Writer’s Workshop: My Social Media, Ranked

Today’s prompt:

Rank your social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) from most to least favorite.

WordPress (my blog)

My favorite form of social media is this blog, hosted on WordPress.com. I feel the most natural here. I’m not so much writing to you as holding a conversation with you, and many of you return the favor, which I appreciate. I’ve never met any of you in person, but I feel like I know you, and I hope you’ve gotten to know me and like what you see here.

YouTube

I spend a lot of time on YouTube for the blog, building playlists for Monday and Friday, choosing music for my featured artists on Tuesday, picking old commercials for several days of the week. Then, when that’s done, I spend a lot of time just watching whatever catches my eye. I’ve been introduced to a lot of very good musicians via YouTube, and it’s fun (okay, and maybe a little strange) to watch some of the old TV that’s out there. Not the shows themselves, but all the stuff that happened around the shows: commercial breaks, station ID’s, newscasts, signons and signoffs, Emergency Broadcast System tests (they used to scare the crap out of me when I was a kid), technical difficulty moments, weather warnings, etc. etc. There are some talented people putting together entertaining and informative videos.

Spotify

I hated Spotify when it first came out, now I love it. I don’t use it for the social media capabilities, but they are there and I would guess that the people who use them really like it. I have these eclectic tastes in music, and so far any artist I’ve thrown its way has a page out there. Most recently I’ve been interested in a couple of Mongolian pop singers, Sarantuyaa and Ariunaa, and they were well-represented there. (Since I know people will ask: I found a video on YouTube many years ago of the Mongolian National Anthem arranged as a pop tune, and figured out who the lead singers were. Sarantuyaa is the woman in the navy pantsuit, Ariunaa in the electric blue dress. The gentlemen with them are Dashdondog (without the hat) and Jargalsaikhan (with the hat). I don’t know who the guitarist is, and wish I did.)

Instagram

It’s very hard to take pictures with one functioning hand, but I can always appreciate the work of others. I have found a number of excellent musicians and singers and can then follow them on Spotify and YouTube. I would never want to move back to Chicago, but it is a beautiful city and I love the pictures I see of it. It’s fun to browse. I also use my account to post funny stuff I find while reading blogs and surfing the web. Hey, gotta do something, right?

Pinterest

Pinterest was a lot of help when Mary first got the Instant Pot and wanted recipes, and since she doesn’t actually want to use it (I’m sure she has her reasons) I would browse through there and collect all the recipes I thought would be good. There are a lot of people who post radio station surveys, one of my favorite things to look through, and there are people who collect baseball pictures (specifically White Sox pictures) and post them there. When I find something amusing, it goes into Pinterest for access later, when I feel like flooding Instagram with funny stuff. For that matter, I’ve taken to posting pictures to Pinterest rather than collecting them on my hard drive, where they get forgotten.

Reddit

I started using this the last time I gave up Facebook for Lent, and I really haven’t quite got the hang of it. Reddit is topically oriented, with different topics broken down into Subreddits, and as I find the Subreddits I like, I add them to my feed. It’s fun to go out there and see what kinds of discussions you can get into, though I shy away from contentious topics.

Twitter

When Twitter first started, it was possible to watch the global feed, i.e. every tweet made by everyone in the world. It was a bit much, and you can’t do that anymore, which is fine by me. Right now, about the only time I use Twitter is when there’s severe weather in the area: I monitor #atlwx and #gawx (and sometimes #alwx, because severe weather in Alabama will nearly always make it into Atlanta). I also use it when I can’t listen to a ballgame, because there are some peoplke who will “live tweet” the game. Sadly, Twitter has adopted something Facebook does that annoys me, deciding for me what stories it thinks I want to see, even if they’re three weeks old. Just show me everything, dammit, and I can decide.

Facebook

I keep Facebook ostensibly to stay in touch with my family and friends and to advertise my blog, but the act is, I hate it, mostly because it’s become the symbol of everything that’s wrong with social media. Check that: Mark Zuckerberg has become the symbol of everything that’s wrong with social media. There’s a good chance I’m going to dump it by the end of the year. And yes, I know Instagram is owned by Facebook (FOR NOW), but, like I said, pictures.

Honorable Mention: LiveJournal

I’ve had a LiveJournal account since 2003, and currently only pay attention to the Vintage Ads group. I haven’t posted to it since July 2015, but still I pay for Premium access. I really should think about getting rid of it.

Gee, almost a thousand words… sorry about that…

My Least Favorite Social Media Platform

So, we have seven prompts for today. Which one do I choose?

Talk about your least favorite social media platform.

That’s easy.

Facebook is the social media everyone loves to hate. If you don’t hate them for shadow-banning users, you hate them for the whole Cambridge Analytica fiasco. I don’t get a whole lot of pleasure out of it, because I have to keep telling it to present everything in chronological order, which isn’t actually chronological. Their idea of “chronological” is that a post jumps to the top of my timeline when someone comments on it or “likes” it. I care about the posts (or status updates or whatever the hell they call them) themselves, not about the comments or “likes.” I don’t really care about the “top stories,” because whoever or whatever decides what those are is stupid.

I’m sure there are ways to make Facebook do what I want it to do, but I’m sure it would take a three-day class to explain it all, and even then I wouldn’t know all the secrets, because things are always changing. And I don’t keep up because, well, I don’t care. I don’t spend hours flipping through Facebook any more. I give it ten minutes a couple of times a week, tops, just to see if anyone in my family has anything going on that I should know about.

And who came up with the idea of Facebook Messenger? If I’m sitting at my desktop, I’ll read the messages I get on Facebook Messenger. If not, I don’t want to mess with it. I don’t want to install another app on my phone or tablet just so I can see that someone I follow on Facebook is now on Messenger. I got over the IM thing with AOL in the ’90’s. If it’s that important, pick up the phone and call me, or better, send me an email. I feel like Stan on South Park.

A Couple of Posts for Your Friday Night

Kristen Lamb, my favorite social media guru, has a post today called 8 Ways to Make People on Twitter Want to STAB US IN THE FACE. She discusses these items in her usual take-no-prisoners fashion, and when she was done I couldn’t think of anything she missed. Really, if you’re not careful, your Twitter feed can end up being nothing more than a stream of individuals hawking their books and telling us how many people followed and unfollowed them that day. Twitter has its purpose (I use it often when there’s bad weather, or when the Braves pull a major trade), but after a while you get tired of a stream of “buy my book, like me on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest, visit my website, and subscribe to my newsletter.” You’ll love it.

Kait Nolan, the guiding light behind ROW80 and a tremendous author of romance novels, read on Michael Hyatt’s blog about how he’s disabled comments on his blog, preferring instead to carry on any discussion on social media. An interesting idea, for sure, and one that I’m certain will be discussed at some length in the future. She has a survey on the ROW80 blog that asks whether you currently carry on ROW80 socializing somewhere other than the blog, and, if she were to move the discussion from the blog itself to social media, would you be less inclined to participate. There’s also a question there about a semi-regular feature she’d like to add. If you’re a ROWer (and, if you aren’t, why not?), be sure and drop by and vote, and leave any comments there. I think it would take some getting used to, but it has merit, and I (and I suspect many others) only visit the blog when it’s time to check in.

And yeah, I’ve been getting to this on the late side this week. I hope next week is less hectic.

ETA: I’ve linked to the ROW80 blog above.

Automating Your Social Sharing

While we are on the subject of Evernote (I know, “huh?”), I wanted to share an article by Dennis Goedegebuure that was on his blog a little over a year ago, How I Use @Pocket @Buffer & @IFTTT to Make My Social Sharing Efficient. In this article, he talks about what has become one of my favorite websites/apps out there, Pocket.

pocket-logo

Formerly called Read It Later, Pocket is a place where you can put web pages, blog posts, and emails to read later. Pocket usually reformats the material so it’s easier to read and gives you options to mark it as a favorite, archive it, tag it, or get rid of it. He uses it with Flipboard, Zeit, and RSS feeds; I use it with Feedly, StumbleUpon, and Twitter, though yesterday I started using Flipboard to grab updates and tweets from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube, because Flipboard makes it easier to “stick it in my Pocket.” Then, at my leisure, I can go through my Pocket, read each article, and decide if I want to keep it permanently in Evernote, reply to it if it’s a blog post, repost it in a tweet or Facebook status update, or discard it. Pocket is especially useful when trying to read blog posts and articles on my phone. They’re easier to read in Pocket.

ifttt-logo

IFTTT (short for “If This, Then That” and pronounced like “gift”) makes the social sharing and moving to Evernote automatic. IFTTT uses what are called “recipes” that allow you to set conditions under which the recipe will take the desired action. For example, one of my recipes (one of the more popular ones) copies anything I’ve favorited in Pocket to Evernote. Another copies things I favorited in StumbleUpon to Pocket. A third (currently inactive) tells Buffer to set up a tweet whenever I post a new blog post. I considered setting up another that would move items in Feedly to Pocket when I put an article in the “read it later” queue, but I found it was just as easy to send it to Pocket directly. Dennis has a recipe that takes archived items in Pocket and sends them to Buffer.

These two applications are useful even if you don’t intend to post to Twitter and Facebook. Give them a try and see what they can do for you!

The future of social media…?

While I can no longer receive the programming offered by WXIA (“11 Alive”), our local NBC affiliate (signal’s too weak), I still have their app on my phone, and they send me news updates, so I don’t miss their newscasts. In addition to the local news, weather, sports, and traffic, they also publish a lot of general-interest stories.

This week, there was a story from Julie Wolfe, one of WXIA’s reporters, that asks the musical question, “What will social networking look like in 2058?

The social media company Ku (and, God knows, we needed another social media company) anted to know the answer to that, so it looked at current trends and said, if those trends continued, by 2058 people would be posting to social media an average of a hundred times a day. That’s an average of a post every fourteen minutes and twelve seconds, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Without a break to go to the bathroom. Gotta go? Take your phone with you. (Apparently, there are those that do.)

This line got to me, though:

The poignant moments comes when the subject posts “Two polarizing fears: that everyone is watching, that no one is.”

Shades of Oscar Wilde….

quote-there-is-only-one-thing-in-life-worse-than-being-talked-about-and-that-is-not-being-talked-about-oscar-wilde-198105

The article goes on to say that the folks at Ku don’t think social media will grow at its current pace ad infinitum. Paul Curran, Community Manager for Ku, said this:

“We want to believe that with technological innovation, we will also grow in terms of social behavior. In some point down the line, perhaps we will understand that chasing our next social ‘rush’ is equal to taking another hit from a cigarette.”

There’s Oscar again…

quote-a-cigarette-is-the-perfect-type-of-a-perfect-pleasure-it-is-exquisite-and-it-leaves-one-oscar-wilde-301004

You know? That might be it. All of this social media stuff started when smoking became such a social evil. I can remember the days when I’d meet friends and we’d talk, drink coffee, and smoke cigarettes. That was our social networking. Now, if you’re going to have cigarettes and coffee, you better take your coffee to go and sit as far away from the front door of Starbucks as you can…

I know. I’m being facetious. I’m not sugesting that everyone go to a Starbucks and light up as a form of protest. Nor am I suggesting that we should all take up smoking, because that’ll improve our sociability.

But, you know what… maybe we need to put social media in its place. Mary and I were at Target the other day, and we were walking behind a woman who was walking like she was disabled, like I am. We walked around her when we could, and her disability was that she was trying to walk down the aisle and text at the same time. Another day, I saw a kid of about three run through the Target parking lot and almost get hit by a car. His mother was about twenty feet behind him, texting. Regardless of how many laws are put on the books prohibiting texting while driving, and how many PSA’s run on TV showing the last text messages from people who were texting while driving, people are still doing it.

Maybe we need to revisit the joys of being unavailable. Remember those days? If someone called you, and you weren’t home, the phone just rang until the caller figured, “well, guess they ain’t home,” hung up and called back later. If someone stopped by your house and you weren’t there, they moved on. Maybe they left a note, maybe not. If you were out of the house, say at a restaurant, and needed to use the phone, you found the pay phone (installed away from the dining room), called your party, and explained “I can’t talk long, I’m at a pay phone.” And, if the phone rang and you were in the bathroom, in bed, watching your favorite TV show, reading, or in the middle of cooking or eating dinner, you didn’t answer. There were no cellphones, text messages, email, social media, answering machines, caller ID, no other way to contact someone; you either called them or went to their house, and if they weren’t there or weren’t answering, well, tough bananas.

images

And maybe we need to get comfortable with the notion that we’re going to miss things, and that it’s okay and, if we really need to know, we’ll hear about it soon enough. Mom used to say that, no matter how you felt about something, six billion Chinese could care less. If that’s the case, maybe it’s really not that important.

The world of social media is the world of Truman Burbank. Do we really want to be part of it? Do we really need to keep up with the Kardashians?

Anyway, best of luck to Ku. It’s essentially Twitter except, instead of sending tweets, you send “Hey, Ku”s. For those of us in the writing business, it’s another place to make our presence known, another plank in the platform, as it were. So don’t forget.

I’d love to know your thoughts. What do you think about having another social media outlet? Do you know anyone who posts to social media a hundred times a day? Do you miss “not being there”?