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Some thoughts on social media

June 3, 2013

I’ve been on, around, programming, or just generally familiar with the internet since about 1994, when the first web browsers starting hitting the market. At that point, there were no computer courses to take, no gurus to consult…the world hadn’t yet heard the terms ’email’, ‘open source software’, or ‘social media’…we had to make everything up as we went.

And that’s what we did. Almost everyone I know from those heady days were largely self-taught. Even the professional programmers with post-graduate degrees in computer science were cracking open O’Reilly’s Webmaster in a Nutshell to figure out what the hell was going on.

I didn’t really pay any attention to social media till about 2005, almost 10 years later, because, honestly? The first iterations were painful. Epinions, Friendster, MySpace, AOL’s gated communities…at their height, most of these sites barely registered the massive adoption of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.

I was introduced to Facebook by a graphic designer at Blast Radius (thanks, Missy!), and I found it compelling enough that it became part of my regular ‘start-up cycle’ in the morning, along with checking email. At the same time I was teaching myself photography the hard way (trial and error), and was a heavy user of Flickr. Along the way I’ve also found myself with accounts to (in no particular order): LinkedIn, Twitter, 500px, Tumblr, Pinterest, WordPress, Youtube, last.fm, bit.ly, and about.me.

No one can possibly use all of these services equally, except celebrities who can afford to hire a full-time ghost-writer to manage all of these things at once.

After running a blog for 4 years, a Flickr photostream for 6, and using the other services off-and-on, I’ve developed some habits and (sometimes strong) opinions on how social media should be managed. These are my personal opinions, and they won’t fit everyone’s ideal, so I’m not presenting this as advice, merely what works for me.

YOYOW

This is a famous acronym developed by one of the very first online social networks, The WELL (Whole Earth Lectronic Link), and means You Own Your Own Words. The basic premise is simple: you’re responsible for what you say, and who you say it to. What you’re not responsible for is how it’s interpreted.

What this means for me is simple: the social media sites where I actively post my own content: my 2 WordPress blogs, my Flickr site, my 500px portfolio, my Twitter feed, and my LinkedIn profile are mine. If you show up and decide to stay for the ride, great. If not, no hard feelings. And I mean that sincerely. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. But when you comment or participate in these creations of mine, You Own Your Own Words, too.

On blocking\reporting

There are folk on FB and Twitter that I genuinely never want to see again, as long as I frakking live. I’m sure most of them feel the same way about me. C’est la vie.

But I have never blocked anyone. A partial reason is that I’m not part of the 1% of top bloggers, who I’m sure receive a large amount of trolls. The more important reason, for me, is not having to deal with blow-back. As soon as you block someone, you are airing dirty laundry in public, and that is almost always bad news. I treat blocking or reporting someone as the last possible act, and a concession to defeat.

If you try to please everyone, no one will like it

I first saw these words of wisdom on a Murphy’s Law poster I picked up as a teenager. I clearly divide my social media into discrete areas of interest and keep them as separate as possible.

My LinkedIn account is for professional contacts only. My Facebook, Twitter, and G+ accounts are where I relax and maintain friendships. My Flickr, 500px, and WordPress blogs are for hobbies and interests I hope to take professional, or be considered seriously.

I even have a Plenty of Fish account for dating. Look me up. I’m single.

Each one serves a different purpose, and I make sure that each one only displays my ‘best side’ in that area. Sometimes my best side aint that grand, but that’s a different story.

Stats and all that

Seriously? I pay attention to them more than I should. And they have a place. But they are only a small part of what social media is all about. How many people read my Facebook feed isn’t that important, considering that’s where I let my hair down. In contrast, I watch my WordPress and 500px stats like a hawk. Remember what you’re using a network for, before you interpret (or even pay attention) to stats.

Slowing it down

I try not to post ‘machine-gun’ style. A couple of posts a day on G+, Facebook, and Twitter are enough. For Flickr and WordPress, if I have more than one post, I try to consolidate them as much as possible. I’ve seen many a person complain that nobody responds to their posts, when they’re posting 20, 30 posts a day (sometimes more). This is overkill, to me.

Being ‘that guy’

You know? The one who always hangs out in the kitchen at parties? The one who leads with a line of bullshit and a slightly grimy business card? I try not to be that guy. Nothing is an overnight success, and your content may not become relevant until after you’ve passed on (it took centuries for Vico to be recognized).

In an interview, Neil Gaiman remarked on how Brian Eno became associated with the first BBC adaptation of his book Neverwhere (I’m paraphrasing here): “And after the pitch, we said, ‘And by the way, there isn’t any money in this’. And Eno replied, ‘Well, there rarely is in the things you really want to do'”. Remember that the content is the important thing. Building relationships only comes after you’ve done the work. And even then, the relationships should be based on being honest.

On the subject of women

I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve added women whom I knew either personally or professionally to one of my networks who didn’t immediately remember who I was, and received some very negative responses to what they felt was unwelcome attention.

My rule now is to never add women, period. I always let them add me, and I’m very careful about interactions in their feeds.

To be blunt, women still experience problems in the workplace and socially that most men don’t. It’s just easier to let them decide to what extant they want to be in your social circles, and follow that lead.

A sense of amazement

Bronwen Wallace, a truly amazing Canadian writer (sadly lost to us), remarked in the introduction of her beautiful book Keep That Candle Burning Bright:

Always, I am amazed at what we tell, how much faith we put in it. Never really knowing who is listening, how they’re going to take it, where.

I can honestly say that everyday I post, whether it’s to my blog or to my Flickr/500px account, I’m amazed at who responds, where they are in the world, what they’re doing, what connected them to that infinitely small slice of my life.

You never really know who is listening.

Talk well. Talk hard.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 27, 2014 4:04 am

    Hi there, of course this paragraph is genuinely good and I have learned lot of things
    from it regarding blogging. thanks.

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