I have a love-hate relationship with social media. You too? As a public relations professional in the early 2000s I was an early adopter of platforms like Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. It seemed so innocuous at first…just another way to reach audiences. But then it became a reflection of who we are as a people, and that is not a pretty sight.
Yesterday Elon Musk took over Twitter and plenty of people are saying the end is nigh. Maybe it is, but the thought of DJT back on Twitter is enough to make anyone delete the app. But truthfully, I’ve been making an about-face on social media for a few years now and this Musk situation has caused me to really think about how I’ve been using the platforms, and how I’m going to change how I use the platforms.
I’m not going to delete Twitter…yet. It has been less of a shitshow since DJT was booted, but it’s still a shitshow whether he returns or not. A few years ago I scrubbed the hell out of who I follow on Twitter thinking I could avoid the crap and just see what I want — but that was wishful thinking. Twitter has a feature called “mute” which is supposed to remove all appearances of things you ask it to — and I asked it to mute the word “Trump” but it doesn’t really mute retweets and connections that mention him, or replies. Twitter doesn’t work like that, although maybe Musk will fix it. Yeah, right. These days I only follow sports reporters and athletes, musicians and authors I like, and my friends and associates. But the shit still runs downhill. Plus, lately, like 50 percent of my DMs on Twitter are from middle-aged moms wanting to know if their tits look good enough to suck. I know they are bots, but the more I delete and block the more I get. The thing is, I use Twitter for work as a way to share the great work we’re doing so I can’t really delete it. And I still love heading to Twitter for breaking sports headlines. Recently I had a fun exchange with a best-selling author I like — where else can you have a conversation with someone like that? There is still some good in this Twitterverse.
I was a super early adopter on Linkedin. I immediately saw the value from a networking perspective and dove in head first. I’m sure I’ve been on Linkedin for 20 years or more and over that time I have used it to make amazing business connections, get jobs, learn from my peers, and much more. Linkedin has always been focused on business and for a long time it was a safe haven from the typical social media garbage. But not anymore. Nowadays I can’t go a day without seeing a post on Linkedin about someone’s kid dying, or a post about praising Jesus for something or another. Or some political message either made subtly or frankly. Is there no place sacred?
And let’s not get started on Facebook. A few years ago I pared down my friends to a still robust 526. That includes family (both near and far), high school and college friends, and actual friends whom I have relationships with outside of social media. But I suspect I still have connections on Facebook that I couldn’t pick out of a lineup or would walk right past on the street because I really don’t know them, do I? Why do I still get friend requests on Facebook from people I don’t know or with whom I have a passing relationship? I don’t want to see pictures of your vacation and I know you don’t want to see mine. Do people not know Facebook etiquette still even after all these years? I don’t want MORE Facebook friends — if anything I want fewer.
Speaking of Facebook, if you’ve been friends with me on Facebook for a while you probably think I post a bunch of political or anti-religion stuff. Guess what? I don’t. I did, but haven’t for many years minus the odd post I thought was innocuous but somehow turned into a political discussion in the comments which I eventually probably deleted. I don’t post about politics or religion on Facebook anymore. But some of you do. Still? It’s a damn echo chamber. Why would you think your rant about Kari Lake is going to convince anyone to vote one way or another for Arizona Governor. Stop already. If you need an outlet for your political whining start a damn blog and I’ll subscribe if I want to hear your thoughts on school board candidates. I unjoined a lot of groups over the years because the posts and comments were getting shittier and shittier. Including groups I founded. I left. I don’t miss them. Today any Facebook groups I’m still a part of are for my own private enjoyment. Sports. Music. Movies.
What, if anything, is there to do about this conundrum? The younger generation would say dump them all, but they’re not leaving social media they are still doing Tik Tok or Instagram or Snap Chat. Hypocrites. I need to stay on the platforms for work, so deleting them all is not realistic. Plus I like seeing what my real friends are up to. A while back I decided to only look at Facebook on Sundays. I did good for a while, but it’s built to keep you engaged and I have lost the willpower to stay off the platform. Maybe I should cut myself some slack, and realize I just fell off the wagon and should just go back to a Sunday-only policy.
And yeah, I know the irony that I’m writing a blog post about social media and it will be read by most readers from a post on Twitter or Facebook. But isn’t social media more like a utility these days? Like the phone. You can’t really leave the platforms unless you are really checked out of mainstream society. Hmm. Do you think Leslie would be open to us moving to a cave in the Australian outback?
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Side note about LinkedIn: I joined several years ago to keep in touch with business-type colleagues and maybe even hustle up some freelance editing. However, just recently, I got an email from a company that I responded to on a LinkedIn link offering my an editing job. It turns out it was a total scam, which I discovered pretty early on from a few red flags — mostly grammatical or typological stuff. So even a seeming respected app like LinkedIn can be a fraudster’s hunting ground