Wednesday May 01, 2013 | 09:00 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Emily lives in Portland, Maine and works in the area as a retail marketing analyst. She acts as the Facebook administrator for the AMC Three Mile Island Camp, her favorite place on earth, where she spends time each summer. She is a graduate of Colby College.

I first met Emily at a Super Bowl party where she was a very enthusiastic fan of Beyonce. Somehow, we have still managed to become friends. Miracles never cease.

AOL "Kids Only," Foursquare scavenger hunts, and on being "emmiemarie."

As with most of my interviews, what you'll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.

What was your first experience with social media?

"Taking a step back from Facebook which came into my life when they opened it up to high school students, really I think my first social media was AOL. I had AOL 'Kids Only' when I was 7. We had just gotten a fancy new computer and the Internet with dial-up. They only let kids on and they only let kids access certain things. I had email, some sort of social zone for kids—like a chat room—before they realized that was a big mistake, games, and some sort of educational something. My mom made my screen name and it was 'emmiemarie.' I didn't really do all that much but I was fascinated by the Internet and the clanky noises that it made to do the dial-up."

"Next was AOL Instant Messenger. I liked that. I mean, you got home from school, logged on, and everyone was immediately there. Very important conversations would occur. I got asked out by a boy on IM when I was 13. I said no, because he capitalized the first letter of the sentence, 'Will you go out with me?" I was like, why are you capitalizing that?! NO ONE capitalized things. It was so uncool. Which I think is fascinating, because at that time no one was really on IM except for 13 year olds. So, 13 year olds created the language of the Internet as we know it today, like LOL and TTYL. And, that was just us just being lazy and dumb."

"I never had MySpace or Friendster. I thought they were both lame. I did have a LiveJournal. When I moved to Amherst, MA, all these cool kids in my class were on LiveJournal and I thought, 'I can get behind this.' A lot of it was questionares. I loved answering questions about myself, because I was a self-centered teenager. I recently looked at my LiveJournal and it was so sad. It was so sad because it was totally whiny and self-centered. But, it was also sad because there was a lot of stuff I would still say today. Don't tell anyone. Oh ... well, I guess it's too late for that. Oh my God, I haven't progressed at all! I'm still a whiny, self-absorbed high school student."

"In 2005 they opened up Facebook to high school students and I was one of the first ones on there. You know, because I had an older sister. But, quickly everyone was on there. It hasn't changed that much, but it kind of has. I remember photos starting to happen and comments starting to happen and 'liking' starting to happen. At first it was just like wall posts and your profile info. And, your profile was a lot more important because you weren't that far from the 'deep quotes' of the AOL IM days. I just immediately loved Facebook because college kids were on it."

What do you like about social media?

"I think one of my favorite things about Facebook is that you can see what's going on in lots of peoples' lives and have that little interaction of 'liking' or commenting on something without having to make the larger effort of talking on the phone or visiting with someone. It basically says, "Hey, you're someone that I care about." I'm not talking about my close friends but people that I otherwise might not have any contact with."

"I still use Foursquare. It doesn't seem like that many people do anymore. The reason I like Foursquare is it turns the world into a massive scavenger hunt. For points."

What do you dislike about social media?

"Social media can give people the impression that you're always available. I don't like that at all. I'd rather that people think I'm never available."

"I know a lot about how data gets used and I think that people aren't fully aware of it, but, honestly, they have to know. When I think about the future and what's it's going to be like, I think there is going to be a backlash and people are going to restrict more of their information. And, I think that's a good thing. Information is power and I know I don't want all of my information in the hands of someone else."

"One of the things that I've come to terms with is that my family is now on Facebook. I remember when they first got on, I thought I was going to have to censor myself so much. And, maybe it was just the timing of it, but I haven't had to censor myself that much at all. It coincided with me graduating from college, so it's possible that I just coincidentally became more mature. You know, became an adult."

What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?

"I disconnect all of the time. Six months? I think it would be great. Whenever I lose my cell pone, which I do from time to time, I sleep better and I'm generally happier and have more positive interactions with the people around me. If it was for six months, the things that would have to change would be so minimal that I don't think it would negatively impact my life in any way. I would love it. I'd be happier. I might get a little antsy after a while because everyone else would be using it, but I'd still love it. In fact, this conversation has inspired me to disconnect even more."

If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?

"Connections. Overwhelming. Friends." "Overwhelming friend connections."

I want to thank Emily for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.

You can find Emily on Twitter at: @emhanley

You can find Emily on Instagram at: @emeraldine

You can find AMC Three Mile Island Camp on Facebook at: Three Mile Island Camp


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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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