Too often, social media is perceived as a faceless, soulless beast—or a shield giving people the ability to express things they would never say in person. But it is far more than that. Mashable has declared June 30 Social Media Day, a time to honor “the advancements that have allowed us to have a dialogue, to connect and engage not only the creators of media, but perhaps more importantly, one another.”
I, for one, understand completely. Under the tutelage of an older sister, I learned to create rudimentary HTML-based homepages as an early tween. Inspired by Nick News, I once attempted an e-zine. In high school I battled depression and blogged it via LiveJournal, where I made friends I still talk to, unlike the idiots in geometry class who made me feel worthless. In college, studying journalism/media, I scratched my head as others tried to “figure out” this stuff, as if it were a puzzle they could solve to earn the trophy of a post-collegiate paycheck. I started hearing buzzwords like “social media specialist,” which sound shiny but typically translate to some 20-something knowing how to use hashtags.
Really, we are all social media specialists—anybody who has created a Facebook profile and debated the merits of relationship status. (My thought: Train yourself not to care what your status says online; maybe it will leak into caring less for titles and social constructs “in real life” too.) This social media stuff, its power is in people and personalities. It’s in the ability to make an emotional connection. Essentially, it’s not dissimilar to the offline world. Imagine that.