When Twitter was founded in 2006, I was in middle school, landing me in the group called “millenials.” I eagerly signed up for an account but only had 3 “followers” and 3 “following.” I didn’t know what to tweet, why to tweet, or who to tweet, so I left it alone for about a year or so. By that time, more of my friends were signing up on Twitter. That’s when I dug out my old username and password and decided to give it another go. Over time, it became a new way for me to know who my friends were hanging out with, how they were feeling, what their favorite songs were, and other useless details that I clung to. It also became a tool for young, hormonal teenagers to publicly, yet cryptically, share their feelings about a person through the infamous, regretful subtweet. Favoriting a tweet was a way of saying “I support this,” and a retweet meant “me too.”
However, this all changed once we got to high school and the focus of our attention became preparing for college and the “real world.” Our parents, teachers, and counselors told us we had to either make our Twitter accounts private or delete them all together, or we wouldn’t be hired after college. So, most of us chose to edit our privacy settings, while others embraced an “if they don’t want me for the dirty-mouthed, hilarious entertainer I am, I don’t want them” attitude.
Now, as a rising senior in college, I have done a strange thing. Junior year of college was full of internship applications, “personal branding,” resume-perfecting, and frequent “real world” freak-outs. As a student in a school of journalism and mass communications, I knew that I needed my presence on social media to be an asset, not a downfall. So, I made a new Twitter. One that I call my “professional Twitter.”
This new Twitter account’s purpose was to showcase my knowledge on industry-specific topics, share relevant news, and promote my blog and original ideas. I wanted this Twitter account to be a way for me to interact with professionals, and maybe (hopefully) be noticed. And, I happen to think it has been quite fun!
I am not suggesting that Twitter users lose their humor or personal accounts to create a sterilized, clean version of themselves. Rather, I am suggesting that I am not the only one who has done something along these lines. Twitter has evolved into a tool for businesses and professionals, meaning that the way some users choose to leverage their accounts has changed.
I believe this speaks to a larger phenomenon that social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are playing into with their new “buy it” buttons. Corporations have slowly infiltrated social media, and now they have become such an integral part of social media that certain platforms are creating new features just for them. Another example of this would be the ability to sponsor a post on Tinder. You can actually interact with (and match with) a fake Tinder account that is basically an advertisement in a “human” form. You are essentially virtually speed-dating a business. I mean, at least these accounts always swipe right…
I know that this post was a little long-winded, but I’m hoping that readers will see the connection I’m seeing here. The bottom line is this: Social media has evolved since its inception, with the main example I use being Twitter. We know that corporations have managed to take on a human role to the extent that some people debate the question of whether corporations are citizens or not. Now, social media has become another way that corporations are functioning more like humans, and that has changed the way real humans use it.
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