Has #SocialMedia Let You Down?

Category: Social Media Social Good Series

The evolution of communication

I’ve gone from literally a 24/7 presence in Social Media to a semi-shutdown and withdrawal. Perhaps it wasn’t as hard as those people that go cold turkey with smoking cigarettes (I never smoked)  but it was still a shock to the system. It also wasn’t an immediate “shutdown” though it accelerated pretty quickly. The reasons are significant, paramount, and revelatory – a nice run of adjectives, don’t you think? Are those adjectives? I never was particularly good at grammar. Auto-correct occasionally saves me from myself.

Social Media and children

The power of Social Media for good is incalculable, which is why I began this blog Social Media Social Good series. The power for hate is equally powerful and, like one accident or bad driver can bring thousands of cars to a standstill on a freeway, so can one or two haters destroy something beautiful with a few strokes of the keyboard.

We’ve all seen the negative impact of Social Media on middle-schoolers, celebrities, brands, and regular folks like me. Something beautiful, good, and helpful to so many – #DadChat – was brought down (at least for the time being) by a couple of haters. Well, three in all. NONE of whom were part of the #DadChat community, but they created enough fear that the community publicly vanished. Privately, many expressed their support and regret at what had transpired but the fear of retribution in Social Media is pernicious so public support was nil.

My #DadChat partner of over a year, “resigned” within 24 hours of the incident. Too soon to even gauge the impact yet the fear factor to him was too great. And, you know the ironic part, I completely understood and we’re still good friends. He makes a good living from his work and any risk from the “haters” was too big to take, in his mind. Thankfully, the hate was solely directed at me so he’s good to go and will continue his work unscathed.

Social Media humor

For me, I chose to put #DadChat on hiatus. It’s been quite a few weeks now and I’m still unsure if or when I’ll bring it back. That is largely because I began to withdraw from all my Social Media activities and question how and where I want to continue my “work.”

I never cared much for Klout and its ranking system, as mysterious as it is along the lines of why Google ranks this or that site higher than another. But, within a short few weeks, my Klout score went down. For once, it made sense to me since my activity went way down. My follower count didn’t seem to be affected by the haters. But, my Twitter output has diminished from an average of 85+ tweets a day, EVERY day, for the past 4 ½ years to just a handful, most aggregated via Triberr.

I don’t even check my stream.

As for Facebook, I stopped “servicing” my Page with the meticulousness I had for years and just post haphazardly. My personal Facebook profile also has seen diminished posts.

Social Media comic

I still use Instagram, less so, as a means of documenting happy times in my life such as the wonderful wedding my wife and I attended recently. That habit has slowed down and isn’t the instant take-out-my-iPhone that it used to be.

As for my blogging, I used to write 2-4 original blogs per week. I had several blog series that I wrote on a semi-regular basic but I never missed my “A Dad’s Point-of-View” column in a half-dozen plus years until the past few weeks.

My last “A Dad’s Point-of-View” column was about “Change,” and that is what this column is about, to a degree.

Cartoon about Social Media

I will end this column with questions for you and for me:

~~ Is Social Media enhancing your life?
~~ Have you ever been the target of hate? If so, how did you handle it?
~~ WHY do you blog, do Social Media, and feel compelled (as I was) to check in so often?
~~ Do you take a Sabbath once in a while – and turn it OFF for a day or more?
~~ Do you see better or worse effects on your kids’ lives with their use of Social Media?
~~ Do you see your friends IRL as much as you did a decade ago?

I welcome your thoughts on all of this! Change is good; I hate change…

  • jack43

    I used to blog every day. I promoted my blog postings on social media and my readership grew. Sadly, none of this activity sold any books (which was my prime motivation for doing it).

    Blogging and promoting my postings every day affected my writing. I had little time for it.

    Finally, I announced that I was “tired of feeding the beast” and withdrew.

    My website traffic dropped by two-thirds. So what? It didn’t affect my book sales. There still weren’t any.

    Now I play Minecraft and think about writing another book and how I will market it.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @jack43:disqus – I’ve also thought about writing another book and I, too, didn’t get much bump in (book) sales from all my Social Media efforts. I think a VERY FEW people actually make a living from Social Media – it’s a way to interact with others, to help OR hurt people, and that is it. It is by no means the end-all-cure-all I used to think it was.

  • Gary Holt

    Blogging and social media is extremely helpful in gaining website traffic and leads to your business. We are in the process of a case study in which we increased web traffic for one of our clients by over 800% in one month just by adding a blog and posting weekly to social media.

    The problem that people are having with social media is that they are either not targeting their market correctly, or not at all. You can have a lot to offer, you can even say great things and give helpful information; but if you are saying it to the wrong people, it isn’t going to be received well or shared.

    It is especially difficult if you have a blog based solely off of your viewpoint or your own material and not on trends or the industry as a whole. If you find your niche and your target market plus share and create a community, things will seem to blossom overnight.

    Another point to remember is that it is media. There are always going to be people who disagree with you but in business you have two options, ignore it and take the high road and others will come to your defense; or deal with it head on in a professional manner to try to pacify them as you would a client or potential client. It will never help you or your business if you say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say to a client’s face.

    These are the guidelines of our social media staff and it helps to increase readership and happy clients for both ourselves and our clients. I hope it will help in yours as well.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks @disqus_5E2JUew74l:disqus – I agree with most of what you say…but the “haters” have a bigger impact than they ever could before and that is sad. People rising to your defense takes a level of courage that most people simply don’t have. Especially if their livelihood could be at stake!

  • Mei

    I keep social media to just regular chats I attend and daily sharing my posts. I used to schedule tweets but even that seem to be taking too much time. I didn’t see any effect on my blog traffic and what the heck.. I’ve got a life to live.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_mAYzV8PM6A:disqus – my life was very full with #SocialMedia – now I have to find something else to fill it! My current challenge…

  • http://moondustwriter.com Leslie Moon

    Bruce I am so sorry that you got hated on via Dadchat. Anyone who knows you knows you are such a likable individual and dadchat was an awesome community.
    I understand turning down the rpms from 60 tweets per minute to zero.
    I couldn’t understand how people that I advocated and mentored could not only stalk, hack, and hate me but steal my vision/ my work. I still have a few people who monitor me to make sure I dont “call them out.”
    I backed up almost off of social media but I feel that I am in a better “space”. I feel that twitter or facebook is a necessary “evil” if you are trying to promote something.
    I am alot more low key and so I draw less negative attention – I think the haters aim at the bloggers/ tweeps who have a voice. They want attention and cant get it by working for it apparently.
    It would be sad to see you pull out altogether – Bruce you have encouraged others and given them a voice they didn’t know they had.

    whatever your decision I support you

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks @moondustwriter:disqus – it’s been such an illuminating journey. It’s sort of like how ONE car driving badly on a freeway can cause an accident and create havoc for thousands. A few “haters” destroyed something beautiful BUT I was one step from withdrawing anyway. I had done it. It was becoming a chore and I was feeling it was time to take on something new. What that will be is TBD. But, first order of business is to move – we’re leaving California for Park City, Utah. I’m hoping the fresher air will offer a fresh new approach! Love you, LM!

  • David Weber

    I like answering questions, so here are my responses. This is long only because I will probably save this as notes to incorporate into my memoirs!

    – As I have written in comments to your columns for many years, I am, relative to what’s pretty common, scarcely involved in social media. I haven’t changed my Facebook photo since I first created a Facebook page in 2006. I have a Twitter account but virtually never use it…I can’t off the top of my head even recall my Twitter password. I have never got involved in Instagram and all of the newer platforms (e.g., Snapchat). Some occasions of using social media HAVE enhanced my life–I got back into touch with one friend from many years back thanks to Facebook–but in general, I feel good about not dealing with it.

    – Target of hate? Well, not in social media, since I don’t have a presence of any consequence in it. But I have been the target of hate in student evaluations. I would say that over 20+ years of teaching college/university students as a PhD student and then as a university faculty member, roughly 80-85% of my evaluations by students have been neutral-to-excellent, and 15-20% have been below neutral extending all the way to shockingly spiteful. Of that 15-20 percent, I would guess that about one-eighth were, as I phrased it, shockingly spiteful (cursing, threatening or insulting me). It is very disconcerting and, sometimes, terribly upsetting. I work diligently to do well in my profession; and when a student to perceive me as virtually no one who knows me well does (“arrogant,” “doesn’t care about students,” “a**hole,” “worst professor in the entire university,” etc.), I haven’t trained myself to be indifferent. How do I handle it? I look hard at the evals, attempting to set aside the crude or abusive framing, and ask, “Is there something here for me to take seriously as a possible adjustment to make in my course design or my instructional style?”

    – As you may guess, not being in SoMe means I don’t check anything often except email. Much of that is for professional reasons…for example, during the semester, I do want to be able to respond as soon as possible to student email messages. I also check if I am expecting a specific message. On the other hand, I intentionally DO NOT have my smartphone configured to receive email…I just visit my desktop (at home or in the office) or, if I’m on the road, I open up my Mac Air…as long as the hotel has free WiFi!

    – I definitely take time off, simply by not being too involved in SoMe. Actually, the ONLY reason I even worry about having a mobile phone with me is to be available for a call from or about my elderly mother. At such time as she has gone to her reward, I will scarcely feel bad about, say, leaving my phone at home inadvertently when I leave for the office. I just visited Western Pennsylvania for five nights. I accessed email three times. I called my mother about 2-3 times; and after doing so, I didn’t worry about leaving my phone in the car, or turning it off (to conserve the battery). I have been involved with the same lady for over five years and she feels the same way about all this as I do — we are not even “Facebook friends.” In short, I recognize and appreciate many of SoMe’s good points; but it is, in my life, fundamentally a burden and an annoyance; and I am very grateful that (apart from thatobligation to have that mobile phone at hand) I can afford to engage with it at my own pace.

    – Can’t speak about “my kids,” since I am not a parent. But I can comment on its effects on my students…who, if I had kids, would be essentially as old as (maybe somewhat younger than) my own kids would be. The cartoon about the changes in communication — specifically the idea that if you can’t say it in 140 characters, it isn’t worth saying — really captures the “bad news” about my students’ reliance on SoMe. I have trained myself to write the SHORTEST of email messages, because if it is more than about three sentences, my students don’t read the message.

    Another wrinkle in this: Over the past 1-2 school years, I have noticed that my students almost EXCLUSIVELY read email on smartphone–as opposed to desktop systems (say, in the library) or personal notebook computers or even tablets. So they are looking at a tiny screen that makes scrolling a burdensome chore…hence the preference for only tweet-size messages. Because reading attachments on a smartphone is relatively burdensome, they don’t open attached materials.

    What actually happens–what in practical terms is occurring–is that the amount of messaging between student and professor is DECLINING RAPIDLY. I almost exclusively communicate with students face-to-face in class…no longer is email a viable channel of communication, since students don’t read any message but the shortest…in the past dozen years, say, I think I have had no more than a total of a half-dozen telephone calls from students, so telephone communicating basically does not exist between me and my students…and only a handful come to talk with me in my office. I haven, therefore, LESS message-oriented interaction with my students now than I did in 1999-2000, the first school year I began working as a full-time faculty member. I haven’t yet figured out a way around this.

    I think that this is not going to play out well. What is going to happen is a default commitment to producing and consuming only quick and brief messages…not a PREFERENCE for that, alongside the ability or willingness to engage, when and if necessary, with longer, more complex or nuanced messages…but essentially an intolerance of any approach to messages other than what Twitter is teaching us to accept. This extends to spoken-language messaging … if an idea is complex, if it requires “x” number of minutes rather than merely “y” number of seconds to express, the idea will either be overlooked and undervalued, or it will be denatured or “dumbed down.”

    – In the mid- and late-1990s I was heavily involved in chat…which was at the time the frontier of internet interactivity. I indeed DID spend MUCH more time with my chat “friends” than my IRL friends…so much so that one day, three of my closest IRL came to my apartment and literally pulled me away from my computer and held what AA would call an “intervention.” No one could get through to me by phone, since it was, in those dial-up days, always busy. It was, in retrospect, a good thing for them to have done. It turned me around and although after the intervention I still spent some time in chat, it was never as much as before the intervention…and as the upcoming months unfolded, my chat days came to an end. I don’t regret my time in chat, but I would never want to live with even a 50-50 SoMe-to-IRL-friends balance. For me it is all about IRL, with the exception of perhaps a small number of friends whom I don’t see too often IRL because of distance, but who are fundamentally IRL friends, not SoMe friends.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_dU5ulU60s7:disqus – as always I so value your comments. I think your observations about how your students communicate are spot on. And, VERY sad. My younger son almost exclusively communicates with his friends via text. They don’t mind watching anything on a tiny screen with earphones. I get that for music ’cause the sound can be pretty good but for a big movie? Really, you don’t want to take advantage of the great sound systems we now can have in our own homes? Or the big screens? How can you enjoy a big action movie on a tablet or even a “large” smart-phone? This is when I feel old.

      As many people know, the HATERS got to me via Social Media and it was brutal for a few days. It changed much in my life and, now, several months later I’m re-entering the world of SoMe but with great caution.

      I think I preferred the old days of talking hours on a landline regular rotary dial phone with my friends and my mom screaming that she wanted the phone…

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