By SGT Dustin Gautney, 2HBCT Public AffairsJuly 7, 2011
So I seem to be late to the party when it comes to the world of social media that has swept the nation in the last decade. Twitter this, Facebook that, it all seemed like I woke up in a foreign country where everyone spoke with more @, #, and “Tweets” than I could wave a stick at. Was I just too old to understand this social media “trend”? I mean, I didn’t feel old. I was just shy of a decade out of college, so it wasn’t like I was an old man yelling at kids to turn “that racket down!”
For years now I just assumed that the social media craze was a trend, like the disco of the 70’s, the day-glow neon of the 80’s, and the grunge scene of the 90’s. I figured; why bother when it’ll go away in a year or so? Turns out after ten years of sweeping growth, social media is a staple of the modern society. A fact that didn’t dawn on me until I heard my computer illiterate father was “tweeting” about his recent trip to Hawaii. Now, how can a 65-year-old man know about tweeting, and I don’t?
But how does this all benefit us, the single Soldiers. Back when I deployed in 2009, to Iraq, the first few months flew by. However, time seemed to stand still, days seemed like weeks and weeks like months. It became bad enough I started to become very home sick, which for someone like me who has been away from home for over a decade, seemed very odd. This continued on until one day a friend asked if I kept in contact with my friends on Facebook. I of course knew what Facebook was, but never bothered to because I didn’t want to become caught up into the “trend.” But, after some coaxing, I tried it out. Surprisingly, I was amazed at how many people I was able to get a hold of. Old friends I had almost forgotten about …and some old girlfriends I’ve tried to forget about. But the connection I felt again with the rest of the world was what I needed. That is when it dawned on me. Social Media wasn’t a fad; it was fast accessible connectivity regardless of your location.
For the single Soldier,, especially those new to the Army, the connectivity of Social Media can help many people still feel connected to those back home regardless of how far away they are.
It does go far beyond that though. Since returning from Iraq, I have found a need to express myself, not necessarily about the military, but other interests. I personally love cooking, video games and movies, so I found blogging about it leaves me free from the stress of a bad day at work sometimes. Over the years, this has grown from blogging to even airing live podcasts (internet radio shows), all while tweeting about the latest movie I saw, or what I was conjuring up in the kitchen as a culinary challenge. So, yeah I became the Social Media bug I use to scoff at years ago. But with the ability to readily express our loves, fears, interests with the rest of the world and the ability to grow as people culturally; shouldn’t we all have a little Social Media bug?