This is not the blog post I wrote yesterday and intended to post up today. This is the one I wrote today.
Sometimes, when I’m driving along and another driver is being stupid, I shout at them. They can’t hear me, nobody knows I’m doing it, but it seems to do me some good. The post I wrote yesterday was a bit like that. It was a shout in the car and best to keep it in the car. I think I can give you the gist of it though, in more levelled terms.
I have been going through a period of frustration with social media in general and I think this has been reflected in some of the things I have said or maybe just the tone in which I have said them.
Yesterday’s ‘car shout’ was worth writing, even though it will stay in the drawer. I thought about it quite a bit after I wrote it and I think it’s brought me a little clarity.
The title of the post is the same as yesterday's one. In essence, it discussed how I have got to feel like I am being silenced on social media, how the technology is effectively shutting me down. It recalled how I always loved remote social interaction, even back to the days of CB radio when I was only a kid. It described how I seemed to lose a lot of social interaction when I left London in ’97 and how the discovery of, first, blogging and then Twitter and later Facebook reactivated the sense of extended society that I had missed.
After thinking about it, and staring at the rant, it was plain to see that it is not the whole of social media that was yanking my chain. It was Facebook. I’ve make no secret of the fact that Facebook doesn’t work for me at all. It doesn’t show me the stuff I want to see and it doesn’t show my stuff to more than a handful of people. Updates are thrown out into the void and responses are only forthcoming when one almost shamelessly seeks them out.
In yesterday’s 'car shout', while casting around for some kind of a simile to summarise the negativity of my Facebook experience, my mind turned to that movie ‘Awakenings’ from back in the early ‘90s. In that film, Robert DeNiro is in a coma and is awakened by a new wonder drug. For a time, he is fully alive again, happy and functioning, but then, slowly and horribly, the effects of the wonder drug wear off. He is left fighting to communicate and, in doing so, becomes grotesque to his loved ones and to himself.
That, I said in my rant, is how Facebook is starting to make me feel. Social Media was the drug that woke me up, allowed me to be sharp and witty and friendly again. Now, thanks to the workings of Facebook, it is being withdrawn, it is no longer effective, and I am left twitching on the floor, trying to continue to make my mark.
By rewriting today’s post, I’ve deliberately removed myself a pace from the use of this analogy because, obviously it is far far too extreme. To compare that level of human suffering to the minor pain in the arse that Facebook gives me is wrong and patently incorrect.
Reading back on it showed me something pretty plainly. Facebook is not for me. I have been trying to use a marketing medium as a social interaction tool. I can see that it works for lots of people. Facebook obviously deigns to show them the people they most want to see and that’s all it takes for it to be easy and fun. But in my case, for whatever technical reason, it has not done that.
The solution therefore becomes crystal clear. Get off it. Step away from the Facebook. That’s what I’m going to do. I’ll stick up a link to the blog every week and I'll check sometimes and see if anybody is messaging me but, beyond that, I think I’ll try to make my Facebook like my 'Google Plus', a place where I go once a week and then quickly leave again.
If you want me, I’m not that hard to find. I’m on Twitter.
Another realisation from yesterday’s failed post is that Twitter, for all its flaws, still works. At least it does for me. The crucial difference between Facebook and Twitter, for me, comes down to just one thing. Twitter allows me to see the stuff I want to see and anybody who wants to see my stuff can do so.
So that’s it. Easy. Why didn’t I give up on Facebook ages ago and save myself some trouble? Well therein lies the rub. There are people on Facebook who I like and enjoy. People I have known for quite a few years now. People who don’t really do Twitter. I’ll miss seeing their stuff. Maybe I won’t be able to stay away, so good is some of it.
But, man, if I learned one thing yesterday, it’s that I have to try.
Footnote: The cartoon which illustrates this post is by Ben Cameron. One of the nicest and most talented people I know. He was doodling yesterday in his open studio and he asked online for prompts. Rather calculatingly, I tweeted ‘talking to the wall’ and, mere seconds later, he came back with this cartoon and kindly allowed me to use it today. Ben brings a level of emotion into his work that is almost beyond belief. Here’s a link to his online stuff. The cartoon is also a link to his blog. Go and check him out, you won’t be sorry.