You Don't Know Me: how Facebook and Twitter changed Social Media

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Many years ago (April of '05 to be exact) I started this blog that you are reading right now. I started it for the purpose of sharing links and photos with friends and family (so I could stop emailing them every time I came across a funny webpage), but over time it grew into my personal outlet for what we now call "social media". Just as Facebook and Twitter are all about updating everyone at the same time about something, so too my blog became, a place where all of my friends and family could go so that everyone could know the latest goings-ons of my life.

And, of course, funny webpages.

But over time I slowly stopped posting on my blog as I started posting more and more on Facebook and, later, Twitter. In fact, in the last 22 months I have only posted 11 posts on my blog, an average of one blog post every 60 days! Compare that to calendar year 2008 when I posted 160 times, an average of one post every 2.3 days.

However, what I post on Facebook/Twitter and what I used to post on my blog are not the same thing. On Facebook and Twitter you are limited in how many characters you can post (420 and 140, respectively). And while Facebook is great for having conversations in comments, I never post any deep or long winded posts, mostly because I can't fit many deep theological discussion into 420 characters. (And, yes, Facebook has Notes, but I never got into using those.)

And this is a problem. Nobody knows me. Sure, they think they know me, but all I ever post on Facebook/Twitter are one-liners. How can you know someone from one-liners?

For example, I have not kept it a secret that I am working on writing an iPhone application, but who knows how the project is going? Am I making good progress, or have I hit a stumbling block? How far along in the app making process am I, and what resources am I using? These are all things that, in the olden days of my blog, I would have typed out, but now nobody knows. (Note: I have made it a point to NOT post the title or even the general concept of my app, so don't feel bad if you don't know about that.)

Another great example: last year I become increasingly frustrated at my full time job. I wasn't frustrated at the company or anyone that was working there, I was frustrated at things like driving an hour each way three to four days a week, and working until 4 AM then having an hour drive home. And these problems didn't pop up over night, I had been getting increasingly frustrated for a year or more.

But apparently I had been keeping these problems to myself (or at least not posting about them on Facebook), because one day I posted on Facebook "Today I gave my two week notice at my full time job." and I got a surprised call from my dad. He not only didn't know that I was quitting, he didn't know how unhappy I was. And to make matters worse, to this day I have never posted a detailed explanation of WHY I was quitting. Unless you have asked me personally, you would have no about the problems I was having at the time.

In retrospect this probably wouldn't have happened if I were updating my blog regularly, because either a) I would have over time posted about how unhappy I was, or b) I would have written up a long 3000 word explanation of why I was quitting and I would have had it time stamped to post within an hour of me actually giving my two week notice, so everyone would know at the same time not only that I was quitting, but also a through explanation of why.

As these examples attest: Facebook and Twitter have changed the way people know me. And I am not saying that it is all bad, because the social interaction on Facebook and Twitter is so much greater than was ever possible on my blog. But people don't know ME, they don't know what is going on in my life, they only know the superficial one-liners of my life. And I am not saying that people that followed my blog when I posted regularly knew everything there was to know about me, I am saying they had a deeper understanding of what was really going on in my life.

I will admit: The idea that Facebook and Twitter are superficial is not a new idea in the world. I am sure people have written dissertations about how Facebook and Twitter have changed social media and people's interactions, but for me it never really sank in until now how MUCH it has changed how people know me.

So I am going to make a marked attempt to post on my blog more. I am not going to go out of my way to post, and I am not going to feel guilty if I don't post, but I want people to get to know a deeper me than the Facebook/Twitter version of me.

So add this blog to your bookmark list and/or your RSS reader, because you will be seeing more posts here in the near future.



Anonymous said...

Looking forward to "getting to know you better"!!!
Your Dad!