Gina Mama's Thoughts on Social Media
I graduated college when the internet was in its infancy. I completed graduate school a couple years before Facebook was even launched. My undergraduate degree is in Communication…..Human Communication, not, the information technology type of communication that many millennials think of today. I am an expert in human communication. It’s my profession. It is no wonder that I feel like social media is destroying interactions among human beings.
Just look a millennials who cannot hold a conversation in public without glancing at their smartphones. Or people’s narcissistic boasts about their travels, their purchases, their dining experiences with pictures and check-ins on social media sites. The end user who is viewing such posts may end up feeling lonely, frustrated, or even depressed. I believe that overuse of social media, on a personal level, can negatively affect one’s psychological mood.
However, from a business perspective, social media is a great tool to advertise your product. For someone like me without a background in information technology, social medial is the most efficient and cost effective way to find readers for my niche. I am appreciative of all the readers that I have via Facebook and Instagram. Although I enjoy connecting with other people who wear Birkenstocks, I despise the social media forum.
If I am able to connect with fellow Birkenstock wearers so easily, why do I hate social media? There are many reasons that I think social media is terrible. First of all, I do not like that personal information is being tracked, collected, and sold. This is why I rarely use social media personally. I was forced to create a personal Facebook account, just so I could have a business page for “I Love Birkenstocks”. My personal Facebook account is limited to only a handful of friends. Friends that I would actually have a conversation with if I ran into them on the street corner.
Other social media platforms, besides Facebook, did not require me to set up a personal page before creating a business page. Therefore, I refuse to activate personal accounts on outlets likes Instagram or Pinterest. I don’t want acquaintances, strangers, or weirdos knowing anything about me or my family.
I understand that there are customizable privacy settings on social media, but I don’t believe that they truly protect me. It is hard to trust the big hitters of social media to protect your privacy knowing that they collect your data and sell your personal information. Plus, who’s to say that someone doesn’t take a screenshot of your image and then share it with others without your permission? If I want you to know about me and my family, I will visit you, call you on the phone, mail you a card, or send you a personal text.
I get enough emails, pictures, and random messages from people with foot fetishes. Fortunately, social media sites make it easy for me to block people with fetishes from my account. If the ability to block or report was not available, then I would not use the platform to promote my blog.
It is absolutely crazy that some people on social media think that it is perfectly acceptable to plagiarize other people’s work. The words that I write and the images that I post are mine. If they are not, then I give proper credit, where credit is due. It’s a matter of what millennials call “netiquette”. Be respectful of other’s people work. Don’t re-gram someone’s photos and try to pass them off as yours. Tag the person if you decide to use their image. You would get kicked out of college for cheating or plagiarizing. Perhaps you should be expelled from social media if you can’t properly cite the content of other people’s work.
Another issue that I have with social media is that unless you have a large number of followers, people do not pay attention to your work. How can one gain followers when first starting out without recognition from those who have been on a social media longer? It is very hard and takes a lot of persistence.
When I first began using social media, I attempted to connect with other individuals on Facebook and Instagram who were fans of Birkenstocks. I spent a lot of time and energy introducing myself to these various individuals and businesses. I asked for a “shout out” or for an image to be re-grammed in hopes that more people would be made aware of my blog.
With all the requests that I sent out, there was only one business who re-grammed an “I Love Birkenstocks” picture. That was Birkenstock Attitudes. I am very thankful for that re-gram because it helped me gain readers. When I am in the market to purchase a new pair of Birkenstocks, I will go directly to the Birkenstock Attitudes webpage first. The folks that work there are awesome. If I didn’t live in another state, I would shop at their store exclusively. Thank you Birkenstock Attitudes for responding to me directly and for the regram.
Sadly, not all people or businesses respond to comments or direct messages unless you are an internet sensation. The one thing that I have learned in 9 months of using social media and from the HBO show, Silicon Valley, is that anyone can make themselves an internet sensation by paying for the numbers. It is easy to buy followers for your accounts and likes for your images. For as little as $149 one can buy 10,000 followers. If you have a larger budget, you can buy 250,000 for about $2,000. Buying likes for images is even cheaper.
When you see accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers, or images that get thousands of likes in just a few short minutes after posting, ask yourself, “Is this real or has this been paid for? What are they trying to sell me?” Social media is a hotbed for posers and "wanna be’s". Most people are trying to sell you something and that’s why they pay to inflate their numbers.
The good news is that I am not trying to sell anything. I am providing free information to people who are wearing Birkenstocks or contemplating wearing Birkenstocks. My information is online for people to make an informed decision, should they wish to use it. I know when I was looking to make a big Birkenstock purchase in 2015, I would have appreciated to have this information at my fingertips. It would have saved a lot of time with returning items that did not work.
Although there are negative aspects to social media, there are also some positives when using such platforms. I like to think of the positives as diamonds in the rough. For example, one gem that I discovered on Facebook was Sandy from Sandy’s Birkenstock Boutique.
Sandy found my blog via Facebook and sent me a message introducing herself. Sandy is based in Australia and sells various models of Birkenstocks that I cannot find in the US. She has been amazing. She even offers customers to pre-order Birkenstocks! How else would I have connected with and communicated with someone in Australia without the use of social media?
I think the most fun I have had on social media has come within the last few weeks. After a friend’s encouragement, I joined Poshmark! Now I am able to connect with other Birkenstock lovers on a whole new level. Plus, I am able to find new homes for some of my gently used Birkenstocks that I no longer wear. The people who purchase pre-owned Birkenstocks love this brand just as much as me! (More on Poshmark in a future blog).
Even though there are many things that I do not like about utilizing social media platforms on a personal level, there are many reasons that I like it. Social media provides me the ability to market my blog for free. It helps me locate rare styles that are not sold in the U.S. It gives me a forum in which to share the knowledge that I have gathered about Birkenstocks over the years. Moreover, I have the opportunity to connect with other people who love Birkenstocks as much as I do. I can even sell some of my Birkenstocks that are not the correct size or width for me. And most importantly, it connected me directly with Birkenstock USA. Without the power of social media, how would any of this have been possible?
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