In fairness, this idea stems from the success I had with an email newsletter to announce and promote my Artists In Jackson project. I simply took that list and said to everyone “You’re either with me, or unsubscribe now!”
Turns out, most of them stuck around.
What will my email newsletter contain? Various bits of material from this blog, interesting photography I find, arts and culture going on in my community, and updates on my latest projects – specifically, the big portrait projects. It will be an experiment, but as I think about using things like Facebook less and less, an email newsletter could be my way to keep my friends, family, and followers in the know. Bi-weekly to monthly, depending on what I have going on.
Ben Brooks has some valid skepticism over original content on email newsletters. I’m going to think a lot about what he wrote. Part of me feels like you can have a different kind of fun on an email newsletter, to keep it special.
More than two months ago, I became a passive Facebook user. That means checking it only once a week or so, mostly for new messages, and tending to housekeeping. Did I get tagged in any photos? Do I have a blog post or photo to share? Who sent me a friend request? Etc.
Since then, I’ve noticed a funny thing: Facebook is really trying to get me back there every day. So much so that I get random email messages with subject lines like “So-and-so updated his/her status.”
No kidding? Someone I know updated their status? I should check that out!
There must be some line of code at FB HQ that says “IF $days without login THEN notify Dave.” So I set up my own mailbox rule to trash those messages as they come in. I don’t see them anymore.
It’s easy to not miss Facebook. All those status updates, all those photos, all that fake outrage and fake news – when you don’t see it, you don’t miss it. And by skipping out on even being on the site, you miss out on not being advertising bait. Just think: no more of those creepy ads showing you something you just looked at on Amazon.
Most of all, it’s quiet outside of Facebook. There’s peace and calm. No drama. I find it addicting – and I’ve taken to cleaning up my Twitter timeline, too, so if I get tired of hearing about something or someone (rhymes with “Dump”), I mute it.
Peace. Quiet. I’m not ready to delete my Facebook profile just yet, but if I can get peace and quiet by avoiding the site, I’ll take it.
But I’ve had one big realization about our relationship, and it’s probably due to my growing older and having more life experience: I don’t enjoy sharing every detail of my life with you anymore. I don’t like the way you make me feel like I have to scream for attention every time I have something to say.
This is not a rage quit. It’s the product of a lot of small, quiet frustrations that leave me thinking I can spend my time doing other things.
It’s not a new revelation, and Lord knows I’m not the first to discover social media is a waste of time. But as I get older, and I have friends and family, and projects to do around the house, and little patience for the increasing amount of (mostly irrelevant) ads blinking in my face, the less appealing all these “What are you up to?” platforms become.
I still enjoy my quiet little corner of Twitter, with my Mac nerds and fellow photographers. And I still dig the work people post on Flickr. I’ve set up my social media accounts to show me mostly stuff and people I’m interested in. It’s just that more and more on those other platforms, advertising and “features” are intruding. To what benefit?
As Jörg Colberg writes, “If you’re happy with being a passenger and with having to change vehicles usually the moment you’ve become a bit comfortable, then stick with Silicon Valley’s boom-and-bust cycle. If that’s not what you want, going back to blogging is likely to give you a lot more agency.”
So here I am, with a relaunched blog, away from Tumblr.
Another problem is that marketers and brands have gotten a hold of these sites and used them for marketing. I think a lot of the marketing world is waking up to the realization that social media isn’t the be-all, end-all marketing channel for the modern consumer. If anything, people switch social media platforms to escape the ads and intrusiveness. I should know: I’m one of those people using social media to “engage” with customers and visitors – but I don’t do it with a clear conscience, because I hate seeing all that “engagement” crap, too.
It’s tough feeling like you can’t get your stuff out there to be seen without social media, and yet being uncomfortable with the idea of using social media at all. I’m a pretty private person, and I feel weird every time I try to promote something on Facebook, Twitter, etc. As a photographer, it’s a Catch 22.
I don’t have any answers right now. The trick is finding the mix that works, and that’s a work in progress.
For all its usefulness, Facebook has largely become a burden. The social media norms are still in flux, the stepping on of toes is rampant, and there are way too many goddamn “Which superhero are you?” quizes that beg for the “Hide” button.
But as Fortini shows in her article, the trouble can be much more personal. Personal, and groan-worthy.
As a former passive-aggressive nut, I’ve come to loathe passive-aggressiveness in others. Say something without really coming out and saying it, and we won’t be friends for long.
On Facebook, though, this kind of thing is normal. Sadistic hints and obtuse status updates are a gold mine for attention whores. Leave a cryptic enough message, and you’ll get plenty of “What happened?” comments underneath.
It makes one long for a ringing phone.
Our grandparents understood something called “class.” Passive-aggressive updates, or using a web site to manage your real-world relationships, is not classy.
What will probably happen is Facebook will become uncool, just as Myspace did, and everyone will jump ship to something else. It’s already happening. In that case, not much of this will matter because some of the rules will change.
Some won’t, though. I’m nervous that the rules that stick around will be the ones Fortini warns about, and I fear for our culture if/when that happens.
I also fear that Facebook, and sites like it, are becoming the new TV – giant time-sucks that prevent us from stepping outside, facing the sunshine, and breathing in the real world with all its real problems and real beauties. Admit it: you know who spends all day on Facebook (or Twitter, or whatever), and you wonder, “Shouldn’t they get a frickin’ hobby?”
Yes, they should.
Just keep it classy, folks. And keep your id out of your status.