Why I still love (and always probably will), Current Social Media

This will sound odd, coming from me, ever since I joined the IndieWeb officially in May 2019. But… it needs to be said, and I have learned this pretty quickly since I have been a citizen of the web.

The current social media landscape has it’s place… in fact, most of the fediverse instances that are currently standing are no better in terms of long-standing social issues; the ever-present “free speech” debate, on which I have since switched sides. I do not feel that strict governmental regulation is the answer to everything, though I don’t mind if they step in on particular things. The smaller organizations who can take care of themselves, though, should be able to. More on all of these points in a minute.

Why I Love Twitter

You’re probably thinking… that woman is insane? Yes, that I may be.. but proud of it. Either way… despite it’s shortcomings (all platforms have them, whether self-hosted or cloud-hosted) I still love the Twitter platform dearly. You can avoid the issues talked about in the news (hate speech, cancel culture, ads, algorithms), by following the right people; focus on the ones that you are actually interested in, and do not focus on the promotions. If you are interested in following a business, for example (I follow lots of them, and there’s nothing wrong with that), actually follow them from their social media links on their web site, not from a tweet that was promoted by Twitter. I’m no SEO expert, but from what I can gather via speaking with those who have tons more experience than I do, the more organic your followers are, the better. Keeps businesses honest. I don’t care who you are… buying followers does your organization no good, and it does nothing to enhance your stats that will actually help you grow.

On the more personal side of Twitter… I have made some fantastic contacts from all over the world, and said contacts, I would never have made without the organization known so affectionately as the Birdsite by some. Twitter is many things… but a few of them stand out; conversation, interaction, and network growth are some of its more redeeming qualities. While it sometimes feels like you’re posting in an echo chamber, and sometimes the platform is just that depending on your followers, you also might get lucky; last week, for instance, I posted a comment on a check in from Swarm, and the corresponding tweet was seem by one of my former support reps from a few years ago. I never thought I would hear from him again in any capacity, and I begin to wonder, had I not posted that tweet, would I have found him? Probably not, but it was nice to catch up, nonetheless. My point? Had I posted that anywhere else, I probably never would have had the pleasant interaction that I did… because he never would have seen it.

Facebook: My Thoughts

The elephant in the room… let’s talk about him. (political correctness nazis, forgive me for “assuming gender”.) Either way… Facebook is just one of those things, it’s an absolute no-no for some, while for the majority of us, myself included, it’s a necessary evil. I started my Facebook Journey while I was at college; a friend of mine introduced me to the site called “Facebook”; she had been talking about it previously for weeks, singing the praises of the “new social network”. “What is this”, I had asked. “I’ll show you”, she had replied… and then the rest was history.

I posted my entire life on Facebook; from the random drives up to New Hampshire, to the times at the office when I managed to spill coffee on my desk in the middle of the afternoon (when I got coffee in the afternoon hours, that is), and while some posts got comments, likes, and all of the other little interactions that all of us are hoping that each and every one of our posts will get, I just didn’t worry about how many I received; being more concerned instead with the lives of all of the other people around me… not to mention, the re-acquaintances I made, most of the folks had been outside of my life for at least a few years prior. If not for Facebook, I never would have found them.

Little did I know, later, that Facebook is the worst for privacy, particularly what they did in 2016, but even after that. I am a very open person, in general, and a lot of my posts are tagged with geolocation, for instance. But, if I choose to display that information, I should be able to do so with out then getting a pile of random ads thrown in my face. I would rather see ads based on keywords, not based on location or other personal data. So, from that prospective, Facebook needs to have their ways reined in. I can’t speak much more on that, considering I’m as far from a legal expert as you can get.

Something else… most of the stuff you read regarding Facebook is referring to attention, screen time (what is that, anyway?), and how Facebook is an addiction for some people. I am still on the fence, but I do not at the moment believe so-called “internet addiction” is a real thing. I don’t however, have anything to back that one up, considering you get different things seemingly depending on whom you’re talking to, or which site you decide to pull your news from. Either way, there are simple solutions for social media grabbing our attention. (for you could say the same thing about a personal web site; attention, is, after all, defined as the amount of time spent on something; when we give our time to a subject or person, we give that entity our attention, so the reference is too vague to even be useful.) I’ll start with the simplest and then I will go for the more complex:

  • Time yourself. This can be done simply by keeping an eye on the time; carve out a particular slot of time that will be spent on social media, and when that runs out, log off of Facebook

  • focus on the things that interest you. Just like Twitter, as long as you focus on only the things that interest you, and not on the trending topic of the day/week/month/whenever, you will find yourself less prone to begin following the propaganda provided by our current news sources most of the time, or wasting precious time looking at the latest celeberty gossip… I care for neither of those on the average given day, in fact. Give me cat/dog/squirrel/racoon pictures, please. Along with cute descriptions so that I can picture the furry creature in question and have my heart melted.

  • Interact with the posts you like rather than simply liking them. this one doesn’t necessarily go without saying… because platforms like Facebook make it way too easy to just click like and move on; Insta is the same way, but both leave room for nice conversations. Posting a comment on a post you like in addition to giving it a like is a better candidate for interactions, because most likely, commenting will yield a decent conversation. after all, why else are we here? Human interaction, guys.

  • be Sparing With Shared Content From Pages. Since the point of Facebook is interactions, and since their algorithm tends to favor pages over posts from friends and acquaintances, be mindful of the page content you share; only share content from pages where you actually have a vested interest in the product being promoted; otherwise, you will mor than likely simply annoy those around you by pushing what could easily be viewed as unsolicited content.

All of these put together will go a long way towards making your Facebook experience more productive. that, and interacting with people will help immensely.

Conclusion

I wanted to bring this issue to light for a couple of reasons. partially, it’s because of all the hype surrounding social media and now it needs to go away. My opinion? It doesn’t need to go away, and I will admit, as stated above, it does indeed have it’s flaws, but no software has fflaws without human intervention to bring them out. Now, am I saying that some of the things that have happened with Facebook are it’s user’s fault? No. can they be? yes, depending on configuration. I hope this gives you a glimpse into two of the most prominent social media platforms and how they can be made to be beneficial, and not harmful, in your life.