621575_10101255293832941_1168116338_oGreetings classmates and the World Wide Web!

If you would have told me when I was a high school newspaper intern 10 years ago that I would be embarking on a mass communications masters program that concentrates on social media, I would have said “what’s social media?”

As I went on to study magazine journalism at the University of South Florida, I couldn’t have imagined that our phones would become “smart” and would be able to bring us information anywhere, anytime – and in some cases, even push information to us through app alerts and breaking news texts. I surely couldn’t have imagined that I would one day be a web producer at a television station and pushing news alerts would become part of my regular job duties.

Sharing and gathering information has changed and it’s important to roll with those changes to stay relevant. Through working for news organizations over the past five-plus years, I have seen how Twitter and Facebook can be used for “crowd sourcing,” whether that’s using the platforms to find sources for stories or simply asking readers/viewers what they think about a certain story. I have also found that social media also allows people to give instant feedback on what we’re doing and even become our eyes and ears in the community, sending in pictures and messages so we can check out possible breaking news.

For me personally, social media has become a good way to stay in touch. The world is becoming more spread out and people want to feel connected, even when they are not physically close to each other. I have friends and family in Wisconsin, England and Taiwan (shout out to my friend Annie Liao at Yahoo!), but thanks to social media, specifically Facebook, I am able to be part of their day through their status updates. Likewise, I’m able to give them a glimpse into my day through my postings.

I do believe that social media is a powerful tool, but I think there is such a thing as “over sharing.” What do you think? For example, if I’m fighting with my husband, I don’t Tweet  or Facebook about it. Since I use my social accounts as kind of a personal/professional hybrid, I ask myself the question, “Am I going to be ashamed later on that I shared this?” Once in a great while, I do use my social networks for “venting,” but I find that I post something more productive if I sleep on it rather than posting in the heat of the moment.

As my stepdad tells me, “you can always improve,” so that is my thought process in entering this degree program. Am I doing pretty good with social media in my professional/personal life? Could I do a better job? Of course. I’ve placed a bet on myself and my future through this huge undertaking of continuing my studies. But I’ve done it knowing I will come out the other side a better person professionally and personally.