Social Media: Its Role In My Life, pt. I

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I’ve been involved in social media before it was called that, starting in the 80’s on one of those 300 baud cradle modems to find “evidence of life” as I thought of it, then CompuServe, local BBSes, then the IRC. Social media has become something that nobody could have dreamed of 30+ years ago! And it has occupied my life to varying degrees ever since.

But I’ll spare you the history. Most recently my computer social time has been spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Gab, USA.Life, Anchor, Pinterest, SnapChat, etc. And over time I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with them. That’s what these two posts are about, and how I’ve modified my time online to accommodate the changes in my life.

Facebook came in handy to help me manage my changed life after my stroke. It was a novelty and kept me busy since I couldn’t do much else. I also found Twitter during that time, and between the two at least I had something to do besides watch TV. Fast forward to 2020 and both have shown their true colors. Users are a product, our data used for profit. These companies that used to allow the open exchange of ideas have now become content censors, hammering down those who would dare to not see things the way they do. As a result, I rarely even check in on Twitter anymore. I have removed hundreds of my “friends” as well as pages and groups, from Facebook and only maintain a very very small number of people with whom I’d likely lose contact if I left the platform altogether, and that I care about enough to not let that happen; my time there is very minimal.

In fact, the same has happened to YouTube. Despite using that platform as a vlogger for many years, it is anathema to me now. I have seen others that I enjoyed and respected have their channels, and in many cases their livelihoods, suddenly removed with all content lost and no recourse. I have dropped my vlogging down to a short weekly update. I have deleted a successful channel altogether, and am gradually removing vlogs from my current channel until they’re gone. I use yet another, private channel only for keeping my short clips to link to from here, though I’m actively trying to figure out another way to do that too.

For these 3 services I have reduced their use by at least 90%. If there comes a time when I can completely be rid of all 3 yet maintain the relationships formed there, however, I will. For those people I stay for, I love them more than I hate the platforms, and they are all that is keeping me using the services at all.

Instagram – now owned by Facebook – is one that I wouldn’t hesitate to leave, especially now that I can share photos and clips here. That time is coming; as with the others, my use of it has purposely dwindled down to almost nothing, I just use it once or twice a week to check in a couple of people who don’t post elsewhere. Pinterest doesn’t feel social to me, in that I haven’t developed relationships there; I mostly use it for my own entertainment when I’m bored.

In part II I will discuss how I use social media now, what I’m doing differently, and my goals for my online presence.

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