Second Home

Social Media: Place to Rediscover and Express

My journey as an international student began when I departed Seoul, Korea to Vancouver, Canada in 6th grade. After a year, I went to an International School in Manila, Philippines and shortly after High School graduation, I had to once again travel to the United States to attend University of California Berkeley for the next 4 years. Due to traveling to many places for a long period of time, I have a hard time describing where my home is. Sometimes, I belong to so many groups of people, but as time passes by, I realize I slowly become an outcast.

Social media is a valuable space where I have no fear of belonging to because it is a platform where everyone is given an equal opportunity to interact with each other. This accessibility is what gravitated me to join social media in 7th grade.

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Social media gives me relief because even if I was headed to another country, I know that there was still some ways for me to keep in touch with my friends.

Apart from the sense of reunion that the social media brings me, these sites serve as primary means of self expression for me. It is due to the technological advancement in social media that I have been able to further express myself in a way that I would not be able to do on one-on-one conversation. I can capture the moments that speak to me and share to my friends and family in the moment regardless of where they are. Those who received messages, photos, or videos have the flexibility to view them any time. It is convenient, fast, and easy.

The type of content I choose to post or share is a way of expressing myself because I am displaying my personal preferences. The people around me get to know a little more about who I am based on the material I choose to share.

For an example, this short clip by Dove targets women who are insecure about their appearance and illustrates the significant difference between  the facial appearance when other people describe them, as to when they describe themselves.

This Dove Real Beauty Sketches video caught my attention because when I describe about myself, either online or in person, I feel like I am one of those insecure women who was portrayed on the video. I shared this Dove awareness clip on Facebook, because the video made me think of who I am. Underneath the video, I included a short caption: ‘The more positive you are to yourself, the more beautiful you are.’ I wanted to convey that media creates an opportunity for me to reflect how I portray myself. Thus, I shared this video in hope to suggest self-realization for other people and show awareness that they too should have optimistic attitudes for themselves.

One of the reasons why the Internet is a versatile tool is because it caters to the individual teenagers as well as to the general public’s needs. Social media is personalized— it has become emblematic of teenage socialization with students exchanging their taste, experience and interest through diverse forms of medium such as texts, pictures, and videos. Personally, this public platform of social networking websites enriches my experience. For an example, last year when I was having a tough time balancing school work, I came across this post on Facebook, which gave me assurance that I was not the only student struggling.

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Upon reading Aranshi’s experience, I felt relieved that I was not alone in feeling out of place from time to time. In fact, there were over 700 ‘likes’ and 14 shares. This is incredible because it meant that Aranshi’s experience spoke to other people as well.

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This interview of her gave me strength and motivation to carry on. I felt a sense of security even if I have never met Aranshi. Furthermore, the comments from other people show that though they may not know her personally as well, people are very supportive of her decision and are thankful for her courageous act to share her personal story. The social media encourages people to express themselves because there are always other people who are under similar situations.

As seen through my personal examples, social media can provide a space for self expression and a place for self discovery. It serves as a dual role in that while it serves a place for one to explore one’s interest, it can also help others who expose to diverse forms of self expression discover their talent.

Stumbling on Youtube, I discovered Sarah Kay, a Brown University student who practice slam poetry, performing “Hands.” I was enthralled by her performance and searched for more of her poetry. Before seeing Kay, I had never exposed to this genre, but with the accessible information the internet provides, I quickly realized that I enjoy watching slam poetry and expanded my interest.

Moreover, Kay also began to make herself known as more and more people viewed her performance and hit many likes. Youtube gave her the opportunity to discover that she is talented in slam poetry with the public supporting her poetry, as well to the audience like me, to rediscover about what I enjoy.

Although social media enhances my self-expression, gives me a sense of belonging, and creates opportunity to discover my new interest, I am aware of the limitations of the online platform as compared to face-to-face interaction. The Internet cannot replace the physical interaction and therefore lacks to accurately present the complex relationships between people.

However, I appreciate that social media bridges the lost interaction with my Elementary, Middle, and my High school friends as well as family relatives who reside in different parts of the world. Though limited, I can facilitate new relationship and stabilize them. My friends and relatives can learn more about me even though they are distant through the posts I share and upload. Social media not only enables me to form new relationships but also maintain the existing relationship by keeping in touch with them. This is the key that drives me to stay active on social media. While others may say this is far from ideal for communicating information about oneself in networked relationship, I say otherwise.

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These are snapshots of my team celebrating after winning against Taipei American School in International Touch Rugby Tournament during my Senior year. Although 2 years have passed since this event took place, my teammates and I still reminiscence about the experience by sharing videos and photos from the past and chatting about it. Social media gathers all 12 of the teammates and 2 coaches back together regardless of us being in different countries, including the Philippines, US and England. Being an active member of social media compels to me because I have a sense of fulfillment- even after years passed by, we are still able to resume our conversation with pieces of memory within us.

The social media benefits me to express myself beyond what I could do in an offline setting. It has encouraged me to come out of my comfort zone and explore new areas. This fuels me to express myself to others, for them to know more about myself when I am excited to find an eye-opening interest. Though the majority of my friends and I are separated by distance, it is heartwarming to know that the technology allows us to exchange our thoughts and share our interests, and grow together, like a family.

This is my second home.

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