I’ve been giving more and more thought to unplugging my online social life.
In 2004 I was well on my way to MySpace Rockstardom. I was a blogging, commenting, CSS page manipulating machine. Within 3 months I had surpassed most brands in accrued friends. I was in conversation with artists, models, and God only knows who else among the MySpace Social Elite (I’m fully aware that “MySpace Social Elite” is the equivalent of referring to Paris Hilton as royalty). I was so in bed with MySpace that I even planned their Superbowl XL party!
Then one day I questioned the superficiality of it all. MySpace to me wasn’t a place for friends. It wasn’t about who I was, it was about who I wanted people to perceive me to be.
So I deleted my account.
To the disbelief of friends, girls with three syllable names, and square burgers alike I unplugged and instantly lost 20,000 connections.
I once argued with a colleague that the reason the term social currency existed was due to MySpace. That the company would continue to stay afloat on the fear of a social economy based on absolute nothingness – platonic friendship. Who would dare give up their friend equity after the labor intensity of accruing so many faces to fill your page?
I did and similar to ripping a band aid off quickly, it didn’t hurt a bit.
But then came Facebook and Twitter and just like the sole line of Al Pacino relevance in Godfather III…right when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.
Now I’m at a similar point of inflection. I sense the exact trend with Twitter where the
community is slowly becoming infatuated with style over substance. This of course begs the retort of “Twitter is what you make of it.” but I disagree. The foundation for how Twitter is used – as a link baiting bulk messaging service between the social influencers and the influenced has clouded, in my opinion, the purity of the concept. It’s no more about the dissemination of information, no longer about the message, but more about who is delivering the message.
Ultimately this same issue is what lead me to why I found SMS so attractive. In its purest form, SMS is one of the most intimate methods of modern communication outside of whispering in someones ear. My phone is not a billboard. I can be alerted through a simple vibration; view a message designed for my eyes only in a matter of seconds without disturbing the strictest of meetings.
Meanwhile, Facebook has crossed the line of invasive. When colleagues change their status from “single” to “in a relationship”, an entire friend network is able to comment. In the reverse scenario, I’ve seen colleagues bashfully hide with their tails between their legs due to the inadvertent discovery of hundreds of people learning of their bachelor status.
Additionally the smoke and mirrors of being involved in the advertising world makes my skin crawl when I realize that with every additional page I help populate on Facebook, someone benefits monetarily.
Look, I’m not striking out at the hand that feeds me. I know my livelihood is contingent on how well I understand the ins and outs of community based services. But ultimately I may be a tag but I sure feel like a number.
So I’m feeling more and more like I need to unplug and remove myself from the daily rigors of social community based activities; mostly because they aren’t feeling very social to me.
Right after I post this blog entry to Twitter…