I’m about to vent about social networking via a popular vehicle for social networking – a personal blog. I get that. Don’t worry about commenting about it.
I truly appreciate you, Reader. You are one of two of my readers. I have treated my blog almost as a diary, because of its limited exposure. If I have another post catch on, I worry about all my juicy posts of past! Oh wait, I don’t have any. Maybe I lack juicy tidbits to share because I spend too much time outside of work in my social networks! Hence my post today…
Facebook and the Communities
I am a member of Facebook, mostly. Through a social networking site set up for type 1 diabetes, I found a TON of friends. I went from having over a hundred people I knew personally and pretty well, to having hundreds of people from all over the world as “friends.” Now I am an addicted and active listener and sometimes contributor to the Diabetes Online Community. I check into that site once in awhile (I call it my gateway site), but once I was able to identify friends on that site to Facebook, I really didn’t need to go in every day. We have 115 mutual friends? Accept Request! Granted, if I was to sit down and write out a list of people to invite to my wedding and/or buy me gifts, I’d never get close to the number of Facebook friends I have! (Relax, Mom, NOT getting married, this was just a hypothetical, so put down the wedding cake magazine.) Since then, I have become a member of two more sites with a focus on support and resources for those living with chronic illness. I still visit all three, but not daily. When I go in, there is so much information, and a great sense of community, that I can spend hours reading and commenting. I recommend these sites to anyone newly diagnosed. It can be overwhelming, but you feel not alone. And they are easy to navigate.
Then, I started tweeting. I asked (through Facebook), if tweeting was worth it, and my friends said they wouldn’t have anything to tweet and it seems like a duplication of social networking efforts. I had to at least try it, so I made an agreement (with myself, she’s awesome by the way) to try Twitter for one week. As soon as I created my profile, I realized that I had to find people to follow. I was a socially awkward child. This felt weird to me. It’s like publically aknowledging you are interested in someone, company, organization, publication, etc. No wait, it IS publically acknowledging you’re interested in someone, company, organization, publication, etc.! I mean, I enjoy Stephen Colbert and read the Times, but for individuals? To me, it felt like going to someone’s wall and writing a post that read, “I find you interesting and/or important. I’m reading your profile – right now. In fact, I will follow your profile and your status updates from now on, because I…follow…YOU. P.S. – I think you’re sexy, too. 😉 .” Of course, I wouldn’t think that (in all cases), but in my shy, awkward mind, it implies that. I shrugged off the feeling (think of everyone on Twitter, my goodness!), and once I started following people (see, it even sounds bad!), I immediately noticed that everything was in code. It felt like I walked into a room of people talking in a different language and glaring at me through narrowed eyes, as if to say, “What are you doing here? #@!!” I felt I was the only one who didn’t get it! Thankfully some blogs were published on how to navigate. “If you’re STILL out of touch with Twitter, you poor unfortunate soul, here are some steps we dumbed down for you AFTER you already read Twitter help.” Okay, no one put it that way, but they could have, and I would have still read it. After all the drama of initiation, I somehow got addicted to that, too. Dare I say, twitterpated? Sorry, I really had to. Now I have slightly more people following me on Twitter than read my blog. Success?
I then updated my LinkedIn account. For the pure business in me, I suppose. I don’t network through LinkedIn, but I keep thinking I might someday, so I still try to connect with people in my field and people of people in my field, and so forth and so on. The best part of LinkedIn is the articles they send! I post them on Facebook. One day, I will reach out to my LinkedIn contacts through LinkedIn, get their professional opinions on things. You know, sometime.
Then came Google+. What in the world could I POSSIBLY get from another profile? But then more articles were written, posts published, word of mouth grew, and I had to check it out! The curiosity got too much! A friend uh…Sally*, invited me, and I was in! I’m used to my feeds from Facebook and Twitter changing pretty much fluidly. On Facebook, a steady motion of people communicating with each other, and on Twitter, people talking at audiences. Google+ felt like a barren desert. I think I started having heart palpitations! I had grown accustomed to large forums and all the noise! All there was in Google was Sally. Sally alone could entertain me (she, like Self, is also awesome), but that is a large burden for Sally. I felt cold and alone. So alone *shudder* I didn’t understand the circles. How can I put them in a circle if they don’t have profiles? But once I started finding real people (I knew because of the pictures), I looked at their circles, which to me (see Twitter paragraph) felt like breaking into someone’s home and going through their address book. And I didn’t have to request for people to be in my circles? I started dragging people I recognized into my circles. Because it’s a literal drag using your mouse, it accentuated the overwhelming feeling that I was kidnapping people and forcing them to be in a social circle with me. Just like Twitter, they don’t have to know what I’m thinking, but I can know what they had for lunch two minutes ago. Then I became Sally. I passed on the paranoia to others by inviting them.
There’s no way I can keep up on all these sites and still actually socialize with people! My Facebook stalking has taken a toll. It’s true, I might not know what your dog wore last Halloween! What is happening? Will people choose? Will we all stop communicating through the, uh, voice app on the texting and status updating device? Phone, that’s it. Will we never leave the computer, or will we find people through it? Hmmm…. think about that….then, of course, post a status or tweet. (Goes without saying.)
If you are now wondering if I Facebook stalk you…relax. The answer is of course.
*Sally is not her real name, but used to protect the identity of the friend who did this to me.