Sunday, January 08, 2012

On Social Media

It's become such a huge part of modern life these days. Twitter, Facebook, Google plus, Linkedin, and on and on. In a way it's become the new mall, the new place to hang out. It seems everyone is there. At first, I was so excited about this change in the way we interact with other people, the way we see what they're doing and what's going on in their lives. But now, I'm not so sure.

As a generalization, everyone is awesome and their lives are awesome according to their social media presence, and by this I am mostly referring to Facebook and Twitter. "I just rocked a 2 hr run, what a great start to the day!", "Crap, my BMW SUV has a flat. Again. FML!", "Just booked the most awesome wedding couple for next summer in Venice." And on and on and on. It's easy to see these and say, "I slept in today, don't drive a BMW and I just lost a potential client. I must suck at life".

When you start reading these, it's easy to fall into thinking that these status updates are the whole story of what's going on in their lives. It's easy to begin to think that everyone else is better than you at almost everything. They're life rocks. But when you're only getting part of the stream of what's really happening, they're basically bullshitting you. They're only revelling the parts of their lives that will make them look good. Social media has cleverly created a subtle way for people to brag. And it's effective. And, I'm just as guilty of this as anyone. When you first log on, you see how others use these sites, and say, "oh, that's what you do here, let me try." 

Now, obviously people you don't know aren't going to share every part of their lives with you. Why would they? You don't know them. It's not a real relationship. And if it's not a real relationship, what's the point of spending much time on it in the first place? These are the questions I've been asking myself.

I decided in August of last year that 2012 was going to be the year I deleted my Facebook account. I had 336 "friends" on there. At least 80% of them I'd never met in my life, or if I had, I wouldn't know who they were if I bumped into them on the street. My real life friends that I actually care deeply about I see on a regular basis. And, we never really interact on Facebook anyway. No, we get together and catch up over coffee or a meal. We share the highs and lows of our life, and when we need help or are struggling with something, we can share it because we care to the point that we'll do something about it for each other. It's what real friendship is about.

Now blogging is a little different. I follow blogs that are typically subject driven. I like bikes, coffee, photography, outdoor life, guns and motorcycles. People who publish blogs that are based on subject matter, typically do it to share knowledge and experience on the particular subject. They can become fairly personal which is nice and makes the blog not so clinical and corporate. But I rarely find them to be bragging. Someone is building up a bike, they'll tell you the problems they're having. This isn't working or that part they ordered doesn't fit and now it's for sale. It's educational, and almost always they bring enough of their personality into it that it's feels personal and like genuine sharing. I'm  a huge fan of blogging and bloggers.

Twitter is alright. I really like the 140 character limit. There is none of this "see what questions so and so answered about you", or "you've been invited to waste half your life on farmville" and that crap that is so rampant on Facebook. On twitter you can follow people, and people can follow you but it's not obligatory. I can be followed without following that person back and visa versa. It's great. And the biggest thing I like about Twitter over Facebook is that on Twitter, you're followers to each other, not "friends". Facebook has abused an important word and cheapened it. While it was maybe a nice thought at the time to make the site feel warm and fuzzy, a friend is so much more than an online interaction. 

It's 2012. I've had my dating period with social media and now realize what it is and what it isn't. 2012 is going to be more social and less social media. It's time to reclaim the term, friend.


sminch said...

incredibly well written. I do blog but I have avoided the lure of facebook or any others. I will continue that trend because you were able to put into words the thoughts that have always danced around in my head. Blog on Blogger!


Jerome said...

Thanks Wil, much appreciated. And to you the same, I enjoy what you out out. Cheers:)

Kristy said...

I love Facebook for many reasons. For starters, my sister lives in Halifax and FB is an easy way for her to share pictures of her growing kids with the rest of her Alberta family. I only get to see them in person about once a year, but seeing all of the pictures, funny quotes from her kids, videos of them dancing in the kitchen makes me feel like I'm still part of their life. Now of course hanging out with them in person would be 100x better, but it just isn't an option most of the time.

Pondero said...

Exactly, and what sminch said!

The only thing I'll add is that there are a few of you guys out there in blogland that I wish were face-to-face friends. Or at least I think I do.

Jerome said...

Kristy, I think it's fabulous that you're using facebook in what I think is the very best way it can be utilized. If that is how most people used Facebook, I would be all for it and think it's great. Sadly though, I think that kind of use is the exception. From the experiences I've seen, it's not quite so useful. That and the fact that both my wife and I have all of our family living very close to us, we really didn't have a reason to use it in the way you are. I hope it continues to serve you well:)

Chris, I feel the same way. I often say, "man I wish I could hang with these guys." Missing out on your annual bike ride is especially frustrating for me. Often I wish online interactions would become more personal and real life. Strange how that works.

Kristy Reimer said...

OK, I have more to Facebook can also be an amazing marketing tool, although I've been quite cautious about parts of it. I have a hard time pretending to be friends with my clients so that they will give me more money because of the connection they feel to me as a friend, not just a photographer. I know this works for people, because they have told me that Facebook is their only way they advertise. Even though it works, I'm not willing to manipulate people.

However, Facebook's pay per click ads are quite brilliant. I can target the exact demographic that I want- for example women who are engaged in Calgary between the ages of 20-35 for my wedding ad. Also around Christmas I put up an ad just for a few days to sell off some old framed prints from an exhibit. Sold some very quickly for presents and then took the ad down.

Jon said...

I find Facebook pretty useless, for my own part. My blogs contain all of the information I feel like making public, so that forum is of little interest to me.

And, there is a little too much static on the FB airwaves, if you know what I mean. (I really don't understand why people post up 50 photos of things they saw on the internet, that day, for instance).

I enjoy my blogging companions (some of whom I think of as actual friends, even if I haven't met them face-to-face), and I suspect that one sees more of the true life and personality of a blogger than of a FB habitue'.

Sorry. That sure was a long-winded way of saying, "I agree with you."

Jerome said...

Kristy, yeah, I do agree that facebook can be a good marketing tool. And ultimately that is what it really is. And it's a fine one. One think I've quite liked about not being on FB is not being sold stuff all the time. I'm sure you see those photography course ads, and discount camera store ads all the time like I did.

Jon, I agree with you about the useless and static parts. The quality of content, and thought and effort put into what people share kind of make it a waste of time. Almost a, 'I'm gonna put this on the internet just because I can' attitude. Blogs on the other hand seem to be a little more crafted. Your blog has long been a favourite of mine (ever since I saw grinder bikes on FGG) and I certainly appreciate the effort you put into it.