My “Whys” for My Social Media

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer
Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and me as a practitioner and blogger. There have been so many conversations about social media, social competency, best practices and debating back and forth on what is right or wrong, what is productive or not, etc. that I’ve been swimming in reading material. However, after writing my past few blog posts  I realized that I’ve been falling into a trap many seem to fall into. I realized that I was putting my opinions and perspectives out there on topics and issues, which is great for the knowledge pool, but I was not sharing my “why” for my stances, perspectives, etc. So I thought I’d give some context as to why my position on social media is the way it is.

I’ll be honest, my “whys” are both selfish and selfless. They come from personal and professional experiences. They also seem reflective of my personality and my individual identities. So after reading perhaps you’ll have a better understanding for why I have the perspectives on social media that I do. 🙂

My First Active Profile

I originally got on the social media bandwagon because of my part-time job in college. I worked for an abc affiliate and they were doing a series of stories on social media and asked all the student part timers to create profiles on this site called “Facebook”. Apparently this site had suddenly become all the rage, since it had opened up beyond Harvard University where it was created a few days prior. And since it required a school email the interns and student crew were requested by the reporters to get on and check it out.  So i guess you could say from the very beginning I’ve been analyzing the practical side of social media.

My Personality

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer
Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

For much of my life until college, I was more on the introverted and passive side. I lacked confidence in myself and who I was. I was always looking at my outgoing and confident friends as role models of individuals who I wanted to be more like. But I did not have an outlet to grow my confidence. With social media and blogging, I found a way to find confidence in myself and put myself out there on a platform that provided me a chance to expand beyond my physical limitations to interact with old friends who supported me, and meet new friends who had similar thoughts, feelings and perspectives.

More of My Personality

I’m kind of an awkward person in general, and when I meet new people, while I do my best, awkwardness just follows me. And for me, social media, helped me find a compromise between meeting a person and already having things to talk to them about prior to actually meeting them in person. Online  conversations allowed for breaks in conversation, time to think about answers, and an unlimited conversation timeline etc, unlike in person when you resort to weather and major/minor, and profession information when there’s a lull in the conversation. And this ability for free-flowing un-timed conversations are huge to a person who may not have spoken with a lot of new people and/or learning how to break the ice.

My Personal #SoMe BooBoos

I’ll be honest and let you know that I’ve gotten in trouble personally and professionally for social media because of the lack of education I had on it, lack of institutional policies that weren’t created yet, a void of trainings and a serious lack of mentors knowledgeable on these platforms. Granted part of it was due to the facts that it was brand spanking new and that no one ever thought this “fad” would be integrated into every part of life in under a decade; therefore many of us just had fun on the platforms with our profiles. However, it created a HUGE learning curve over the past ten years to learn to balance, be mindful and just understand the full ramifications of social media. And we’re still in this learning what those ramifications are, whether they are good or bad. So for me, I want to ensure that those who follow don’t make the same mistakes, or if they do, than that I am able to work with them, help educate them on best practices, and share my experiences with them in the hopes they create an online presence that they truly want and that they know there have been others who have made social media mistakes.

My Identities

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer
Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Perhaps its because I’m a warm fuzzy type of guy who needs support rather than critiques when I’m going through a hard time in my life. Perhaps its my fear of face to face rejection. But either way, social media and in particular blogging has been key in exploring my identities, both old and new. It’s been a space where I was able to turn to people who, at times, supported me more than those in my physical vicinity, especially as I began identifying as gay.

My Superhero Complex Reason

I know the good the bad and the ugly about it. I’ve experienced it, read about it and watched it happen right in front of me. And I want to help ensure social media is utilized for good and not bad. Call me a hopeless romantic for the ever-positive perspective but while social media has it’s faults and imperfections, it does help us do good work. Even when it brings forth the ugliness of humanity, it’s at least bringing forth some societal issues that we’ve been able to sweep under the rug until now. But now that everything is online and very little can hide any more, we’re able to finally confront the issues and have these conversations and taking progressive step towards improvement.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer
Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I love social media, as a professional and individual. It’s not perfect. And we have a LONG way to go until we really know the implications and ramifications of the good, the bad and ugly of this medium. However I’ve come to assimilate to it and assimilate it to me. And while I spout my views and perspectives, and hopefully offer helpful advice, I’m hoping that telling you some of my “whys” will give you a more rounded perspective of me and therefore a better understanding of my perspectives and make the conversation even richer and deeper. 🙂

So now I challenge you to consider….

Why do you have your stances and perspectives on social media?

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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