Going back through social media memory lane makes me feel so old I want to cry.
I remember the heydays of Mypace. That was the start of it really. Everyone had a profile, we friended each other. I remember spending hours just learning HTML so I can put banners on my profile and floating stars that would sprinkle the page as it loaded. And let’s not forget the top eight. Who was in your top eight was a huge deal, people lost friends over that. And that everyone was automatically friends with Tom and Tila Tequila, she was somehow in the mix there. I wonder what happened to her….oh yeah she peaked too.
But Myspace was pretty awesome with millions of people on it; bands could get discovered and people could share their talents. You’d put your music online and somehow be found. It was the beginning of something amazing; the beginning of ordinary people becoming extraordinary!
Then shortly after, Facebook came to be. Initially, it was only accessible to college students; the exclusivity made it popular, you had to sign up with your college email to get an account. I didn’t sign up until 2008 when Facebook was only about two years old. It’s crazy when you think about it, how Facebook started in 2006 and now it’s literally the biggest tech and social media company in the world.
Anyways, back then Facebook was very bland you couldn’t really decorate it like like Myspace it was just about connecting with your friends, posting things that you had to say, and sharing pictures. It was an incredibly simplified way of connecting with people. I remember posting my thoughts and tagging friends, my pictures were everything to me.
And it’s kind of ironic because you look at Facebook now and is nothing like the Facebook of 2008. Remember how it used to look?
Now all that’s on my newsfeed are political pundits and arguments about politics, annoying quizzes, and baby pictures. Nobody’s connecting anymore…
Instagram and Facebook used to be my drug addiction. It really messed with my mental health to see all the posts about partying, dating, and living your best life. As we’ve all experienced, #FOMO, caused plenty of distress for those who were living perfectly normal ordinary lives.
Today, I don’t even talk to 99% of the people on my friends list but I’ll look at their pictures and try to keep tabs. The connecting that I used to do in my early 20s and in the early years of Facebook doesn’t even happen anymore. And people who are now in their early 20s aren’t using Facebook. It’s outdated, they’re on Snap Instagram, TikToc and all the newest social media platforms.
Twitter, which was started around the same time as Facebook in 2006, in my opinion, has been the most unchanged platform out of all of them. It looks pretty much the same as it did in 2006, the only major change was instead of the original 140 character tweet, you get 240 characters now. It took me a while to get used to Twitter but I can appreciate it for the simplicity and that you’re really are just having one big giant conversation with everyone else. But who would have guessed that our President in 2019 would use this platform for to communicate with the public.
When YouTube launched 14 years ago in 2005, I didn’t think much of it. First of all video taking technology was just not there yet. You needed a good camcorder to take even the most grainy films. You could not take videos on your phone. Are you kidding me, in 2005 I was still using this Nokia.
And I didn’t think much of it. The videos made no sense at the time, just people doing dumb sh*t on the Internet. But I guess that’s what made it funny. Who knew that YouTube would be the Bitcoin of social media, those who got in early made a killing. (Sidenote: I have to share these two videos that are the funniest viral videos. Really, 2010 literally was a great year for YouTube).
It’s crazy getting viral on YouTube literally meant you could just quit your job and become a YouTuber. So many people have been able to turn YouTube into a full-time career. Around 2010, was also when people stopped watching MTV and you started to see music really take off on the video hosting platform. I remember watching Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance over and over, it reached 10 million views on the first day it published. It was one of the longest music videos, like a like a mini movie.
Now YouTube has absolutely monetized the hell out of it. Once Youtube was bought by Google in 2006, it became all about the advertising, monetization and selling of videos. Forget DVDs, everything you want and need can be bought on YouTube.
And the publishing content there is different too now, like you literally need to have some sort of studio in order to build a following on YouTube because making grainy videos is not gonna cut it anymore.
I think the scariest thing about social media is that it’s how we get a majority of our news. Since social media is the platform, they can essentially decide what we see. It used to be you picked up the newspaper at your local deli. I remember having a school project and having to get the newspaper or seeing someone at the coffee shop with a newspaper in hand. Not anymore. We’re all on our phones now looking at the news through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Let’s not pretend that these companies aren’t deciding what they want to show you. Because they are. Social media monitoring. I’ve noticed that only certain media channels are promoted, especially on Facebook. We saw the rise of Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. And a lot of liberal media became a majority of what you saw on those channels.
Now we know that these websites have been collecting information on us. Facebook had its scandal and refused to share with the government the detail of their privacy practices and how they use the data. It did come out that Facebook is literally watching you and using the info that you’re willingly giving them to sell their ad space to companies.
A more recent instance of censorship would be from Pinterest and how they categorized some users under their porn block list as a way of suppression. There was a whistle blower who shared some insider information that Live-Action, a controversial pro-life organization, was under that list on Pinterest. This resulted in all of Live Action’s posts being hidden from the public, unbeknownst to them. The crazy part is that had it not been for this whistleblower, Live Action would never have known that their account was being tampered with. Pinterest obviously didn’t agree with their views and mis-characterized them as a porn site to limit their exposure.
Though social media still works to connect people to share memories and ideas, it’s now been tainted with privacy sharing, censorship, the feeling of jealousy and lack of self. From where we’ve been to where we are now, I still think 2010 is the peak of social media. Never again will we be so free and so excited to share our lives with strangers. 2010 was the year we lived social media, I don’t really know where it can go from there. Will it keep connecting people or will we be looking at a world not too different than George Orwell’s 1984?
It’s hard to say, what I do know is that social media is here to stay. And though it plays a very different role in our society now, history will tell how it changed our lives for better and for worst.
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