Thursday, 21 August 2014

Rethinking My Social Media Involvement


So, I almost committed the unpardonable sin; I almost deactivated my Facebook account.

As a matter of fact, I did click the deactivate button, and as I did, I waited for the bolt of lightening that surely would send me into the afterlife, but the interesting thing is, it never came.

As a matter of fact, I was almost amazed that for those brief moments that I sat perched ready to pounce on the “confirm” deactivation link, nothing happened at all; the world didn’t end.

As I sat there, I thought of all those endless hours that in recent years I wasted on social media; hours that are now forever lost.

Please understand, I do not want to sound judgmental in any way towards those who clearly enjoy and regularly participate in such online activities. That is not my intent in saying this. To each their own. I say it only as a part of my reflection on how I might have otherwise spent those hours. Perhaps I could have spent the time reading some of the plethora of yet unread volumes of books in my personal library, which now currently numbers somewhere in excess of 1000 volumes, and is still ever growing.

Perhaps I could have spent more time in prayer and meditation, or physically left the house and spent some face to face time in fellowship with friends over coffee or a beer. Perhaps I could have finished writing and editing that book that has long since been started, but never yet quite finished. The possibilities of things I could have done are endless, but as the saying goes, “You can’t cry over spilt milk.” Time to move on.

So what shall I do? Click on the “confirm” deletion of some social media accounts? Though tempted, I didn’t. Instead, I eventually found the “cancel” button and kept my Facebook account active. Instead, I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone, thinking that would reduce my online time; and it did. I did, however, keep my Facebook Pages Manager app. As of today, about the only Facebook activity that I regularly involve myself in, is managing my two pages, Rethinking Faith and Church (RF&C), and The Other Side of Will (TOSoW), which correspond to my two blogs by the same name, and which both can be found on rochow.ca. Any other Facebook activity now requires me to first log onto my computer as opposed to accessing it from my cell phone.

Well that took care of Facebook, but what about Twitter? That required some rethinking too.

It used to be that, if I remember correctly, they advertised Twitter as a means of following people and organizations that interested you. While that may yet be true, lately it seems to have also evolved into a “follow-me-or-I-won’t-follow-you” mentality, in which many folks simply follow someone, not because they’re necessarily interested in what they’re about, but in order to secure more followers themselves. If the newly followed person or organization does not re-follow in a timely manner, they’re simply “unfollowed” (is there even such a word as that?).

To help one control who has unfollowed you, and thereby presumably allow you to unfollow them in return, one can even subscribe to organizations such as justunfollow.com. They will help you keep track of who unfollowed you so that you can reciprocate and unfollow them too. Tit for tat, seems to have become the order of the day with Twitter. Follow me back, or else!

But I must say, I am amused at Twitter accounts that advertise the opportunity to instantly "purchase" 1000's of followers. Really? Says something about where our minds are at with social media, wouldn't you say? Is that what we've come to, "buying" friends and followers? Hmm.

Whatever happened to following someone just because they’re interesting to me, without expecting anything in return? Have we become that self centered and prideful that the whole social media thing no longer has anything to do with focusing on the other, but has everything to do with the numbers game of self? Is that what we’ve evolved into? How pathetic!

And as I say that, I speak to myself. How many times have I too followed someone on Twitter, not because their message necessarily interests me, but with the ulterior motive and expectation that they will follow me back? And when they don’t? Well that’s easy; unfollow them (that will teach them!). Again, how pathetic! Woe is me! Have I become that prideful?

Again, this is not a judgment call on anyone, except myself. So where do I go from here? After some more rethinking, here’s my new personal Twitter policy:

  •  I am tired of online mind games
  • I fail to see how I can possibly faithfully “follow” several hundred (or thousand) people/organizations at any true degree of the word “follow”
  • I refuse to follow someone simply because they follow me
  • I refuse to follow anyone with the ulterior motive that they follow me back
  • I will only initially follow someone whose profile or recent tweets interests or amuses me, be they “Christian” or not
  • I will only continue to follow them if, (1) their tweets continue to interest or amuse me, or (2) we have some sort or semi-regular dialogue one with one another, through either commenting on each other’s tweets, or by retweeting each other. In other words, more of a connection than simply a numbers game
  • I reserve the right to unfollow anyone I choose, and I grant the same right to anyone to unfollow me if they choose to, without any ill feelings on my part one way or another

Well there you have it; my new take and personal position on social media, and my (limited) online activity. If I don’t re-follow or accept friend requests, please don’t be offended; you’re probably not alone. It’s nothing personal. Lately, “friend requests” and “following” with me, often amounts to simply a flip of the coin. Again, it’s nothing personal.

Peace.

Photo Credit: Rosaura Ochoa, Flickr Creative Commons

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