Growing Up in the Social Age

“Mom I’m on the internet…get off the phone!” That isn’t going to make sense to everyone, but I can guarantee if you grew up in the 80’s or early 90’s you know exactly what I am talking about.

Back in the days of Ask Jeeves and Dog Pile we had this thing called dial-up internet. For those of you born in the age of high-speed, you will never know the struggle of waiting ten minutes for your modem to boot-up so you could surf the net at a whopping 20 kbit/s. Or, the immediate rage felt when someone picked up the phone and booted you off the web.

So what am I angling at here? As someone in their 30’s I find myself reflecting on my experiences with social media and how I have watched it start from nothing and develop into a necessity for many, if not most. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the progression of social over the last 20-30 years.

The 90’s

So as I mentioned, when I was a youngster social media was in its infantile stage. We had passed the age of Internet Relay Chats (IRC’s), which was a really basic instant messenger service and moved into a more modern age of messaging known as ICQ. Now for those of us that remember this, it was a game changer! You could chat with your friends at any time, have a biography (usually song lyrics), invite friends to play REALLY basic games and you could even customize the colour of your screen…pretty mind-bending stuff, right?


And then they changed the game yet again with Six Degrees. This was the first ‘real’ social media site that allowed you to list friends, instant message and event post to a bulletin board! It was from this platform that we begin to see the more modern social network sites that we are familiar with.

The 2000’s

At the turn of the millennium, social media as we know it today really started to take shape. The early 2000’s brought about Friendster, MySpace and LinkedIn and ushered in the age of social networking circles. This meant that you were no longer restricted to interacting only with your immediate friends, but could widen your social circle to friends of friends and further. It was at this point that social media entered an expansive age and things really started to ramp up.

Alright, now we’re entering a phase of social that all of us will be familiar with, the mid 2000’s. Around 2006, the world was given Facebook and Twitter…Hallelujah! These allowed you to share, pictures, links, create events, ‘like’ friends posts and a myriad of other wonderful social interactions. These platforms have advanced over the last 10+ years but the general idea of them has remained largely the same until now.

The 2010’s

This is when social EXPLODED and we experienced what I like to call “social overload”. Social media platforms now allow you to communicate in every imaginable way and share every little thing you are doing, where you’re doing it and who you’re doing it with. There are so many options out there that it’s near impossible to keep up with all of them so most people pick a couple favourites and stick with them.

So what have we learned here? Social networking started with messenger services, then upgraded to advanced messenger services and from there it rocketed into a plethora of social networks that allow you to communicate everything, to everyone, in every way imaginable.

This is my question for the group…where does social media take us next and what is it going to look like ten years from now?

Thanks for reading!


Twitter – Did you grow up in the 80’s or 90’s? If so, check out Growing Up in the Social Age & take a digital trip down memory lane!

Facebook – Wow, have we ever come a long way with social media over the last 30 years. Can’t remember how it all started back in the days of and dial-up internet? Check out Growing Up in the Social Age and take a digital trip down memory lane!

5 thoughts on “Growing Up in the Social Age

  1. Good post…not sure about 30 years time but from the research I’ve done, there’s lots of data being collected in background. I’m certain who the privacy settings are for, the platform or the people

    • Thanks OmarElg! 30 years may seem like a lot but if you look at where the idea of social came from, it can be linked back to programs like CompuServe in the late 80’s You make a good point about the privacy settings. It can definitely be looked at through different lenses.

  2. Great post – it really was a trip down memory lane! I remember all the small features that were available on the early chatting platforms like MSN and AOL. I’m very interested to see what the future holds and how we can progress online… I mean, what more can they introduce?! Sometimes I wonder if like all things (fashion and design), we’re going to return back to “the good old days” and for people to start using flip phones and desktop computers as there main form of computer technology… who knows?!

    • Thanks classic_caitlin! It was pretty fun looking back at how far we’ve come. I looked up programs and platforms I forgot I had even used!

      I keep asking myself the same question (what does the future hold?) and I continue to draw a similar conclusion to you. Beyond holograms it’s hard to guess at what comes next.

      Great point about it being cyclical! Look at cell phones, when they first came out they were huge in size. Ten years later everyone wanted the smallest ones possible. Now we’re selling + versions of every phone on the market. Technology is fickle!

  3. Fantastic post! It’s really crazy how far we’ve come in the last 20-30 years… And I can totally relate to the “Mom I’m on the internet…get off the phone!” and the awful awful modem connection sounds of the 90’s 😂

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