My Social Media Assimilation

Unlike a lot of internet things, I was not an early user of social networks. I grew up with Bulletin Boards and tended to do most of my online socializing through them. I also love email, though most of the time, my emails are very utilitarian rather than social. When I released my first RPG products though Kobold Press, I took more of an interest in social media in order to promote my work. I signed up with as many different services as I could find, including Facebook. But I never really took to socializing there, just promoting the work I was doing and interacting with fans.

It wasn’t until we pulled up stakes and set to travel the country that I really dived into Facebook and G+ as a way to talk and interact with people. While part of that was promoting our blog and any other enterprises we came up with, it was also simply an outlet to feel connected to my friends now that I could not see them in person. About 6 months into my trip, I also quit the BBS I did most of my arguing on, Online Debate Network. At one point I was one of the leadership on the board, but I’d come to very much disagree with others on how it should be run, and eventually, I quit the board altogether. Now Facebook would have to be my outlet for my love of back and forth debate and discussion.

At first, I much preferred G+.  I’m a bit of a Google fan, having been a user of their search almost from the beginning. I liked the UI better and G+ seemed to attract a lot of gamers and intellectuals, exactly the sorts of folks I like to jam with. But before long Facebook won me over and I spend much more of my time and energy there. The main reason being it simply has more of my friends and family on it, but also because it creates more “cross pollination” so I see a wider range of peoples views and ideas. That also makes it better for promotional efforts because a wider range of people get exposed to what I’m doing.

Twitter is a non-starter for me. As much as I might benefit from brevity, it is not in my nature. I usually have lots to say and cannot confine my thoughts to its draconian word count, nor can I condone multi-tweets or the like. Nor am I much interested in anything someone has to say in such a short span. Finally, it is not a good medium for dialog and interaction, which is what I enjoy most in socializing.

I would say I spend too much time there now. Not because it is wasted time, but simply I have other things I should be attending to. I try not to do too much commenting that could make for a good article instead. One of my vows when leaving ODN was that I would start writing my own articles rather than just responding to what other people write. I am a reactive person by nature rather than a proactive one, but that is not good for business when you want to make money writing. He who publishes the content is the one who gets to monetize it (mostly), But I do love getting such a wide view into the lives and thoughts of so many different people. I am endlessly curious and it is a place that well satisfies curiosity.

Wise people don’t generally argue on Facebook, at least I think that is true, but I do it anyway, and I try to be a wise person. I’ve pissed a few folks off, some friends, by having and speaking my opinions and arguing for them.  I’ve also made new friends through my posts and arguments, more I’d say than I have upset. I suppose the wise thing to do would be to argue only with relative strangers, but by and large, it is the thoughts of friends I value most. I’ve tried to adopt the most gentle forms of argument, but I think that for some folks, any form of disagreement is an affront, especially if it appears in response to their own posts. I try to follow the policy that if someone tells me to shut up, I oblige as gracefully as possible. When people forbid all responses, I simply unfollow them to remove the temptation and preserve the peace. I don’t unfriend people unless they ask me to.

Facebook has changed, to some degree, who I associate with now. For most of my life, my closest friends were those close at hand, and those who engaged in the same activities I did. Those long distance friends I did have, were generally working on some project or another with me online. Now, no one is close at hand, and most of my projects are very solo affairs. As a result, the people I interact with most often has shifted somewhat. I interact a bit more with family members than I used to, and the people I talk to most often are those most engaged on Facebook. Some are people I’ve never met before but have grown to know through social media.

The nature of the interaction is very perspective driven though. I can come to feel some kinship with people who quite possibly aren’t aware of my connection until I make it known. And the reverse is also true. Facebook has put me closer to people that felt a connection to me that I wasn’t aware of until I was present enough there to become aware of them. To me, friendship and connection are mostly mental things, so I don’t feel a lot differently being a friend of someone online vs in person. The experience is not as rich, but the meaningfulness of it is the same for me. The main advantage of meatspace is it is simply a richer experience for everyone, it’s the full experience to spend time with people in person.

Ultimately, I like Facebook and I think it has incredible value in society. It has become a part of my daily life, and I don’t regret that, even as I question if I’ve spent too much time there. I feel I have finally left my old BBS days behind me.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *