How do you use social media?

There are so many types of social media platforms these days.

There are so many types of social media platforms these days. There is Instagram, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest… It’s been getting harder and harder to keep up with what all the cool kids are doing (I’m glad I stopped trying to be cool years ago).

But one way or another, most people with access to Internet are using social media, even if it’s only to play candy crush saga on Facebook like my mother (which, by the way, I never understood the appeal and still receive about 10 invitations a day to play).

I must confess that with so many different types of social media, I find it confusing to understand what all of them are for. People sometimes ask me why I don’t post on Instagram, for example. I secretly do not understand the difference between posting on Facebook and Instagram, so I tell people Instagram is not really my thing, or that “it’s so five years ago” (I clearly have no clue of what I am saying).

I also don’t even try to understand how Tumblr and Pinterest work, or all the other 20 different types of social media (and who has time to manage all those websites anyway).

I also behave differently depending on the website. LinkedIn is great for networking, for example, but I’m always afraid to post something dumb and ruin my career. On Twitter, I find it difficult to express myself only using 140 characters, so my posts always end abruptly leaving people confused wondering what the end of my sentence was.

Facebook, on the other hand, I use quite a lot. I find it pretty incredible that I know exactly what my friend in Australia had for lunch yesterday (alright, maybe this friend is oversharing). Nevertheless, I would never know these little details about her life had she not been sharing them on Facebook.

I recently read a Facebook post that defined the different types of Facebook users. I should clarify that I am against stereotypes, but I think these ones are harmless because we can all relate to them. One of the types of Facebook users described in the post was the “rooster” – the person who feels it is their job to tell Facebook “good morning” every day. Then of course there is the “gamer” – the person who plays mafia wars, candy crush saga and bakes virtual cakes all day; the “liker” – the person who never actually says anything, buy always clicks the like button. Then there’s the “hyena” – the person who comments only by saying “LOL”; “Mr./Ms. popular” – who has 4367 friends for no apparent reason; and the “promoter” – who always sends event invitations to things that you ultimately delete or ignore. Sounds familiar?

Then of course there are people who completely dislike social media. They claim these websites do not respect people’s privacies, or they simply don’t enjoy sharing any details about their lives. But the truth is that social media can be whatever you want it to be. While some people use it to keep in touch with distant friends, other people might see value in reading the news or sharing how many times they went to the washroom on a particular day.

For me, I find it liberating to express whatever I am thinking or feeling – whether it’s something I dislike on politics or an insight about life. I think that is why most people enjoy social media websites so much – because they give them a voice.

Using social media can be a great way of expressing yourself, and the best part is that anyone can do it. You no longer need to be a TV celebrity to reach thousands of people. Social media allows people from different walks of life to connect, share their thoughts, debate and generate new ideas.