Social media is an amazing thing. Many people think it is a waste of time, which sometimes it is. Many people don’t understand it. Many don’t even want to try to understand. People use it for all kinds of reasons. Some like social media just to keep tabs on people they went to high school or college with. Some people like to share pictures with and stay in touch with family. I use social media for many different things.
What has amazed me over the last several years is the expansive running community on the web.
I joined Twitter on January 7, 2009. I had no idea what to expect. I joined to connect with extended family who lives far away. (I have since unfollowed and/or blocked them from my feed.) I have no idea how I first found other runners on twitter, but the timing turned out to be pretty perfect. I signed up for my first half marathon and my first marathon in 2009. Once you find a few runners it feels like you can always find more like minded people. I get overwhelmed with 500 followers. I have no idea how you people out there handler 1000, 2000, or more followers. Even with lists I get overwhelmed.
Through Twitter I discovered DailyMile. A social media site dedicated just to athletes? Awesome! And it tracks my workout? Even better. I love numbers and charts. I love looking at my training. (Except for those pesky 4 months last year that are at zero running miles thanks to my stress fracture.) DailyMile, in general, is one of the most supportive communities I have ever been a part of on the internet. People are not judgmental of times and distances, they encourage each other, and fun motivations.
Facebook is very different to me. I limit my Facebook friends quite a bit. I will not friend people I don’t actually know. I will not friend someone just because we have interacted once or twice on Twitter. I check security settings all the time. I also try no to inundate those friends with my running stuff.
I never thought of Meetup.com as a social media venue until last week when I was sitting in a session at a conference and they listed it. When I included Meetup it turns out that I have almost exclusively met people through social media outlets. There are many people in my life that I wouldn’t know without these outlets and I am grateful for each and everyone of of them.
My most awesome Ragnar adventure came about through Twitter and Facebook. Not only did I have a ridiculously amazing amount of fun in those 36 hours I made friends with people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. People that I can call or text or email or tweet if I need something or to talk to someone. People that I call my friends. People that I wish lived closer. The downfall of meeting people through social media is that they live all over the country or world. I met some of my best friends through a running group I found on Meetup.com. I found people to run with when I moved through Twitter.
Basically I can’t imagine my life without social media or the people I have met through social media. I am certain I would not be the person or runner that I am.
What does social media mean to you?