After a year off social media, I’ve rejoined Facebook because so many of my peers are networking there, and I really felt I was missing out. Things like organizing meetups are happening there, or news on who is going to which conference, but also people having children and getting married, and career changing events like writing something or changing jobs.
Seeing what else people are sharing is really interesting. It’s frankly completely random, but easy to relate to, and quite entertaining.
I do have to keep my tendency to comment in check. I’m the responsive type, but in Social Media I tend to put my foot in my mouth. That’s what, in the end, made me decide to disengage a year ago. So for me it helps to concentrate on the fact that in social media, being a part of the game is the whole objective.
I just read a wise quote (posted by a colleague at BESIG, Holly Longstroth) that we often listen not to understand, but to reply. So less replying, more understanding.
I don’t like friending. I don’t like following. I don’t like liking. I don’t like the faceless, fake culture of having loads and loads of super duper friends, patting each other on the back and saying how fantastic everyone is. I was on Facebook for a few years and today left. The reason was that I had joined a private list of people in my profession who share music, and I admit I really loved learning from the others and remembering my own favorites, and the cautious opening up that went with that was quite charming. It was almost like walking in on a group of colleagues you admire from afar in someone’s living room. But relationships online are two-dimensional, or even one-dimensional, and it is all too easy to feel a sense of communality where there isn’t one. The incident: I posted a Jiddish song performed by a German group, and unfortunately a Lebanese member of the group took offense and posted a disturbing video. It was not the first time things I felt a troubling disconnect. People have strange sides that come out in disconcerting ways and sting you when you wear your heart on your sleeve and don’t know how to cover yourself, and I suddenly felt very uncomfortable, vulnerable, out of place. Face-threatening Facebook. Not good for my emotional life. Goodbye, and good riddance.
Now, how to reorganize my online connections with other teaching professionals, my memberships and online services? How to keep up with my extended family, old neighbors, classmates? Onward, and upward.
Now even my husband is on twitter, though he says he just wants to be left alone. Hey, Helmut, this is 2009. Noone can have it all, social networks with the latest news AND privacy. You have to choose. Are you going to be the last man standing when everyone else is running? It all depends on whether you think running crowds will wind up someplace worth being. My friend Lucy’s been twittering for ages. You haven’t decided yet whether microblogging is for you? Frankly I’m still a little unsure how to best use it, but the most interesting function is search twitter (and the most relaxing, social one is visiting people, e.g. visit me here). It’s a very fast direct messaging tool, much better than email because there’s no spam filter to block traffic. It’s good for a lot more, I’m sure. I’m still low-tech, don’t use any extra applications. Time will tell how much time it saves for every minute it costs. Anyway: See this TED talk by Twitter founder Evan Williams, who I find looks very uncomfortable, a true geek. Chris Anderson (the man behind TED) makes an appearance at the end.
“Facebook’s terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore. Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.” Chris Walters/ Consumerist seen on Oetting
It reminds me of Hotel California: “You can check out, but you can never leave.” There’s already an action group on Facebook calling for a return to the old rules.