s Complicated’

I know I’m not the only one with complaints about the latest Facebook changes. Everywhere I go, I hear co-workers, friends, and even complete strangers grumbling over the supposedly improved site. In a recent Mashable poll, nearly 74% of users said they hated the changes. And now we long for happier times…

Sometimes I feel like Facebook and I are in some sort of bad relationship. Facebook is crowding me, making me feel claustrophobic, not allowing me to have a life outside of it. Facebook is trying to provide me with everything I need, but rather than finding this convenient, I find it needy and constricting.

Everywhere I go, I find sites asking me to sign in via Facebook. But sometimes, I just want to keep things separate. I just want to be able to play my Words with Friends without checking in with Facebook. I feel like screaming at the site: I don’t need your permission to have a good time! Nor do I want to share every single detail about myself with you. I’ve told you my favorite movies and books, my likes and dislikes– isn’t that enough? Must I fan every product I’ve ever used, every actor I’ve ever watched, and every store I’ve ever shopped at? Stop being so pushy about it! The pressure in this relationship is overwhelming. I can’t handle it.

Of course, the site’s latest changes include updated friends list, news headlines, and feed subscription. Not to mention the pesky blue corner added to updates that are specifically selected to fit your interest (‘You don’t know me, Facebook!’…the two of us may have to settle this on Maury or something).

And worse yet, it’s reported that there are more changes to come. Facebook, don’t go trying to change yourself to fix an already broken relationship. Sure, I don’t visit you nearly as often, but it’s because we’ve grown apart. I’ve found other sites, like Twitter and Tumblr and while I swear their just occasional pastimes, you jealously seems to be getting the best of you. What am I supposed to say? That they mean nothing to me? Why must I feel so much shame for cheating on my social networking site?!

Plus, changing everything about yourself, Facebook, just makes me even more hesitant to keep you in my life. I never asked you to get a makeover or change your features, you did that all on your own, so don’t go blaming me when you start losing users.

And you know what, while we’re on the subject, stop judging me with your side advertisements. Personally, I think my teeth are white enough, thank you. And how dare you assume that I’m always “looking for something to do in *insert town here*.”

Let me live my life without needing to touch base with you every minute. Sometimes I just don’t want to keep you updated. You don’t need to know everything about what I do or who I see or where I am. Facebook: I think it’s time I started seeing other social networking sites.

Once, I felt like I knew you. I felt like we really connected (and that you really helped me stay connected). Now, you feel distant. You puzzle me– with all your new features and confusing ‘aesthetic appeal.’ Weren’t we happy before? What happened to us?

Bottom line, I think Facebook and I might need to change our relationship status to It’s Complicated.

Baldwin & Krasinski: Baseball Battles

I just want to take a moment to comment on how much I love the Yankees vs. Red Sox/Alec Baldwin vs. John Krasinksi commercials. These ads, while not overtly obvious, are actually for the New Era Cap Company.

Now, I have to admit that I’m not actually much of a sports fan. I like the Yankees, but that’s simply because I’m afraid that if I didn’t like them my family would have disowned me by now. Both my father and step-father are hard-core Yankees fans, not to mention my 91-year-old Grandmother’s team devotion (which I’m convinced is partially due to her crush on Derek Jeter). I have therefore grown up rooting for the Yankees, which according to these commercials makes me Team Baldwin– perfectly alright to me.

I love both the actors involved, and I love the whole campaign even more. Whether you’re a rabid sports fanatic, an occasional viewer, or a family-forced fan like myself, these commercials are hilarious and fun. Checking out the New Era Cap Company’s Facebook page, you can find even more information about the company and their campaign. You can even vote for which “team” you are on– and it’s quite a close race. At the time of this post, the loyalties were tied 50/50!

So maybe, like me, baseball isn’t exactly your thing. Well, lucky for the rest of us, Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski, especially when put together, are quite fantastic. Here is the latest commercial, which prompted this post. Too perfect.

UK does Jersey Shore

As a follow-up to my last post,  Jersey Shore: How Wilde!, I received an email from a fellow blogger who informed me that if I want to see more crazy Jersey-Shore-esque shenanigans with British accents, I need look no further than UK television. In fact, MTV UK is launching Geordie Shore, a Jersey Shore spin-off, next month. Take a look at this video from newsy.com. Same ridiculous dialogue (and characters) as the original, but now with British accents.

I find the fact that Britain is making their own Jersey Shore especially interesting after having had studied abroad there last year. One night, as my flatmates and I sat around watching television, there was a commercial that came on for a bunch of American reality shows that have apparently made the hop across the pond. I believe the shows were The Hills (or one of those thousands of spin-offs) and the Jersey Shore itself. The commercial proclaimed them as something like “real America,” a thought that absolutely horrified me.

I understand that the British, even world perception of America isn’t exactly the most positive. I can even understand it in many cases. Therefore, I was appalled to find out that many of these negative opinions were based around “reality” television shows and their lack of actual “reality.”

Now, however, it seems like the tables have turned. I’m surprised about Geordie Shore, but in a way it’s a comfort to know that we’re not the only country who enjoy watching our citizens make fools of themselves in front of millions of people. I guess we all have guilty pleasures, let’s just hope stupidity isn’t contagious.

So what do you think? Will Geordie Shore be as ridiculous as its predecessor? Will it be as big of a hit? Or does none of this actually matter, and am I being a bit too harsh?

Jersey Shore: How Wilde!

While I personally do not watch Jersey Shore, I have unfortunately been subjected to a few episodes due to my friends’ obsessive fascination with the show. During the off seasons, I am treated to ridiculous phrases and catcalls, all said in a terrible fake jersey accent. I hate to admit it, but these ridiculous little sayings become quite catchy…annoyingly so.

The other day I stumbled across the following video. Playbill has created a hilarious short series called “Jersey Shore Gone Wilde.” To promote Oscar Wilde’s great play The Importance of Being Earnest, now showing on Broadway, these professionally trained actors can be seen reciting lines from Jersey Shore episodes in the style of the great playwright. British accents? Check. Cheeky conversation? Check. Pencil Mustache? Check. Outfits that Oscar Wilde himself would covet? Double Check.

I shamefully recognized many of the references, but I have to admit that the quotes didn’t seem half so terrible when spoken in a proper British accent. In fact, some of the sounded half-way intellectual– then again, I may just be going crazy.

So what do you? What would Wilde think?

And don’t forget to check out all of the videos in the series!

Creepy Advertising Appreciation Post: Skittles Scores

This is a Creepy Advertising Appreciation post. In particular, I would like to honor Skittles, Cheetos, and Burger for their spectacular output of weird.

Since its introduction to the market in 1979, Skittles  candy has successfully branded their product with the catchy slogan “taste the rainbow.” The phrase has been a classic in both the candy and advertising agencies, but times change and the colorful candy needed to make its latest mark on the consumers in order to stay relevant. Enter creepy ads.

We’ve all seen them. For years, the slightly disturbing Skittles advertisements have graced our television sets, leaving us with a shiver and a craving all at once. From the man with the Skittles-touch, to the anthropomorphic beard, the crazy concept have been seared into my mind.

Then, in April 2011, Skittles made their odd commercials viral, launching a series of “Interactive YouTube ads.” Perhaps the best known is the Skittles Touch Cat. Prefaced with the latest slogan: “Touch the Rainbow,” viewers are treated to a seemingly interactive video. As the user holds their finger to the screen, an adorable furry friend approaches and licks the screen. The disturbing part comes when that furry friend is replaced by a freaky friend, more specifically a grown man dressed as a cat, who then proceeds to continue licking your finger.

It’s just…odd. And yet– congratulations to Skittles, because they have cornered what I consider a niche market of odd advertisements. Other members of this bizarre group include the infamous Burger King ads and commercials featuring Chester Cheetos uncomfortable advances on human women.

To see some more of these disturbingly funny ads, follow these links:

Skittles

Skittles YouTube Ads

Cheetos