My Thoughts on Social Media

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

Social media. It’s something that’s taken the world by storm over the past decade, and it’s also something that’s become a significant part of my life.

I remember the first time I used a social media website. It was in Iraq in 2004, and the unit I was working with was getting ready to redeploy back home to the United States. For the last couple of months leading up to our redeployment, I learned about social media while at the computer labs at Camp Victory, Iraq, (a large base near the Baghdad International Airport) after hearing some of my friends rave about this new and AWESOME (yes, that’s in all caps) site for connecting with the world. It was MySpace.

For a short while, I felt like I was in a new world — kind of like the wild wild west of sorts, or like a new relationship when you’re first dating. Everything was new and it was also a place that was exciting! For a short while, using MySpace (I know, it’s not cool anymore … this was early to mid 2000’s, ya know) would make me forget about where I was in the world. For the next couple of months, it was routine. A group of us would eat dinner at one of the dining facilities on base, and then we would rush over to one of the closest computer labs to update our photos and check to see if we had any new friend requests. It was also a way for my family to connect with me while I was thousands of miles away, and it made my deployment a little easier.

After getting back to the States, social media became more of a habit, and every time I would use it, the loneliness of being away from my family and friends faded away. See, even though I was back home, I wasn’t “back home” if that makes sense. I was stationed in North Carolina, and my family was back home in Indiana. Obviously much closer than being in the middle of Iraq though!

Fast forward to 2006.

While I was attending my basic course after graduating from officer candidate school, I had some friends over to my apartment to celebrate us passing one of our recent tests. Over some beers, we were talking about our online social media profiles and were trying to “one up” each other with the numbers of people we had connected with. That’s when my buddy mentioned this new up and coming site called “Facebook”. I can remember telling him, “What the hell is a Facebook” man, and laughing at the idea of a prominent website having the first part of their name called “face.” But that night, after getting a notification request to join, I took the plunge and set up my account. And I have never looked back.

One thing I can say about the military, is that it can be hard — especially the active duty side of the house. I mean, you’re constantly moving … having to pack up your things and go where ever the Army wants you to go. And for the last 13 years, many of us were asked to deploy to some places that were extremely dangerous. To be honest, it’s very lonely being in the military at times. Hell, it can be  isolating. I mean, you’re in another country and not really sure if you’re going to make it home, and the only contact you have with your family and friends is a phone that you can use once or twice a week, and/or a computer that you might be able to use 2-3 times a week for 20 minutes or so at a time.

But that is what is so special about social media … it has allowed me (and continues to do so) to stay in contact with my friends and family while being stationed thousands of miles away. I still remember how special it was getting status updates from my friends and family when I would get back home from mission. I mean, even though I was in another country, I knew instantaneously that people were thinking about me, and that meant a lot.

To sum up everything, social media is truly something special and I’m extremely proud to say I’ve been a part of it from the beginning. When it comes down to it, I hope this class will teach me exactly what I’m doing wrong (and confirm what I’m doing right) and also teach me how I can better myself through the use of sites like Twitter and Google+, for example. Additionally, I’m excited to work with everyone in this class, and look forward to getting to know everyone as well. I’m sorry if I rambled a bit, but this is the first blog I’ve ever written, and on a topic I’ve never really thought that intensely about. I’ll try to be more succinct in future blogs if I can.

So stay tuned everyone and continue to follow this blog and also follow me on Twitter and Google+ using my handle @theSpringZone. It’s gonna be a great semester and a year of firsts in many areas … just like this blog!

Thanks for reading.

Jonathan

Categories: Social Media

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