That’s right – after hearing, living, and sharing social media for the past few years, the world’s online community has finally birthed a day of special recognition for the burgeoning field of social media, cleverly titled “Social Media Day.”

What is it?  Essentially, it’s a non-government-affiliated holiday, featuring “meetups” (the godchild of last year’s “tweetups”) all around the country (in fact, all around the world – boasting participation in about 75 countries – Update: nearly 100 now!) designed to foster social interaction, and specifically bring online relationships into the face-to-face, offline world.  Mashable, the popular technology/social media/mobile/computing/blogging news outlet, created and publicized the idea of having a day devoted specifically to social media events and practitioners over the course of the last few months, gaining in popularity and reach as the echo chamber of Twitter, Facebook, and bloggers spread word of the day celebrating social media through those same channels, appropriately enough.  In their words,

Today we acknowledge and celebrate the revolution of media becoming social. A day that honors the technological and societal advancements that have allowed us to have a dialogue, to connect and to engage not only the creators of media, but perhaps more importantly, one another. It’s a day to celebrate the changes in media that have empowered us to stay connected to information in real time, the tools that have enabled us to communicate from miles apart, and the platforms that have given a voice to the voiceless and victims of protest injustice. It’s a revolution worth celebrating. Today, we celebrate Social Media Day and we hope you’ll join us.

So, what can you do?  There are a number of ways to get involved:

1. Follow news and status updates, as people from all over the world converse, digest, and pontificate on the merits and potentials of this new communication tool, by tracking the #SMday hashtag on your favorite Twitter client.  This will aggregate all the bits and pieces coming out of events into one, giant conversation you can follow and participate with, in real time!

2. Attend a meetup!  Get a chance to network, meet in person the people with whom you’ve communicated solely via the internet, and make contacts in your field – and hopefully others – in your region.  If, like many of our readers, you’re located in Orange County – great news: the second largest meetup in the country (after New York, and fifth largest in the world) is happening right here in Santa Ana at The Orange County Register, with nearly 700 attendees registered to participate, and a full slate of local speakers on tap.  (There’s also mention of several specialty food trucks who market their location and menu via twitter).  Check out the whole event lineup, with links to register, here.  For readers outside the OC area, chances are high there’s a meetup within driving distance; find a full, dynamic list here.

3. Can’t find a meetup near you?  Create your own!  Mashable has easy to follow steps covering everything from how to register your event, publicize it among your network and public ones, get some small funding for large enough events, find corporate sponsorship, and more.  From the 8 people registered in Alaska to the hundreds here in the OC, folks all across the country are gathering in bunches large and small to celebrate the power of the social networks we all have access to at our fingertips.

4. If you can’t make it out of the office, or farmstand, to attend one of these events in person, you can still take in the exciting live panels with free streaming access from across the world.  Mashable has a great resource to access all these live, public events.

5. At the very least, embrace the ideals of social media in your everyday life!  Reach out to a friend you haven’t connected with in years on Facebook, send an old teacher or mentor a snapshot of you hard at work via Flickr, or branch out to follow some new conversations or hashtags on Twitter and make some new friends.  The technology threshold to make new connections today is so low, seize this opportunity to grow or leverage your social networking skills!

Finally, here’s a message from Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable, and soon-to-be-knighted Santa Clause of the summer’s hottest new Social Media holiday:

Hope to see you at The Register’s meetup later today!