Sunday, March 15, 2009

Millennials, Social Media and the Internet

I was in the fourth grade when my dad brought home our first computers. His was an IBM built by some computer company in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina. It had a Windows 95 processor, CD Rom drive, floppy disk, and AOL 4.o. Mine was a V Tech laptop that ran on special programs you could buy on cartridges. I remember sitting on the sofa across from his desk as he worked to set up all the programs and software needed to bring our family from 1996 into the 21st century. I, in turn, read the whole manual that came with my little laptop and even tried futilly at recreating a few programs listed there ( I realized then that coding probably was not my life's ambition).

It was around this time that chatrooms were at their highest popularity. My dad stayed up until early morning hours on chat sites for career, religion, hobbies and whatever else was around. My mom's favorite movie was You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, which told the story of how love, even in the midst of the anonymity of the Internet, can conquer contempt in the real world.

Besides frequenting Web sites like and AOL kids my first experience with social media was in middle school with I do not remember how i stumbled upon this site but I can say I spent countless hours looking through message boards, trying to gain new badges, adding friends and checking email. The Bolt I grew up with died when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2007, but I had stopped visiting the site long before. Back then, the Internet was a flash-in-the-pan activity that I used during real world down time, so I was not fullly aware of the Internet's evolution into daily life.

Like most high school students in my demographic, I had a Blackplanet account. was, for me, the first realization that people make new acquaintances with others in their local area. Unfortunately, I could not gain a concrete connection with the site and soon lost interest in updating my profile. I filled my connection void by emailing friends and playing games. However, the Web was still merely a tool for school work.

Even when I created my first blog by receiving a then covetted LiveJournal invitation, I still could not gain a genuine connection with everchanging social media. Please do not missunderstand, with I was able to keep up with my friends during weekends and holidays and join groups of people with similar interests and backgrounds, but I personally was not devoted to regular updates. Ebay only manifested itself through necessity and RateMyProfessor was funny but irrelevant to my school's class selection process. I had no real need for social media until college, when all my friends were suddenly at least two hours away.

When I first created my profile, the site was called It, for lack of a better phrase, revolutionized the way I interacted on the Internet. With thefacebook, I could locate people I had not seen since I was five. With myspace, I could gain more of a connection to those friends personalities by the way their page layouts. Suddenly, I was joining all the social networks I could from Xanga to hi5 in hopes of reconnecting with old friends and networking with new people.

Today, social media, or Web 2.0, has infiltrated the lives of almost everyone with access to a computer. Millennials (those apparently born between 1976 and 2003) are constantly in need of connection. We seek an outlet of expression and can almost always instantly voice any thought, idea or opinion online. There are groups for families, nations and classmates. "DeviantART"ists, people looking to "Meet Up" or "Yelp" and even those who just want to "Gather" find a niche and creative outlet in social media.

While not necessarily true for all, I feel that my journey through the evolution and development of social media is similiar to others in my generation. It is, however, more imperative that I, as a budding public relations professional, continue to stay ahead of new social media trends. I look at this as a pleasure and look forward to new networking developments.
See you online,


Thursday, March 5, 2009

My quest into the 2.0

Recently, I enrolled in an international pr class at my university. This class has a component that requires students to interact on the internet as an international pr team. During this membership I have already diversified my social media. (I think I am the only one who calls social media Web 2.0. I read it somewhere and love the name, so I'm going to make it stick.)

So, although it is March, I am going to add one more resolution onto my 2009 todo list: Actively engage in and seek out social media. I have already added skype (actually a re-add), icq, and twitter (yes, I am the last person to add twitter!). I also have membership with linkedin, blogspot (obviously), facebook and myspace(which I sincerely believe is dying a slow painful death) but I am going to put more effort into linking all of my media into one social world.

Wish me luck!