New Social Media User: Coping with My Irrational Fear of Social Media
Dipping My Toes into the Social Media Waters
By SJ Johnson
According to Facebook, there are currently over 1.11 billion active Facebook users. Twitter has over 500 million users, and Instagram has 100 million users. With statistics like these, it seems like everyone uses some form of social media. Let me clarify that statement, it seems like everyone is getting into social media, except me.
For many years, all of the social media horror stories had me paralyzed. A quick Internet search of "Social Media Hazards" brings up the FBI webpage devoted to "Internet Social Networking Risks" under "Counterintelligence." That means that even the Feds are afraid! Why wouldn't a mere mortal like me be petrified? However, for the last few years, I've been slowly dipping my toes into the social media pool.
Yes, you read that correctly. It has taken me years to navigate the social media waters. Besides fear, another main reason it has taken me so long is that I thought all of the networking stuff was just a fad and would fade into oblivion like Betamax video tapes. Note to Self: Social media is here to stay. It's not going away anytime soon. It's everywhere! It's more pervasive than the Kardashians. If you need that delicious looking recipe from your favorite cooking show all you have to do is sign in to the show's Facebook page. Oh, and don't forget to 'Like' the show while you're at it.
Unfortunately, despite my silent pleas and prayers, social media has infected the Earth. Glassdoor career and workplace expert, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, writes, "...social networking sites play a vital role in your career, and that to remain forward-looking and modern appearing in your approach, you MUST be visible on the media channels." Therefore, I'm slowly embracing social media out of pure desperation. That's right -- I'm not changing my stance because I mind being on the fringes of society, a social outcast without a Facebook account and no "Friends." No -- the truth is -- that in order to get anything done, I need Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In addition to their ubiquitous presence, there is an added benefit to these sites. They have made life easier for many and have provided a voice to the often voiceless. The idea that these platforms give voice to individuals who have been systematically denied a forum is evident in recent worldwide events. From citizens in countries dominated by tyrannical rulers to young people who are often ignored by adult media, this phenomenon is revolutionizing our world. According to Goodreads.com, business journalist and author David Amerland said, "Social media is the empowerment of the individual at the expense of the system."
However, my newfound conversion does not mean that I am suddenly blind to all of the pitfalls of social media. My fears of loss of privacy, stalking, and other deviant online behavior are still there and haven't gone away. The thing is, now I can see that the good in social media far outweighs the bad. My new outlook means that as I slowly test the waters I can breathe a sigh of relief. So far, so good, I'll just take it one day at a time.
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