Opinion

Confessions of a Social Media Dork

Social Media Dork 2

I do know some things. I’m fairly hip to what’s going on in politics (although my use of the word “hip” dates me severely), I’m generally savvy about what constitutes good music and what does not (more dating with the “savvy”) and I can kick your ass when it comes to movie trivia. (Unless you’re talking about movies released in the last five years or so, because a lot of them are crammed with noise-filled crap that doesn’t amount to anything. But I’m not bitter.) What I don’t seem to be able to grasp? The nuances of this thing called social media, which has overtaken the planet faster than the Bubonic Plague wiped out half of Europe, back in the day when the wearing of codpieces and the subjugation of women were considered respectful leisure activities.

Granted, I was born long before technology allowed one to spontaneously share with the world pictures of oneself eating an over-priced hamburger at a trendy restaurant that will be shuttered within a month because people in the digital age have the attention span of a gnat. (Why you would want to broadcast a somewhat-pornographic image of you tonguing a slab of meat is beyond me. Maybe I went to the wrong schools.) Still, I try to remain current with cultural developments, I really do, but there are a couple of things that mystify me in regards to proper digital etiquette. So let’s relax for a few moments (Pokemon DON’T Go) and open-mindedly consider a few factors.

ONE: Who the hell has time for all this mess?

Okay, perhaps that didn’t come out quite as diplomatically as it should have. Still, it all seems a bit overwhelming. For example, just here on WordPress, it takes me several hours every day to muddle through all the “networking” bit. (I don’t even want to have sex for several hours, so everything else pales in comparison.) Granted, I have it set up so that any time someone likes or comments on a post, I get an email. This is just to make sure that I don’t miss anything that anyone has done. I know what it’s like when I carefully craft a comment on someone else’s post, and then they completely ignore it, not even bothering to click like, let alone respond. I don’t want to be that person. Additionally, if someone takes the time to visit your page and show a little love tap, then you should make damn sure you go see what they’re up to on their own page. This doesn’t mean you have to click like on their stuff (there have been plenty of times when I’ve not cared for what I found, and then I’m out the door, click-less) but a courtesy visit is in order.

If affects your soul when you devotedly work into the wee hours in order to clean out your inbox, tumble into bed, grudgingly tumble back out, slap at the switch on the coffee maker, and then sign in to find that you have 200 new emails. And that’s just WordPress. How do some folks ride roughshod over four or five media and not end up in an asylum, drooling on themselves and clicking a mouse repeatedly while bitter Tori Amos songs play in the background?

Speaking of the other media…

TWO: Why would one follow 50,000 people on Twitter?

I can understand if you have 50,000 followers. This means that you apparently have done something at least moderately noteworthy (or were at least born a Kardashian) at some point, and people have decided to join your digital posse to see if you’ve got a repeat performance in you. But to willingly subscribe to the stream-of-consciousness output of more people than the population of my home state? There’s no way you’re reading all that mess.

Unless you’re just in it for the numbers. That explains the Twitter accounts I’m constantly running across where “Followback Gyrl” has shown anonymous affection for 37.2k people, 35.4k of whom apparently heart the gyrl back, and yet there are only 7 tweets on the account since 2012, with 3 of them being repeats. What does this get you at the end of the day? Other than carpal tunnel.

THREE: Why is Instagram all the rage?

[Legal clarification: By the time I finish this blog post and get it uploaded, Instagram will most likely have been replaced by yet another form of social media, since we get a new one every day, but for now the focus is on Instagram.] You use this app, according to the official site, “to share pictures and videos with your friends.” Isn’t that what we did with Facebook? What’s the difference? Other than possibly a lower percentage of racist trolls spamming your comment section, but I’m sure there’s still some of that jackery taking place on Instagram as well. Racist trolls have no actual personal lives, so they take to social media like a duck to water, paddling as fast as they can to keep up with their own lies.

Confused, I decided to take a survey at our local convenience store whilst making a Friday-night beer run. [Further legal clarification: This survey did not actually take place, but if it had, it would have gone just like this, swear.]

Me, reading from teleprompter: “So what’s the difference between Facebook and Instagram?”

Girl, chewing contentedly on a stick of beef jerky that she clearly hadn’t yet paid for: “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Do you have five bucks?”

Me: “No. Next?”

Lady, perusing the fine selection of 7-day-old wine on the bottom shelf: “Instagram is so much easier than Facebook. You can use it on your phone!”

Me: “Facebook has a phone app. I know because it pings me all the time to let me know whose birthday it is and that no one is visiting my author page.”

Wine Lady: “But it’s easier!”

Me: “And how do you sign into Instagram?”

Wine Lady: “With my Facebook account.”

Me: “Got it. Next?”

Teenage Boy, eyeballing the giant, cloudy jar of giant, warty pickles that lives in most locally-owned convenience stores in southern states: “Are you gay? Because Facebook is gay.”

Me: “I’m so proud you’re an American. And kudos to your parents. Next?”

Man, feverishly working on a scratch-off lottery ticket, a pile of disappointments beside him: “Instagram has really cool filters and effects. You can make some really killer pics.”

Me: “But your smart phone can do that. And you don’t even need an app.”

Fever Man: “Not everybody can afford a smart phone. We’re not rich like you.” [Suddenly, the opening strains of La Cucaracha filled the air.] “Hang on, I gotta take this.” And he pulls out the latest iPhone. “Hey, man. Did you get that pic I sent of mi muchacha beating the hell out of that piñata? No? I posted it on Instagram. Oh, okay. I’ll send it to Facebook.”

Couldn’t he just send the picture directly to Man’s phone? Why does it have to be broadcast across the airwaves, shared from sea to shining sea? Are there no other sources of validation in your life? I grabbed my beer and left the store.

[Continued legal clarification: I realize that I’m a writer, I have several blogs, and I do want my stuff to be seen. I’m a bit of a media trollop. But I don’t need to share every single thing that I do. I like having secrets. It makes me feel special and pretty.]

FOUR: The overwhelming amount of other social media apps.

I will admit that I’ve tried out various platforms over the years, mainly so I could attain some degree of traction on this elusive concept of self-promotion that indie writers must embrace if they want to have any chance of earning a penny. Some of them have been fun, for a bit, but most of them have shown no return on investment. Because there are too many of them. The supernovas can burn with intensity, but they just as quickly become Alka-Seltzer tablets dissolving in water, a bit of fizzy and then nothing.

We seem to be making a big deal out of things that don’t matter. That’s an over-generalization, sure, but why are we so invested in the latest and greatest of something that is not all that important? Yes, social media can be and has been empowering and transformational, getting stories out that weren’t shared before, changing situations for the better. At the same time, social media has allowed bigoted idiots who previously were deservedly shunned by society to gather digitally, grabbing the spotlight and shining it on their collective hatred and divisiveness. This is how Donald Trump became the Republican candidate for President.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this section. It just seems that in this era of the most advanced forms of communication ever, so many people have nothing of value to say. But they’re going to say it anyway. And then bitch when they get called out for being vapid and useless.

FIVE: The amazing number of “beauty blogs”.

I’m sure I’m stepping into hot water with this one, but I think it quasi-summarizes what I’ve been babbling about in the last four points. [Final legal clarification: I actually follow several beauty blogs, because the writers involved are charming and witty and have interesting stories to tell. I don’t follow them for the tips, I follow them for the writing, which I enjoy. I would offer links, but I don’t want to inadvertently sully their work by linking them to this discussion.]

I don’t get the self-love festivals that are often the hallmark of some beauty blogs. I can understand a nice post about you finding a terrific blouse or eyeliner or sexy pair of boots, complimented with a few stylish photos of you sporting such, along with a cute story about how you made your discovery on your lunch break. Mystifying to me? Those folks who post 47 slightly-varying photos of themselves in the same blouse and hand-crafted choker necklace.

I think we got it with the first two pics, Narcissa. (Or Narcisso, because there are some guys out there doing the same thing.) Now, you could say that I should just ignore all of this, as these people are obviously hedonistic and self-centered, but here’s the thing: Blogs like this are legion. They are everywhere, with vanity sites inundating the blogosphere. And the central message they convey is that you are not worthy unless you change everything about yourself and become something you are not.

So it speaks to our culture has a whole. We have somehow reached the point where so many people believe that their mere existence is worthy of praise and celebration. (Have I mentioned Donald Trump?) Perhaps I’m old school (a phrase that sounds suspiciously Republican even though I’m nowhere near that), but I adhere to the notion that you shouldn’t trumpet your own horn unless the horn has proven worthy. Don’t love me because I’m beautiful. Love me for my words, chosen carefully, arranged precisely, and not accompanied by a shot of me posing in skinny jeans next to a floral arrangement that I didn’t create.

I’ll be posting this on Instagram later tonight.

Not.

 

44 replies »

  1. Oh please let’s have a photo of you in skinny jeans next to a floral arrangement!
    200 new emails?! I’m delerious if I wake up to 15!
    You’re right, of course, social media take up a hideous amount of hours I’m never going to reclaim and can ill afford to waste at this grand old age, but if you don’t show up at least a couple of times a day, they forget you existed 🙁 Besides, I don’t have friends in the real world to admire my culinary creations and family just ignore them, they prefer to create and post their own 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the kicker, that if you don’t show up with any regularity, your site or account becomes a ghost town. So I try to do the best I can. And I share your pain with family not paying attention to what I do. Every once in a while one of them will ask “are you still doing that blog thing?”, completely unaware of how much time I spend on it… 😉

      Like

  2. Enjoyed reading this Brian. I agree with the fact that social media seems to have taken over our world. I mean, if it isn’t out there somewhere in zeroes and ones, it just can’t be real, can it? I don’t get twitter or instagram – FB is more than enough for me (and I only have about 30ish “friends” most of whom are family or relatives. WordPress I have kept very well clipped, again about 30ish blogs I follow (and some of them only post very sporadically), but if I miss a day there always seems to be so many posts to read, how others manage to follow so many I do not know. I want to live in the real world, spend some down time online, not the other way around.

    P.S I too would love to see the skinny jean pose against floral backdrop 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I completely ignore my personal page on Facebook, but I have to keep the author page fairly current on the off chance that I might get a book sale out of it. (Just being honest.) But even that “business” end of it seems like a lot of flailing for nothing. I have thousands of followers on that author page, but even on a good day a post will only get minimal reactions, so I might be pulling the plug on the whole Facebook mess. And yes, if you miss a day on any of the platforms (or dare to go on vacation), the catch-up afterwards is overwhelming. It sure was simpler when the only way you could talk to people was with a phone call or a letter… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beauty blogs and FOOD blogs! You won’t fit into those skinny jeans by the time you try out all of the recipes floating around on here. I am with you on the limiting social media. It takes me hours to keep up with the blog. There is no way in hell that I am going to be adding Facebook and Twitter and Instagram or anything else they throw at me. I have a theory that all of that is intended to distract the general populace while Donald Trump takes over the world…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brian, I do love you for your words, all of them. I have my Twitter account for reasons unknown to me, it is just there – not many followers. I dropped out of the Facebook world about a year ago and have not signed back into it – thinking about going back – still debating – I keep telling myself no, don’t go back. Anyway, I do like WP, some real people here. Also, I love you because you are beautiful and I do want to see you in those skinny jeans. Happy day my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Terry, that was really sweet of you. Personally, I would think that if you’ve already succeeded in the Facebook break, I’d stay away, but that’s just me. (But I can understand the allure of talking to people you haven’t been able to communicate with lately.) Hope the rest of your weekend is splendid!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Case closed!
    Internet…guilty!

    You pretty much nailed it. I spend enough time on WP never mind twitter etc (facebook is dead).

    And unless someone is online 16 hours of the day, defecating into a grown up potty as they click, type and like, there is no way to be riding the surf on all fronts. Its a job in itself.

    I keep it simple and relevant. WP is relevant, Twitter is simple and has an element of relevance too thanks to hashtags.

    Btw #YOLO

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m headed in the same direction (and essentially almost there), with WP as the primary and Twitter with its easier method of targeting content. I’m also on several “writer sharing” platforms (such as Niume and Scriggler) where I do enjoy myself but the benefit return is questionable in both cases when compared to time spent. I may have to cut that out as well. Thanks for you comments! #TFTF #indieauthors #sarcasm

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re not kidding on the huge number of beauty blogs! I think, but I’m not sure, they’re expecting to receive tons of free swag from retailers asking them to provide a review.
    This may sound a bit off subject, but when I first started my blog a little over a year ago, I told a few people and you know what they said? The first thing? They said, “Oh really? Are you making any money with it?”
    I think that’s most people’s view of blogging – you’re either doing it for fame or fortune or ideally, both.
    Confession: I started a Twitter account because I wanted the feed on my blog’s sidebar. Most of the time I forget I have it! 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it does appear that many of the beauty blogs are swag-baits, reading and appearing like an ad in Vanity Fair, with intensive product placement. (And if the arrangement works out that way, more power to them, but I probably won’t be making a repeat visit.) Now, as for “making money” with a blog, I get asked that a lot as well. Granted, I do have a side motive of trying to do a bit of book promotion, but I think it’s fair to say that I keep that angle at a minimum. My focus is on sharing the stories. I don’t want the first impression folks get on the site is “Brian writes books!”. I want them to enjoy the writing first, and then maybe have them start wondering if there might be something else out there that they can read. (And I actually pay the premium yearly fee so that WordPress ads don’t appear, just to keep the focus on the writing.) P.S. That Twitter feed DOES look rather nifty and professional in the sidebar, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t stand “social” media…to me, it’s actually “anti-social!” The number of neckbeards posting inflammatory comments everywhere from YouTube to Twitter is insane. People complain about the hate, yet still utilize the medium…go figure!

    May I reblog this? You say, most eloquently, what I have thought about social media since I closed my Myspace account!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it’s the idiots and trolls that drive me away from most social media. (Actually, they drive me away from most social things, period. I can’t stand to have anything to do with that mess.) And thank you for sharing the post, I really do appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Can totally relate! Am new to blogging and so have been introduced to other social media platforms aside from FB. I keep forgetting to log in to them and find it sooooo difficult to keep up with posts! It’s a minefield and how did we manage before all the lifestyle tips out there??? I wouldn’t know how to make a list without them ✍

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fifty years ago, it was the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll revolution. Today, we are living through the internet/social media revolution. I miss my Stingray bike, rotary telephone, and black-and-white TV.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah yes, social media.

    I love/hate social media, but mostly love. I love taking and sharing pictures which is why I’m hella into instagram. It’s definitely my favourite form of social media. My least favourite is Facebook mainly because it’s made me realize how much I hate my friends. The constant sharing of random memes that aren’t funny, the political links in which they think they’re saying one thing based on the headline only to realize it says something completely different BUT GOD FORBID YOU ACTUALLY READ IT BEFORE SHARING, and the vague/over sharing statuses: “i’m sad today, don’t ask me about it though” and “hey, I have hemorrhoids, how do I get rid of them? should I shove my finger up my butt?”

    I used to love Facebook because it reconnected me with a ton of friends I had lost when I moved from a small town to a big city. But it’s pretty much trash now. I go through who I’m following on twitter roughly twice a month to purge people that have no need to be on my ‘following’ list. I love and hate twitter. It depends on what catastrophe has just happened and how people deal with it. #prayfortwitter

    I am a slave to social media and don’t give two shits who judges me for it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m not judging you at all. I admire you and your tenacity to straddle the beast that is social media. (Hmm. That might have come out not quite right, but you get the drift.) Social media satisfies people in different ways, and you have hacked out the path that fits you best. I just need to figure out where I need to hack and quit whinging about it…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Like you said, it’s a tough beast to straddle and being that you’re roughly 1000 years old, I’m guessing it’s not easy enough to just pick up a single social media and get it, let alone ALL OF THEM. Yeah, I’m being ageist, haha. But in my experience, the younger generation just gets it right away. Hell, even the younger generation to me is infinitely better at social media-ing than I am. Some things I just don’t understand. I’m practically a grandpa sticking to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I recently joined Snapchat and really don’t understand all the rage to it.

    I definitely didn’t mean to imply that you are judging me, I just know a lot of people who do and they can go suck a lemon!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A thoroughly enjoyable read, although I must disagree with relation to Instagram.

    As someone who has struggled with depression, I’ve had some rather awful lows, I have used Instagram as a reminder as to why I will be ok.

    Ive used Instagram as a platform for the uploading of photos I took that made me happy, and with time.. And many other things (therapy/change of lifestyle) I realised I was happy.

    Now I look back at my Instagram with fondness at all the beautiful things I’ve seen since my darkest days.

    But then, this is not what most people use it for haha.

    Either way. Thanks for sharing.

    Eli

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Eli. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to peruse some of my other posts, where you can see that although I can get snarky quite a bit of the time, most of what I write (at least on this blog) is just poking fun at life with a few heartfelt sentiments buried in the mix. Everyone uses social media for different reasons, and your methodology seems a very good use for your own life path. I know all about having a chronic condition, having suffered from anxiety for most of my life, and if you took my words as a belittlement of your situation, it was not intended. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I see you have followed my blog and I appreciate that, so I’m off to visit the land of Eli Woodbine and see what I can find… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Brian. Completely understand where you are coming from and I’ve followed your blog for more of your sense of humour.

        Anxiety is such a strange thing, but as part of – and often orchestrator – of some of my darkest times, it has been key in my eventual discovery of happiness and gratitude. I’m writing a book about this very adventure.

        Absolutely no need to concern yourself about offending me 🙂 . Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stay in touch. Eli

        Liked by 1 person

  13. the varieties of social media nowadays are rising high, some friends suggest several new one, such as instagram, path and the list goes on. while I still stick to the old one. was just lazy in the need to keep all the account but having the same friends. friends who knew me, they didn’t bother with it.
    they kept filling their phone with these new apps. I am just sticking with two, first that I rarely open, or second for only friends to mention. and they called me ‘getting old’. aren’t we all?
    great post, and nicely put by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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