When the clock struck midnight on the new year 2012 I knew I was about to embark on a roller coaster ride of change within the next 5 months. By May 20th of this year, my life had gone through more ups and downs in 5 short months than an entire year’s worth of months in years’ past.
I’ve never been the greatest at facing, and accepting, change.
That is, until now.
I can’t help but chuckle at the Ferris Bueler reference as I type this but the fact of the matter is that life moves pretty fast. 5 years ago I was a senior in high school with, what I thought to be, a pretty cut and dry plan for my future. I was going to attend college, major in communication, and become a TV anchor.
That was before the Internet took off, before I learned about the importance of media literacy education, and before social media took over the world.
In the past 5 years, Internet usage all over the world has doubled.
What do we owe this surge in Internet use to? See: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Blogging, Vlogging, YouTube, Instagram… just to name a few. See: Smartphones and mobile technology. See: Interactive media. See: Kindles, Ipads, Nooks and PDA devices that span way beyond that your flip phone of the 90s or your PDA with the stylus pen of the early 2000s.
When you think about it that way, it’s easy to see how these things can impact your life—how they impacted my life plan.
Introduction to Communication was the first time I heard the words “media literacy”. Fast forward 4 years and you’d find me presenting 2-years worth of research and original focus group data to a room full of people about that very same topic.
I didn’t know it then but those words would change the path I envisioned for myself. Those words were also created as a direct result of the Internet, so one can say the Internet changed my life… you may laugh, but if you think about it, it’s changed all of our lives.
5 years ago, Facebook was my only social media platform. The medium was new to the world and we were all trying to figure out the rules as we went. How much information is too much to share? How can advertisers use it to generate money? How can companies use it to generate buzz for their brands? Me? I just wanted to know how to use it to meet some friends before I stepped onto campus for the first time as a freshman at Bryant University.
I spent hours on the various groups and message boards and I even met my roommate through a Facebook chat. 4 years later she is one of my best friends, but many people may have learned an opposite lesson in not meeting people on the Internet.
With any new medium, we make the rules as we go, and that is what we were doing with Facebook. When Twitter exploded onto the Internet I can remember saying I would never get an account. “Why would people want to know what I’m doing every second of the day?”
Then the rules were made and changed. I spend more time than I’d like to admit on Twitter. I’ve catered my following list to information I want to know. I’ve found job leads on Twitter, I learned about Osama Bin Laden’s death on Twitter, and to be honest, much of my news has come from Twitter. I’ve learned to retweet the things I deem important and I’ve learned how to make my Twitter my own personal brand.
5 years ago that wasn’t part of the plan. 5 years ago I wasn’t interested in these things nor did I understand what these things meant for our literacy and for our education.
Have you ever thought about the fact that when you read something online you read it faster and with a different purpose than you do when you read a book? You’re searching for something. When you read print from a book or newspaper you scan the page from left to right and read the words, on the Internet, you look for keywords and “hyper-read”.
My passion for and work with media literacy has allowed for me to better understand that concept, and it’s something I think many businesses would benefit from, many parents could be better off understanding, and many young kids need to learn. The way we learn, think and act is different than it was 5 years ago.
Now, a recent college grad, being a television anchor isn’t #1 on my list of dreams anymore (although, if Katie Couric needs a replacement, you know where to find me, CBS!). However, working with media still is. The Internet brought about a revolution with social media platforms and the way we read and understand content. My passions in life revolutionized with it.
5 years ago if you had told me I would be “pinning” my interests to boards on the Internet and baking recipes I found on blogs while listening to music YouTube recommended for me (all the while begging for a smartphone so I could use that to interact with my friends and continue my mobile games using 4G technology instead of my Kindle Fire’s WiFi) I would have looked at you with shock.
I’ve embraced change. As with all new technology, we can’t predict what the next thing is (although we can take some guesses cough instagram cough) and we can’t start with a set of hard and fast rules. We make the rules as we go and we learn the best ways to do things as we put the rules into practice.
For me, keeping in mind that basic fact I learned while looking into media literacy education has been the tip off point for how I’ve embraced the change. How will you embrace it?