Wikipedia (2019) defines social media as “interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.” Social media has, and currently still does, affect my life both personally and professionally. I have grown up with social media and currently use it on a daily basis.
My first real experience with social media was with MSN Messenger when I was in elementary and high school. This was a primary form of communication among my friends and one of the best ways to stay connected with new people we met. I became intrigued by the internet and especially by human behaviour online. In high school I began dabbling in blogging through a livejournal. It seemed as though as I was advancing through high school, social media was also evolving through its early stages. Next came Hi5 and MySpace as my friends and I began to get cell phones and were able to stay in contact through texting. University brought the usage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, and LinkedIn.
I learned quickly that what is posted online stays online and that one must be cautious of what they post. This message was ingrained in us as university students. As I advanced through my Bachelor of Education degree I was consistently reminded to be careful what I post on Facebook and that I should create a positive professional digital footprint through the creation of Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. These tools helped me to create and connect with an entire network of people who helped me professionally. Today I am a member of a number of Business Educator Facebook groups where I am able to collaborate with and share lessons with educators from across North America. I also use YouTube videos in my classroom on a regular basis – there is no shortage of amazing business clips and videos that match with concepts we cover in class. One of my favourite videos to show is the Accounting Rap (created by Colin Dodds to teach students about the basics of accounting)
Personally I use Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat on a daily basis. These social media platforms allow me to stay in contact with my personal network of friends and family as well as follow dog memes.
Social media provides me the opportunity to stay connected with my friends who live around the world and my family members who live away. For example, this summer I was able to take an amazing trip to the Canadian East Coast to visit friends who I have met at various stages of my life and stayed in contact with through the use of social media.
Although there are numerous positive aspects of social media, there are unfortunately also negatives. Everything posted online stays online and I have seen those around me be involved in cyberbullying issues, catfishing, and some who have even lost their jobs for things they had posted online. In my opinion the benefits significantly outweigh the drawbacks, but it is imperative to understand the tools we are using and how to use them safely and appropriately as well as the potentially consequences that may come along with them.