Do you ever feel as if you’re back in High School every time you log in to Twitter or Facebook?
A few months back, I wrote a post on my former blog, The PRepguide, asking the question, “Is Twitter a Popularity Contest.” From industry pros to those on the cusp of starting their career, enough people weighed in with their two cents that I had milk money for the next three weeks.
But as we continue to use social media platforms, specifically social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare (and even to some degree, LinkedIn) the more it seems to conjure up memories of High School: the good, the bad and the outright ugly.
Social networks connect you with people you have something in common with. I’m a big believer that “relating” on some level is what spurs most friendships and relationships. Since people using technology to network already have at least one thing in common, it’s not hard to find people you enjoy talking to on these social networks. In fact, a lot of my friends and connections (and even my job) have come from relating to people online.
Successful “tweetups” (as coined by @ScottMonty) can offer a chance to put a Twitter handle to a face with those you’ve been getting along with so well online. At the end of the day making new connections, having cocktail or two and maybe even raising a chunk of change for charity doesn’t sound like a bad gig, does it?
Advice, encouragement and the support in the form of a comment on a blog, a LinkedIn Recommendation and kind words and kudos in the form of tweets from a network we can access at any hour.
Inevitably “cliques” result from the super elite, group blogs or even Twitter chats. Sometimes, the word clique can be substituted with niche. However it is the exclusivity of the members, both online and in-person, that makes it feel like a scene from Mean Girls (let’s hope it never gets to be as bad as the girls from Jawbreaker).
Sometimes there is even gossip and drama; some of it public but most of it behind the walls of DMs, IMs and e-mails.
Much like popularity contests for homecoming court and mock awards, there’s the shameless self-promotion for the latest “vote for me” stint or a person’s latest blog post, which some confuse with “personal branding.”
AND THE UGLY*
Since the people you meet through social media are hidden behind the glare of their computer screen, there’s never knowing what is really real and who you can trust. Sometimes it can even lead to a threatening situation. Case in point, cyberstalking has become a recurring problem on several different platforms. More often than not, people who use social media put personal information on the web for anyone’s access. The culprit is not always someone who looks like they could play the part, but can even be a coworker or an acquaintance.
*No, I’m not going to point fingers, though I have seen and experienced all of this happen at one point or another.
Obviously with a bigger network and living in a bigger city, much like going to a bigger high school, the more variables you will have.
Whether your days back at the ol’ alma mater can relate to Happy Days, Dawson’s Creek, The OC or even High School Musical, there is no doubt in my head we’re not living it over again, this time digitally.
Welcome to Social Media High School. Enjoy your trip down memory lane.