Social Media OVERLOAD

The title to this post shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Heck, the few people out there who've somehow abstained from social media understand this. Why? Because social media is woven into our culture now. It didn't take long. It's addictive. It's NOW. It's a great promotional tool. It's many things. It's whatever you want it to be.

While the internet has given everyone the potential to share to the world, it has also created a vast ocean of stuff that can be hard to navigate, believe, or keep up with. A bit of advice: You can't keep up and you were never intended to. Every social media service and website has every intention to try and keep you logged on and plugged into their site indefinitely. This shouldn't come as a surprise.

In the mobile world, if someone clicked on a link, it used to open in their browser of choice. Now, that person technically stays within that social media platform every time they do so—unless you tell the link to open in a different browser. Someone's going to collect that data, I guess the social media conglomerates figure it might as well be them. Regardless, even if all of that data collection was unintentional and really was just to better our experience, the mere accumulation of content each site collects offers a person the ability to surf for hours, days, or somewhere damn near infinity. For some people, it takes a strong willpower to just walk away from it.

This post isn't about how evil social media is, has become, or has always been. I'm also not trying to preach about proper social media habits. This is MY blog so, really, I'm just speaking my mind about social media, and where I'm at with it in my life. In a way, you could consider this a continuation of a post I wrote many months ago entitled "Finding Zen With My Inter-Presence."

Although it's not a constant thought in my mind, I do think about my online habits, good or bad, and my participation. Sure, I could walk away from it all at any time, and that's a healthy thing to do now and then. I know there are people that force themselves to take month-long breaks. I'd rather find a different approach that feels less drastic and is more strategic. I'm all about "strategery" and keeping things fresh.

I know I've said it more than once, and I've heard it before from a friend—everyone's on Facebook. Regardless of the merits other social sites foster, Facebook seems to appeal to a majority of people. OR, my theory, Facebook is in a feedback loop. Everyone's on Facebook because everyone's on Facebook because every... You get the picture. Twitter seems to come in second. No matter what website you go to, I have found Facebook and Twitter to be THE two consistently used outlets for that website's social media strategy. Depending upon the demographics that come along with that particular website's content, other social media icons will accompany (after) those of Facebook and Twitter.

I have plenty of websites and profiles on the internet for personal reasons and promotional reasons. I have to ask myself whether or not trying to maintain them is worth it (to me at least). So, I have given myself the task to either use them or delete them or at least make myself think about what I'm going to do with them—streamline is the bottom line. I have plenty of profiles on sites for the different music projects I'm in, but half of them are pretty much dead and useless. And of the other half, what's the point in keeping them if they aren't frequently being used? Perhaps I'm wrong, but I know if I come across a profile that hasn't been updated in a long time, I have to wonder if it's been abandoned. I know I would feel less inclined to engage and take an interest in it. The heart of social media and the web itself is engagement.

Also, I have to ask myself, am I simply duplicating my efforts or enhancing them? I feel like having a profile on ReverbNation, a music social site, is pretty redundant and is akin to having a dedicated, standalone website. That works great if that's my go-to site, but what am I accomplishing if it isn't? Sure, there may be a few people who happen to come across my profile page and are introduced to my music, but do I want them to spend their time there, getting to know that project on a site that doesn't get updated very often? I'd rather they be directed immediately to the official website for that project. However, would they even bother going deeper if the project appears abandoned? Also, ReverbNation stands to gain more when people stay on my profile at their site, but I'm only interested in the user discovering my music there and then just visiting my website from there on. The goals aren't the same and seem a bit misaligned. ReverbNation is best suited for a musician or band that plays live shows and is trying to get signed. Since neither apply to me, why continue having a profile? My lack of engagement with that SOCIAL site automatically makes it mostly useless. *Well, use it then.* Keep reading.

On the flip-side, you have a site like Twitter that could never be a replacement for a full-fledged website. It fits a niche and does it really well. In my opinion, it may just be THE perfect companion to a brand's website. Every time you make an update to your website, send out a tweet with a link. Got anything on your mind that doesn't make sense to post or plaster on your site? Send out a quick tweet. Anything change or new? Tweet it. Sure, the character limitation can be hard, but it's also freeing. The point is, it's an efficient way to tell people that something has changed or developed, take notice. Unlike other social sites, Twitter seems more like a personal guide to surfing the web, not a replacement. It's kind of like an interactive bookmark for things and people you like and want to stay updated with and entertained by on the internet. My stream of thoughts, not the only thoughts.

If you've noticed I haven't mentioned Google+ then kudos to you. G+ gets overlooked consistently from what I've seen. I'm not really sure why. I think the site does a better job of bringing people together, who wouldn't otherwise know each other, through shared interests. The groups available to join are nearly endless. G+ seems more like a community compared to Facebook, which can feel click-y and snobby at times, even with people you know. G+ certainly has its trolls though. They are everywhere. Even I can be a bit o' one me self.

I don't think Google was or is concerned with being the number one social site. Mostly, because they don't need to be. Sure, I don't doubt they'd like to be number one, but I think they saw the future, and they just wanted to be an option. Besides, preferences always develop and Google is too well known to fail that easily. Facebook and Twitter HAD to excel; their companies didn't DO anything else. That's why they're working hard to become more than just what they started as. Google has a pantheon of products. You simply click a button on a Google account you're already logged into if you want a G+ profile, like putting on your other shoe. You have to make more of a conscious decision to join Facebook or Twitter, like buying a new outfit.

So, my strategy going forward will be to continue making my social media presence leaner on the amount of sites and meaner on the content I contribute. And considering my stupid brain keeps coming up with new, stupid projects and enterprises, I have to find ways to keep myself contained on the internet. So far, this site has helped me do that more than you could know, more than I understand.

Now, I guess, I'll get to the point that inspired this whole post. *Really? It's taken this long?* Yes. I guess it's important to mention that while I've had a profile on different social media sites, including Facebook, I hadn't necessarily been very active on any of them. For years, I had looked at Google+ and Twitter a fair amount, only interacting on Twitter minimally. Then, for a long period of time, I just didn't bother with any of them. It wasn't until the beginning of last year (2016) that I actually started interacting with people and doing the "scroll." Most of my social time since has been spent on Facebook, because you know, everyone's on Facebook. I've thrown some Twitter in now and then when I've needed something different. I haven't touched G+ since... Hmm. I think I'm uncovering a social media equilibrium equation... Off to the lab!

I seem to have misplaced my lab.

So, that point I was getting to.

Last fall, a little less than a year ago, I noticed that I felt like I needed to look at Facebook throughout the day to stay caught up, so I didn't miss anything, which is exactly what Mark Z and his cohorts want. Keep in mind I had a lot less friends as well. Rather than get on for mere enjoyment, or to see what people are up to, it started to feel like a chore. I mentioned this to a friend the week before Christmas last year, and the act of saying it out loud really hit home for me. That's when I decided a tectonic shift in my teeny, little world needed to take place. This would piggy-back upon the changes I had been and would be continuing to make with my web presence, my future internet strategy. *You are so lame!* I love you, too.

Last year but mostly last fall, I started following pages on Facebook. I would add one once in a while if it peaked my interest or curiosity, knowing I could delete it any time I chose.  It got to be too much, so with not much thought, I decided I was going to try to make my personal experience on Facebook about people. That's the only reason why I'm on there. Like I said before, everyone's on Facebook. Of course, I'm still going to follow the pages I have created for my extracurriculars and those of my friends as well. I'm supportive of all of their efforts and want to help promote them. That's the kind of person I am. This should help decrease the amount of content I'm subjecting myself to, but as that grows, I end up in the same spot. With closed eyes, I repeat the mantra, "You can't keep up and you were never intended to."

I have tried and failed to compartmentalize my use of the different social sites. I have tried to stay vaguely adrift to the happenings of all I have a profile on. I have failed. You probably have, too. But, you know what? I've gotten to the point where many of you social media veterans have already gotten to. I stopped trying. I scroll through my feed when I feel like it, whichever platform that happens to be on, and I contribute when I'm inspired. I know. It's SO simple.

Regardless of all the words that have come prior in this post, social media is about connecting with people, and I like that. It's a connection you can make on your own time, and it's as intrusive as you want it to be. I try to be aware of how much time social media is taking away from the other things going on in my life, the things that I want desperately to accomplish, or the people I have right in front of me that I want to give my (mostly) undivided attention to. It can be difficult to step away sometimes. Other times, it's easy; I want to get away.

Oh, by the way, I'm on Instagram, now. Only ONE account, though! I'm resisting the Snapchat the kids are so big on. (Sigh)

*You are still lame!* I know, and I still love you.

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