From Xanga to MySpace to Facebook

The evolution of social networking has always fascinated me. I still remember the “good old days” of high school (around 2005 or so) when everyone started using this thing called Xanga (pronounced “zanga”). You could start your own online journal, connect with your friends in groups called “blogrings”, comment on their journals, and give them something called “eProps” (similar to the “like” button on Facebook) if they posted something you particularly enjoyed. Everyone was “up in everyone else’s business.”

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Then there was the mass migration to MySpace around 2006/2007. I think everyone left Xanga because it was mostly a platform for blogging and writing journal entries. A lot of the people I knew who had been on Xanga really didn’t like to write whole entries. They’d write a few lines and that would be it. MySpace offered a whole new array of services: blogging, posting pictures, comments, and a profile that utilized HTML and was therefore 100% customizable (not like Xanga’s pre-designed templates). MySpace just had more. There wasn’t so much of a focus on blogging and writing.

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Then Facebook came about and took over the Internet. In late 2008 and early 2009, everyone was starting to get on Facebook. I think we were all tired of ugly, cluttered MySpace profiles – people abused the HTML feature and added so much stuff that each MySpace profile would take ages to load. Facebook was a much simpler and cleaner interface and had many of the same features as MySpace. It didn’t seem as time-consuming as MySpace because there was no HTML code you could add and no customizable layouts. As more and more people discovered Facebook and created profiles, the more time-consuming it became. There were more friends to check up on, more pictures to be uploaded, more profiles to stalk… and Facebook added games.

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Now it feels like we can’t live without social networking in some form. It’s become one of the primary ways we communicate with friends and those who live far from us. Kids as young as 12 have never really known life without social media. Everyone knows what everyone else is up to and we can all be found online in some capacity. That’s a little scary.

How much of your life do you share online? Is social media an annoyance, useful, or both? What social media platform did you start with? Which is your favorite? 🙂

Irrational Fear of Facebook

I’m both fascinated by and afraid of Facebook. It’s a little bit like when you see someone handling a giant boa constrictor at a zoo. You want to hold it, but at the same time, you’re thinking, what if it suffocates me? Strangely enough, you see children approaching the boa. They’re touching it, looking into its reptilian eyes, and they appear totally unafraid. So you decide to touch it – just a quick stroke of a finger, that’s it. You move a finger over the snake’s cool skin. It’s so fluid, so smooth, so… slick – but you’re still not brave enough to actually hold it.

That’s essentially my relationship with Facebook. I love how user-friendly the website is, how slick, smooth and blue the interface is… and how it’s practically mandatory to have a Facebook page when you’re an aspiring author.

But I’m still afraid to get a new account. I don’t know why, really. Every day I keep up-to-date on what’s new in social media. I follow AllFacebook, WebNewser, and SocialTimes on Twitter and religiously read new articles.

I love the idea of social media. It’s a whole new way we can collaborate and share information with others – and did I mention it’s practically a necessity for aspiring authors? Ever since I first got a Xanga account when I was a senior in high school, I’ve been obsessed with all kinds of social media and the potential it holds for publishing, marketing, writing and the entire interface of the web.

But I’m still hesitant to get another Facebook page.

Maybe it’s because Facebook is so all-encompassing. Everyone has a page these days. Even my sixty-year-old dad has a Facebook page. I really feel out of the loop sometimes.

Maybe it’s because Facebook is constantly coming out with new features. (Groups, Places, new Photo capabilities, etc.)

Maybe it’s because Facebook is giving Google a serious run for its money.

Maybe it’s because Facebook has an excellent movie based on it.

Maybe it’s because everywhere I go on the Internet, I see those “like” buttons. Even when I’m watching TV or listening to the radio, I’m inundated with mentions of Facebook.

So does anyone else feel the same way? Or am I just completely crazy? Leave a comment letting me know! 🙂