Opinion

Confessions of a Social Media Dork

Note: I scribbled this one out a few years ago, but it’s still rather relevant. Let’s review…

 

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.

 

Previously published in “Bonnywood Manor”. Minimally revised for this post.

 

32 replies »

  1. 🎵 I’m Trump the stump from the wet wide dump,
    Rolling down the highway howlin’
    The stumps are twigs on the back of this rig, and they’re from hell’s inland crater, they’re from hell’s inland crater … 🎶

    I’m not sure why this popped up for me when I read your post. But here it is. Some things are maybe better off unexplained. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, what an aptly timed post. At the moment I am simply left aghast at the casual brutality on-line. I find so many things wrong about social miasma, trolling etc is so enabled. At the expense of sounding/being old school as well, a visit by someone who Likes/drops by merits a return visit. Anyway, as you say you can look, see and Like, or if it’s not to ones taste, look and leave, but a visit is pretty much required, minimum. Still, give the people a flashy bright shiny phone and self-absorption seems to blind ’em to anything else. Sigh Surely,surely all we ask for is a modicum of courtesy? But then, wading through The Dons fake views, courteous discourse is going down the twitter anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is one of the things that I find so astonishing in “modern times”. What happened to decency and courtesy in the last few decades? One would think that the human race, by this point, would be beyond the silos of brutality and self-adulation. How is it that we are going backwards?

      Then I turn on the television and see Trump lying out his ass whilst millions worship at his feet, and it becomes clear that so many folks never progressed much beyond the cavemen days…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, modern times… Hurumph, bah humbug! Seriously though, there is nothing that peeves/pisses me off more than a phone being used as social shield. No need to look up and away from the screen to see what the hell is going on around you. I see the head down shuffle, the flickering screen, the vacant yet fixed eyes as the media zombie step in front of a bus. LOL!
        Trump lying his ass off? Bum rap for The Don, if he says so himself. Hopefully his forked tongue will trip him up, not that his doters will care… Thanks, I enjoyed that vent.I have a thought or two about social media that I might drag out too.

        Like

  3. I have this stubborn streak that rears its head whenever “everybody” is doing something or likes something. I refuse to join. Sometimes I miss out. Like the Harry Potter books. Too many people loved them so i didnt read the first one until after my younger daughter begged me to take her to see the third movie.
    Mostly it works out. Like with social media. I didnt jump on the Facebook bandwagon and I’m still not there. I did do Twitter for a little while, but like day-glo in the 80s, it gave me a blinding headache after a while. Insta-who? Insta-what? Insta-why on Earth would you do that? No, thank you.

    WordPress is like all of Baby Bear’s stuff, just right. My blog is small. My followers are kind and share my interests. I get to interact with interesting people from the comfort of my house. I can stay in my jammies even.

    I had a point, but poof! gone, so I’ll stop typing now.🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I think your point is very valid. There are so many things that we are expected to “worship” these days that the concept of self-idealization has been negated and driven underground. Apparently we are not worthy unless we are subjugating ourselves to the latest trends designed by 17-year-olds with access to a keyboard.

      We’re better than that. And I remain steadfast and proud in my decisions to not jump on the latest bandwagon…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Mamas don’t belong on social media.” That’s what my kids tell me. Lots. And they’re right. I have no idea what to do with it.

    Nevertheless I joined Instagram, for the purest of motives—to stalk my children. I have never posted anything. Ever. I have the proud total of zero posts. Yet I have 115 followers. All I can figure is they find my total lack of activity soothing or restful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I joined Instagram as well, in a frenzied moment of who-knows-why, and I think I made a whopping total of three posts. I haven’t signed into such for a number of years, seriously, but the last time I did so I had something like 200 followers. The post that got the most likes? An image of the giant, orange, metal bucket that I use at Halloween to dole out candy. Said image was a “post-invasion” snap of two or three sad, abandoned bits of candy in the bottom of the bucket. I think the popularity of that image says a lot about social media…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoy instagram because i get to look at lots of lovely art and photos of hings I am interested in (and I can ignore anything I don’t want to look at) – without having to read anything at all if I don’ want to. And I get to share my art. Been on there for nearly 3 years and probably post a photo most days. I only have 198 followers (more than a few are just “follow me back” or “brand” acounts which i ignore) and that is fine with me because I just like the pretty pictures – did i say that already? – pretty pictures!!!
    FB is to because my kids did it, and again, I use it to share my Instagram pics to my art FB page, and my personal page is for my family mostly.
    All other social media is un unknown language to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair, I would probably greatly enjoy Instagram if I ever actually spent any time there. As you know, I love photography and analyzing photos for story inspiration. It’s just never clicked for me, but I suppose I could give it another run.

      I used to keep up with family on Facebook, but that’s basically fallen by the wayside the last few years. Every once in a while I get excited and post a few things on my personal page, but I mostly use it for sharing Bonnywood posts on my author page. I post on Twitter every day, but again, it’s almost always posts that I’m sharing from Bonnywood as well as the posts by others that I like.

      Basically, I spend all my time in WordPress and I’m comfy with that…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are aware, I’m positive, that ‘dork’ means “whale dick”. Well, maybe not WHALE (see this unsolicited by you definition of ‘dork’: Actually the term dork as a penis is documented. As a whale’s penis it is not documented. … It is popularly asserted that the term originated as whalers’ occupational slang for the penis of a whale, and by transfer became an anatomical insult, undergoing subsequent generalization and amelioration to its present meaning. Okay. 😐 I, too, am a social media ‘dork’ (dork-ess). I don’t ‘get’ why that crap is important at all. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the semi-annual Conference talks going on (LDS Church stuff). The guy speaking at this moment is talking about – you guessed it – SOCIAL MEDIA. Um. Okay this comment is getting too long and the Twilight Zone-esque miasma is overwhelming me. Was there a point to this comment? Once. Perhaps on Twitter (which I’ve never used and never will use), Instagram (which I’m constantly encouraged TO use and which I cannot master. It’s just too facile for me); Facebook (nah. That place is full of idiots posting pictures of goober infested children playing with tortured looking pets)…aw. Let me call the whole thing off. Reblog in the works btw…because your post (dated? Never) and some others recently have dove-tailed in my mind …. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Personally, I don’t think our personalities and writing styles are a good fit with any of those “short attention span” platforms. We like to get to the meat of the matter (often after circling the airport at least 12 times before we hit the landing strip). Our nature is verbose…

      I’m still reeling from the revelation about the “dork” etymology. I really didn’t know about the dick angle, but now I’m realizing that perhaps I shouldn’t be tossing the word about like I did my past lives. I just thought it meant goofy or geeky. Ya live, ya learn.

      Like

    • I heard the definition about five years ago and it stuck in my head. I’ll NEVER use “dork” the same way ever again. 😐 Still it’s not the worst word one could throw about randomly. My mother (God rest her) used to scream “dildo head” at all and sundry. Embarrassed the crap out of my male siblings. Finally I took her aside and asked her if she knew what a dildo even was, and she admitted she did not. She turned all shades of odd color when I told her what it was. I never heard her use that phrase again either. Much to the relief of the ‘good’ LDS who resided near her. Who may or may not have known what a dildo was either…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Everything you’ve said is true. I have so much trouble just keeping up, especially when I have to work so much–it seems a little overwhelming on the weekend, but I always set aside at least 2 hours to read and comment because I hate to be thought of as a one-sided person. I don’t even understand Instagram–how on earth can I use it to promote my blog when it’s all just pictures? And I have less than 2 000 followers on Twitter and I never see ANYTHING from my friends, just book promos and beauty bloggers–I don’t care about which 3 foundations you’re using, Stephanie. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that last line!

      Honestly, Twitter confuses me the most. I clearly don’t know what I’m doing over there. I mean, I have somehow gained 2.500 followers, but I don’t know what the triggers might be, as many of my tweets never gain a single like. I do like, however, that I can use it to share blog posts from others, which is mostly what I do, far more than my own posts…

      Like

  8. Social media is often, to me, not very social. I prefer a quiet conversation over dinner with someone who will actually “follow” me to a restaurant. I know this makes me outdated beyond outdated, but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve pulled back on so much social media, I’ve recently been venerated as a Social Hermit. You can pay your respects at my site, Our Lady of Go-Away-And-Never-Return-Thanks-So-Much the next time I post something, which should be sometime in the year 2021. It may or may not include a picture that was not seen on Instagram or Facebook but most assuredly was posted on LinkedIn, thereby ensuring no one saw it at all. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • The internet is littered with the carcasses of all my social-media exploits from over the years, especially from the time when I cared enough to actually “promote” my books. I usually tried everything that come out, but most of them went nowhere fast. Only two of them had any real success…

      On Pinterest, I joined when it was still invitation-only, and the audience was very limited. So, basically, you were able to see everything that was shared. My posts would get tons of hits every time. Then they opened the floodgates, and a new post would disappear immediately because the feed was so massive. I wandered away…

      On Scriggler, there was much more structure, with carefully-designed categories and an up-and-down voting system that was monitored. (If you constantly voted-down posts, making it clear that you were trashing others just to get ahead, you were removed from the system.) I had a good time, because most of the writers were very supportive and wanted everyone to succeed. I made it a goal to get to the top of the “Humor” category, but once I did, I completely lost interest and once again wandered. I suppose that says more about me than it does about the platform, but there you have it…

      Liked by 1 person

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