By Anitra Cottledge
Before I jump with both feet into this topic, a couple of short items to provide a bit of backstory.
I only joined Facebook however-many-years ago because it seemed that Facebook was where students were getting their information, and thus it made sense for me to be there so that I could create a presence for our office. To this day, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook (I am aware that I’m likely not alone in this). I love the fact that it does, in fact, make staying in touch with some people much easier. I enjoy the opportunities for conversation; I pretty much use it as a place to highlight what I’m reading and noticing in pop culture, in feminism, in social justice work, and it’s interesting to see the conversations that grow from these random status updates/links. But, meh for the privacy concerns that pop up like weeds every five seconds. I’m also not particularly fond of the way that checking FB can become almost second nature, or how easily FB (and other social media) can become a time suck. (Note that privacy concerns are a structural issue, and the time suck thing is a personal thing – one that I’m sure many other people experience, but an individualized phenomenon nonetheless, since there are many people who go weeks and months without even logging in.)
I get LinkedIn invitations all the time. All. The. Time. Sometimes from people I don’t even know. To date, I have held out on joining LinkedIn, mainly because I just don’t feel like managing yet another social media profile or service. Also, I haven’t been able to really see a use for it, even though many human resources colleagues rave about its importance and value.
With both Facebook and LinkedIn – and really, any social media outlet – my questions are the same: how much do you post? How much is too much? Too little? How much information do you share for this tool to be useful?
Fast forward to the last few weeks. I read a post by Tressie McMillan Cottom entitled, “Outgrowing Your Social Media.” I thought she really captures the challenges of “managing a public-private self on social media sites as you are growing and, yes, perhaps changing.” Like Tressie discusses in her post, my digital self is pretty consistent with my “real” self; I just happen to have very clear ideas at this point about how much of my self I want to be accessed digitally. I could get into the whole “real” self vs. digital self thing, but I’ll save that for another post. More from Tressie’s post:
As tools pop up that allow social media users to know immediately anytime you unfollow them, people are becoming digitally passive aggressive. You don’t unfollow; you “mute” someone using a special twitter client. You don’t de-friend on Facebook; you “hide” someone from appearing on your wall. You maintain the illusion of a digital relationship precisely because the divide between real life and online life is porous, if real itself. … So what do you do when the people you follow on social media are not the people you want to talk to anymore?
THIS. We’ve all “unfriended” or been on the receiving end of an unfriending, so this is not my own passive aggressive musing about “Oh, those people I wish I could delete, but I don’t want to name names.” (Again, I could write a whole ‘nother post about social media and its unspoken rules of engagement and etiquette, but not right now.)
As usual, this post is more a way to pose a question. As social media tools become more numerous and complex, is it a best practice to divide your audience(s) among various social media outlets? For instance, does it make your life easier to, as others I know have done, remove all work-related contacts from your Facebook friends list, and to only include friends and family there? Do you then funnel all of the work colleagues and contacts over to LinkedIn? How do you manage your “real-life” relationships via these digital means, i.e., what do you do or say when someone gets mad that you are no longer friends with them on Facebook?
Weigh in via the comments.