31 Jan 2017

40. antisocial media

I've flirted with twitter, I've poked around in In$tagram. I've used Sound¢loud and Mix¢loud. There are many others - I don't need to list them all. 

I've taken a look from the outside at $napchat, ¥outube, Fa¢ebook, and Tumb£r. I get what social media is about. I've read the guides and studied how people find success in these mediums. I'm pretty sure I get why these realms are important to people for a variety of sane (and not so sane) reasons. 

Searching for success inside the hallowed confines of a social media platform seems as though it can be a tough existence. Always craving likes, shares, retwe€ts, posts - it never ends. One might experience the high of having something gain widespread attention or viral success only to feel like a permanent upswing is imminent and to only be caught in a cycle of never being able to replicate this success. Although, I will admit, some people are quite adept at finding continued success. 


Shares. Likes. Favorites. 

Fuel for the ego for most of us, monetization for a select fortunate/unfortunate few. I contemplated joining Fa¢ebook a decade ago when the mass sprint towards the platform took place. At that time, I took a critical look at what the now mighty, ubiquitous FB was all about and decided that I had doubts about the value it would contribute to my everyday experiences. I've undoubtedly missed out on many events, interactions, conversations, and connections - all promises that a FB account offers to some degree. I'm ok with this, though. 

I have nothing against reconnecting with childhood friends, or long lost colleagues, or distant family members. It just seemed at the time as though the purpose was more about grandstanding - showing people that you barely (if ever) interact with in real life how great your life has become. People share their everyday experiences as if they are full of these incredible moments. Sure, they may very well be. For the most part, people are sharing all of their everyday experiences and at some point there is bound to be a flurry of unremarkable-ness that assaults and overwhelms the feeds and timelines of 'friends'. Maybe this is the point?

I had never shared much of my life with others prior to social media, and I have devoted a good portion of my life to actually living my life. I don't use this statement to impose a superiority complex on anyone, rather, I would say that while there are merits to sharing and engaging, I just found I had so much else to do. I understand that this is my choice and does not reflect the preferences of others, but man did I take a lot of flack for being a 'FB snob'. 

So yes, I feel qualified to pass judgement on the platform as a result of having several people close to me who have been devoted to FB over the past 5-10 years. Although I have limited direct experience with FB (google searches or other links that pull up facebook pages, being one example), I suspect that my outside view is a somewhat accurate generalization as verified through the many, many conversations I have had with users about this very thing. 

I've always told people that I'm more of a Twitt€r guy. This was true for a long time - long in the current sense of this consumptive society that seems to quickly devour the next big thing after abandoning and moving on from the last big thing. We don't seem to really be in anything for the long haul. 

Twittr represented a platform with quick soundbites. Quick ideas, quick statements, quick information, and a place where I could quickly move on. It was a place where I felt I could make meaningless interactions and connections, and comfortably do so within the frenetic pace that my life seems to have moved at for the past many years. It was also a place that was about moments and it embraced those moments, and was a place that entertained and informed. I wasn't too worried about what I saw as I scrolled through twe€t after twe€t. I wasn't too afraid to make posts that gave glimpses into my mundane life +/or opinions, and I enjoyed retwe€ting content I found useful or entertaining. . 

I remember when I realized what Twitt€r was becoming - it was my aha moment. A few years ago, a local sports team that I cheer for made the playoffs for the first time in several years and was playing one of its biggest rivals in the first round. I was out of town at a concert for one of the mid-series games but followed the game on my phone using a sports app. I sought commentary and reaction on Twitt€r, as I had become accustomed to over the prior couple of years. After a hard fought, well earned victory for the team I cheer for, random people on Twitt€r took to the platform to vent their celebrations and their frustrations. One random supporter of the losing team directly interacted with a professional player on the winning team and proceeded to launch into a series of personal attacks on the player. The random opposing fan used the platform to essentially laugh at and mock the player for a highly tragic event that happened in the player's life. 

This is where I first really saw a side of the platform that bothered me. This was the first crack in my wall of support of Twitt€r, and the beginning of what would become a declining desire to post and engage. The next couple of years saw my activity decline. I had previously been more of a casual user and managed to post somewhat regularly, but this started to change. I still opened my timeline regularly and went through looking for news, entertainment, pop culture, current events, etc. Twitt€r was the first place I would turn to when I wanted to know what was happening, which is what I suppose the platform had wanted itself intended for. However, it became a place where I muted my own voice and started to avoid making contributions. 

Over time, especially over the past year, I've seen Twitt€r devolve into a place where only some of its users engage in open dialogue and reasonable conversation. The platform has descended to become a place where arguments and unsolicited opinions are perpetuated and unwillingly thrust on users. Even though there is some good, there unfortunately is so much hatred. 

I would offer that the current Fa¢ebook experience can often be very much the same. 

Although I can handle being called a variety of names, I don't have the time or energy or desire to engage in these types of discussions. They contribute nothing to my overall well being. I have little interest in becoming a participant in these discussions. I have been observing them from an outside vantage and find myself becoming enraged. They exhaust me and overwhelm me. There is little that I feel that I can do to reason with so many (in my opinion) unreasonable people.

I'm not on Twitt€r much anymore these days. Instead, I have willingly chosen to focus on my creative pursuits and to ensuring that my everyday, mundane experiences are as rich as I can make them.

Now, I can finally bring this conversation full circle. I'm sure that social media is useful for the creative person. It can be a place where fans are gained, where content is shared, or where creative people can find support amongst one another. Maybe I'll be able to find a place to exist within the confines of social media at some point. Until then, this is my place. This is where I'll share my creations as they develop and evolve into full-fledged things. I'm hoping that all of you who stumble across this place and all of you who join me for the ride are the ones that can find meaning in what I create, and can contribute where you feel appropriate. 

I hope that you all offer criticism in your own way. Professional criticism makes me re-evaluate my work in ways I may not have originally considered. I've been through the trenches of architecture school. I can handle it. Realize, however, that a difference exists between professional and personal criticism. I'm a person who thoroughly enjoys reasonable, thoughtful discussions, and I hope this is a place that will facilitate the evolution of my pursuits... for now.  

Thanks to those of you who stuck around through this post. They won't all be this lengthy! 


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