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Opinion

Being a journalist creates dilemma with various social networks

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April 6, 2012

I think I am addicted to social media sites. Maybe we all are, as a generation of constantly streaming, Instagram-ing, retweeting and trending kids. But I wasn’t like this before this year.

I was one of those few kids who never had a Facebook in high school, which wasn’t by choice, let me tell you. My parents thought I had other things to do in high school that were more important than updating my status or profile picture. Once I got my Facebook, I would sit there watching my home page refresh. Fun. So I have never been a big Facebook user. Sure, I check it all the time, but I never got into the games, the mass statuses or the poking wars.

Before I knew it, I was declaring my journalism major.

The first journalism course I took was all about the ethics and principles of being a journalist, and I was taught to be careful with what I say or write in a public forum. You know, don’t swear when there are microphones around, don’t discuss your political or religious views, that sort of thing. Ever since then, I have been paranoid about what I post online, or even write about in my column. What if my future employer, “The New York Times,” ABC or something, Google searches my name and finds old columns or opinions that aren’t objective or acceptable in our society? I don’t want to jeopardize my reputation as a credible journalist before I am even gainfully employed.

Which is why I had a hard time joining Twitter. My roommate started tweeting because her high school friends started to only use Twitter, and I was jealous. Facebook was lame, Twitter was cool. It was a simple equation. I finally broke down and created my Twitter, and that was the beginning of my obsession with social media. At last glance, I am following just over 200 people, from friends to politicians, celebrities to journalists. Honestly, I love Twitter because I feel so connected with everyone. There is no selective friending, no private profiles, no barriers to sending a message to everyone from Kim Kardashian to Adele. I struggle with the 140-character limit, though. Probably because I am used to column-length writing, so fitting a witty joke or a memorable anecdote into one tweet is tricky and requires an acquired skill I am still working on.

I am quite the fan girl (re: “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter”), so I have become quite attached to Tumblr, which is a blogging site that focuses on fandoms. Most funny pictures that circulate around the Internet originate on Tumblr. However, Tumblr isn’t a serious blogging site that focuses on writing and journaling, so I just created my blog, “The Daily Amanda,” on BlogSpot. Hopefully having a public blog available to have conversations will hone my writing skills as well as my networking and etiquette skills. I hope to continue this blog after I graduate, and have it serve as an archived collection of memories and experiences.

Perhaps the most fun of all the social media sites I participate on is Pinterest, which is a virtual corkboard to “pin” anything that is an image. I have several different boards, including “Books Worth Reading,” “My Style” and “Words ‘n’ Things.” You can follow friends and celebrities alike on Pinterest, like Twitter, and you can “repin” pins you want to remember. In my visual communications class we are on computers for three hours, and at any given time I can look around the classroom and see a few people browsing Pinterest.

Sometimes I have to stay up really late finishing homework because I am so distracted by all these websites. At least I am not alone in my addiction. We are all connected to each other, through hash tags and likes. Still, when someone tells me that I spend too much time on the Internet, I just tell them I’m a journalism major and need to get my name out there so I can get a job after college. Who am I kidding? I just like all the cat pictures.

Amanda White is a junior majoring in journalism. She appreciates good books, good style, and good conversation.