A life on the internet: The changing face of social media

Our editorial assistant, Jake Lowery, is one of our younger team members. Born in 1992 Jake comes from a generation known as the Millennials, those born between the early 80s and early 00s, and remembers little about life before the internet.

In this post Jake gives an insight into his life in social media and how he feels social media is changing as the next generation, Generation Z, enter adolescence.

I was first introduced to social media at the tender age of 14.

The internet came late to our household, around 2006, and so when my mum (finally) got it my younger sister, Alice, was practically bursting to log into Bebo.

Unlike her I wasn’t interested in this latest development. She had real friends to gossip with when changing profile pictures and selecting who would be whose “other half” for the week.

I had books, made of paper, and saw the internet for some time as that thing that meant what I’d come to believe was my computer was now in fact the shared computer, and apparently it always had been. No matter how many Sims expansions I had painstakingly installed.

It’d be a lie to say, however, that I didn’t want the internet – there were games on there and I could look up things faster than in the out-dated encyclopaedia I’d been issued with – and eventually Alice convinced me to make a Bebo account of my own.

My humble Bebo page stood proudly for about a month and a half, before something better came along.

That better thing happened to be MySpace.

Remember MySpace? And Tom? If not you’re in denial, but that’s okay because a lot of us vehemently deny that we were ever on there, and even if we were we didn’t like it anyway.

That’s the thing about social media sites – they date, become uncool, and change user demographics. MySpace is for musicians now, Tom’s moved to Facebook, and Twitter’s seen a boom in mature tweeters.

One thing that doesn’t change, however, is the way we all personally use social media. It’s simply for sharing. We send news stories, pictures of our pets, pictures of other people’s pets, recipes, products we like, videos that make us laugh/cry/angry/interested/squeal-at-cuteness. If the net is a kingdom of information then social media sites are the doors.

Being able to use these doors has been increasingly important to me as I’ve grown older and move further away from home. My best friend is both 100 miles and a few moments on a login screen away, as are most of my family.

Still, I doubt we’ll always connect in the same places because social media is also a great place to reinvent yourself. I’m not who I was when I was 14. I’m no longer Bebo-Jake. Right now I’m Facebook-Jake. Who knows in five years’ time I may be predominantly on Linkedin or Vine or a site yet to be imagined.

Generation Z don’t use the same platforms as Millennials like me, they’re all on Snapchat and Instagram I believe. Which is fine, I’m not as young as they are anymore, I don’t need to appear “cool” to the other kids in the playground. Besides, I only have to regret that short-lived Bebo bio floating around the net, instead of a bunch of bad photos, several years later.

The platforms of today aren’t going anywhere fast but the users are changing and when a site and brands using them can’t adapt to that then they’ll fail. Nobody’s leading the curve, we’re all just following a generational leader.