Sharing moments, stories, and thoughts on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc. seems to now be an essential part of peoples' lives. Social media is probably one of the main ways I communicate with friends, and, sometimes, it's even someone's job to post and monitor company updates on social media websites.
As someone who has been heavily involved with social media in my last two jobs, I can definitely say that social media matters - people use it all the time, making it a great way to expose your brand. The only question I ask myself all the time is WHY people are so obsessed with it.
I often think it's because every person has a story they want to tell and social media gives them a quick and easy way to do that. Maybe it's just the writer in me, but when someone shares something on Facebook, whether it's a link to an article on Buzzfeed or a status update about how they had car trouble that morning, they're giving away a piece of themselves to the world and telling a story about what kind of person they are. You can learn about how someone would react to a waiter being rude to them in a restaurant, see how two friends interact with other, or learn what a person thinks of a certain piece of news. People also have the ability to respond to others' experiences, whether to relate with a situation, disagree with an opinion, or just to say something. Even if people don't post anything the often, it says something about them.
Because of this, social media has the ability to be a completely authentic way of socializing. And for marketing purposes, that's perfect because companies can reach and communicate with their target audience as if they're speaking one-on-one with friends.
From the personal perspective, the freedom to tell my own story through posts on social media outlets is very empowering in one way. In another way, it's also quite restricting. While internet safety is a huge issue when it comes to honesty and social media, there is also the simple, terrifying fact that everyone can see what you post.
Before I post something, I think about who is going to read it. So that would be everyone who follows me on my social media outlets - usually friends and family, along with people in the Santa Barbara community that I've connected with or people who are interested in my field of work. So my post is being seen or read by around 200+ people at a time. The most restrictive part comes when I think about who would like to read or see a post of mine. It matters to me if someone likes something that I posted. I've read a million times that it should not matter, but it does to me. It makes me feel cool and relevant.
So when I go through this process of thinking about what I'm posting, I am going through the process of hiding parts of myself I feel that the free world is better off not knowing about me. And in this way, social media becomes a place where I'm pretending to be something I think others want me to be or showing just the good parts of my life.
I have the same struggle in face-to-face interactions with people who I don't know too well. I think a lot before I say anything in these situations because I want people to like me. However, this differs from interactions online, because when I do say things in a face-to-face interaction, I can see peoples' reactions to what I'm saying and engage in honest discourse about it with them on the spot.
When things are posted on the internet, they just hang there for people to judge outwardly or to simply scroll past.
So, while social media has become a place to be personal and authentic, it's not a place that I am always comfortable in doing so, and not just for safety reasons. I am comfortable sharing certain pictures and work on my social media feeds, but because I don't share certain personal thoughts and details, I find that social media can never be an authentic outlet for me.
I wonder if people have this same struggle when it comes to social media. Or am I completely over-thinking it?