By Carly Hayden
We religiously watched our Newsfeeds. We stalked prom photos and summer albums. We shamelessly mupped at the homecoming paint dance. We relentlessly updated our statuses urging Ms. Upham to cancel school during Hurricane Sandy and autumn snow storms. We half-heartedly broke up with Facebook for exam week and rekindled our relationship over winter break.
Happy New Year, friends and followers! 2012 was a full year of Facebooking. Now, as a New Year’s resolution, let’s try something new.
I’m not talking about mastering Swahili or learning how to do a handstand—though I’ll admit that has been my New Year’s Resolution since freshman year. I’m talking about reinventing our social media personas. I’m thinking a break from Facebook is in order. Why do I want to reinvent myself? Well, after surviving yet another Mayan Apocalypse Warning, I feel that I need a fresh start.
This month, I decided to set Facebook aside and explore the other social media we like to use as procrastination tools. I discovered that each site or iPhone app has different features that could help me become the new me. Think Carlsbad Carlyfornia 2.0.
Instagram: “For the aspiring Hipster.” If you can see yourself toting a film camera and wearing glasses without a prescription this year, Instagram is the app for you. Technically, Instagram—an iPhone app that allows you to add visual effects or color-enhancing filters to your photos and post them for either a private or a public audience—was developed solely as a photo-sharing device. But the avid Instagram user knows that the app is actually an excuse to release his or her artsy side. Would you post that picture of you posing at the supermarket in nerd glasses to Facebook? Probably not. But if you added a Toaster, Lo-fi, or Sierra filter, photo effects that age or deepen the contrast of your pictures, you may earn hundreds of Likes on Instagram. You can Instagram—yes, that’s a verb—your Pinkberry, a heated Color Wars dodgeball game, or even your pet fish, and suddenly your photograph is a work of art. Soon enough, you’ll find it difficult not to Insta everything.
Twitter: “For the aspiring Socialite.” Spotlight enthusiasts, Twitter is the site for those of you who imagine yourselves working the social circuit in 2013. Not only can you tweet at your friends, but you can follow celebrities and tweet at them, too. Athletes, yoga gurus, top chefs, pet psychiatrists: you name it, they tweet. Even President Obama. Tweeting is its own special skill—with a maximum of only 140 characters allotted to each tweet, Twitter users quickly master the beauty of the hashtag: #nospacesmeansmorewordsfewercharacters. Initially, the real reason for the “#” or “hashtag” was to show trends in tweets, but tweeters tend to overuse the pound symbol—#dontoverusethehashtag #wereoverit. BB&N tweeters periodically engage in Twitter wars over anything from girl-boy drama to presidential candidates, but usually, tweeting is simply a pronouncement.
Snapchat: “For the aspiring Secret Agent.” You may have thought that this iPhone app was just a socially acceptable way to take selfies that vanish in three to ten seconds, but guess again. Yes, Snapchat’s ability to send in-the-moment pictures enables you to forward brutal or gorgeous photos to your friends that are guaranteed to disappear in seconds, but have you considered its other capabilities? Because only you can choose who views the pictures you send (the Snapchat team cannot access your messages), you could send covert evidence to fellow agents and have those messages electronically destroyed. But be warned: you can take a screenshot of a Snapchat, though the user who sent the photo will be notified. So, is it realistic to think you could use Snapchat for underground activities? Maybe not—but if you aren’t snapping photos undercover, at least you can count on embarrassing selfies of ridiculous faces self-destructing in ten seconds.
My social media safari is over, but 2013 is just getting started. You have an entire year ahead of you to be whoever you want. What will you do? Will you ask someone to prom over Twitter? Instagram the year’s first snowball fight? Snapchat senior prank ideas?
Despite how much fun I’ve had, I’ll admit I’m kind of missing the familiarity of the back-to-school mups and the song-lyric-statuses that cover my Facebook Newsfeed. While I may forget to check my Twitter account or upload a photo onto Instagram, I’ve been using Facebook for so long that it is second nature to type it into the search bar on the Internet.
The thing about taking a break is that in the end, you always go back. Sometimes, I get tired of the same 18 Instagram filters and other times I feel silly transcribing my daily thoughts onto my Twitter account; Snapchat has yet to grow old. My social media safari was great, but I returned to the Book because that’s what I know. If you want to reinvent yourself in the new year, you don’t have to abandon everything about the old you.
Welcome to 2013, everyone. Send silly Snapchats, Instagram candids, Tweet your emotions, but whatever you try, it’s okay to stick to what you’re used to, like Facebook. Or extended metaphors, like this column. @BB&Nstudents, Happy New Year!