As I prepared to write this blog, one question came to my mind:
What’s something you hate, but can’t live without?
Some people said food because they wanted to lose weight. Some said working because they just wanted to travel the world. But the overwhelming majority said social media. You see, a lot of millennials, and even some in generation X, love to complain about how much they despise social media and technology. Yet, none of them delete their accounts. The next question that comes to mind:
Why not delete your accounts if you hate social media so much?
When I asked my friends, family, coworkers and classmates this question, I received an array of responses. Some said it was entertaining. Others claimed they’d feel disconnected from their social circles. But one response in particular stuck out to me:
Social media helped shape them into the person they are now.
I know that sounds ridiculous, but think about it. We were born in the late 90s, and the social media boom began at one of the most crucial developmental stages of our lives. As teenagers, we were discovering who we were and who we would eventually want to become. We were heavily influenced by our peers and inevitably, by social media. Social media helped mold a lot of us into the people we are now
Now, I’m not going to sit here and give social media all the credit. My parents raised me well. I’m surrounded by people who love me and push me to be the best version of myself. But, social media played a major role in my confidence. As a kid and as a teenager, I was bullied. A lot. I wasn’t the stereotypical girly girl who loved to do my hair and try on makeup. I wasn’t interested in boys. I knew there was something different about me; something I was too scared to admit.
Let’s fast forward a few years to high school. Sophomore year, to be specific. In that year to two year gap between middle school and where we are now, I figured out what was different about me. I was a lesbian. Well, I am a lesbian. But because I had been bullied since the fifth grade, I didn’t really have the confidence to just walk up to someone and admit that.
Social media gave me to confidence to tell the world who I really am. So, I decided to put a clip of the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen on Instagram. In that post, I explained to my friends, family and strangers that I was in love with a woman. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I hid behind a screen, and no, I’m not ashamed of that. I was terrified of the reaction people may have had. I didn’t want to be bullied for being who I truly was, so social media became my safe place. It became the place where I could confidently be who I am.
That post changed my life. I walked into the school the next day, completely terrified of what everyone would say. But I was greeted with love and kindness. That post and the reactions I received from it not only molded me into the confident woman that I am today, but it made me understand the value of voice.
Fast forward again to the present. I’m now a senior at IUPUI, majoring in public relations. I get asked two questions all the time:
1. What is public relations?
2. Why are you pursuing a career in it?
I could give those asking the textbook definition of PR, which I’m sure my professors would love. Instead, I tend to give a more simple and personal definition:
Public relations gives voice to those who need it.
Remember when I said that Instagram post from my sophomore year of high school taught me the importance of voice? Well, it did more than that. It cultivated my passion to tell the stories of others. That passion led me to this career path. Now, I get to spend the next forty to fifty years utilizing social media to tell the stories of others.