Where do you draw the line with being social when it comes to social media?

I Facebooked Your Mom

I’m not mentioning this to be mean or rude, but there is something to be said about the sphere of social media that I and many others exist in and what it means to actually be social. It’s a tough line to walk, so let me explain a little.

Hockey MySpace porn what? In the realm of myspace, you add as many people as you possibly can. I never quite understood this mentality until I tried to build an account for RadioZoom and use it as a matter of promotion for the podcast. Pretty soon, promotional reps for various bands were adding me as friends and sending out mass messages of what their bands are doing. That’s a great mechanism for the network, but last time I checked, I have a very hard time making it to rock shows in North Carolina even though I’m on the guest list. I certainly appreciate the offer though.

The point I’m trying to make is that I have never met these people, and it’s fairly clear that they’ve never met me, nor do they know what I really do, where I’m located, and that I haven’t actually published an episode of RadioZoom in quite sometime.

Enter the realms of Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, and I have taken a very upfront, social approach from the onset of joining these networks. For the most part, I try to apply a one degree of separation before claiming someone as a contact or friend. Or to put it in simple English, I like to at least meet someone before I actually say that we’re a contact or friend.

Ready for demos It’s a simple matter of putting a face to the name. If I say that I know you in a social network setting, it makes much more sense to me to actually know you in a setting that goes beyond a connection between your terminal and mine.

And just to address the age old story of the person on the other end not being who they say they are, there is still some merit in that mindset. You can’t let that scare you though because how many times have you not believed something someone told you until you could prove the fact for yourself? It’s the same concept, and the episode of The Simpsons when Bart gets a credit card when he fills out the application as a joke is a bit of testament to that. If the credit company actually checked on this applicant, they would have known that “Santos L. Halper” was the family’s dog[wiki] and not an actual person.

Since moving to Vancouver, the world of the Internet has progressed from this nerdly world of ones and zeros and into a sphere of actual social settings where the computer is replaced with actual meetings and face to face conversations. Of course the convenient proximity I have to a major metropolitan area lends to this compared to others without such social resources, but it’s tough to just add someone to whatever social network because you know someone I know and yet we’ve never had any interaction whatsoever.

Now, yes, I do bend these self imposed rules from time to time because social interaction can derive in the sense of emails, Twitter @’s, Facebook messages, etc. This might happen because I find what you’re saying or doing to be worthwhile in terms of quality. However, if the quantity of what you are producing, in terms of content or contributions into the social sphere, lacks substance or is useless dribble, then that factors into things as well.

With so much to see, hear, read, and choose from, I simply need what’s worthwhile to me and my time. I know I can’t be the only one with these “rules”, so feel free to add your thoughts on this complicated topic below.

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4 Replies to “Where do you draw the line with being social when it comes to social media?”

  1. I follow my own set of rules regarding social media. Since I’m a student rather than having a digital marketing job, for example, I follow only a set number people on twitter (I keep it under 100), but I’m willing to add people that I have never met or know personally. Maybe I like their tweets or we have someone else in common such as photography or an appreciation for Lady Grey Tea. There are many friends I don’t follow on twitter and there are strangers that I do follow. To paraphrase @mezzoblue, I use twitter for me. I don’t have the attention span to follow more than 100 people, I really am amazed that people following 400-500 people are able to read all their tweets each day.

    Facebook is entirely different. I rarely add people that are not students. I use Facebook to interact with my real world friends, people I work with or study with or hang out with on campus. I don’t use Facebook like a roledex, but rather like a diary. There is alot of personal conversations there with good friends I have. We use the Facebook wall to share personal stories. I will sometimes write personal notes, and my real contact information is there. I haven’t changed how I used Facebook since I joined in 2005. It is my private, personal space so strangers just aren’t added and I pretty much have only added friends or people who are becoming friends rather than someone that met he at a conference or read my blog, or shares my name. For me, as I’m pretty immersed into social media, I need a space that is off the grid where I can be myself and enjoy the company of my real friends – That’s Facebook for me.

    With Flickr, I will add someone as a contact that has photos that are of interest to me or is good friends with me. I won’t add someone who doesn’t have any photos available to me or a blank profile pic. Actually people that favourite photos of mine without me being able to see their photos or with a blank profile pic, I automatically block because I consider that weird.

    I absolutely never get stressed about social media wondering if I have to follow person X on twitter because they are now following me or if I have to accept the FB request from person Y because they are a former teacher. I’ve never had anyone ask me why I’m not accepting their friend request or following them on Twitter after they started following me.

    I think there are bigger things in life to worry about.

  2. I have different “rules” for various sites. For Twitter, I’ll add anyone to the work account, and for my own, I’ll add either anyone I know or anyone that seems interesting (as long as they have a profile photo and link to a website too, that’s a must). For Facebook I try to keep it people I do actually know, who are my friends, but sometimes I also confirm internet-only friends.

  3. It is true that there are bigger concerns in life, but there is something to be said about someone thinking that you simply don’t like them because you don’t “add them back” or do whatever social network-y thing that is considered as the acceptable thing to do.

    I guess my point is that it’s no big whoop. Just because I don’t link up with you on the Internet world doesn’t mean I don’t like you at all.

  4. I’ll have to blog the little paen to flickr I wrote a couple of years ago. If I had connected on flickr only to people I’d actually met, I’d have one contact (an ex) and it would be a pretty bleak and pointless photo sharing and social networking existence.

    I don’t think you can have any hard and fast rules. Of course I come to social networking from spending far too much time in chat. So for me, people using their real or their organization’s names on blogs, Facebook and Twitter represents very real progress. The empowerment of anonymity in chat (and the number of people who choose to behave badly when there are no consequences) left me feeling quite shaken about human nature.

    We can only control our own thoughts (maybe). I think people who worry too much about how they score in terms of followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook have bigger things to worry about, even though they may not yet realize it.

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