This blog is a big part of my answer to my issues with social media, with the goal of posting my content here rather than in a half-dozen or more other places. Everything that anyone is used to communicating with me about will be in one place. That is, so far, resolving my growing resistance to using services that I dislike.
I have also started using other platforms that more closely align with my values. And that is what I want to talk about right now, as well as how I handle new platforms so that what I’m looking for is what I get.
One of my new favorite sites is USA.Life. It is easy to use, not too fast-paced to keep up with, friendly, and has plenty to offer as a place to share and socialize. I’m not sure how long it’s been around, but it still has that new car smell. Created by pastor Steven Andrew, this site is decidedly Christian as well as patriotic in personality. I like it a lot, and enjoy very much the friendly discussions with the others there.
The other platform that I’m now active on is Gab. Founded by Christian patriot Andrew Torba, Gab has had its share of ups and downs. The level of ridicule and downright vitriol leveled against Gab by the MSM and Big Tech is an indication of how threatened they are by the actual practice of free speech. One thing is for certain: I love it there. All labels aside, the users represent a large variety of philosophy, thought, opinion, and bias. As true conservative discourse is being censored more and more across social media and news platforms, those who want to share and discuss more than what is currently permitted have found a home. Which is not to say that “anything goes” on Gab – definitely not! Legalities are firmly adhered to and violence – or threats thereof – are dealt with swiftly and decisively.
Like anything else, social sites are largely what you choose to make of them. And here is my own method of personalizing new-to-me sites to my own tastes.
When I first join, I take a look around, get a feel for the place, if you will. I join a few groups/forums that appeal to me right off the bat, and introduce myself plus post content to each. Next I start responding to nearly every post in the general discussion area; this may be as simple as choosing the appropriate emoji, or as complex as involving myself in any ongoing discussions and putting my views right out there. For the most part, however, I just make my name known by offering supportive/encouraging/positive comments. Next I start following/friending people whose posts appeal to me for one reason or another. I don’t dig too deep into each person’s history yet, I just start building my own list of potential connections.
Typically within just a few days of posting in groups/forums, commenting on general posts, and putting myself out there as a friendly and enthusiastic person, I start getting friend requests of my own, and things move on from there. I make sure to check each new friend’s page/site on the platform and commenting – or at least emoji-ing – their posts. Usually within a week I feel right at home, have a nice group of people with whom I can exchange comments and thoughts, am active in some forums that pertain to my interests, and so forth. It is fairly quickly a comfortable place to be.
I will say that, once I’m connected (as friends or whatever) with enough people that I feel adequately busy on the site, I learn which of those I follow may not be exactly my cup of tea. As an example, someone may be posting photos that are upsetting to me such as animal abuse or aborted babies. I do understand their desire to educate others; however I don’t get online to see a stream of things that hurt my heart. In other cases there may be someone who, as I’m getting to know them, I realize can’t express a thought without using profanity. The occasional swear word happens – I get that. I just don’t want to allow a steady diet of it into my heart. So in that way I gradually pare down my list to make my experience more of what I’m looking for.
Lastly, I watch those people that I’ve already come to admire and respect and enjoy, and which other members they may quote or share or interact with. In that way I can find more friends to admire and respect and enjoy.
And now for the big DISCLAIMER: I do not get on social sites to be a bobble-head. That is, I don’t want to only talk to people with whom I agree. My time spent there isn’t just a “me too!” experience, I’d never learn anything new or consider any other viewpoints if that were the case. My idea of admire/respect/enjoy is not only with “people just like me”.
As with anything else, I’ve learned that what I invest is what I reap. When I meet people that I can care about and support and encourage and enjoy, it is fulfilling to grow those relationships. To join a social platform just to sit in the stands and remain uninvolved would be fine if I wasn’t expecting anything in return. But if I’m seeking meaningful discussion, friendships, support, and fun, I need to remember that the things I see are from the hearts and minds of people who are more like me than not, take the steps to make the connections, and approach them as a respectful potential friend.