Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blogging and Other Social Media

forbes.com
I look forward to catching up on my favorite blogs every morning with my first cup of tea, and I truly value the global friendships I have made during my short time in this space. Several kind members of these social communities took me under their wing and offered help and advice when I began writing articles six months ago. I was also encouraged to create Facebook and Twitter accounts, to connect with other bloggers and people in the beauty industry and to promote my blog.

I resisted Facebook and Twitter, the same way I resisted getting a smart phone for so long. It sounded like fun, but I worried that another online avenue would consume even more of my time, time I felt I should be spending in the 3D world. As it is, the Internet can steal my life the same way a cat is supposed to steal a baby's breath. Please say I am not the only one this happens to, where I can sit down at my computer on a Saturday morning, with the best of intentions (e.g., catch up), and suddenly I look up, it's well past noon, and I wonder what happened!

I'm not a Luddite--I didn't resist because of the unknown. My company, which provides a paycheck for my 9-5 work, designs and develops software analytics for social media companies. So perhaps being cognizant of how much time I already spent online, I did not pursue the other outlets. But as time passed, and people kept asking if Everyday Beauty was on Facebook and Twitter, I decided to expand my network.

Then one day I was contacted by someone I went to grad school with and haven't seen in years. She wanted to tell me that someone posing as me on Facebook was asking my connections for money. I know I sometimes overspend on beauty items, but things haven't gotten that bad yet. When I did some further investigation, I discovered that "I" had also messaged several people at my company, including board members and C-level executives. Working in high tech, I know the importance of a solid password, so this breech confirmed my suspicions that Facebook has almost no security, is totally hackable. Though not terribly surprised, I felt angry and humiliated. Someone who doesn't know me, such as a board member, might have no problem believing I was spending a drunk night on the Internet, and writing, "Hey, dude, what's up?" Not cool.

I immediately requested that my Facebook accounts be permanently deleted, not temporarily deactivated, which is the default. No one will ever see me on Facebook again. Not under my given name, anyway.

As for Twitter, I gave it the old college try, but I do not care for the peripatetic, somewhat disjointed format, not to mention all the retweets I could care less about. I have no plans to take such drastic measures with my Twitter account, and I may pop in from time to time, but I doubt I will be a regular.

I have come to realize that between research, reading, photography, writing, editing, and following links, I can easily spend 30 hours or more each week in the blogosphere. It is fun, it really is! But this is what my online world is starting to feel like:

Photo credit Google images

I need to reign it in a bit because my human-interactive life is starting to feel like this:

Photo credit Psychology today
I have no intention of stopping, or even slowing down my blogging, but I can't be bothered with thinking about SEO meta tags, meaningful subject lines, and heavy self promotion. My blog will sink or swim on its own merits. It's just a fun hobby after all, not a business. So in the meantime I shall somewhat selfishly narrow my online scope in order to take back some of the time I lose following all those threads.

How do the rest of you feel about all of these online social outlets? Love, hate, indifferent? In expanding our global reach through the Worldwide Web, are we losing the human touch with the world around us? If you think so does it bother you?

17 comments:

  1. I have still been holding out on the smartphone thing. I do use Facebook, but I don't plan on ever using Twitter. I like being able to keep in touch with family and friends over Facebook since I am a stay at home mom, but that should never replace real interactions with humans. I guess I can now consider myself old!

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  2. I'm so sorry about your Facebook experience - how awful! I guard my privacy, but I operate at my level of comfort, and my blog is also just a hobby, so I think it's fine. Most people are completely understanding.

    I enjoy Twitter (more than I thought I would), but sometimes I do feel the need to simply check out. Everything in moderation again! Thanks for another thought-provoking post! :)

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  3. You've just confirmed my growing suspicion that Facebook is the devil. I have a personal account that is almost inactive and keep the number of "friends" to a low and manageable count (ie. people who would know the difference between the real me and a hacker). Yet it's become such a way of life for so many that I feel it's almost better to have an inactive one than none at all. That way I still feel slightly connected with what's going on "around" me but I don't have to actively participate. I guess what you're doing with Twitter is how I handle Facebook.

    Twitter, though, I really like for the fact that it allows a faster and steady level of personal interaction I wouldn't normally get with blog comments and emails. Without it, I probably wouldn't have discovered half of the great blogs and bloggers I follow. I'm not big on self-promotional aspect of blogging either and figure if they like what they see, they'll find a way to keep up regardless of whether I tweet about it or not.

    And I am so totally with you in the wishing corner about being paid regular salary to blog! That would be a dream come true. Here's to hoping and believing! ;)

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  4. Facebook is useful for keeping up with my far flung family scattered across the US, Japan and the UK. I have no siblings, but I do have 14 aunts and uncles, and 42 cousins on my mother's side alone. (And not one of them, save my aunt Verlene, has any interest in makeup!) But I've been known not to check it for days, sometimes weeks. I keep my profile info locked, but realize, after reading about your experience, that this close to pointless. I’m so sorry your account was hacked. I can’t imagine having to apologize to board members and others, especially those that you didn’t know.
    I like Twitter a lot. It's a great way to keep in immediate touch with friends and family, and to take the pulse of others whom I have common interests: beauty bloggers, political types, knitters, and foodies. Like Liz, I've discovered new bloggers, writers and restaurants through Twitter. I don't have all tweets sent to my Smart phone, however, or I'd have a bill into the stratosphere! I miss a lot given the sheer number of messages posted by the people I follow, but don’t I try to keep up. I see the messages I see.
    Neither of these platforms or the internet have cut me off from the real world, they’ve enhanced my connection to it.

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  5. I can't join Facebook,there are too many openings to find out who you really are. I like my privacy and I will communicate with people I like whether it be in real life or the virtual world. Nobody needs to know every little thing about me, I don't even want to know.

    Twitter, I poo-pooed for such a long time but I have the patience to type 140 letters!

    Hmmm my phone. I rarely use it. I don't tweet or look at the net when I am out. I do what I do on the laptop and the rest of the time is my own.

    I think nowadays one has to balance a virtual life and real life. My real life existed first and that is where my priorities are. Virtual life is always there and many people won't remember that you have been away for awhile.

    Sorry for rambling on.

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  6. Oh my gosh, that facebook saga sounds horrible! I don't check my facebook anymore, and have toyed with deleting it as well. I keep holding on since it's the only contact I have with a few scattered people.

    I agree that social media is overwhelming. Not to mention, I'm not that adept at using it to my advantage! Getting twitter was a big step for me. I've grown to like it despite some of noise, since it gives some of my favorite bloggers a more human like feel. I like to think of it more for fun than for blog promos, and that keeps me happy. Then I don't have pressure to follow a million people or tweet too much =)

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  7. Boy, do I know what you mean about the internet being a time-suck. (Love having all the info/knowledge at my fingertips, though.)
    I really do hate Facebook, however. I have friends who do an awful lot of their socializing there, and I've fallen out of touch with them. Sorry about what happened to you-- that is actually quite creepy.

    Twitter for me is an easy a news/blog feed and it's quite useful for that. I also use it to hear about sales/deals at small boutiques. And that's it. Blogging is just pure fun for me, and I intend to keep it that way. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I always look forward to what you have to say here, Z. You're a treat.

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  8. Martha, I don't know if I ever mentioned in a recent post, but I finally caved into the smartphone thing and bought an iPhone. For me it ended up being a practical matter. With one device, I can carry my contacts, calendar, and music. That means I can get rid of two things in my handbag and play games when I get stuck in a line. :)

    Sometimes I do feel old by resisting these technologies, but I am inundated with technology at work, and sometimes in my spare time I revolt in the opposite direction.

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  9. Larie, thanks, the Facebook experience was actually not surprising. I have read nothing but complaints about the interface and how Facebook engineers sneakily change privacy settings.

    I have no idea how the breech occurred--I have a hackproof password and always logged out--my account, since I opened it--was almost always deactivated. I never used the thing. I just have to assume that it's that easy to do.

    I am intensely private person, which is why you'll never see my full face or real name in this blog.

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  10. Liz, I know millions of people love Facebook--it wouldn't be so popular if they didn't, though I do find some of the stuff people post on their walls so totally insipid.

    Facebook came in handy for me once. I was planning a surprise party for my parents, and since I could not ask them for their address book to contact all their old friends, I did a bit of detective work on Facebook. Most of the time their friends weren't members, but their kids were!

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  11. Ava, thanks for your comment. I think if my family used Facebook for the purpuses yours does, I'd find it a lot more useful. I am at the polar opposite end of your familial ties, though. My mother was an only child (and neither of my parents use online social media other than e-mail), I have only one brother, four cousins, a husband, and not much else! We just do old fashioned things like pick up the phone, but my entire family is within a 2-hour radius in any direction from me.

    I didn't mention the Facebook incident to anyone at work. I figure many of them know what Facebook is like and know that the person who contacted them was so out of character from what they know about me, they'll just write it off as a hack. As for the boards members ... I don't even reach their level of consciousness, so the less said the better, lest I come across as protesting too much. ;)

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  12. Olivia, I guess I am more aligned with you on the privacy issue. It's one reason I am waiting for Google+ to delete my account. I have read posts that they are insisting that people use their real names. Screw that! The internet is a great way to connect globally while maintaining anonymity. I don't WANT to be that available and transparent to people I don't know. That's just too damned creepy.

    I am also that person who doesn't give out her cell phone number to anyone but a trusted few. That's just me. I am private and intend to stay that way. Blogging is me, but it's a side of me not many people in my real life see, certainly NOT the people I work with. Sad to say, but I am certain if they knew I was raving about beauty and makeup I'd lose a great deal of credibility. That's one reason why my privacy is so important to me. What I do in my spare time is none of their business.

    I like what you said about your real life coming before your virtual life, which for us means literally and figuratively! I agree and think it would be different if we had been born in 1990 or so, such that by the time we were old enough, the Internet was all we ever knew. Makes me sad for the little children who don't go outside and play anymore, but that's probably a post left for another forum. ;)

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  13. Dovey, thanks for your comment. It makes me feel better that the younger bloggers (younger than me, anyway!) also find online social media occasionally overwhelming. I do like how Twitter gives the other beauty bloggers are more personal feel--it certainly seems like the fastest way to get to know most of them, which comments don't provide quite as readily.

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  14. Veuve, thanks so much for your kind words. :)

    I really do love having all that info at my fingertips, and sometimes I shock myself when it's gone, like when my cable is down and I want to check the weather, lol!

    Its sounds like most of you who commented are somewhat sparing with Facebook but enjoy Twitter. I definitely to not have the deep loathing and mistrust for Twitter that I have for Facebook, but I think I'll still minimize my time there.

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  15. Your blog always makes me think; I like that. Anyway, I am on FB but mostly read what others have to say. I hope the friends I have would realize that i would never ask them for money. As for Twitter, I'm on it but rarely use it. I just don't find it interesting to read every little thing each person thinks or does or says he/she thinks or does. I do have an iphone but only use it if I have to call my dh when I'm out.

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  16. Ammie, you know what I like about my iPhone? GPS and maps!!! I love a good map, and one reason I don't buy as many books on my Kindle as I'd like to is because I read a lot of historical novels that contain maps. Maps maps maps maps maps. Call me Map Girl™.

    Carry on.

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  17. That is really disturbing what happened with your Facebook account. I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed myself with some of my social networks but at the same time value some of the friendships I've made with them and things I've discovered too much to abandon them completely.
    It's funny you posted this because just the other day I realized how dependant I'd become on them and starting trying to think back to what the heck I did with myself before they consumed all my free time. I think the distraction keeps me from really connecting with myself which is a welcome distraction at times but likely not a healthy one.

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