In my 25 years of life experience, I have seen the rise of social media as a platform for expressing oneself in myriad ways. Whether you want to send out a less-than-140-character-random-thought you had during the day or share a photo of your latest accomplishment to 500 of your closest followers, social media has been there to satisfy Generation Y’s every need. Unfortunately, veterinary students are not immune to the effects of this generational paradigm shift in the way the Internet is used.
My full disclaimer is that I personally belong to a few social networking sites but am seldom active on them. That is, if I “post” anything, the frequency is approximately once every two weeks. This is in stark contrast to a few of my old friends, high school classmates and random acquaintances who seem to do nothing but post about how busy they are (ironically), how cute their patients are (of course, with complete confidentiality), or my all-time favorite: post about their accomplishments and life milestones.
I believe there is a very fine line between celebrating one’s achievements and gloating. Telling your family and closest friends that you were the recipient of a prestigious award or that your high-school sweetheart proposed seems appropriate. Sharing it in a status with a carefully constructed caption and perfectly posed photo on three different social media sites, to me, seems less than appropriate. I often find myself struggling with sharing a personal photo on one of my personal pages, and challenge myself as to the exact reason I want to post in the first place.
Time after time, I always come back to the same thought: before these sites existed, how did everyone of your 1246 friends on social media know that you were so accomplished and winning at life, anyway?