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.