Am I crazy or has everyone forgotten the “social” part of social media?
Back when I was still speaking to Twitter, it was a place where I could enjoy succinct conversations with friends and family. I could hop on board and enjoy a steady stream of short little life blurbs. Today, it’s nothing more than a virtual wasteland of pimped out links and rotating shills.
The two-way avenues of engagement that once existed on Twitter have been replaced by one-way streets navigated by robotic auto-tweets. Looking at the first 20 tweets in my Twitter stream at the time of this writing, I see ONE link to a personal Instagram photo. The rest? Promos, giveaways, and #sponsored shout-outs.
I’m done with it.
Much like Charlie Brown mourned the commercialization of Christmas, I am mourning the commercialization and imminent death of Twitter. I don’t mean to imply that the platform itself is a dead medium. As long as companies see value in paying people to tweet to a world that’s long tuned them out, it will exist and persist. What I’m speaking of is the social aspect…and the fact that it’s been clubbed to death by friends pimpin’ to friends.
Every. Single. Day.
While there are plenty of folks on Twitter who still use it as intended, their voices are hopelessly muffled by all the surrounding white noise. Quite frankly, I don’t have the time and patience to weed through it any more. The amount of maintenance in unfollowing the commercially absurd just isn’t worth the hassle. I’d rather just make a clean break.
When people had to actually be on Twitter to post to Twitter, it was a different scene. You watched your stream, you engaged, you conversed. All this died with the advent of automated tools. Thanks to auto-tweeting, scheduled tweets, and triggered tweets, you no longer have to be tethered to the platform to exploit it, flood it, and populate it.
In the end, all it’s created is a paradigm shift away from social and more towards media. Thanks to all the automation being wielded by people powerless to stop themselves, tweet capacity and volume are now inversely related to tweet value and relevancy.
Case in point, there have been 234 updated tweets since I last checked at the beginning of this post. Clicking to expand, my stream is once again flooded with #win, #giveaway, #company-name, #promotion-name, #drink-this, #buy-this, #be-this, and #love-this type tweets. Of the 234, less than 20 were involved in conversation. All the others were just empty tweets to a barren landscape without eyes.
Granted, some people *want* to follow this kind of stuff on Twitter. They want to be notified of giveaways, they want to be alerted about coupons, and they want to know who the new Mayor is at the Chula Vista Chili’s. The problem is that people like me are caught in the crossfire. We’re nothing more than dead space. Collateral damage, if you will.
Well, no more.
Having grown weary of all the solicitation, I abandoned Twitter and instead shifted my focus to Facebook. Perceiving it as a more personal scene, I went through my Friends list and zapped anyone I didn’t actually know.
Last year, I went through a Friend collection phase where I added anyone and everyone as a “Friend” on my Facebook account. While the 4-digit Friends list looked impressive, it was vapid. I had no personal connection with 90% of the people in my list and they had no personal connection with me either. If it hadn’t been for a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend, we never would have crossed paths in the first place.
Even though I never understood the obsession over scoring a bazillion followers on Twitter if the relationships were empty, I found myself doing the very same thing on Facebook. It was then that I went through a major purge, dumping more than 900 contacts. Heck, I can’t even call them contacts. Better to refer to them as complete and utter strangers.
I doubt any of them shed a tear.
For months I enjoyed family updates, news from friends, photo shares, and funny links that actually echoed the sender’s personality. It was about staying in touch…sharing the memories we’re unable to witness now that life’s currents have carried us all to different destinations.
But now, I’m seeing the beginning of the very same thing that killed Twitter for me. Instead of my Facebook stream being filled with life events, accomplishments, and photographic captures, it’s starting to become littered with political ads, controversial opinions, and the same spammy links I abandoned Twitter to escape.
I see less socializing and more chastising. Less sharing and more strong-arming. Less camaraderie and more judgement.
I see photos of aborted fetuses, pictures shared solely for the purpose of ridicule, and Photoshopped photos rooted in hate and social coercion.
I see opinions shapeshifting into pleas and demands for conformity. I see all the reasons why I shouldn’t do this, and all the reasons why I shouldn’t do that.
I see all the reasons why my life choices are inferior, and all the reasons why theirs should be adopted.
Most importantly? I see all the reasons why we weren’t that close in the first place.
If it’s a link to something you’ve written, something you’ve made, something you’ve accomplished, something you like, something about your family, your kids, your pets. That’s what I look for and that’s what I want Facebook to be for me. Even the occasional opinionated statement is expected.
But if you’re going to push your political views onto me and then recoil in anger if I disagree…if you’re going to blast people for their choices while reveling in your own…and if my wall is going to be a source of angst rather than happiness? Well, tranquility is only a mouse-click away.
I come to Facebook to relax, to engage, and to catch up. I don’t come there to argue or feel lousy. I choose to make Facebook my own personal oasis, and if that means I Unfriend more than I Friend? I’m fine with that.
Even if I’m left with no one other than my wife in my Friends list, at least I can log in knowing I won’t feel worse when I log out.
Get your shiz together people, before you kill Facebook.
Save the picketing for the sidewalks. If you’re brave enough to step from the living room to champion your cause.