I’m a big believer in the phrase “to each his own” when dealing with opinions on what is “trash” and what is “treasure.” When it comes to the Internet, there are so man websites and technological tools which are useful to others because of their specific jobs or interests but they may not necessarily be interesting or useful to me. However, I do think the nature of social media sites possess a dual trash/treasure personality. I think these sites can be universally used for the same purpose–connecting with people we may never have any further contact with otherwise. The personality of some social media sites oscillate between being useless distractions during our school and work days and serving as unparalleled platforms for networking opportunities.
I want to use a very standard social media site–Twitter–to illustrate what I mean about a social media site having an oscillating personality. During my junior year of high school, my friends all started getting SmartPhones (while I was left with my relatively simple Samsung Juke) and started to no longer amuse themselves during class with texting, but now with a new thing called “Tweeting.” When I first heard of people typing “Tweets” to each other, I was baffled by its comical name. It elicited an image of Tweety Bird trying to have a conversation with a human but not being able to properly communicate. My best friend was raving about having a Twitter and how it was so much fun to use, but when I checked the site out, I was severely disappointed with its constraints: everyone has a standard layout (save for changing the background picture which is covered by all the widgets anyway) and you could only type 140 characters per message at any given time. How could I constrain my messages to 140 characters? I love to talk and type and very rarely go under a page limit for English essays. I made a Twitter upon my best friend’s request and my first Tweet read, “Just got a Twitter… it’s about as anticlimatic as I thought it would be.” I didn’t use any hashtags and I didn’t follow anyone else besides my two best friends, nor did I care to see what was “Trending” at the moment.
I let my Twitter sit all throughout my senior year of high school and didn’t use it again until I saw a link on Facebook asking me to “Tweet” at a certain competition in order to bring a free movie screening to Rutgers. Being that I love free stuff and Rutgers programming, I decided to log onto my Twitter to support us in this competition. I let it sit again for another eight months. It was yet again another instance when I thought Twitter was pretty useless–who would read my Tweet about a movie no one knows? I browsed through the Twitter interface and once again deemed it as a useless Internet phenomena that resembled nothing but a Facebook newsfeed limited by #hashtags and character limits. I let my Twitter account sit dormantly for another eight months.
The summer after my first year of college, I held an internship based on media studies and blogging. My boss recommended that I start “Retweeting” my blogs from the host company’s Twitter account in order to establish a better readership. For the first time in the years I had a Twitter did I finally see a use for it that would benefit me. As I “Retweeted” my blogs from the host company’s account, I decided to start “Following” more people and soon I found that publishing presses, poets, internship coordinators, and TONS of companies used Twitter to connect with people. My idea of Twitter and its uselessness changed during that entire summer as I landed more writing opportunities by having websites and companies “Tweet” at me that they needed specialized writing skills. There were SEO article writing Twitter accounts, college blogging Twitter accounts, and many other cool opportunities opened to me just by following more of the “right” people. Since then, I have made my Twitter as professional as possible–“Tweeting” writing samples, my poems, and utilizing searchable hashtags such as #hireme or #SEOarticlewriterhere or #willwrite and #amwriting. Among the most amazing opportunities I have been “Tweeted” at for include writing for USAToday’s College site and covering a story about the Dave Matthews Band and their Go Green efforts. I can definitely say that Twitter has given me so much “treasure” when I first thought it was total “trash” and ignored the site for almost two years.
I think even when we dismiss certain websites and Internet tools as being useless, they can be very useful at a later time. I think it is important to revisit Internet tools more than once and at least try them/do more research before making a judgment on them–it might be a way to find those hidden treasures on the Internet.