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alan dare

Social Media Rant Ahoy

A couple of weeks ago, jessica_shea noted that I'd really pulled back from social media these days, and asked if I was happier and did I miss it? And recently anywherebeyond posted about her social media hiatus and I left a big old comment there...big enough for a blog post.

The answer to both questions is yes. I am happier. But I do miss it. I'm lonely. I just moved to a rural area in a new state where I work at home. How am I supposed to make friends without social media? But I also find that I'm not as close to ANYONE as I used to be. Is it me? It's partly me. I've been really busy with work at the computer, and when I'm done with that, I don't really want to spend any more time on the computer. But I also got to thinking...is it ALL me? Maybe not.

Then mainemilyhoon just summed up everything I was thinking, even though she had no idea I was thinking it. (The collective unconscious is cranking this week!) I used to spend a lot of time online in meaningful, conversational interaction. Livejournal, mailing lists, message boards, email and chat rooms. Almost all of those forms of interaction have now been replaced by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads...basically, websites that encourage either very short, quippy posts or the sharing of images, links, reviews and tips. I am amused and delighted by adorable cats and captions, but I am not really getting to know the person who posted them, and the meaningful stuff gets lost among all of the reposting of funny stuff and petitions and blah di blah.

What really drove this home to me was the other day when I former Livejournal friend posted on Facebook about some kind of family tragedy or illness--I couldn't quite tell what it was. If there was an earlier post about an accident or diagnosis or surgery, I missed it. A lot of people were commenting and making reference to what had happened so I don't think it was any kind of a secret, it seemed more likely that I had just been missing some updates. But I didn't want to ask. I just wished them well. But I felt bad that I no longer knew what was going on in a friend's life, likely because Facebook is too clogged with other junk and shows things selectively or in a weird order.

Today's social media also makes me feel left out...even when I'm not. Even when I was tweeting regularly, Twitter is such that you have to be on it all the time not to miss things. I would see remnants of friends talking to each other about something cool and think, "Damn, wish I'd been on Twitter when that conversation was happening! Now it's too late." Livejournal was something where comments could go on between people for days. You didn't have to be "on" Livejournal constantly to catch good moments. It also seems like a lot of Twitter is about tweeting how awesome your life is in the moment. "Woo! Having a great time at #ALAMidwinter drinking in the hotel bar with (insert 3 mega famous authors here)!" "Our plane just landed in Italy, gelati here I come!" etc etc. Which always makes me feel like everyone is having an awesome jet-setting life but me. It's different when someone blogs about a trip. It's like, if your friend went on vacation, came home and gives you a call to tell you about it vs. your friend calls you from a restaurant, describes her delicious meal and then hangs up, leaving you to stare despondently at your frozen pizza. Am I being neurotic and competitive? Probably. But I just...never USED to feel that way, certainly not to this degree. No doubt, the nature of online interaction HAS changed drastically and obviously the new way does suit a lot of people, but it doesn't suit me.

I have been pondering solutions to this problem, though. More later.

Comments

Social media is a strange beast. I came to it at an older age, of course, and I think that changes my expectations, perhaps (it's always been a place for me to connect with people in a relaxed way). LJ has become quieter, but I still have contact with 'friends' here, even though it's not as common. I've also noticed that FB has become more popular these days, and I do spend more time there, keeping up with this and that. I'm not a Twitter fan...I think it's just not for me, and although I do try to regularly post about books I love there, that's the only reason I ever go. I honestly don't care for people's 'in the moment' thoughts about random stuff. ;) One good thing Twitter has done, imo, is change FB into a better place. People post most there now, with longer and more thoughtful ideas, and it's become kind of an in-between for LJ and Twitter.

I've never even looked much at Pinterest or Tumblr -- those kinds of sites hold no interest for me (at least, not at this point). I'll be curious to see how things look in another five years, that's for sure. :)
I do enjoy Facebook for some things. I wouldn't want to lose that. But I don't feel like I make new friends at Facebook, I just maintain friends I already have, and friends who don't use Facebook regularly have largely been lost. Of course a lot of the core LJ people are now my core FB people.

Pinterest is great for keeping track of recipes. But I don't know how to "use" it like other people do. It feels SO "busy" being just pictures.
I've had a similar experience, pulling back from social media, and feeling that I had closer relationships with folks on LJ/blog than via fb/twitter. I miss that online connection, but I am not sure what, if anything, I can do about it. I have tried to stay in better touch with my closer online friends via email but it's not quite the same. I sometimes find myself yearning for some sort of closed googlegroup of like-minded writer/reader folks who would actually want to stay in touch more regularly, but I don't even know if I would be able to keep that up. I do really value the friends I have made via the internet, but I wish more of them lived close enough to have over for tea!
I think it would be nice to have a group like that, but without any pressure to post (just like LJ was). I haven't used Google Groups, how do they work? I've really been thinking about how I could build a community of like-minded folks and so far my ideas are either to make a master list of people who still use Livejournal and make new friends by pulling a community tighter together (because I've noticed, of my friends who do still post, they all have a few friends who still comment that I don't know myself, and maybe there's a way to bring everyone together?) or to find some way of making a new group of people who yearn for the days when social media was more like writing a letter to a group of friends in some other forum, like a mailing list...or maybe a Google group.

I wish everyone just lived close enough for tea, too! I would much rather see people in person. But I'm broke, I can't drive and I live over an hour from a big city, so...I have to figure out something else!
Google groups are basically just email lists, like yahoo groups (but I think the interface is better, in the same way the gmail interface is better-- imo-- than yahoo mail).

It would be cool to set up a sort of online, perpetual writing retreat in some sort of forum. I love places like Verla's blue boards but that's less personal (and much bigger!) than the community I miss from old blog days.

If I have any bright ideas (or get up the gumption to try and put something together) I will let you know! :-)
I really miss the conversations on LJ. FB is okay, but short and quippy, like you said. And I just don't like Twitter and don't get Tumblr. Since I move so often, I really have appreciated the chance to get to know other writers and converse outside of real time (because face it, my time zone isn't always convenient). But now that that seems to be dying away and being replaced by quick cat posts, I'm sad. Especially since it looks like I'll be moving again and have to start the whole real life thing all over again.
Yes, I suppose it's harder on those of us who have recently moved, or who have to move a lot. My real life is quite nice but I don't have a single person I can go out to lunch with and I'm not sure how to find them. Everything sort of social I can find is mostly attended by people 20 and 30 years older than me.
There has also been a dispersal ... there used to be just a couple of places online where people congregated. The people who used to be here are in several other places: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and a dozen others. But having set up accounts on Myspace, Blogger, Twitter, Google+, and several other places, and seeing most of them wane in popularity after a relatively short time (though Twitter is still going strong), I got tired of having to follow everyone to the next new hangout. I got tired of having to set up new accounts and fill in new profiles and set new passwords and accumulate new lists of friends ... only to have everyone desert the new hangout just around the time I was finally getting comfortable with it.

The other thing is that, with my day job, I'm mostly online evenings and weekends, which are times when the internet is much less busy. Everyone else seems to be online during weekdays. So I also have some of that left-out feeling, but not enough to make me want to jump into a bunch of new media. Mostly, I try to just be present on the places where I already have accounts, and engage with whoever is here.
Well, the dispersal thing is certainly true, although before blogging took off my friends were pretty dispersed...I had some friends in chat rooms, some on mailing lists, some on message boards...but they were all more intimate, conversational mediums than what we have nowadays. I guess LJ was just the golden age.

And I feel you on the time thing. I am mostly free for social media on weekends, because I just seem to naturally fall into the habit of seeing Monday as the start of a new work week (which is odd, since I've never had a real job that followed that schedule) and that I need to start off the week working, run errands, etc., and then have more free time on the weekend.
I also miss the old LJ community. I have lamented about it before. I don't know the solution really - things have changed in my life for sure, and I don't have much time to give to blogging anymore. One thing I can say for certain, i couldn't have published my first book w/o LJ. it was enormous help - the support, the information, the handholding through all my disappointments. when i got my book deal - it was so great to announce it here, to share that with the friends i'd made here.

now - ironically, to write the next book(s), it has required me to go offline, b/c you're right about twitter and some of the new social media. it feels like a series of announcements and going-ons and friendships that seemingly have nothing to do with me, but only make me feel bad about my own progress, my own abilities.

very recently i formed a writing group with 3 other people, and i'm so happy i made this decision - it's given me people to talk to again, to share news with, but without having to go online. maybe you are not too far away from a handful of people that you could see in person. that might be the next step - to go back to real-life interactions, to meeting people in person and really having that cup of tea with each other. It takes longer to meet people in real life than it does online - although one of the people in my writing group was someone I met originally online.

in a way, being online was easier, and now it has become too easy, with less stakes involved in these little, quippy, meaningless pratter on social media; and so we have to look for our writing friends the old-fashioned way.

but i am still here, and still friends with you, jackie, and always happy to read your work or your blog. you are one of the meaningful people i love to read online still - not one of the pratterers (if that is a word).
I do feel like, for the most part, the people who were there for each other back in the best of the blogging years are still there for each other, even if we don't talk as much. You, and all the people who commented here, are certainly in that group. And of course I haven't had much time either. I keep intending to blog more but life just gets in the way.

I would like to have more real-life interaction, but I'm not sure where to find the people. The closest writer I know is 40 miles away. I thought it would be great to live closer to the DC writers, but I can't get over there that often and it's actually just made me feel more left out than ever because I'm technically close enough to go to stuff, but I really can't, and I'll never really be in the circle because I'm not THAT close.
Ag, I meant to comment on this right when you posted it! I'm sorry you've been feeling lonely or left out. I have mixed feelings about social media. I miss longer, more personal/open blogs. And I really do not understand the appeal of Tumblr unless people use it as a blogging platform, but even then - I have to scroll through so much randomness to get to their actual posts, ugh, it all just feels like a waste of time. But I love both Pinterest and Twitter. Pinterest is great for inspiration more than connection - I love collecting images and recipes and such. And Twitter feels like my virtual water cooler; I definitely feel like it helps me know what's going on in publishing and with all my writer friends!