Social media use climbs in Canada

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

Not surprisingly, Canadians are increasingly tuned into social media.

A recent report issued by the Media Technology Monitor, which involved the participation of over 4,000 Anglophone Canadians, has shown that two in three Canadians do not go a single day without checking into their social media feeds. This represents a six per cent increase in comparison with 2011 figures.

Aimée Morrison, associate professor of English language and literature at the University of Waterloo, whose research focuses on digital culture, was not at all surprised by the findings of the study.

“It may just be that I work in a university or that I live in Waterloo, which has such a high concentration of tech companies, but I pretty much don’t know anybody who isn’t on social media every day,” she said.

With 63 per cent participation from internet users, Facebook was the most popular social media site. Twitter usage significantly increased from the ten per cent figure in 2011, with just under one in five people connected, but remained well under the widespread popularity attained by Facebook.

Morrison explained that social media is now hitting a point that cell phones did in the early part of the century. “It went from being something that very few people had, to some people had, to suddenly it was weird if you didn’t have it, and I think social media [is] at that point in many different parts of culture currently, particularly around young people or people in white collar jobs.”

Apart from its role in the professional working world, Morrison explained that social media has subsumed into the personal lives’ of everyday Canadians.

“When people engage in social media they are in some ways doing the work of an autobiography, they are authoring stories of their own lives’ for the consumption of others. I’m looking at social media activities as a kind of autobiographical practice by everyday people,” she continued.

In a culture that values quick and easy access to information, social media offers a faster way of getting things done.

“It allows me to organize people a lot faster, to check people out for things I might want them to do,” said Morrison. “It allows people to find me, or if I want to get advice from people at work, the fastest way is to get them through Facebook or Twitter. There’s a lot of convenience involved in interacting with people over social media.”

Morrison offered an insightful reminder to students upon entering the professional world. “Try to engage with the world online in a way that five years from now, that’s probably an identity that’s going to grow with you and not against you. People may be looking for you on LinkedIn, they may be Googling you. In some ways you are at a disadvantage if there’s a kind of poor story of you that’s available when you get Googled.”

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