Over the holiday period I had three weeks off work which gave me a lot of time to take my mind off the day to day of work, to read, to watch movies, to sleep in and enjoy everything. I found myself checking in on Facebook to see what others were doing between my plans out of habit.
The biggest thing for me was seeing over the holiday break how we are ALL too connected to our smart phones. We check it at dinner, in bed, on the toilet, on the sofa, pretty much everywhere. It’s so anti-social and also very rude.
I have heard many people complain about how much crap is on Facebook and I guess I just got used to the noise ratio and blocked it out…I’m certainly a culprit here of posting a lot. Not everyone needs to know what you’re doing every two seconds, you’re not that important I guess I reflected on that and realized the same. There are so many other sources I could consume information that would be more useful like my Feedly.com News, Tech & Sports feeds.
In my career I’ve leveraged the social networks to gain an audience that drives people to my blog, has allowed me to be part of discussions on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. My personal life and my technical voice got blurred along the way. I am absolutely grateful on the visibility and reach it has giving me and completely understand without it AvePoint probably wouldn’t have picked me up and Microsoft wouldn’t have awarded me an MVP. Do people in your line of work really need to see pictures of your vacations with your loved ones?
I’m originally from England and lived in Australia for 8 years and have been living in America now for 3 years, and I share a lot of what I’m doing with Facebook so my parents, grandparents and close friends can see. I think to a degree I was replacing human interaction with status updates which certainly has affected some friendships. I think a lot of people are probably in this boat too, sometimes a phone call to your friends to catch up is so much more important…rather than having nothing to talk about because they’ve seen what you’ve been doing. There is no excuses now with e-mail and Skype.
Although a lot of people add me as a friend on Facebook, often I’ve never even met them and they know me through my writing. I’ve been thrown off a few times where people have finally caught up with me and asked me about personal events and then I realize maybe I’m a little too open.
The other thing I’ve seen more of recently is people using Facebook to vent about relationships, work and all sorts of very personal things. We’ve all had huge things happen in our lifetimes, I’ve found myself at times catching myself before I post as I found myself having a feeling or a opinion and immediately wanting to share on Facebook. There is an element where you want to post something that gets liked or starts discussion as a sense of achievement, much like you would in a crowd of people having the attention focused on yourself. I think we’re all guilty of a brag on the social networks from time to time that maybe unnecessary too. I’m sure there is some psycho babble explanation for this and often this is replacing other methods to vent with friends, or a journal, or just thinking it through.
I love seeing photos that people share of what they’re up to or when I’m out them sharing photos of me out with them, but people shouldn’t see social networks as a way of documenting their life…as its being shared with more than just you and your family. I believe that if people stepped back from social networks and went back to personal journals so that you can express things in the privacy of your own mind rather than with everyone it would reduce the risk of sharing too much. The privacy settings on Facebook and how the apps work for posting to groups is just too hard, Google+ Circles have tried to rectify this but hasn’t had the adoption I thought it would have by now.
There have been reports recently of Facebook not being as popular amongst teens, I believe that part of that is because it has blown up in their faces more in such a focused environment. The reality is, right now, Facebook has the largest reach across generations and I don’t see it taking a dive like MySpace did…but I believe the usage will change and that people will come to the same conclusions (or already have) that I have.
So I’ve sat down and made some new years resolution rules around social that I am going to try to stick to:
- Digital Journal
Start a digital journal to document events in my life and write down my thoughts privately.
Lock down the privacy of social networks:
- Facebook – change privacy to “Friends only” so nothing is public (edit existing posts), have approval on all items tagged in
- Instagram – make posts private and approve friends
- Foursquare – make posts private (& turn off twitter posts)
- Limit content
Limit Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to work, tech, movies and sports talk and encourage my tech friends to follow me there.
- Clean up
Purge Facebook friends to those who I have actually met and would want to meet again
There is a certain irony in blogging about this…but I felt the need to write this to make everyone who reads this also take a reality check on all things social for 2014.