Personally, I wasn’t fully emerged into the social media world until I got my own and first smartphone when I was 15, during my freshman year of high school. At first, it was just to keep up with what people were saying and doing, like “did you see what Linda said about Becca?” or “Jenny and John aren’t together anymore because of what John tweeted last night” and so on, because it sucked to not know what people were talking about and, sometimes, actually being excluded from conversations because no one seemed to want to fill you in. Plus, it wasn’t that I cared about Becca, Jenny or John, I just hated not being able to say anything and just sit there during lunch. So once I got my first smartphone, I was able to join the conversations and pitch in my own ideas and “theories” on what’s going on with our peers. But that only lasted for two years.
By my junior year, I switched to a new group of friends who were more like me (social, but also taking AP classes and involved in sports), who didn’t really have time or cared much about keeping up the our class’ latest gossip (my graduating class size was almost 400). It was like our topics of people we talked about shrunk to those who we had class together and almost all talked to or knew somehow, but our discussions about politics, world events, critiques on films, etc., increased dramatically. I think it was mostly because we were all juniors taking AP Language and Composition with a teacher who was passionate about having us write analytical papers about “educated” topics, so we could “expand our minds and see new horizons”. And most of them were also taking AP US History with a teacher who also believed in seeing multiple angles to a controversial time period, event, etc. So having these kinds of teachers did influence who we started to follow on things, like twitter; for example I was only following CNN, but then I following other news accounts, including FOX news.
Though we did change from using social media to keep up with our classmates to keep up with the world around us, there were a couple of things that didn’t change. Such as if you unfollowed someone from social media that you knew, they’d take it as a personal offense, or if they didn’t follow you back, then it was also a personal offense. Social media was still seen as a representation of the actual person and if you avoided them on social media, then it’s because you didn’t like them in real life.