Me evaluating social media is like Rosanne Barr evaluating singers of the National Anthem. I’m old and hopelessly behind the curve, a late, late adaptor, better suited to anti-social media. Plus I’m skeptical by nature and my experience with the different sites is limited.
Facebook. Not only am I skeptical, I dig solitude, and I have non-conformist tendencies. So when everyone began telling me I HAD to get a Facebook account, I figured that was good reason not to. Alas, six months or so ago, a close friend from high school dragged me on. I have very few Facebook friends compared to you. I’m not sure why, but until recently, I’ve been checking it a couple of times a day. It’s been nice learning what some old friends are up to and since my blog posts appear on my friends’ pages I’ve seen a slight uptick in readership.
Sorry Zuckerberg, apart from that, the negative side of the ledger is much more substantial. I don’t feel like I’ve really reconnected with any old friends on any meaningful level and the quality of content is weak. Once you friend someone you have no control over how many times they post in a given day and the quality of those posts. Far too few add meaning to my life. Worse than that, they’re a distraction from life writ large. Not that my content is so spectacular. I’m sure some of my friends would prefer not getting a link to every blog post I write. It’s like being on a landline, having wires crossed up, and listening into another conversation. Fun! For two minutes listening to two other peeps. No so much when it’s hundreds of people all day and night. I assume Facebook fanatics, for which there are hundreds of million, learn how to read very selectively. Instantaneously processing value within an incessant content stream is a modern skill I don’t really want to develop.
Conclusion—Facebook has detracted more than it’s added. Allegedly worth $100b, so I’m in the minority. That’s cool, I’m comfortable there. Final grade, D.
LinkedIn. A former student kept asking me to link with her, then a few other people, and I eventually waved the white flag and created an account about the same time I first Facebooked. Again, you have more contacts than me. I suck at networking maybe because I just want to be left alone most of the time. Also, I don’t like the design of the site, too busy and confusing. Maybe if I was 24 and looking for a job I’d think differently about it, but I rarely check it. It’s added little to no value to my life. Yet a passing grade because it hasn’t really detracted either. Final grade, C-.
Twitter. Just when you thought I was a lost cause, a social medium I’m completely down with. There’s a special place in heaven for whomever came up with the 140 character limit. I’ve just started following people and orgs including Bill Simmons, the Lonely Planet, some newspaper reporters, and a UCLA sports website. So nice to learn instantaneously useful tips for driving in Brazil and which UCLA team has lost. Bonus points for the minimalist design and ease of use. It’s a snap to add and remove people, no “defriending” drama. I may just get a tat of the Twitter logo sometime soon. If Facebook is worth 100b, Twitter is a 1t company. Final grade, B. Would have been higher, but I deducted points because too many purveyors (or is it perve-veyors) of porn are slipping through in the form of new followers.
Postscript and related link—On a recent morning, while cycling, I watched a documentary about the current status and probable future direction of journalism titled “Inside the New York Times”. David Carr, the Times media writer, played a central role. I now follow him on Twitter. I really liked this blog post from him on the limits of on-line friendship. Highly recommended.