Social Media for Social Outcasts

As young chubby girl with glasses and braces, I was very anxious to begin middle school. A child’s environment changes very drastically at this point in age. Trends become imperative and a hierarchy of “who is cool and who is not” is created. Upon beginning the sixth grade, my best friend became an acquaintance because her cooler friends didn’t like me. Imstill had a few close friends (who were also considered to be weird), but since we didn’t have any classes or lunch together, I spent my school days quiet and alone. My free time was spent drawing, which made me even more of a nerdy outcast in my classes. One thing, however, changed this lonely pattern by the end of my seventh grade year. I became friends with a girl who had just moved to the area; she came over to my house and introduced me to Myspace. This social networking site gave me the ability to create an identity for myself; I could personalize my image via music, photos and writings. I could become friends with people from my school, who would now see the real me and not just the shy girl in class, and with people I had never met before. Amy Novotney writes in R U Friends 4 Real that “One of social networking’s greatest benefits is its ability to bring meaningful friendships to people who might otherwise be shunned as outcasts.” This statement was very true for me. Often times I would get into harmless Myspace conversations with people I never met. I remember how fun it was to be our complete goofy selves and how I looked forward to these conversations throughout the school day. As simple as Myspace was, it made me feel connected to others in a way I had never felt before. Novotney also writes “New research also suggests that youth who use blogs, website and email to discuss politics and current events become more socially engaged over time.” I also agree with this statement. As I’ve grown up, social media has always been there to provide an outlet where I can have a voice. Today I am considered to be very outgoing; I was even told by my college speech class professor that I gave some of the best speeches. People would never guess that girl who I just wrote about used to be me. Although I know social media isn’t the only factor in my progress, I definitely believe it was a gateway for my social skills.

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