Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The One Thing That Made Social Media So Awesome Is the One Thing That's Ruining It

When this blog launched in early 2006, within a couple of months it had about 30 readers. The interesting thing was, I knew about half those readers personally, because they commented on almost every post I wrote.  As a result, I got to know them. I knew who they were, where they lived, what they did.  They commented here, I would go and read their blogs and return the favor. We knew each other and there was a real sense of community.

Then a few months later, people started buzzing about this new site called 'Twitter'. I finally took the plunge and joined Twitter in March of 2007.  It took me a few months to get the hang of it, but when I did, I loved it. Suddenly, I had the ability to connect with ANYONE and EVERYONE.

Looking back, in a way it was like opening a digital version of Pandora's Box. The thing about being connected to everyone is that you really don't know anyone. I hear so many people that have been in social media as old as I have lamenting the fact that we miss how it was 'in the good ole days'.  Before Facebook, before Twitter.  When blogs dominated the social media landscape. None of us had thousands of 'followers', but we actually KNEW the people we were connected to.  Maybe it was only 50 people or even 10, the fact remains that actually KNOWING 10 people is better than being connected to 1,000 strangers.

Look at Facebook over the past year.  Each time we go to Facebook, our Newsfeed is a stream of political posts.  I would constantly think 'OMG I had no idea she was that crazy about politics!'

(Sidenote: It's amazing to me how many people that market themselves as 'social media experts' will then get on Facebook and make complete fools out of themselves over politics. Effectively breaking every rule that they claim to teach companies about how not to act on Facebook.  But I digress...)

I'm constantly seeing posts/updates/tweets left from a follower and think to myself "Wow I had no idea they felt that way!"  Which is really my way of realizing that I had no idea who this person was.  I probably followed them because they were either the friend of another friend I barely knew, or they were on one of those 'People you should follow on Twitter' lists.

The bottom line is that social media makes it easy for us to connect with everyone, but more difficult to really truly KNOW anyone.

And that's a problem I think many of us are dealing with, and I'm not sure what the answer is. I do know that more and more I find myself missing 2006 and the days of your blog being a front porch where just a few close friends met and chatted. That turned into 2017 where a few thousand strangers come together and throw links to our latest post at each other.