Social media, in the forms of AOL, Myspace, and Facebook, have been around for the majority of my and most millennials lives, although I was never a fan of it. I never used the AIM Instant Messenger when others my age were glued to their computer screens at night, I was late to the game when it came to setting up your Myspace and highlighting your most cringeworthy, teenage thoughts, and I was forced by my friends to join Facebook back in eighth grade (when I was 13 years old). Facebook was not an outlet that I ran to often – voicing my daily drama or expressing my unbridled love for a crush. For the most part, I used Facebook to solely interact with a few friends, staying in contact or privately messaging each other every so often (again, late to the instant messenger lifestyle). Facebook still provided me with this simple use while through college – staying in touch with friends from home while staying up to date with their lives from abroad. I have only recently started using Facebook as a means of sharing my thoughts, primarily because of the election and the current political climate, but I still primarily use it to stay in touch with others, now friends from college.
I was similarly coaxed by friends to join Snapchat a few years again, after being against the idea for some time. The transition into this form of social contact was a bit more fluid for me. The ability to send silly, immature photos to friends, as a means of staying in touch, was a fun way to keep friendships fresh. You can send more serious photos to one another, providing quick snippets of your everyday life, either through photo of video, but I must admit, the filters and the ridiculous opportunity for quick blurbs of humor are much more enjoyable. A good laugh from a friend is an enjoyable way of staying in touch.
I joined Twitter rather recently, but I’m still not very active on it. My primary use of the site is to follow news organizations as well as content creators. While I have not provided much on the site, it is a frutiful way to stay up-to-date with current events and current artistic projects.
Instagram, which has been around for 6 years now, is a site in which I am unsure why I never joined until recently. Being a trail/mountain runner, I’ve spent a lot of time deep in the woods or high on mountain ridges, wishing that I could share the then current sight that was taking my breath away. While I believe that being consistently connected to social media is an unhealthy habit, living in a constant state of social-approval, I have always had a love for sharing the experiences of natural beauty and wonder with others. Having joined Instagram a few months ago, I instantly fell for it.
What attracted me most was the ability to share my sight with others. Whether it was a sunset cascading across the city, snowed in acres of farmland, or a stretch of mountain peaks, it was a wonderful way to share my Northeastern US surroundings with local and college friends. Likewise, I’ve been able to stay in touch with others I know personally, or who are complete strangers, in seeing their personal adventures or tidbits of daily joys – whether it be petaled latte art centered in a quaint cafe, a presentation of sun soaked desert dunes, or fresh ski-tracks cut into deep, backcountry powder.
Adventure, as I previously, is the word that I most relate with Instagram. Since using the app, it has been another means for me to get outside. Other than getting outdoors to exercise of take in some fresh air, it gets me to start checking my surroundings a bit more, looking for a picturesque view that I could share with others. Even if the weather is terrible, the woodland trails packed over a foot deep with snow, it makes me more apt to wander out and look for something interesting. Even if I don’t get a photo from the hike, you still get your own personal experience.
While some might see it as being intrusive on the personal experience with nature, I accept it. Admittedly, I don’t carry my phone on my runs, unless I’m planning on going up north and into the mountains. Most days, that exercising will be my time and my experience alone. But if I’m out wandering around the city, hiking on some local trails, or find myself scrambling up the peak of a mountain, I might pull out my phone and snap a picture to capture my viewpoint. I don’t find that intrusive, I find that to be an excellent use of social media: sharing your perspective of the world with friends and strangers.
Who knows – maybe someone else might like the view.