We all know the evils of Social Media. It’s reactive, it’s explosive, and folks usually post stuff on Social Media just to get attention. Back in the early days of Social Media I was excited about the idea; it was like a message board one would find on AOL back in the ’90s or an expansion of the “blog” concept that had been around, at the time, for a decade or so.
I guess I didn’t see Social Media replacing blogs. And obviously, I haven’t gotten that memo.
Today I am doing everything I can to get away from Social Media; I’ve removed the apps from my iPhone, I make it hard for me to log into the various platforms, etc. The issue is, so many of my friends and family members are dependent on the platforms as their prime channel of communication. Aunt Lulu could drop dead and I wouldn’t get a phone call, just a post on Facebook. It’s gamble as to the timeliness of the news due to algorithms and the like.
I don’t have an Aunt Lulu, by the way, but I did picture Lulu from “Hee-Haw” when I typed that sentence.
Another thing I’ve noticed about Social Media, and specifically Facebook, is that it throws the natural progression of friendships and acquaintances askew. For example, let’s say that back in 2005 I started a new job and worked with a guy named Dirk. Dirk and I became work friends and then had a few beers outside the office and when Facebook started up, we both joined the platform and became friends. 2010 comes along and I have moved onto a new job, Dirk did the same and we haven’t really seen each other in person since our time together at our common employer. Dirk is a nice guy and has moved on to getting married and raising a family and the like, and his new job took him across the country. Dirk and I were never really that close, we just got along well at work, shared some common interests, and connected via Social Media because it was there. I doubt that since it’s been well over a decade since I’ve last seen Dirk, I won’t see Dirk again, unless Earl and I travel to that part of the country or something, but then I feel like I’d be imposing.
By the way, there isn’t really a Dirk.
So, Dirk and I had a good friendship at work and when we both moved onto other places, in the days before Social Media our friendship/acquaintance would have come to its natural conclusion. But connecting on Facebook skewed all that; we’re still connected well past the natural shelf date, neither of us want to “unfriend” the other because of niceties, and honestly, Dirk is using bandwidth I don’t have for information consumption when I scroll through Facebook and see that he’s painting his kitchen or something.
A similar phenomenon happens when one connects with an acquaintance you met at a party years ago, and you met just that one time, and now you’re connected for life through Social Media. Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m just not wired to have a million and five friends scattered all over the planet and I’m trying hard to be too nice to not break connections because I don’t want to be the rude one.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some great people online, but most of the folks I consider friends I met in the pre-Social Media days, whether through AOL message boards around Macs, or through this blog thingee, or something like that. There are several people I know on social media that I met before social media and I enjoy what they share, but they’re usually like me and trying to get away from Social Media (hello London, hello Arkansas, hello Houston).
I should just do what I want to do and start breaking connections to those folks that would have come to a natural, friendly, mutual ending years ago. Maybe our Social Media connections shouldn’t be called friendships, but subscriptions instead.
Or maybe I should just go with the original plan to move away from Social Media altogether.