Antisocial Media: #BiteMe and the “Forget This” Button

canstockphoto10130744Over the last few months, as I’ve worked on a transition plan for a career in where-I-landed to one in writing, I’ve wrestled with the idea of social media. Here’s what I figured out: It is clutter that needs to be cleared from my mental landscape.

I’m a technically savvy person. To a point. There must be tremendous gain in order for me to be motivated to untangle the snarl of tech apps and social media on offer out there. If it doesn’t make my life better, whether it be personal development, time efficiency or dollars (so I can pay someone else to do it), then it’s off my radar.

About five years ago, before considering the professional aspects of social media, I set up a personal Facebook page. I snooped and searched and found friends and relatives first. Then I looked for Army buddies and then high school friends and then an occasional childhood friend.

It was amazing how many of them were fake farming and posting pithy quotes and causes, poor quality phone pictures and inane comments that one would hardly bother verbalizing in person. Worse yet, they were staying in touch with my ex-boyfriends, ex-bosses, ex-friends and ex-relatives. Fantastic. There’s nothing like rebuilding those bridges that I had tossed kerosene on, set on fire and danced around singing joyfully, all while they burned, baby, burned.

I tweaked the settings so I didn’t have to see them. Then I started blocking pictures, then the mommy updates, the impersonal updates from rock stars just because I “liked” them, then I blocked friend requests, since people I had chosen not to keep in touch with, hadn’t gotten the message over the last 20 years. Then I deleted the account. I’ve gone through this process at least twice in the last 5 years. Suck that, timeline feature. I think the 3rd time will be a charm.

It used to be that real life friends would start every conversation with “I don’t know if you saw what I posted on Facebook, but” and would start talking to me from the middle of some story. If you stare at people blankly long enough, they start remembering to call and email. Occasionally, since they would have to start at the beginning of their story, we’d meet for coffee. Or I’d never hear from them again. It was win-win for everyone involved.

I never really saw the point of Twitter. I’m a wordy writer. 140 characters seems like punishment for some crime I’ve yet to commit (#badprose). I signed up, un-twitting lamb to the slaughter. Stand up comics have great lines, which work well in the Twitterverse. The rest of us sound desperate for attention. I like my desperation in long form and feel embarrassed when I read as other talented writers send out Haikus that all say, in essence, “Look at me, I don’t want to do this but, they make me.” Unless, of course, they’ve already hit the big-time and have publicists who type that nonsense for them.

As curmudgeonly as it makes me sound, there are few things we have control over in our lives, but our free time is one of those things. I know that a lot of people find pleasure in connection at short bursts, but this is something that is BAD for me. It caters to my tendency to be unsociable and lowers my tolerance for longer interactions with real people. If I’m rapid-firing off missives on every mundane moment of my life, I don’t have the time to be engaged in the planet I’m physically standing on.

canstockphoto11077521So, I bid farewell to Twitter and Facebook. Despite the fabulous time-wasting features, my patience and time have limited application.

55 Comments on “Antisocial Media: #BiteMe and the “Forget This” Button

  1. I’m on FB all the time and have everyone on there and don’t have a prob with it. I tweet but just for writing not personal. But I really don’t do twitter well or like it. I feel like a wallflower in a bar full of cool kids, not knowing what the hell is going on haha And I have wordpress.

    It all needs to be kept in perspective, as you say, no doubt. It’s not a replacement for real life although it’s a huge part of real life now. Strange isn’t it?

    Like

    • It really is all about where you want to spend your time. I felt such an “everyone is doing it” compulsion and yet, once I’d set things up, I didn’t have time or interest in looking at it ever again. I’m also one of those people that gets annoyed by group emails. I tend to thrive on one-on-one connections – email and phone calls are much more enjoyable for me. Blogging is great, so in terms of social media, I do have that.

      Like

  2. I got too many friends who weren’t friends. and was too insecure to defriend them, so I closed the account instead. No turning back!

    Like

    • I got weirded out by a few friend requests or I would get horrifying glimpses into the life of someone, who I only knew marginally. I felt like a scavenging peeping tom. I also walked away, having wasted immense amounts of time with little to show for it!

      Like

  3. I just opened my Facebook account seven months ago when we moved out of the city. I use Facebook to spy on my kids (18 and 20 years old who didn’t move with us). I don’t want to bother them, just peek into their worlds to better understand them and ensure that they are safe and healthy.

    Like

    • That might be the point when having an account is necessary – when my daughter is old enough to have her own accounts. I think it becomes an necessary evil when you have kids (no matter what age!).

      Like

  4. I share the same sentiments! And you really put it the best way possible…fun to read but ironically so true. I love reading this. I’m gonna like!

    Like

    • Thanks for “liking” it – I wonder how many people are going to try and hit that big “Unlike” button – at least I won’t be able to see those numbers! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  5. I’m on twitter for the second time and struggling as much as the first. It’s an effort. Everything sounds stupid as soon as I put it out there. I got into it the second time to link to my blog, but it’s sucking the life out of me. Deciding whether to give it one more breath of life or dispose of it forever!! I agree with all your observations. #mindnumbing

    Like

    • I think if you can master it, have the time to maintain it and enjoy it, it’s an entirely different experience. For me, I just didn’t want to bother with it after I connected it to the blog. They say for writer bloggers, that you have to do more than just send out Tweets of your new posts and I wasn’t willing to do more than that.

      Like

  6. I see Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites as tools, not toys. I don’t use them for timewasting (I have other, more interesting ways to waste my time, thank you, tvtropes.com), but I do find them growing more and more valuable to me as networking tools. The trick is to use them sparingly and wisely, not to let them take over your life. That’s something I’m still struggling to learn, and in the meantime, I overcompensate by not hardly using them at all.

    Like

    • Maybe that’s really the difference – picking exactly what we want to waste our time on. I would also say that overcompensating by not using them at all was eventually what happened to me. I have talked to some other writers, especially reporters, who found them as invaluable tools for networking as well as locating sources. Until I’m in full swing and actively marketing myself as a writer, I think I can hold off. I jumped the gun when I really just need to focus on finishing novel re-writes, blogging and working on short stories.

      Like

  7. I finally joined Twitter and realized all I was missing out on. That being said, it’s also totally cluttered up my mind space and my time. It’s like you suddenly realized the party was going on next door and felt left out, but when you didn’t know it was there it was all okay.
    I think balance is key, and in that regard it means taking care of life before surfing around the virtual media world.

    Like

    • I’m going with the “ignorance is bliss” social media platform, I guess. I was at the party, but it turns out everybody was already plastered and making out in the dark corners. Balance seems to be key to everything and I’m just not there yet!

      Like

      • Ya, I’m with you on the balance. It’s easy to go overboard and not so easy to reel back from the edge. I know more, but maybe I didn’t need to see everyone making out.
        I’m signing up for the ignorance party next stop.

        Like

  8. I found it really interesting that I saw this post just 3 days after my departure from facebook. I learned that the real people who you matter to in life while include you in their life without social media. These important people will call, text, or see you in person to hear about your life and stories. I am not sure whether people are so fake due to social media or it is a product of the general culture. It has been awesome being away from facebook though. I did not realize the huge amount of time wasted checking social media. Now I actually have time to interact with real people.

    Like

    • I think for me, it gave me the illusion that I was actually doing something. When in actuality, I was producing nothing that would definitively impact my skills as a writer. I also find it ironically impersonal, even though people would reveal the most intimate details of their lives. I’m pretty old school in some ways – I love personal correspondence, an enjoyable chatty phone call, Skyping and sitting down across from somebody over a good cup of coffee. It isn’t to say that social media can’t be part of it, but one only has so much time!

      Like

  9. I use FB and Twitter; my blog posts are automatically sent out to my Twitter followers and to my FB page. I also tweet a quote every day (that also goes automatically to my FB page) and follow people who interest me. On FB, I have asynchronous conversations with friends in other time zones and with my kids and grandkids; my page is restricted to only my friends; my friends are people I have met elsewhere; I don’t friend everyone who asks; and sometimes I unfriend people who annoy me. I also play one or two games with friends, mostly to unwind after work, and only one round daily. I think I spend more time reading blogs than I do on FB. 🙂

    Like

    • It sounds like you have a great way of managing it all. Right now, I just can’t seem to do any of these things more than halfheartedly, so I’d rather not do them at all and just focus on the things that I really enjoy doing. It really came down to a time factor and whether this was a good place for me, at this point in my life/early writing career, to spend time. At least I know who to ask, if I ever need to revisit these options again – you sound like a master!

      Like

  10. Love this post…. Just don’t give up blogging! Please. I like to read your posts!
    never tweeted or twittered, you are absolutely right about facebook. I look at some of the comments from friends I thought were at least intelligent and I wonder WTH! I would be better off without it… if I can just break the habit! LOL

    Like

    • I could never get the Facebook settings right and they kept changing them. And nowhere could I locate the “Block Jackass or Inane Comments”option! Apparently that’s one algorithm they haven’t figured out yet. It can be quite a habit! My drug of choice is WordPress. I plan on continuing to blog, since it has been such a fun experience and more importantly, has kept me in the habit of regularly writing.

      Like

  11. I have enjoyed Facebook as a way to stay connected, but I also see how it supersedes more superior means of contact. Clicking like shouldn’t replace a phone call. Posting what you’re up to won’t necessarily inform everyone you want to include and may offend those you didn’t want to include. I have found it frustrating to have someone tell me that I missed out one something because I didn’t read their feed – a text is even more personal.
    I have made some excellent re-connections because of FB, and I’ve also watched as someone left us – I think it’s like the telephone taking the place of writing – it’s a sea change in communications, but it has it’s pitfalls to be sure. I can certainly understand wanting to disconnect from it – I have been close a couple of times.

    I think I’ll sign off and go set up a fan page for my high school pals golden retriever:)

    Like

    • I know I’m going to sound like an old lady (I’m just practicing), but those pages are all so cluttered and sorting through the lame shit to get to anything useful drove me nuts. For instance, in between comments like “I just found an awesome purse at the Coach store”, you’d find out that someone desperately needed a kidney transplant. Everything is made to seem really important or really trivial. Plus, even though I have a kid, I’m not that interested in other people’s kids. What’s the emoticon for being a complete jerk? I need that one.

      Anyway, I think it works for some people, but I’ve finally given up on doing it because I think I’m supposed to and am just going to stick to my little blogging world and offline writing. I’m going to make an awesome old lady if my push back against technology continues! Next to go, the smarter-than-me phone.

      Like

      • LOL – I totally get it. I do sell some photos from my photography page, so it has its uses – and if I had a brick and mortar business I’d have a page – simple communication. But you are so right. Not everything is as important in relation to other posts. I have finally started blocking a lot of people with stupid updates. I don’t care to hear how awesome your new purse or iPod, or any other thing is. I don’t think I could do without my iPhone though 🙂

        Like

  12. Brilliant! I have always maintained that Facebook is the devil. I am so tired of egocentric and entitled people posting their every whim as if the world cared. I do not want to see what you eat, the last diaper your new baby filled, or your latest rant against your ex-anything. I hope you will stick with blogging though. I need your daily dose of normal.
    🙂

    Like

    • Facebook does tend to reinforce a culture of trivia, but since I do plan on continuing to blog, I can’t get too high up on my horse about social media! I just think for some of these platforms that are incredibly time-consuming, there is little return.
      I’ve also become resentful of the idea that if I don’t do Facebook or Twitter, I won’t be “in the know”, especially since there is so little of importance to be found. I do sound a bit crotchety, but that’s a platform I’m perfectly okay with!

      Like

  13. Facebook is dying a death with me. It all started when my Mom got annoyed she wasn’t my friend, and my sister got involved and then I had to add her. I don’t want my Mom to see what I do, I’m 30 – I can either tell her in person or hide things from her. Either way I can’t be bothered with the hassle of privacy settings so before I pressed “Add friend”, I purged everything, all my old posts, old photos, friends I hadn’t spoken to in years… It was refreshing, and now I keep a strict 6-month-policy, if it’s a wall post by me or someone else, or photos of a night out, at six months it goes. The only things that stay are holidays, but even those are slowly being purged as I lose touch with the people in the photos… And I prefer it, is presents a snapshot of my life now, rather than the story of the last six or seven years when nobody got in touch in person 🙂

    Like

    • I laughed reading about your family issues on Facebook – I was running into a similar problem with my in-laws. They were nice people but I didn’t necessarily want them knowing everything about me. Those privacy settings are a complete pain, especially when they change them and you have to review everything again. Sounds like you’ve gotten a handle on it! I just gave up on the whole deal.

      Like

  14. Excellent, thoughtful, succinct post! I think WordPress is giving me what I was looking for on Facebook. An outlet for expression, real food for thought from others, and some interesting dialogue.

    I’m not ready to pull the plug yet, but your post certainly resonates.

    Plus, my FB “friends” are 3/4 of my blog following count, whether they know it or not. LOL

    I wouldn’t have known about “LOL” without Facebook. Thank you, Facebook.

    Oh, also? Facebook makes it really easy to share all those baby pictures without having to sign up for Flickr or something 😉

    Like

    • Thanks for the compliment on the post. Thank goodness for Google or else I wouldn’t know what the hell (WTH) people are talking about! I’m not a fan of acronyms in place of words, but I suppose that just makes me a fusspot. You can imagine how long it takes me to send a text!

      As you can see from a lot of the comments, many people have learned to manage Facebook effectively for their lives. I don’t have the skill/interest, but that’s okay, too. My friends and family should be grateful I don’t post the 16 gazillion pictures that I’ve taken of my daughter. They get one or two in the mail and I think they’re happy enough with that. No one has ever requested more!

      Like

  15. Amen! Life is time, and time (and life) are short. And I also accidentally started a Pinterest account – what a nightmare; it won’t leave me alone!!

    Like

  16. Loved the post!

    I’ve had much the same experiences on Facebook, but it’s become a spectacular wreck on the highway that I just can’t look away from. Twitter still mystifies me, and I’m not sure I’m “doing it right”.

    Like

    • Spectacular wreck is right. I really felt sort of ashamed when people would post haphazardly personal stuff or trivial stuff. It felt like I got caught reading a checkout lane gossip rag. Sometimes I just want to say “you know, you’re much nicer to know in person than you can tell from your Facebook page.” I’m sure that would go over like a lead brick, though. Watch me as I retreat with my land line and handwritten correspondence…kidding, no land line – just two cans and some string.

      Like

  17. Good for you!
    I hate the direction the world is heading in, with gadgets and virtual friends replacing “real” friendships and experiences.
    I know it has its good and bad points…but it’s always refreshing to hear when someone rejects some of this social media “stuff.”
    Great post — wonderful writing as always! 🙂

    Like

    • I try not to be too anti-technology, since there are a lot of positive things it can do, but I think it’s a mistake to always assume it can take the place of real communication. I’d rather see someone laugh than read LOL. Thanks for reading and your kind words!

      Like

  18. Pingback: 5 Things I Think About Before Hitting the Publish Button | The Green Study

  19. Pingback: Time Travel on Facebook | The Green Study

  20. Sadly enough, I feel your setting the category for this post as “humor” is incorrect. I am in complete alignment with your point of view and think this is simply brilliant. But “profound sadness (at the rejection of friends and family for your ‘abnormal point of view’ about social media)” would be a more accurate category from my experience. I check Facebook twice a year (whether it needs it or not) and when I posted the start of my blog, my sister commented “He’s still ALIVE?” on my board.
    I am still debating linking the blog to the mediasphere to create more visibility. I fear the dozen or so e-mail notices in my mailbox weekly will jump orders of magnitude so my junk filters will simply clog.
    Thanks for the reminder (and warning). And many thinks for setting my thoughts to vert-paper so nicely.
    Phred

    Like

    • I routinely have arguments with myself about what I should or should not be doing in regards to social media. As someone who hopes to get a book published eventually, the specter of social media looms painfully large.
      I think so much depends on the individual choices of how we want to spend our time and what is gained by being more engaged online. For me, after blogging for three years, I get as much interaction and attention as I can handle. The idea of more is not appealing.

      Like

      • But the joy of putting physical pen to paper at a book signing will be vastly better when we get there than the thousands of ‘delete’ keys we press from virtual fans along the way. I much prefer the ‘sharing a cup of coffee’ than the ‘sharing the latest trending tweet’ anytime, any day. Perhaps we can meet and sign each other’s books sometime? (This is my year to stop claiming and start writing…there’s at least three on my inner shelf that need’s printing)
        Thanks again for the vision.
        Phred

        Like

        • In terms of claiming versus writing, it’s a very satisfying thing to finally be doing the thing I’ve wanted to do my whole life, but never could bridge the gap between planning and doing. Write away…

          Like

      • But the joy of putting physical pen to paper at a book signing will be vastly better when we get there than the thousands of ‘delete’ keys we press from virtual fans along the way. I much prefer the ‘sharing a cup of coffee’ than the ‘sharing the latest trending tweet’ anytime, any day. Perhaps we can meet and sign each other’s books sometime? (This is my year to stop claiming and start writing…there’s at least three on my inner shelf that need’s printing)
        Thanks again for the vision.
        Phred

        Like

%d bloggers like this: