The above infographic is from 2018. Usage for these programs has surely further skyrocketed since, but the upshot is there: social media’s popularity can scarcely be overstated.
The topic for this blog is the importance of social media, personally and professionally. In short, I’m not a fan of the social media phenomenon, but it’d be dishonest to diminish the significant role it currently plays in our (post-)modern civilization. In this blog I will discuss the significance of social media, but I will also task myself with something of a challenge: to see if I can better contextualize its role so as to evolve (or even mature) my opinion of it, to begrudgingly appreciate it, and perhaps even learn to—well…let’s not get carried away. (In a recent blog for my Digital Marketing class, I was able to detail a personal evolution from disgust at the marketing profession, to acknowledging it as a necessary evil, but the concept of social media doesn’t feel as necessary. We’ll see.)
My opinion is objectively unusual for a millenial. I use Twitter for news, and LinkedIn for updates on career opportunities. I registered with Facebook after one of my best friends was suddenly killed in an accident, and I regretted not having used the platform as means to have kept in touch more often, as we’d both relocated. MySpace was, believe it or not, an outstanding resource for bands, especially for how it encouraged bands to communicate with each other, a phenomenon I don’t think can be recreated. But as that site’s popularity waned, fueled by increasingly awful design updates, Facebook clearly became the better option for promotional focus.
For over a decade Facebook would actually become an objectively decent resource for sharing information about the countless bands I played in, articles I wrote, and episodes of the Packers show I co-hosted. I did enjoy irreverent online banter with friends, but increasingly, what was a lighthearted website was becoming a negative mess, particularly in light of the political division over the last six or so years. I found it adversely impacting my opinion of too many people who I got along with great in person, and I didn’t want the digital controlling my analog, if you will. The phenomenon was exacerbated when covid removed the far more enjoyable in-person interactions that counterbalanced any unpleasant online impressions. (Can any of you relate?) But through various circumstances (covid being a primary one), I suddenly found myself with no content to promote, and therefore no need to remain on Facebook, so I left, with nary a farewell to my ~1,000 Facebook friends.
So now I’m not only off Facebook, but I’ve never used Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or Pinterest. My use of Twitter and LinkedIn is more to receive information and content than to engage or interact.
Why on earth, then, would I potentially seek employment as a social media marketer? Well, I’d hardly be the first person to engage in peddling a product or service which I don’t personally use (Steve Jobs not letting his kids use iPads comes to mind).
But more than anything, I’ve long recognized that no matter how much a popular trend falls outside of my taste (as often is the case), my personal lack of participation cannot impact the course it runs.
There’s no use in denying which way the wind’s blowing. There are only personal and professional benefits to surveying the landscape. As the wise Sun Tzu said,
Unless you know the mountains and the forests, the defiles and impasses, the lay of the marshes and swamps, you cannot maneuver with an armed force. Unless you use local guides, you cannot get the advantages of the land.Sun Tzu, The Art of War
On a grand scale, I struggle with whether or not the internet has been a net positive for humanity—that, although it solves a great many problems, it may in fact create more of them. Socializing is messy and awkward, and I say that glowingly. Social media attempts to sterilize and categorize socialization in an unnatural way that ultimately defeats its potential as a replacement for real-life interaction, and too often detracts from real relationships rather than enhances them.
But my strong opinions regarding social media are ultimately more personal than professional, and I am capable of compartmentalizing as such. My talents for writing and communication happen to serve the requirements of social media marketing well, whether I would want to or not. Best case scenario, I could utilize a position as a social media marketer affect a positive impact from within the greater structure.