As the daughter of an Apple computer specialist, I’ve grown up on the computer, particularly the Internet, and I’ve been using the Internet for communication since I was 9 years old. Here’s a look at my usage of the Internet for social purposes in the past 10 years and how it’s changed:
2002: My parents (finally) allowed me to get an email address. My username choice? Kssg8563. (At that time, the email address seemed logical to me — my shortened fourth-grade nickname and the name of the book I was writing would certainly not be dated.) My friends and I would set up certain times to “chat,” meaning we’d all get on the computer at the same time and send emails back and forth. It was quite the ordeal, and having conversations online made us feel very grown up.
2003: My book and nickname didn’t last to fifth grade, so I changed my email yet again to reflect my love of my sport du jour: basketballgirl720. My friends and I still used email as a primary form of communication, but the emailing sessions became less frequent as more and more people began using AOL Instant Messenger. We would sit on AIM for hours, looking at others’ profiles and talking to people we knew as just a name at our elementary school. I used AIM a few times a week, but since I didn’t have my own computer, it wasn’t a constant activity.
2004: AIM and email usage continued in sixth grade, though I changed my usernames yet again to “missactress720” to reflect my new favorite activity. These usernames, as well as my interest in acting, lasted much longer.
2005: I got my own computer, so I began emailing and talking via AIM more frequently. Many of my friends began getting MySpace pages, but I wasn’t allowed to get one.
2006: Not much changed from seventh grade — at that point, texting and calling was a more prominent form of communication.
2007: I got a Facebook three weeks into my freshman year of high school, and life would never be the same again. I loved the concept of commenting on pictures (as well as posting some of my own) and writing on others’ walls to communicate. I even began talking with some of my friends from elementary school, which was cool. The apps replaced games my friends and I formerly played on other websites. However, only some people were on Facebook, so I didn’t spend a long amount of time on it each day. I used email less frequently, and no one used AIM anymore.
2008: At this point, most people had Facebook, so it became an easy way to communicate about both school and weekend activities. I spent less time on Facebook apps and more time looking at others’ profiles — it served as a nice distraction from school, so I went on Facebook for hours each week. Email became an informational form of communication, minus the monthly emails I’d receive from my grandmother.
Sophomore year was the year of Tumblr. I never bought into the Xanga or LiveJournal trends, but everyone had a Tumblr. I got one with the intention of merely sharing pictures or posts I liked, but it turned into a personal website, posts containing information about my day rather than information I found interesting. As the months continued, Tumblr became more and more personal for people at my high school and became the root of much drama and fights. As someone wary of that kind of drama, I deleted mine and was much happier for it.
2009: I finally got a webcam for my desktop computer, so I began using Skype, though I didn’t Skype often. I finally changed my email address to a username I wouldn’t be embarrassed to give to colleges. At this point, everyone was on Facebook, so I spent an unhealthy amount of time on it.
2010: By this point, I knew I wanted to pursue journalism, so I decided to sign up for a Tumblr again. I wanted to blog not about personal issues, but about my ideas and thoughts. I didn’t tell anyone about it, but a few people found and followed it anyway. I kept it consistently for a few months, but it trailed off as my schedule became even crazier. I used email primarily for school and college applications, and though I was constantly busy, my Facebook use increased because I procrastinated.
2011: I figured it’d probably be a good idea to get a Twitter account when I entered journalism school. I was right — I’ve been using it ever since. What started as just replying to others’ tweets, even engaging in Twitter fights about topics, progressed to sharing my own thoughts. Facebook became even more important, as it was an easy way to keep tabs on people from high school while nearly a thousand miles away. I began using Skype more frequently as well, and I signed up for Google Plus because I thought it would replace Facebook (as of now, I stand incorrect). I deleted my Tumblr because I swapped blogging for writing newspaper articles. I got a Pinterest account during finals week first semester, and though I didn’t use it too often, it served as a replacement for Facebook when my news feed got too boring.
2012: At this point, I’m fairly addicted to social media. Opening tabs for Gmail, Facebook and Twitter have become reflexes every time I open Google Chrome, and those three apps are the first things I check (after texts) when I get out my iPhone. Gmail and Twitter are used more professionally, whereas Facebook is used more personally. I visit Pinterest occasionally, but mostly just to see what my friends have posted. I recently got Instagram and have been using it to share photos to Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Instagram users simultaneously. I brought back blogging for Journalism 2150 and set up my own website with WordPress, complete with a resume and portfolio. I’ll likely get a LinkedIn before the year ends, which will add to the dozens of hours I already spend online each week.