Some of the respondents saw less harm in a relationship where the parties never actually, physically, met. Others saw it as being more or less the same as a physical affair, or at least an emotional one.
Hannah performed the research for her book, The Telling Error. She says,
“The thing about Twitter is that everything is on there, so whatever you’re interested in is there. But it is capable of being incredibly nasty. I noticed that whenever somebody either does something wrong or offends somebody, Twitter will form a kind of aggressive, vindictive mob and start slagging off that person. Almost always, the punishment is worse than the crime.”
For bored and isolated people, social media can often serve as a godsend. Yet with worries such as this, spouses might do well to be cautious. Not necessary jealous, but at least to be wondering a bit, if someone spends seemingly forever online. It does not help that a lot of online behaviors encourage an almost addictive obsession. Because we crave the latest tweets. We can’t wait to read the next gem from the Huffington Post, or take the latest meaningless quiz from Buzz Feed, or try to prank our friends with the most recent fake news from The Onion. And do not get me started on Candy Crush.
Hence the opportunities are all too ample for vulnerable, lonely people to end up typing a little too much with someone else, and for it to turn into sexting and worse.
Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace to Try to Make You Stay Put
It’s a relentless pace out there. And much like the holidays accelerate the end of the year, and we suddenly look up on January 7th or so and wonder just what the hell just happened, social media is continuing to not so much reap the whirlwind as to be the whirlwind. But at the same time, there’s an effort afoot to slow down and control the whirlwind.
Case in point: Twitter‘s recent changes are designed to keep people on as long as possible. They do this by embedding media more directly and making it so that you don’t have to leave Twitter’s embrace in order to enjoy a clip or a photograph. So far, so good. But shortened URLs allow for more malware exploits. It’s like one step forward, a step back and another one to the side.
Facebook, yet again, looks to change its layout. The profile is going to become richer and provide more information. This may or may not be useful to users but it will certainly keep them on longer. At least, that will happen in the beginning, when it’s a novel concept.
LinkedIn is adding Signal to make it easier to track even more of the social media avalanche – and, of course, to try to keep people on LinkedIn as long as possible.
What these changes have in common, other than, perhaps, novelty for the sake of novelty, is the desire to keep people on site as long as possible. Put some tar down, and have us all stick, at least for a while.
So while the Internet spins ever faster, and social media sites attempt to keep up, their overall strategies seem to try to slow us all down. Will it work? Is it a foolish dream to think you can keep people around with such tricks, such slick bells and whistles?
Lack of Content
What disturbs me is that there’s not a lot of content happening. And it would, could, should make me want to hang around. Instead of hiring writers to improve things, or rewarding good current content providers, each of the big three sites is instead pursuing a software solution. But what’s the sense in hanging around a site if the content isn’t compelling? Or are we, instead, merely getting the sites that we, perhaps, deserve?
Hence here’s what happens if my Facebook friends list is dominated by people I went to High School with over thirty years ago. Their status updates and my wall are dominated by news of their birthdays, their children and their careers. But isn’t that what’s to be expected? And if I instead tip my list in a different direction, and it’s suddenly dominated by the people I work with or diet with or do artwork with, the news is going to be different.
Comparison to Reality TV
One thing about Reality TV is that it’s anything but real if it’s at all successful. Because people just, generally, don’t lead terribly interesting lives (yes, you too, gentle reader). We pick up the dry cleaning. Or we bicker over the remote. We forget to buy sausages and make do with hot dogs. And around and around and around we go. And all three of the big social media sites, when we are not following celebrities and businesses, are really just a big agglomeration of Post-It Notes whereby we tell each other to grab milk on the way home. For “Reality” to be compelling at all, it’s got to be unreal, and scripted. It must be turned into this fight or that rose ceremony or this other weird pancake-making challenge.
The big three social media sites, when you strip away the celebrities and the companies, can be a boatload of errands or a standard-form holiday letter. You know the kind, where you’re told little Suzie has taken up the clarinet. Over and over ad infinitum.
No wonder we need software solutions to keep us there.
Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)
Verbal elements? Twitter is, of course, utterly verbal. It’s just about all text. But not all of that text is tweets.
One piece is the profile. There isn’t a lot of space here. The good news is that this verbiage is searchable. If you want to make it clear that your company is green, you can put that here. Separate short messages with delimiters like pipes (|) or asterisks (*). Don’t use semi-colons as they can end up being converted to code. This is an easy section to change, so consider changing it as needed, perhaps as special events come up.
Another area is the site URL. In order to be better able to track traffic coming in from Twitter, how about using a unique URL here, say, http://www.yoursite.com/twitter? That page could contain a customized welcome message to Twitter users. This is another readily editable area of Twitter, so why not switch it up as circumstances change?
Your location is another verbal area. Of course it need not be a real place, but for a commercial Twitter account you can’t get too whimsical here. However, if you’ve got a multi-state presence (and want to get that across but not create separate Twitter accounts for each state), there’s nothing wrong with making your location something like United States or New England or Great Lakes Region.
Another area is the name behind the account. This is a searchable field. A company can add a tiny bit of additional information here, such as the general company location. Hence the user name could be Your Company but the name behind it could be Your Company, Cleveland.
Yet another area is the name(s) of list(s) that your company uses to follow others. Does a company need Twitter lists? Not necessarily, but you can still use them to make certain accounts stand out. What about lists like customers or distributors? Perhaps not very imaginative, but these could prove useful in the future if Twitter ever makes it possible to send certain tweets only to certain lists.
Finally, although it is an issue to change it, the user name is another nugget of non-tweet verbiage. Instead of changing it, what about creating a few accounts to cover different eventualities? Able2Know does this rather well. Able2know has split off a few feeds as follows:
NOTE: Facebook constantly A/B tests. Features move around, change, are renamed and resized, or disappear all the time. These are rolled out in stages; your neighbor may have a different-looking Home Page from yours. And this is 100% normal.
First of all, column one (left side, top):
A small list of your most recently accessed games
And column two (center):
Status messages on friends’ pages
Other friend activities
Then column three (right, top):
People You May Know
A list of friends available on chat
Let’s start with Column One:
This is a list of the groups you have joined.
These are pages you are following.
So pretty obviously, this is a way to access your entire list of friends.
You can create groups for any reason. And this includes to support a beloved entertainment figure, promote your business or just complain about people wearing Crocs. I’ll get into the specifics later in this series.
A small list of your most recently accessed games
These will rotate as you access more games, depending upon recency.
Now for Column Two:
Status messages on friends’ pages
This is the actual News Feed itself (also access in Column One). And you can comment on others’ statuses (statii?) or posted links.
Other friend activities
First of all, you are served everyone’s activities. Facebook can be a tsunami of data. However, a lot is aggregated; you are usually shown that six people joined a group, rather than separate messages on all half-dozen.
And Column Three:
A way to see the calendar. So if you’ve got upcoming events and you haven’t RSVP’d, they’ll show up here, but you can jettison them by clicking the x on the right side. Note that you’ll be invited to all sorts of stuff, including sponsored activities and openings by commercial ventures. And RSVP’ing is not strictly necessary. However, as an event organizer, I have to say it’s appreciated so as to at least get a handle on headcount (and know who not to expect). You need not RSVP for commercial store openings or whatnot.
Whether they’ve made the year apparent is their own business. But if they’ve got the month and day up on Facebook, birthdays will show up here. And of course you’re under no obligation to wish people a Happy Birthday, but it is kind of nice.
People You May Know
So this is based upon some sort of an algorithm whereby Facebook looks at things like your current friends list, their friends, your location and possibly also your school(s) and workplace(s). However, I don’t believe the latter are included at this time. If you have any mutual friends, Facebook lists them as well. Facebook does not always get this right, or it gets it wrong in interesting ways, e. g. Facebook says I “may know” the spouse of someone I attended High School with. Well, unless I went to High School with the spouse (over 30 years ago), then there isn’t much of a likelihood there.
Well, they’re as targeted as Facebook can make them. This is apparently based on your click activity, your likes, your friends’ likes and whenever you click on an ad to get rid of it. Again, sometimes Facebook can get this wrong in rather spectacular ways; for example, when I wrote this post originally, it showed me an ad for Toyota. And I have neither owned nor contemplated owning one, ever.
A list of friends available on chat
It should go without saying that you should never click on links from chatters you don’t know well. And you’re under no obligation whatsoever to answer anyone’s instigated chat.
A big part of the Facebook experience is not only playing games but also sharing them with others, or sharing status or links. The way you see and can participate in this sharing is via your Home Page. It is, essentially, a bulletin board between you and your pals.
First of all, you get a list of your friends. And if you have separate friend lists (say, for work or school), those lists are on the left. Facebook does move these sorts of settings around. By the time you read this blog post, this feature could potentially have been moved.
You can add friends to various lists, remove them, or delete them from your list altogether. There are also suggested names to be added to various lists (assuming you’ve selected a list, versus all of your friends). The default here is not only to show the entire list of friends, but to put the ones you’ve interacted with most recently up at the top.
If you manage pages — and you may very well have that as a task if you are using Facebook for your business — here is a link straight to each page and how to change it. Simply click “Go to Page” and you are transported to the correct page in question. I’ll get into the specifics of what you can do from there later in this series.
This is a part of Facebook that always seems to be changing. It is entirely possible that, by the time you read this blog post, these instructions will be obsolete. I’ll keep everything at a high level and won’t get into too many specifics. It is divided as follows:
This section is currently divided as follows:
Name – your real name
Email – self-explanatory
Password – self-explanatory
Linked Accounts – you can put more than one account together
Download Your Information – save your photos, etc. to a ZIP file
Deactivate Account – self-explanatory
You can join networks, such as identifying yourself with an employer or a school you’ve attended.
Control settings for notifications such as when someone tags you in a photo. I think that the default settings are pretty excessive. I like to know if someone wants to add me as a friend, and when I’ve been tagged in a photograph. Other than that, I’ll just check when I’m online. Obviously, my preferences need not be identical to yours.
Activate a phone and register for Facebook text messages here.
Set a primary language or translate Facebook into other languages from here. There’s currently a rather extensive list, including some languages not written with a Western alphabet.
Track your credits balance, credits purchase history, payment methods and preferred currency here.
Control some aspects of the sharing experience here, including who can see your photographs, religious and political views, etc.
This area is undoubtedly going to continue to evolve as questions come up and the increasingly complicated Facebook system breaks in all sorts of interesting and as-yet unexpected ways. You can even ask a question, and the most common questions are listed. Unsurprisingly, these include topics such as how to delete your account or change your name.
Pretty self-explanatory. Click here and you’ll be logged out of Facebook.
Last Little Bits. Now, there’s more to LinkedIn than what I’ve already covered. And, truth be told, the number and diversity of add-ons and features is only going to keep growing. As with any other truly viable online business, LinkedIn keeps adding new bells and whistles, and constantly A/B testing. It is already a far different site from the one I joined a few years ago. And, by the way, I have never gone Premium. I think it’s a waste of money, particularly for job seekers who are often watching every dime.
However, there is an appreciable difference between making and keeping your page lively and interesting, versus making it too busy. I don’t think that you need everything. Really. I think a bit of restraint is in order.
Instead, the site offers groups. Create a group, and invite likely people to join it. Your High School’s graduating class, or your sorority chapter might be good choices, as your High School is probably already represented and your sorority might be as well. But these groups provide more specificity. Of course, not everyone you invite will join one of these groups, but it’s worth a shot. Still, LinkedIn is no longer trying to be like a CRM system. That’s, I feel, for the better, as it gives the site more focus as a networking platform.
Another tool that is gone is events. A pity, in some ways. But again, the site is looking to focus itself better. That includes eliminating some of the fat.
Following a Company
LinkedIn provides the ability to follow a company. If you are in charge of your company’s LinkedIn profile, you can help to stimulate this information stream by listing comings and goings, promotions and transfers. Got an event going on, with an interesting or attractive look to it? Take a picture and post it!
Profile Page Shortcut
The shortcut to your profile page is an easy way to make yourself stand out a bit more. Just select a reasonable shortcut for yourself. Mine is my last name, because it’s unique.
The Interests section (found under your Profile) is useful for adding not only keywords but also some personality to your profile. Do you play the violin? Do you like to cook? Safe, positive information is good here, so long as it’s not extensive (you don’t want this section to overwhelm everything else). It’s probably not the best place to mention, for example, your extensive action figures collection.
The Personal Information section is what you make of it. I keep in my birth date (because it generates a status update on the day in question) but not the year. And I list my town but not my full home address (although that is easy enough to find elsewhere online). Furthermore, I list myself as married, but you certainly don’t have to. I keep my phone number off as I don’t want to perhaps have LinkedIn become a vehicle for calls I don’t wish to receive – if someone wants my phone number that badly, they can connect to me and ask.
You Profile Photograph
The last, and perhaps most important bit is your profile picture. To add, or not to add? I say, add it. It’s not like you’re going to hide your race, your age or your gender if you meet someone, so you may as well come forward so that, if you meet in person, they can recognize you. Use a recent, clear headshot, and for God’s sake, smile! Mine is of me wearing a dress with a blazer. Look professional and try to keep it current. That reminds me; I should update mine.
There will undoubtedly be more changes as LinkedIn dreams up new ways to connect business persons. Perhaps video demos, or real-time conferencing, are in its future. Stay tuned – I may blog more about LinkedIn and its last little bits as it continues to reinvent and improve itself.