Social Media is Mostly Noise

I’m a fan of social media, I am, but it’s noise. Like too much time in the subway, or at the airport, it’s just loud and mostly unpleasant noise. Yet somehow many of us us can’t help but get lured into some of it, like a drunk at a bar fight (I know, odd parallel but I like it).

A long while back I declared myself done with Myspace and for good reasons. I even went so far as to state that when I saw others hunched over their keyboards pecking away on Myspace, I found myself repulsed by them. I still feel that way about Myspace, and without quite as much disdain I’m starting to feel that way about Facebook and twitter. I’m quite active on both, however, which makes this a bit of a catch-22. Or rather, am I just the pot calling the kettle black? I don’t know, and I frankly I don’t care. I’m an opinionated SOB and that’s just that. (If you’re repulsed by me it might be for reasons that far exceed my participation in the social web.)

I do find some guilty pleasure in social media participation. It even has some SEO value. That can be detailed by my participation on YouTube where I’ll find videos that I enjoy for one reason or another and mark them as Favorites, or I might post a video, typically something that relates to CitySquares somehow. But you definitely won’t find me on YouTube uploading my friend skateboarding off of his 3rd floor balcony, or of my cat fighting his own shadow. Maybe that sort of thing isn’t my generation – the “me” generation seems to be doing much more of that stuff. I think it’s noise and a waste of time. I try to sift through it all quickly and with my eyes closed.

Facebook is another guilty pleasure. Interestingly enough, the three things I use the most in Facebook are 1) status updates, and I use the twitter app for that; 2) Zombie app/game and that’s mainly because my wife uses it and really has fun with it, so I play along and honestly I just want to be the baddest zombie there is and bite chumps (again, stupid guilty pleasure);  and 3) keeping in touch with some friends. Many of my friends don’t do email very well and some of them don’t do phone well either, but they do Facebook well, so I meet them there and we message each other. I actually find myself more in touch with some of my friends, especially long distance friends, through Facebook more than any other medium in a long time. It’s kind of like the new pen-pal? Oh, I also use Facebook for the CitySquares Page. We use it to upload pictures, events, videos, and other random updates and also our blog gets fed to the CitySquares Page. I like to see us rack up more fans of CitySquares, especially total strangers – that’s cool!

twitter is just a phenomenon isn’t it? Who can really articulate what the hell twitter is all about. OK OK yeah I get micro-blogging, and I get character-limited streams of consciousness from a community of like-minded people. Sure, fine. But I equate it to sitting in a room with a bunch of people I hardly know, with a few friends, who are all just blurting out whatever stupid thing comes across their mind. Hey, I’m no exception. Twitter is probably the loneliest social media there is. I’d be willing to bet that twitter users mostly tweet when a) they’re alone and wish someone was there with them to talk to (loneliness – a human thing) or b) when they’re bored and in bad company. And that’s twitter. Yet I use it. Cuz it’s so easy, so available. It’s on my iPhone and it’s on my Mac.

I love Flickr, on the other hand. Love flickr a lot, and I think it’s because unlike Facebook or twitter, it’s totally passive content. I use Flickr to share pictures with the world, or with just my friends, or just my family. I can put them up there and if/when they want to look, they can. I don’t care much more than that. I like the web 2.0 components there like tagging etc, and sure comments are nice. I also like how easy it is to use Flickr through the uploadr, and certainly the site is powerful and more intuitive the more you use it. YouTube is in a similar category.

There are a few others I use too, like ma.gnolia, or LinkedIn, or Last.fm (which I am still not quite sure of) but I think I’ve made my point. Actually, maybe not…

Here’s the thing: I found myself so distracted by this stuff in the recent weeks that I was becoming more and more afflicted with a self-induced Attention Deficit Disorder. And even though it wasn’t because of my own content publishing, it was simply because it was there and I just had to watch. Again, like a drunk at a bar fight, or like watching a car accident, or like a fly to a light, I was drowning in it. So I hinted at taking a sabbatical. Well, that was too extreme. I don’t need a methadone clinic, I just need to do less dope! Well that’s one way of looking at it right? So I took a break last week – a total break. I didn’t tweet, I didn’t login to Facebook, I didn’t do anything that related to social media. I even instant messages less. I used less email, more phone, and I didn’t even cheat once. I just stayed away from it. For the first day or two it was hard, and then was a piece of cake. I could totally do without it! And last week was just down-right productive! It was me doing what I do best – getting shit done, knockin’ em down.

The lesson here is that in a society where there’s already far too much noise, be it TV, be it advertising, the city, those flourescent lights above your desk, be it your family, be it your own neurosys, there’s just too much noise already. Social media is just one more awkward minor chord in the symphony of day-to-day life that I, for one, can do with less of.