How I’m consuming social media: the October 2011 edition

I realize I’ve blogged less in general this year. Once upon a time, when I blogged less here, I was over at Vox (when it worked), writing personal, cathartic posts, sometimes directed at a limited audience. But now, and I never thought I would say this: Facebook seems to be where I’m directing some of my activity.
   The big attraction came on September 25, when I upgraded to Facebook Timeline. Since I’ve worked in visual communications for most of my life, Timeline’s look appeals to me, and, like others who favoured the revamp, I spent some time experimenting with it. Naturally, I also rechecked my privacy settings—a must whenever Facebook makes a change. And, I am sure Mr Zuckerberg will be happy to hear, I began sharing more.
   It’s that human trait of wanting instant gratification from what you’ve shared. Vox was good for that: you regularly got feedback to the limited-audience posts from your closest “friends” (many of whom have become real-life friends). Facebook, which has, since I joined in 2007, allowed us to share different things to different audiences (I’m surprised when people think that this was a recent addition to the service) offers something similar, but till recently its user interface did not appeal to me.
   Tumblr was one of the few places that was more graphically driven, but there’s such a culture of reblogging there, and I never felt too comfortable sharing anything more than a few original photos and some pithy thoughts.
   Facebook became the service between writing long blog posts (here) and pithy reblogs on Tumblr. I could share photos with select audience members. If I had queries, I could direct them to one of the circles of people that Facebook, this year, encouraged everyone to set up (my five haven’t changed since Facebook allowed us to set up groups of friends beyond ‘Limited Profile’). And the feeling of instant gratification was there for things you wanted people to know about—that strange human need of knowing that you were heard.
   I wound up putting some things on Facebook that I would have put on Tumblr a year ago, even if it was to a closed platform, and even if it was to a limited audience. It was “my” limited audience, after all, a group which I knew would appreciate the content. It wasn’t that personally knowing the audience seemed to compensate for the cowardice of not putting something out there publicly—it was the knowledge that it would be seen, and “liked”. We humans need so little to get a kick.
   I know there’s Google Plus, but it’s just not for me. That has been covered elsewhere, but the smaller contact number there has no appeal. Of the 50-odd who have added me to their circles, I have a few real friends, all of whom I can reach more easily through email.
   This seems to be a round-about way for me to advise people that you can catch me on Facebook. For non-friends, I have opened up my account to subscribers, and occasionally write public status updates, or share public photos and links. I’ve also taken the backward step of setting up a fan page, where I record some of my business and political thoughts which are a bit more in depth than the minutiæ of life that form Facebook status updates.
   Then, there is Twitter, which I found myself using a lot less of since everyone went to ‘New Twitter’. New Twitter means an extra click for everything, and it’s far slower and buggier. Only this week have I switched to Twitter Mobile, even for my desktop and laptop, just so I can make a quicker judgement about whether to follow back a follower, and Tweet more reliably without an ‘Oops! We did something wrong’ message.
   I’m not so bold as to proclaim that Facebook is “it”, given the criticisms I’ve levelled at it in the past. I still have concerns over its privacy, just as I have concerns over Google about its terrible record. But, credit where it is due, whomever was responsible for Timeline seems to have understood the needs of some of its users. I know it’s annoyed some people—I have heard of one Facebooker who has used his account less since Timeline, because it turns him off—but, for me, it seems to be one of the better thought-out changes in the nearly half-decade I have been on the service, and fattened their wallets with my private information.

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14 thoughts on “How I’m consuming social media: the October 2011 edition

  1. The impact of social media is interesting. I generally find twitter is like an advanced SMS service. Facebook I generally use to see what friends are up to or to post something inane myself. My blog is just sporadic technical things I stumble onto and want to record somewhere, mainly for my own selfish reason – I simply can’t remember everything I learn so things that I know I’ll need in the future get slapped on my blog in short posts so that I can cut n paste them into whatever I’m working on when I need to.

    Going forward the majority of my time will now go into writing articles on Mooch’d about cloud hosting and scalable web development and no doubt I’ll spend less time on Facebook and Twitter.

    I think what we are doing in life and our time constraints generally dictate how much time we can invest in social media – being of the internet era we need to try everything out so there is always a constant cycle of in with the new, out with the old as we work out what works for us and what doesn’t.

    Timeline I thought looked cool when I first played with it – now it scares me more than it excites me. I’m not really comfortable with details of my life I’ve forgotten mapped out for the world/friends to see. Sure you can customise it but to be honest – I don’t have the time or the inclination to go through years and years of stuff culling out anything I dont want to appear.


  2. Nigel, have you thought of changing the privacy status of all past posts? There’s a single setting in the privacy settings. You can restrict that to a single class of people, which might be a plan if you’re concerned.
       I had been customizing my Facebook for years, so I’m not too worried about the old stuff.

  3. I’m sorry, Jack, but I will never return to Facebook. It wasn’t just the lack of privacy, it was my experience overall.

    I have PTSD. Facebook is too… out there. Too many people, well-known or not, will never understand that I’m not interested in their smelly, loud opinions. I carved back to classmates, to extended family… too many, quite frankly, didn’t give a rat’s ass about how I really was or how I found their rantings and drama stressful.

    I do not use G+ all that much more but it suits the small purpose I use it for. Microblogging, at best, is a way for me to quietly remind people I am still there– if they notice it above the chatter. (Twitter is for me to say, “Oh hi there, I have a long-form blog post.”)

    Maybe I will go back to goal microblogging, like 43Things. The site was still too minimalist so I’d have to do some more searching for an alternative.

  4. Fair enough, J. As I said, we’re in charge of the technology, not the other way around, and we should seek services that work for us.
       Would you enjoy Tumblr? I find it good to record brief thoughts.

  5. I’m aware of Tumblr, but it hasn’t really grabbed me.

    In short, the increasing fragmentation of social networking frustrates me. I can handle one or two sites; more than that is too much. I tried going back to a static website format called Most Recent (run by the Joe’s Goals guy) in an attempt to unify things, but support has been dropped.

    I’m a client-side kind of guy. Desktop feed readers and blogging clients (I use BloGTK) help keep my involvements sorted. But if sites don’t play nice with those formats, and become too much work to maintain… I’m not going to much bother.

    One last tangent: I did mention that much of the Ex-Vox crowd has migrated to G+, didn’t I? Nothing else stuck, as you remember.

  6. I haven’t heard of Most Recent. I prefer client-side as well, and Tumblr I really only began to favour a year ago. In some ways, it replaced Vox for me, at least for blogging short things.
       I wasn’t aware that the ex-Vox group had largely gone to Google Plus. I can see it would have its uses for a small group, but given my constant battles with Google (I now have seven Buzz followers, none of which Google will reveal—and, you may recall, I neither have a Gmail nor a Buzz account), I am staying away from anything that company offers.

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