Explaining Social Media Culture

By Amy Wang

During one of my first sessions with my conversation partner, I was asked about popular social media platforms that are used here in the U.S. While my answer began simply describing the different applications that are available and widely used, it slowly became an explanation of how social media has become a cultural phenomenon.

It was honestly difficult to explain. Social media has had benefits and consequences. It has made sharing stories and updates about our lives extremely easy, but it has also created an ideal of perfection. Despite being an avid user of different apps, it got confusing for even me to explain to my partner.

Having to verbally express how social media is used here made me rethink my own uses. When I eat, travel, or do anything that is arguably out of the ordinary, I share. But, I only tend to share the highlights, the things that I was absolutely sure would be of relative interest to my “audience.”

What started out as a way for me to share things for my own sake and joy became a platform where I very thoughtfully and selectively began to share only things that fit the unwritten rules of social media posting for the respective platforms.

Instagram posts had to be aesthetic.

Snapchat was a little more up to the user.

Facebook… more for your organization’s updates.

While the general guidelines followed were all subjective to the user and how they wanted to portray themselves to the public, it be stressful because one’s social media presences began to define a bit of who you are.

Companies are now recruiting ambassadors, sometimes students with many followers and other times actual social media influencers who have become semi-celebrities. Influencers themselves are creations that stemmed from the heavy usage of different social media platforms.

Social media is becoming its own culture, and it has been getting harder and harder to explain to not only my partners but also myself. I struggle to describe to my partners why it is so important in some cases, and why it can be harmful in others. Trying to explain an entire topic of current popular culture made me realize how influential social media has become in recent years and why that can be somewhat concerning.

Despite the standards that are set on social media, it is most important for us to remember that nothing is ever as perfect or imperfect as it may seem. The way someone portrays their life or themselves on a platform is not necessarily representative of who they actually are in person. While different social media platforms often times makes us feel as if we have to post certain types of things because that is what’s common, we actually don’t have to.

Share and post what makes you happy because at the end of the day, your accounts are for you to enjoy.

Featured image by Blogtrepreneur on Flickr

Amy is a sophomore undergraduate studying Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She is passionate about the Asian-American community and her goal is to eventually work in project management at a multicultural agency focused in entertainment marketing. Amyloves meeting new people and sharing stories and experiences. She is excited to help her partners learn and grow through the Conversation Partner Program.