Back when I first got Facebook and Twitter, I thought they were the dumbest sites ever. Who would want to know what I’m doing or thinking all the time? Inevitably, the novelty of the sites sucked me in and soon I was making updates (mainly on Twitter) about my passive-aggressive rants and what I was watching on TV that night.
Eventually, my friends would semi-jokingly threaten to block my frequent tweets, and it got me thinking – how am I being perceived online? I felt like my Twitter updates did not accurately reflect who I really am. I stopped using Twitter as a ranting tool and tried to use it more as a slice-of-life tool instead. But I tired of seeing people’s updates about waiting on packages and eating food and wondered if people were as sick of seeing my tweets as I was of theirs. It made me realize – do we really need a social media tool that compiles our most mundane moments as human beings? In fifty years, will our grandkids go back to our Twitter accounts and really care that we were folding laundry and hating it on March 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm?
I have stopped tweeting for several months now, and it has been quite a relief. For the first week, I had to filter my urges to post things like, “OUCH KNOCKED MY KNEE INTO MY TABLE AGAIN.” But then once I got over the urge to post meaningless updates, I felt a lot better – almost like I was elusive again, which is how I was when I first got a Facebook account (I wouldn’t even upload a picture of myself).
Naturally, I started taking my newfound attitude to Facebook. Do people really care what I’m doing every weekend or how many minutes I ran or how I’m going to drum lessons? With the exception of my mom, I don’t think so. I don’t care when most of the people on my friends list talk about workouts and parties and chores repetitively (with the exception of family and close friends), so conversely, why should I expect these people to care about MY status updates?
When I had less of a social life, I was apt to post on Facebook all the fun things I was doing to make it appear as if I did have a life. (“Take THAT, guy who didn’t call me back. I HAVE A LIFE! YEAH!”) And now that I do live a more fulfilling life, both personally and socially, I don’t feel the need to post what I’m doing every day. I’m happy with myself and what I’m doing, and that’s all I care about. Keeping it private is more attractive to me because my happiness does not depend on what others perceive me to be.
You may wonder why I still blog. I feel like blogging is different, more understandably self-indulgent but more informative and rewarding. Reading a blog is more of a conscious choice than being subjected to someone’s trainwreck Facebook status updates. You make a point to visit my blog because you like reading what I write. You make the choice to have me on your blogroll or type in my URL. It’s more of a significant logging tool as well. Blogging helps me remember the more important moments in my life, not just the day-to-day monotony of work and chores and sleep. It also allows me to practice my writing, actually keeping up with a skill instead of trying to cram a thought into 140 characters. Finally, many blogging sites allow you to keep private thoughts private – you can share a worry or fear with a small select group of people instead of the whole world.
The trend with social media is undeniably allowing us to live our private lives in public, sharing it all over the web with our mothers and coworkers and fourth grade classmates. And the more it becomes acceptable to share these private moments with many, the more I want to keep them to myself.