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Why Do I Dislike Social Networks? Am I a Curmudgeon?

So the church has obtained this social network thing called “Realm,” a proprietary platform available to nonprofit groups. They want everyone on the choir to join up. Just now they have a campaign going to have everyone in the parish get photographed so your picture can be posted on the system.

The other morning while we were lining up to process, I ran into a very charming young marketing type, a greeter, who urged me to hurry and join Realm. I said I’d tried to do so but was unable to get it to accept any credentials or allow me to create a username and ID. She suggested I needed to download Chrome, install it, learn to use it, and try to get in with that browser — though she allowed that FireFox (the browser of choice) should work.

Others around me really started to apply a lot of pressure to get on Realm. That I said I do not want to join yet another social media platform nor do I enjoy the platforms I have to use in my business was irrelevant. Nothing would do but what I have to join up this thing.

Well. I think not, thank you very much.

I find myself wondering why I dislike and distrust social media so much. Twitter? God, I hate it! Facebook? Okay, so friends post a few photos of their trips or their kittens or whatever and that’s nice, but I can take it or leave it. Google+? Total mystification.

But what IS the problem?

I think the problem is that in my mind, a computer is not a toy. It’s a tool. It’s something you use to do work. And you know, I feel I , do quite enough work, starting at around 5 a.m. and grinding through till 6, 7, 8, or 9 at night: all of it on computers.

I don’t want to socialize on the computer. I just want to get the damn work done and get OFF the computer! Far from making me feel “connected,” the social networks feel like just another component of something that keeps me from having a life. Twitter, with its torrent of spam; Facebook, with its unending stream of trivia, false wisdom, and sappy sentimentality; Google+, whose reason for existing at all is inscrutable:

Here’s a post by an employee of Constant Contact plumping in favor of Twitter. And yeah, I get it: she finds an expensive doodad — a cell phone — that she’d lost in an airline’s overhead compartment; she figures out how to escape a traffic jam; she gets the very LATEST latest news; she asks a credit bureau to correct an error; she apologizes to some famous guy for offending him.

But…really? Are there not more direct, less time-sucking, less “social” ways of accomplishing these things? For example…

  • Don’t put your cell phone in an overhead compartment — take it out of your jacket pocket and put it in your purse or your pants pocket. Listen to the local radio traffic reports, or simply avoid routes prone to traffic jams.
  • Recognize that most of what we think of as “news” today is trivia, and that you can do nothing about 99.999% of any news that really matters. You don’t need to have instantaneous Tweets about any of it.
  • Email or snail-mail the credit bureau; it’s a lot more private…and again, does that error really need to be fixed right this very minute?
  • Don’t insult celebrities (or anyone else) in public (or in private).

When you consider what the writer’s saying, you’re inclined to think that over time her growing dependency on Twitter surely must erode her problem-solving skills. What does she do if she can’t Tweet up her lost phone? If she stumbles across a news report that really does concern something important and urgent, how does she find out all the details, and how does she get a fully reported, credibly accurate accounting of events? And how does she (or her husband) ever learn common courtesy?

Last year Lifehacker posted an article by Alan Henry that offered a number of very good suggestions for keeping the social media plague more or less under control. I like his ideas…but again: t.i.m.e…s.u.c.k!!!! The amount of time it would take to clean up your accounts and organize them in the ways he suggests: oh, ugh! Once you got the mess under control, though, these strategies probably would help cut the amount of time you then continue to waste on Twitter and waypoints.

If I follow the guy’s suggestions, I’ll have to “unfollow” about 600 Twits. That could be even more time-consuming than luring them to follow me in the first place. To say nothing off pissing off a lot of Twits. Organize them by “Lists”? I know Twitter Lists exist, but I also know finding out what they are, figuring out how to work them, and deploying them in any meaningful way represents yet another huge time-suck. Is that really what I want to do with the shrinking number of minutes, hours, and days left to me on this earth?

Well, no.

Therein lies the problem. And I don’t want to spend any of those fast-dwindling minutes, hours, and days on learning a new social media platform, either.

1 thought on “Why Do I Dislike Social Networks? Am I a Curmudgeon?”

  1. Another social media platform? Just for churches? I’m with you in thinking that’s just a little unnecessary.

    I avoided FaceBook for years, anI’ve recently become active on both FaceBook and Twitter, and so far I’m enjoying them. FB has let me connect with cousins I haven’t seen in years, among others, and Twitter is…amusing. Of course, I’m not following many people and almost no one is following me, so it’s easier to keep up.

    Definitely a time suck, though.

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