I’m back on social media, but with a plan to make it suck less
February 2023 update: The plan didn’t work. I’m happily back to not being active on popular social media other than LinkedIn.
It’s been nearly two years since I practically left social media. I deleted my Instagram and Facebook accounts, and only passively existed on Twitter and LinkedIn using tools that autoshare my new articles and blog posts to them. It was incredibly peaceful, and also allowed me to better reflect on people in my life that really mattered. But now I’m returning to using nearly all socials in some active capacity. Why though? Especially considering that I’ve opposed Instagram strongly all my life, and that I’m always happy to pick on the bird site.
The short of it is that unfortunately the world sucks. That people are either already scroogled and/or extremely privileged. That peak narcissism as the default mode of internet sharing is okay. That submitting our minds to the faceless algorithm is not only encouraged but collectively rewarded. I’m just tired of fighting this war for the open Web.
It’s not that my arguments against the socials have changed. And I’m obviously never leaving blogging & writing as my primary means to communicate publicly. But none of it matters. At the end of the day, people are what matter. And most of them digitally exist only on the popular platforms. Nearly everyone I personally care about exclusively posts things on one of the popular socials. On average, what people share digitally seems to be only or better accessible via their Instagram or Twitter accounts. As long as people at large continue to use these platforms—notably not consciously—I can’t ultimately completely do away with social media either.
Moreover, my niche profession of an independent space writer doesn’t afford me the luxury to actively stop networking or sharing my work with potential reader groups. Blogs and their RSS feeds don’t serve the function of networking. At least not efficiently so. Unlike the socials, they simply do not digitally replicate many of the elements of how we connect with people in real life. I’d be lying if I said this aspect of digital socials doesn’t appeal to me.
After years of not getting social media, I’ve realized something fundamental about it. Instead of thinking of social networks as merely micro versions of blogs—which they suck at being anyway—it’s better to think of them as online analogues of physical life casual meetups and chats with people. This intentional, near-frictionless facilitation of serendipitous networking is precisely what the blogging culture lacks, that is, if social networking is to be one of its goals.
A retrospective personal proof of everything I said above is that I’ve met many of my good friends and professional contacts via Facebook (in the past), Twitter (in the recent past), and LinkedIn (in the recent months). I’ve been blogging for literally as many years as being on digital socials but the number and diversity of people I’ve gotten in touch with via blogs and my blogging exclusively is unfortunately far, far less.
Every fiber of my being wants to express dissidence at this very thought but it’s just a fact. Only those people living within the bubbles of the now (sadly) isolated cultures of blogging and RSS readers can ignorantly convince themselves of its networking plausibility at this moment in time.
So what is this human to do with these grim facts? Well, I can’t positively affect how people at large use their social media accounts, and trust me I’ve tried, but I do have a plan for better using my own. Without going into too many details and overpromising before I act, here are the three things I intend to do.
Use micro.blog to automatically publish posts to my profile on said platform, my Twitter, and my Mastodon so that I don’t waste time composing things everywhere individually. Another key advantage with micro.blog is it provides a nice, traditional blog archive on my own domain: web.jatan.space.
Prioritize time and efforts put into different socials based on their utility to me as well as their ethicalness. If you’d like to connect with me on socials, I ask you pick one or some of these in the preferred order listed here.
Now comes the bit I’m excited about: Feedbin, my absolute favorite feed reader. Since Feedbin has best-in-class support for Twitter and Micro.blog feeds, with the latter itself having great support for Mastodon & Fediverse feeds, my plan is to use the full prowess of this feed reader’s ability to organize and serve content with custom rules on top. My master feed and all within will not only be non-algorithmic but only contain topics and specific feeds I want. This way I can better consume three of my four most preferred socials, and efficiently interact with people on them.
I hope my experiment to reduce the cons of socials while embracing their pros succeeds. If not, I’ll be one god damn frustrated soul.
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