In her recent Wired article, +Erin Biba
notes that "Every time you post something on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram, you’re influencing—or trying to influence—how the world views you." Article here: http://bit.ly/pcL3G4
It's a thought-provoking piece for sure and she concludes that your social media personality, "it isn’t who you really are. It’s the hilarious, adorable, fascinating, intelligent, so-worth-Friending version of you. Social media isn’t about having a conversation with people you know. It’s about advertising yourself. It’s not social; it’s media."
Though I understand where she's coming from, I was sort of surprised to see it from a writer. Is the "reality" of a person only the words they communicate in private, or in one-on-one conversations?
What she describes kinda reminds me of dating. Aren't we always putting our best foot forward on those first few dates? Or the first few years? ;-) Are we "advertising" ourselves rather than truly connecting on those dates? I don't think so.
For Biba "personal" is good and real
but the thought that one puts into their online posting somehow converts that genuine expression to "advertising" and not good
. I'm not downgrading one-on-one, no holds-barred off-the-cuff conversation between besties, but I'm pretty certain that I'm a much more interesting person when I take a moment to consider
and maybe even edit
what I have to say. That's not particularly controversial is it?
When I was in college, I noticed that if I remained quiet and listened for awhile (rather than just blurt out the first thing I was thinking), I usually had the ability to move the classroom conversation forward in a way that was positive for the group.
In dating, I've noticed that it's better to listen and think about what you have to say as well. To take this to what Biba may consider an "advertising" level, I've actually been more "successful" when I've limited my personal exposure to someone and built on our relationship through emails and texts where I could take time to consider
a better response to the topics at hand. (Even if it was just a better flirtation.)
So while I understand Biba's impulse to say that the fact you think
about what you post on social networks may make it seem like "advertising" and "personal branding" rather than conversation, I'd like to suggest it's not that simple. I think at some level, even in person, we're "always advertising" ourselves to those we care about.
And as for online interaction, I don't think the fact that we're considering how people will respond makes our interactions any less personally
meaningful (which is really what Biba's getting at, I think). While some may think I post on Google+ quite a bit, I'm actually restraining myself. I've been spending so much time online, I find probably 20 or 30 things I want
to share, but I hold my digital tongue. I think its best not to overload people or wear out my welcome, so to speak. But more to the point, my efforts here have netted me some very "personal" and "meaningful" experiences. That includes people I've talked with and may never meet, but it also includes people I have
already met in person by using G+ and includes my plans to meet a few people.
If I were to behave differently -- if I were to behave as Biba suggests we do as our "real" selves in person -- if I were to stop caring enough to think
about what I want to say, well ... is that a better mode of interacting?
I suppose everything has its time and place. For me, I appreciate when my friends put more thought into the things they say. I think that's why I prefer G+ to Twitter for my (currently) "virtual friends." I like G+ and Twitter -- and G+ has actually encouraged me to use Twitter more than I ever did before... (yo! add me: twitter.com/myspacetom
Twitter, to me, seems like a different medium. It encourages the pithy, quick share. And thus, in the hands of the average person, well, let's just admit it... it's more likely to encourage banality. You can combat this, of course, by following the right people.
But I guess when it comes down to it, I'm just not that pithy. (If this post convinces you of anything, it's that I may be near incapable
Ah my friends, would that we could all be Oscar Wilde. :)