I enjoy talking to people about how they use various social network platforms. Do they use multiple platforms or just one favorite and why? Do they use different platforms for different purposes or to interact with different populations? Do they push an identical message across all platforms and, if so, why?
And, lastly, do they actively participate in and contribute to the social network they have created?
I’d like to point out the obvious here. Social networking contains the words social and network and work. Facebook, for instance, facilitates an ongoing dialogue for me within several communities with which I identify. I keep my network of friends and groups and interests updated so that the conversations remain relevant. Then I actively participate within those communities which takes some effort. That is where the social part comes in.
Those who know me, know that I am an observer by nature. Consider these perspectives on social networking that I recently encountered –
- A contact asked how to limit the traffic of a friend in their news feed because they did not want to see constant broadcasts for a particular political agenda. The contact was considering the block/report option. A discussion differentiating traffic settings from blocking/reporting ensued. I asked whether or not the content in question was offensive to such a degree as to justify reporting.
- Someone I know has been debating a switch from Facebook to Twitter. For them, Twitter feels like a better fit for getting and sharing interesting content. The problem? All of the friends that they typically interact with on Facebook are not actively using Twitter.
- I heard someone talk about taking a break from Facebook. They are tired, they said, of being baited with the promise of political discourse when their attempts to debate the current topics and defend their viewpoints seem to be unwelcome – even offensive – to any contacts who disagree. I have seen several posts recently questioning whether or not high stakes topics like politics, religion, and the like even belong on Facebook.
They make it seem like social networking may not be worth the effort, or that it may not even be social, don’t they? Yet, we’re creating accounts and adopting new platforms like they were kitties at the pound. We must be looking for something or trying to accomplish something, no?
I understand that social networks look different because they are a reflection of each user and their needs. Still, I think it is important to remember that we can’t really claim social networking without social, network, and work. All three of these terms are part of the social networking equation and eliminating any one of them changes the expected output significantly.
So, this is just my friendly reminder that social networking is optional. If you don’t want to use it or don’t like to use it or simply don’t use it because you haven’t found a good reason to do so, then don’t. There are plenty of other options available for communicating.