Recently, I was “unfriended” on Facebook. It’s possible this has happened with others before but I never noticed. I have somewhere around 230 “friends” give or take a few but I don’t watch the number count with an eagle eye so I could definitely miss it. This particular person though I did notice because in the timeline you can now see when other friends comment on other statuses, even if they’re not your friends. Holy convuluted Batman, life in social media is hard, but I digress. The update looked interesting, so I went to leave my 2 cents and lo and behold, I am unable to comment. Scratching my head was quickly replaced by a stinging feeling followed by “What the heck did I do?” hand-wringing.
At age forty-three, I’ve lived more than half my life without the influence of social media. I suppose it’s for this reason, despite my heavy involvement with it for the past 5 years, that I still find the concept so foreign and at times, so utterly ridiculous.
In the case of the recent unfriending, I fretted over it for a couple of days and then had a moment of clarity. If this person and I were true friends, I’d probably have a damn good idea what I did. I mean, in real life, a friend just doesn’t walk away from you without you knowing what you did. So why should I feel badly? By the same token, why should this person feel bad taking me out of their feed? They shouldn’t. And so, the whole concept of having friends and Facebook friends is a bit of a conundrum to me. I mean, I’ve actually said those words to someone, “She’s a Facebook friend.” I find that sad, I don’t want to draw distinctions like that anymore.
For the past six months, I’ve really been trying to find a way through all of it that makes sense to me. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
On my personal page, I’ve become rather clear cut about the whole thing. Friends get full access, others get restricted. Some probably take this as a rather snobby approach, but at this point I no longer care. The bottom line, is that I want one place, just one small little corner where I can proverbially scratch my ass without fear of the anti-ass scratchers coming out in full force. For me, my personal Facebook page is a gathering of those of like mind, with a similar sense of humour, who know me and know that if I make a crack about wanting to drink the bottle of wine, I really just mean a glass…ok, maybe two. So, I keep the numbers small, quite intentionally. I’d say only 50% of the 200 and some odd people I have there, actually see status updates. Does this mean I post things I might regret or that might be damaging to me? No. I get that what I put on the internet is shareable even if I do fool myself into believing I have a small sanctuary on my personal Facebook page.
Then there’s my Life in Pleasantville page. 100% me all the time, just less ass-scratching. I’m representing brands on this page, but I still have loads of fun and I truly love the people there. They’re engaging and funny as hell. Can’t that be enough?
Next is Twitter. Ahhh, Twitter. When I first started on Twitter five years ago, I remember thinking that it was the funniest thing ever invented. Perfect strangers converging and talking and really laughing out loud not just LOL’ing. I made friends here, real friends, who now sit in that 50% who see my ass-scratching status updates on Facebook. Lucky ducks.
Twitter was magic for a brief time and then it got downright miserable. Mention you scratch your ass in this space and you’d get people telling you that it’s wrong, or asking you for the reasons behind it, or sending out tweets like, “I wish the ass-scratchers of the world would just shut it.” Hashtag it so that #assscratchers could unite and the nosepickers would hijack your thread to make you feel bad. Worse still, you’d be having fun LOL’ing at the latest #assscratcher Twitter party and you’d start to notice all the passive aggressive tweets floating by. “Soooo tired of all these twitter parties”, said to no one in particular so that everyone now participating in a Twitter party feels just a little bit bad. And then there’s just the mean tweets. The ones intended to hurt. It has, unfortunately become a very negative space and now I wear blinders. I know which ones are the master of the passive aggressive tweet so I see their avatar float by and I ignore. I’m a no-drama mama, so I hang with the live and let live crew now. I engage mostly with those on my lists and I am beginning to feel a little of the fun seeping back in.
Finally, LinkedIn. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of LinkedIn, but apparently anyone who is anyone is there. I’ve jumped in with the herd but believe me when I say I am reluctantly in this space and pay it the least attention. What bothers me about LinkedIn is the feeling that some think it’s a dating service. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received requests to link in from men who have absolutely no reason to connect with me. It’s not likely that I’m — as owner of a school supply business, blogger and social media manager — going to need a job in forestry for example. Think I’m joking about LinkedIn? Read this. I remain unconvinced of LinkedIn’s ability to bring me employment, since it hasn’t brought me one opportunity yet but it’s possible I’m doing it wrong.
Heck, it’s possible I’m doing it all wrong. I often miss life pre-social media. I miss the certainty of friendships and the lack of clutter. At the end of the day, drawing these little fences around social media keeps me sane, even if it is just smoke and mirrors.
How do you manage it all?
*photo credit SomeECards