Facebook’s relevance as a cornerstone social networking app is quickly fading. Facebook is a great example of a permanent public presence online, akin to LinkedIn or Instagram. However, I believe that new social networking apps like Snapchat and Yik Yak, which utilize self-destructing and anonymous messages, respectively, have higher relevance today than Facebook, at least among students my age. People have become less willing to drag around an online persona with them wherever they go. The beauty of Snapchat lies partially within the fact that users don’t have to think too hard about sharing something. Sharing a post on Facebook implies that the content is there forever, or until it is manually deleted by the poster (who wants to have that burden hanging over their heads?) Snapchat ensures that the content shared through its app doesn’t stick around for too long. Personally, I find that Facebook is mainly effective only as a photo-sharing platform. It’s easy to tag people in posts and share experiences with other people. However, status updates and messages sent over the platform are just becoming less and less relevant for me. Most of the time, all my communication needs can be solved with iMessage and GroupMe. Snapchat and Instagram fill a void for instant photo sharing that Facebook doesn’t. Instagram is like the skinnier, more attractive cousin of Facebook. If you think about the amount of effort people go through to select, edit, and place filters on their photos, Instagram is the best of the best. It’s a modified, enhanced (some might call it fake) representation of the select moments that people want to share. Like most other people, I use Instagram and Facebook to share my happiest moments, and leave out a lot of the other “noise” in my life. However, I wouldn’t say that my Facebook or my Instagram encapsulates all of the happiness in my life. It’s merely a snapshot of the most portable and photo-documented experiences in my life, and it is merely scratching the surface on the things in my life that really matter to me.
The strangest part of this assignment was self-stalking my Facebook profile and worrying that one of my friends would stop by and notice what I was doing on the 1st floor of Berry. That would have been an awkward conversation!
I think that using social networking websites has helped me understand what types of content get people riled up and motivated. We spoke about the three main components of what makes a story go viral – that is an appeal to ones ethics, emotion, or logic. Some of those are tenets are really easy to see on viral Twitter or Facebook posts.
The way I communicate on social media has changed the way I communicate in real life with others. The key difference is that I can be aware of information about their lives before they tell me personally. For instance, if my friend posts on Facebook about what she did last summer, and then she brings it up to me in person for the first time, I have to essentially pretend to be surprised. Everybody does it, and it’s a strange gap that we have to bridge between the online and offline worlds. Nobody wants to be a Facebook stalker.
I have definitely made some deliberate choices in crafting my online persona. My modus operandi is to not post anything that I wouldn’t want my family or my future employers seeing. I have nothing to hide at all, and I think that is the right way to go. My online persona is somewhat generic by default, but that is because I’m a complex person and I don’t try to put all of myself out there online. I want to get to know people personally, in real life!
My current Facebook profile photo (non-cropped version)
Habitat for Humanity – Spring Break 2015 (one of many photos from this trip on my Facebook)
I would be remiss if I didn’t include my cover photo as well, of the entire Dartmouth team on that Habitat for Humanity Trip. In my essay I explain this in greater detail!