What I’d like to discuss in this post is how I am trying to manage my multiple social media accounts, and how I am working my way into making them fit into my priorities. Note that this is a work in progress, and anything hard, fast and definite can definitely change in time. I’d also like to add that dealing with social media practically means dealing with people, albeit through the internet, so the topic might grate on the more sensitive nerves (“How dare you manage our relationship??”), but I hope that you can try and understand where I’m coming from, and perhaps, you might want to share your point of view.
100 bottles of beer on the wall — take one down, pass it around;
99 bottles of beer on the wall…
Yahoo!Groups, Yahoo!Messenger, Facebook, LiveJournal, DeviantArt, MangaBullet, Multiply, Blogger, GTalk, Jabber, LinkedIn, AIM, InsaneJournal, Twitter, Grooveshark, Skype, Plurk, Goodreads, Flavors.me, Soundcloud, Google+, Dreamwidth, Viber, 8tracks, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, and various online forums too many to enumerate — these are all the social media platforms that I have accounts (or have made accounts for) in the past decade or so.
The peak of my social media usage was during my four-month stay in France in 2010: due to my then being very active in the online roleplaying community, all of my instant messaging (IM) clients were consolidated in Trillian (and eventually, GTalk), and soon in Plurk. I shared snapshots of my walks around Paris over Twitter, while I chatted with online friends via Skype to fight off the loneliness. I had six to ten (sixteen total at my peak) active accounts that I shuffle through in InsaneJournal and Dreamwidth as I played several characters in different roleplaying games and memes. I also maintained my LiveJournal account for blogging and posting art. Tumblr was that place outside of roleplaying, while Flavors.me served as some kind of hub that linked all of those together.
Fast-forward to 2014, and all I can say is: I need space.
An emotional investment.
Picture this: talking with just one person. This means paying attention to them, investing time, energy, and emotions on that person for at least half an hour. Chances are, if the conversation is light, you can still handle a handful more conversations throughout the day. However, once you’ve formed a bond, the conversation can be heavy, and you’ll leave with the feeling of needing to breathe after absorbing that person’s emotions.
Now, imagine a mix of those conversations — or at least the start of them — and multiply them by the number of “friends” you have in your favorite social network, and you find yourself having to deal with those on a daily basis.
In the days before internet, communication was vital and precious, and words are carefully crafted and selected to convey the most important messages. It was expensive to pay for an overseas call so as a loved one can tell you a quick “I love you”. Postage is costly to send pages and pages of a letter, or a card, and so people take time to sit down and think of what they truly want to say without wasting a single gram. People were actually careful about making phone calls, knowing how one’s tone of voice can easily convey emotions.
Now, we are bombarded with noise. I am unapologetic in saying that I don’t give two shits about 90% of the status updates I see on Facebook. I don’t care what you ate, I don’t care what you did five minutes ago, I don’t care about your ~cryptic~ message that fishes for reactions, I don’t care what you’re playing (so stop inviting me), I don’t care what or who you like (like I need more spam in my timeline), and most of all, I don’t are about your blurry and badly-taken pictures and their (equally bad) duplicate/triplicate shots.
But I’m not here to rant about Facebook. I’m here about how I came out to make my online life simpler.
Say it again: quality vs quantity
The immediacy of putting out information on social media is a misleading one — wow, it takes a few seconds to post a picture! It takes a minute to think about what to type in 150 characters, add a few hashtags, and hit “send”! You think you save time in posting; but relationships and communication goes both ways. There’s an unspoken social agreement that when you share, you must also “listen” — thus this unbidden obligation to click “like”, comment, or share in turn. Next thing you know, what you believe only takes two minutes, has turned into two hours.
I lost sight of what — and in this case who — are important to me.
Unlike material things, people aren’t that easy to break away from. These are bonds, forged from over a five-minute exchange, to years spent working or living together.
But let’s face it: the world moves, and time doesn’t stop for anyone. People move, people change, and people grow apart. This is an aspect of life that is constant, and one that you cannot fight, unless you exert a conscious and concentrated effort to keep in touch. And when I say “keep in touch”, it goes beyond hitting that “like” button on their latest status update — it’s about being involved in someone’s life.
I have 300+ “friends” on Facebook, out of which I only truly follow 20; and on Plurk, I have about 50+, out of which I only follow about a dozen. If you’re part of those social networks, don’t take it personally if you feel that I don’t follow you. Chances are, you’ve unfollowed me as well, and that’s cool — we just don’t share the same cup of tea anymore.
But these people I still follow, and keep tabs on, are the ones who have stood the test of time with me. They’re family who have seen me at my worst, they’re friends who can pick up conversations even if we’ve been apart for years, they’re colleagues who inspire me to deliver my best game and who make work worthwhile, they’re buddies-turned-friends with whom I share a common interest with and who just decided to stick around.
Why? Because I actually care about them, and I know that they care about me in return. They’re not in my network just so I can be a statistic to boost their viewership or their likes, or be a random witness to their 5 seconds of online fame (and we know how much that is worth.)
Right now, I maintain Plurk for the few roleplayers who stuck with me even if I’m no longer in games — and not playing at all, for that matter. I’m still on Facebook as the majority of the people I’ve met face-to-face are on it, and more or less I like to know what’s up with those I still follow and wish to keep in touch with — I’m not so stiff as to force people to communicate through means most comfortable only to me. Twitter has become a “messenger” for me, in which it broadcasts my latest WordPress and Instagram posts. My personal accounts on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal are there for those who still follow me, but they’re now just mirrors for my WordPress blog and maintenance is hassle-free. I keep Skype active because I know that travel is in my future, and I prefer Viber as a mobile app over Skype’s. I still enjoy my online music platforms (8tracks most specially, and I might exchange Grooveshark for Spotify). Otherwise, I’ve completely eliminated everything else.
I’m not decrying the ~evils of social media~, and they definitely have their use for those who can make them fit into their own priorities. Heck, there are people out there who can just take it all in terms of dealing with all kinds of drama from others, and I can dig that. But my molding is different, my dealing with people is different, as my priorities are different.
Online relationships are far from virtual — there’s a real person who struggles and trucks through life just like you. How you decide to manage your time together is up to you. This is my decision, in that our interactions are more about quality than quantity. I might not “like” all of your posts, but next I see you, or sit down for a PM/email exchange, or comment on each other’s blog posts, I’ll make sure the time you spend with me is worth your while.