I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Some days I absolutely love the power of social media; it’s how I get my daily dose of cute animal videos. On other days, scrolling through my different feeds makes me miserable. They often show yet another engaged or pregnant friend, while I’m here getting ready to go to graduate school.
Life Lessons from Social Media
I’ve used social media for years. (I’ll be the first to admit it admit it: I used MySpace and Xanga when I wasn’t supposed to because I was underage. The cool part, though, is that was how I learned how to code and do HTML!) I’ve used social media for various reasons: to connect with family members who were out of the country, friends who went to different institutions, and peers who I met at various conferences. I have also used social media to learn new things (by watching videos on YouTube). Before I fell into the world we call Student Affairs, I was pretty much your typical 20-something year old on social media. I shared anything and everything I found interesting, funny, relatable, or hip. I ranted about my problems, and always expressed myself.
Social media has given me my voice. It has allowed me to grow and see the world through a different perspective. Being an (almost official!) #SAGrad on social media can be tough. Knowing that what I post can follow me and potentially do harm plays a role in what I decide to say or share online. In training sessions, supervisors often say “be careful about what you post on social media; a potential employer might find it, and it can be the reason you’re not selected for the job.” As someone who wants to go into the field after graduation, I’ve become aware of what I say, post, and share. Finding balance between being my authentic self and monitoring my online activity has been an interesting experience.
Finding Belonging through Social Media
When I first realized I wanted to go into higher education, I didn’t know anyone interested in it at my institution. Fortunately, I had many supervisors push me to apply to be a NUFP. I applied, and was accepted into the fellowship. I had the opportunity to connect with other undergraduate students (through Facebook) from across the country who were also interested in higher education and student affairs. This opened the door for me to join other student affairs Facebook groups and to read the #SAChat on twitter.
After transferring to San Jose State University from community college, I found a sense of belonging in campus involvement. Connecting with other undergraduates interested in the same career field gave me a sense of normalcy. As I reflect on the impact social media has made on my professional and personal life, I realize this: I am never alone in this journey. Social media and student affairs have given me a support system. I definitely look forward to utilizing it as a resource as I transition and start my M.S.Ed. this fall and continue to grow in the field