For me, Online Social Media began with Facebook. This was the first real connection I had to my friends outside of face-to-face contact (I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 19). Facebook at the time was one of the greatest creations and best tools I could have to communicate with and reach out to friends. You could share photos, videos, and statuses with all of your closest friends (and even just some random people from high school that decided to add you). For some this was amazing, but for others it wasn’t quite enough. Twitter came next, and while it had the same freedom of Facebook in terms of sharing and posting information for friends to see, now you could “follow” your favorite athletes, actors, personalities and see everything they want to share with the world; basically turning you into one of their close friends in their inner circle so you could always know what they were doing (kinda creepy right? but whatever, everyone seems to enjoy themselves).
Twitter came and went for me, I thought it was pretty cool at first, I pretty much just followed my friends and sports broadcasters until I realize was already getting all the exact same information through Facebook and Jay & Dan on TSN every morning – Miss you guys 😥 . To me I felt as though Twitter is so successful because there are so many people that want to know what their favorite celebrities are eating, wearing, and doing 24/7. While I didn’t exactly care about what Kim Kardashian was doing on her latest vacation, or what Taylor Swifts crazy cats are up to today, there are things I’ve always wondered about celebrities and wished I could ask them personal questions.
This is where Reddit Comes in. Quite possibly the biggest waste of time, and the most entertaining thing anyone can do is bury themselves in Reddit for hours on end in a never-ending path of amusement. They do however have one strand on their website – AMA (Ask me Anything) which is actually quite interesting and fun to read or participate in. While there are a large number of threads that seem completely pointless yet are hilarious – The owner of Tard; The Grumpy Cat; AMA, there are some threads that are very informative and well written. A turn on most go to the comedic side, but people can put requests for what they would like to hear from and a large majority of the time someone steps forward.
AMA has basically turned into a personal forum where you can ask people anything, no boundaries, no moderation and can be used in many different ways. For humor – you can ask Jay Onrait why his back is so hairy or why Dan O’toole is so short. There are more serious Topics as well, where someone will come forward with serious issues or things they have gone through, and others can ask questions for advice, comfort, or just someone to talk to. You can ask questions to someone who has been an abuse victim, someone who has been reunited with separated family members after 20+ years, stories and seriousness of 911 dispatchers working on certain cases.
They have has AMA for many people, from your average Canadian teen in college, to the president of the united states (Although I’m sure he had someone else doing the keystroking). I find this an interesting concept as it allows people to basically have conversations about and personal and private issues with people they look up to, or people who have been through similar struggles or events. At first I thought they were mostly pointless, but if you find a thread from something you find interesting you can almost guarantee that someone out there is in the same position as you and has asked the question you wanted to know and you can read and understand things from others perspectives.
I find this strain of Social Media because if takes off where Facebook and Twitter have developed in the need and want for information from others, but gives everything a more personal touch as you can ask anything to almost anyone (volunteers to set up threads) in a comfortable atmosphere from behind your computer screen.