Trying To Be Not-So-Connected

A few months have gone by since I decided to stop being quite so “connected” by taking a break from social media. My life has never revolved around it, but I did like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The primary purpose of social media, for me, is to keep in touch with what friends are doing and to be a bit more connected to them. The second reason I use some of these services is as a news feed of facts or opinions. I quite enjoyed seeing what adventures friends had been on and learning of concerts from my favourite bands or breaking news. Indeed, the latter on Twitter was really useful while I was travelling with work every week because I was able to scan a list of short messages and then expand what I wanted more information about, rather than having to get through entire websites on a Blackberry with data roaming limits.

Sometimes, though, there is a time to not have that information overload for whatever reason that may be. Some posts, despite obviously positive intention, can feel like your nose is getting rubbed in a situation that you don’t want to know about.

One of the other reasons for my stepping away was also that I was getting fed up / annoyed / apathetic with the content being shared that didn’t feel like my nose was being rubbed in it!  It’s not the people that I’m connected with, it’s that I joined social media because I wanted to know about them, and more often than not nowadays all they post is links or what they’re doing on games.  Within Facebook this is known as “context collapse” and there’s a suspicion that more personal sharing has now moved on to other platforms such as Snapchat and, presumably, other messaging services.

Apparently, while sharing has “stayed strong”, the posting of original personal content has dropped 21% percent as of mid-2015 and is now at about a 15% reduction year-on-year.  To an extent, this is Facebook’s fault for altering its algorithms to connect more people to those companies giving it money.  Maybe it even started when they removed the “[Your Name] is…” from the update box!  They’re also trying to do something about it by the introduction of things like live video, a la Periscope.

There is another theory – we are now too connected in our social networks.  I can’t remember when I joined, but let’s say it was 10 years ago that Facebook came in to my life.  I have a decade’s worth of “friends” totaling, for me, just over 100 I think.  I have 111 followers on Twitter and a mere 69 on Instagram at the time of writing.

Obviously there are the “politics” or social media about who you do or do not accept requests from and, over time, you build up a following or connections with people to whom it might be inappropriate to share certain personal content.  There’s stuff, for example, I would share on Facebook because of being connected to colleagues on that platform.  If I have that issue with 100 or so connections, then it might be a bigger problem for those with 1000.

However, I also wonder if the true answer is simply that we aren’t that interesting and once sharing our exploits in our hobbies, our eating, our conquests and our jobs becomes routine, it becomes the same and it becomes boring.  Finding unique personal content becomes a chore.

However, despite how much of a chore it is, we have a presence to maintain and grow because we want our connections to know how great (or otherwise, I suppose) our lives are.  Let me take, as an example because I happen to be an expert in looking at profiles without getting anywhere, online dating.  The number of linked Instagram accounts now that are made up entirely of selfies is staggering, and yet profiles of entirely selfies when their subject is wearing a low cut top are also staggeringly popular and that has to give the Taker Of Selfies And Owner Of Boobs a good feeling.

I just wonder if there is a change now in some people of having to share rather than wanting to share.  Being connected by social media is now a requirement rather than a nice-to-have.  I doubt that was ever supposed to be the point.  It’s like the phrase when we share isn’t “Hey, look at this!” but is rather “Hey, I’m here!”.  It’s not about a genuine connection, it’s about bragging.

What did I learn from my “disconnectedness”? (Wait, that’s a real word?! The computer didn’t underline it as a spelling mistake!)  I’ve learnt that I can live without Facebook, but that it gets nervous when you don’t log in regularly and so the frequency of its “Check this out” type of e-mails and notifications increases.  Twitter is still a useful news service.  I’ve also learnt that I like Instagram a lot more than I used to, possibly because of its visual stimulation and probably because much more of the content is original.

I’ve also learnt that the best way to be connected with friends is personally.  This isn’t to say I’ve given up on social media (far from it) but not everyone needs to see everything and sometimes the personal touch is better.

 


I’ve previously written five other posts on being connected by social media and its impact on relationships – Ghosting, Misread, Passive Ghosting, The Purge, Conclusions.


With me
Somewhere
One night
To share
Just you
And me
We spread
Deceive
Eyes catch, you are so natural

Human connect to human
Boy meets girl, know what to do
Human connect to human
How can I connect to you?

Human connect to human
Boy meets girl, know what to do
Human connect to human
How can I connect to you?

A kiss
A touch
Never
Enough
So soft
So hot
Don’t stop
You start
And test the skills like animal

Human Connect To Human by Tokio Hotel

Comments 2

  1. I agree with the points you raised in your blog. I very seldom use Facebook now and only use it to either contact family or occasionally wish friends happy birthday although I tend to just send a text. I have noticed over the past couple of years on Facebook that whenever I’m on my homepage, I’m bombarded with lots of shared videos and the personal posts are either shoved to the bottom or not visible on the page at all.

    I also haven’t given up on social media as I’m active on LinkedIn, WordPress and YouTube (of course, Facebook as well) but I think it’s important to have a balance and use it sparingly. I personally also use a social media app called Line to keep in touch with friends and then we each arrange meetups to see each other in person. In terms of using social media for personal use, 2-5 hours a day should suffice but I’ve heard some stories about people using social media without any breaks for 8-10 hours a day. That is a bit excessive.

    • I believe Facebook is constantly playing with its algorithms but its fascination with monetising the platform has been detrimental, which is why I “worried” for Instagram when they did it a few weeks back. That sounds so geeky!

      I’d never thought about putting time on social media usage but I heard the same figures as you. My usage is more like two minutes at a time in passing (to fill time), rather than sitting down with the intention of going on Facebook, for example. (Except when I wake up, when social media on my phone is a valid reason not to get up and face the real world!) It might be interesting to see just how much I use it.

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