Sunday, January 13, 2013

Connection collection

Recently I posted a moderately mocking status update to Facebook (click to embiggen):

A lot of my “humour” on social media is similar: Often it’s a little too subtle, sometimes a little too mocking, maybe even a little harsh sometimes. But it’s always based on something.

In this case, I’d seen a Facebook status update of a friend of a friend that seemed to be pleading a little too much for "Likes". We’ve all seen such updates, or similar things, from people who seem to be, well, needy.

A few days earlier, I saw something on Twitter—also a hotbed of neediness—that really annoyed me. Someone I don’t know followed me, which isn’t unusual, but he’d also just placed me on a list called “Last chance to follow back”, which was caught my attention. Excuse me? “Last chance”?! I immediately blocked him, something I’ve never done to a follower before, just because I resent the chutzpah of putting people on a list giving them a “last chance” to do something that's entirely optional.

Social networks are overflowing with such needy people. On Twitter people collect “Followers”, on Facebook they collect “Friends”, all is if numbers alone mean something, as if they equal some sort of validation. They don’t.

I use social networks for connection, not collection.

I "Follow" people on Twitter who I have some sort of personal connection to, usually through podcasting or politics, or who interest me because of what they post, people who are generally news media, political or entertainment folks (yes, a few “celebrities”, too). I usually follow back people who I have some connection to (such as, they interact with people I interact with), but I don’t rush to do so—it’s when I get around to it.

On Facebook, I have a much higher percentage of people I know in real life—old friends, family members, some people I know here in New Zealand, etc.—plus people I have some connection to, again, mostly through podcasting or politics. For me, it’s a really interesting mix.

In both cases (and the other networks I use, like Google+, Flicr, etc), I put the most energy into people who interact with others and I generally ignore those who don’t. Without that personal connection, that interaction, social networks are pretty pointless, I think.

I’m a connector, not a collector, after all. And there is no “last chance” for that.

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