Interning at the ICI throughout the summer of 2010 was an extremely helpful and fun experience. Honestly, I entered the ICI unsure of what to expect. Now, I am getting ready to leave the ICI with a much more critical eye toward social networking on the Internet and all the different layers that are included in the field.
My internship with the ICI exposed me to a completely different side to the social networking phenomenon. Although I had had extended experience with social networking websites such as Facebook personally, I had never thought about the challenges that they provide for organizations such as the ICI. First, there was the issue of choosing which social networking websites to engage in; there were numerous questions to be answered, such as: “How will we utilize such a website?” and “How much time is required to manage this specific page?” In the process, there were numerous times when we found a tool on the Internet that we thought was very interesting but could not figure out a way to engage with it to benefit the Institute. Second, we had to face the possible negative consequences that might arise from the Institute’s use of social networking websites. It became apparent that some kind of social media policy document needed to be drafted for future staff to follow as a guideline.
My view on the Internet and social networking websites in general has changed greatly from this internship. I now view the Internet with a more critical eye and am beginning to notice how invasive social networking has become – everyone is doing it! When I am on a website, I now notice social media icons that I had previously never paused to look at. When I use a social networking website to advertise an event or to rally for a cause, I stop to think about how social networking has become so convenient and so inter-webbed into our everyday – non-virtual – lives.
One thing is for sure – social networking is not going anywhere, and it is time to jump on the bandwagon. Although “jumping on the bandwagon” often has negative connotations, I think that as long as all of us develop a media-conscious mindset, social networking can be utilized to everyone’s benefit.