With the new year fast approaching, I feel like it’s time that I thank someone (or really, something) that has been a long-standing fixture in my life. It’s not that I haven’t had the opportunity, or that I’m ungrateful, but it’s that I’m so heavily immersed in it, that sometimes I forget to come up for air. So, thank you, Internet, for being there for me when I needed you most.
You see, I have a hard time remembering my life sans Internet, and an even harder time remembering my life pre-computer. Growing up, we had one family computer, tucked in a cozy corner of our living room, which I used for trivial after-school activities, like games of Minesweeper and Petz, but in the third grade, my parents made one transaction that would change my life forever: they signed up for AOL.
Since creating my first screen name, one far too embarrassing to share, I’ve been endlessly fascinated by all-things cyber. The sheer volume of information at my fingertips, one mouse-click away, and the potential connections with people who share similar interests to my own, were two concepts that especially in my tween years, I found quite comforting.
It wasn’t until dial-up connections grew outdated, and higher-speed connectivity became a near-necessity, that my web presence took me to a place in our cyber community that I remain today: the blogosphere.
My first blog was hosted on LiveJournal. Full of mindless groans about high school and family, it was a space that I used to communicate more effectively than via instant messenger or even the early stages of text messaging. Pre-Facebook, LiveJournal permitted its users to form “friendships” much in the way that current blogs allow followers and blogrolls.
Like dial-up Internet, however, LiveJournal lost its popularity. So, when I graduated high school, I retired my LiveJournal alias, and embarked upon a more mature online identity. I began blogging for an alternative online publication at Michigan State University, called the Spartan Edge. While I’m not sure I was ever edgy enough for this particular crowd of writers, it was an educational experience that helped me learn the fundamentals of maintaining a successful blog, like establishing a posting schedule, and developing some sort of editorial style.
I spent much of my college career online. I utilized Google Docs to enhance group meetings, contributed to course WordPress blogs to share important due dates and class notes, and found new classmates and sometimes professional connections on Facebook, and later, on LinkedIn.
When I saw the work that Planned Television Arts was doing with its clients online, and how its Interactive division was using tools like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to bridge the gap between author and audience, I realized that I had found my niche.
Thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress, I’ve been able to carve a professional presence for myself, while continuing to learn and make rules for how I interact online. And, while I can’t quite say that social media is for everyone, I can say that it has opened up a world of opportunity for my (the PR) industry, and is, at the very least, worth a gander. Happy surfing, cyber passersby, and a very happy New Year!