Finding Your Interests With the Help of Social Media

This post appeared in an old technology blog that can be found here.

At no time in history has their ever been this amount of information available online, for free. It will grow larger tomorrow and the day after, and so on. Every piece of knowledge or opinion I have about technology has come from reading this free information. When I began exploring my interests in high school I did not start with technology, but naturally gravitated towards it as I grew evermore fascinated. Recently, during a technology discussion with my roommate, a third buddy chimed in, “I wish I was this passionate about anything.” (This ‘buddy’ of mine is no slacker either, but is actually receiving his Master’s from CMU in Electrical & Computer this spring.) This comment really got me thinking. It has become second-nature for me to ponder the web in search of the endless questions that fill my brain daily. Between searching on Google, TechCrunch, and Quora, I have been able to answer many of the questions, sparking further questions, and continuing the process. While I am more curious than the average person, I believe that most of my curiosity today is a result of finding and exploring interests at an earlier age.

In my opinion this lack of true interests is a direct precursor to statistics often found in the news such as, “53% of recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed.” I would like to think that for many jobs, passion will shine through more so than your college or work experience. I am a firm believer that is does not matter where you come from, but with a passion and desire to learn one can succeed in almost anything. While it is never too late to get passionate about something new, I believe we must look to the youth and discover how we can get them passionate in new ways than before.

When I talk to my younger siblings and proclaim that they do not have to join and devote countless hours towards the next Vine, Instagram, QuizUp, Candy Crush, etc. they push back and insist that “everyone is on it”. I understand where they are coming from and fully realize that they are not going to be downloading any educational/news apps in the near future.

The Solution

Encourage high-school and college students to begin using social media outlets as more than just a means to interact with their friends.

**I will focus the rest of this post on Twitter, but the same process can be applied to FaceBook as well.**

Social media is gigantic. Whether you are a proponent for Facebook, Twitter, or something else the chances are you are on one of them and you check it often. I hesitated to sign up for Twitter for a long time because I did not know what it is or why I needed one. After joining it I quickly noticed that I was using it for a different purpose than my friends. Today kids use Twitter mainly as another source of interacting and entertainment (as if their is not enough already.) Tweets are often about pet peeves, occurrences, opinions, and jokes. When kids are not just following their friends they follow pages that make them laugh or random fact pages.

Random fact pages are a start, but the next step is getting kids to follow more pages that stimulate them intellectually. What if high school students used Twitter to gauge their interests far beyond what the high school education does. I for one majored in business because I was good at math, enjoyed AP economics, and had an entrepreneurial spirit. However, if I began exploring my interests earlier, I would have discovered my passion for technology, and likely majored in Information Systems or a similar major. I can imagine a viral video called ‘The College Major Test’ where people follow Twitter pages related to their majors and have shocking revelations. If you find it a hassle to read the Psychology Today tweets then you probably should not be a psychology major. Obviously there will be some clear exceptions, but in general it should be a decent barometer.

When I went to organize the vast websites I visited for news I downloaded Feedly and set it up with all of my sites. Over time I continuously found myself visiting Twitter more than Feedly and eventually decided to just delete Feedly altogether. Why? Twitter presented the information in an easier to read format and it did not feel like a task because interesting articles were mixed in with funny tweets from celebrities and friends. The thing in my body that urges me to follow and read more technology articles is a clear indicator that I want to pursue a career that relates to technology. This is the type of realization I hope future students can have.