I am a Social Media Phantom

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Social Media

I hear it all the time:  “I tried to find you on all the social media sites and you were nowhere to be found.”  That is not by chance.  While I run a online marketing firm that has a social media practice, it isn’t something that I subscribe to as an individual.  All of my friends, co-workers, and professional colleagues partake, even my 12 year old son lives through his Facebook page, but I have rationalized that it is just not for me.

Firstly, I think there is a misconception that not participating in social media means that I’m not social.  Quite the contrary – I keep in touch very frequently with friends, family, former colleagues – through email, phone calls and visits.  To broadcast my status of what I’m doing, where I’m going and with whom feels invasive to me.  And certainly not something I want to share broadly.

Next, I have an obsessive personality flaw and I know that I would get sucked in – voyeuristically following friends, former boyfriends, people I hardly know that have friend-ed me – wasting time that I barely have now to do the things I want to do… like call friends on the phone.  I could see wasting endless hours just looking around, commenting, checking out pictures of people whom I really wouldn’t be interested in otherwise.

It’s like golf for me.  Everyone says I would be great at golf.  It is methodical, requires precision, relies on angles and geometry – like my beloved Tetris – but truly, if I had 4 hours to spare, is that REALLY what I want to spend my time doing?

Finally, I think that social media actually blurs the line between personal and professional lives.  The first time I realized this was in an executive staff meeting at my former job.  The President of the company asked the head of HR to check MySpace and Facebook pages of a potential hire.  This was 3.5 years ago and the concept was new.  What it did was open this candidate’s personal life up to their prospective employer – but they put their personal life up for public viewing including posts and pictures of them enjoying their leisure time – something I don’t personally think your employer needs to see.  I know… you can decline friends, segment personal and professional pages, be careful about your posts – but I don’t want to run the risk.  And how does one tactfully decline invitations of potential friends without offending someone.  Do I say no to all of my employees and co-workers or can I be selective?  It just feels wrong.

I believe we are raising a generation that is weak in their interpersonal skills.  They don’t have to have conversations, they IM.  They don’t have to sit across from someone and look them in the eye, they email.  They text in code and in acronyms.  We are doing them a disservice if we don’t inform them of the repercussions of posting thousands of photos of themselves – sometimes in compromising positions – that can be viewed by professional contacts.  We need to teach them the art of interviewing, of live selling, of conversation and the etiquette of picking up the phone rather than shooting off an electronic message.

Sorry folks, I’ll leave Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn to others and I’ll choose to handwrite thank you notes, pick up the phone to call and meet in person if I want to truly connect with my social circle.

7 Responses to “I am a Social Media Phantom”

  1. Frank Eybsen says:

    I’m not sure if I’m reading too much in between the lines here, but Barbara’s Facebook profile sounds like it would be crazy!

  2. Shaan says:

    Although I have a Facebook and Myspace account(which is about to be deleted since I never use it), I feel the same way. I’ll use Facebook as an example.

    Facebook, with its limitless applications and fan pages, can having you wasting your whole day. People are constantly sending requests to be fans of something or other whether it’s sea otters or the LA Dodgers. These generally have applications attached to them which ask to have access to your profile leaving your profile open to more random strangers. Like I want people who like sea otters and the Dodgers looking at my page. Puhlease.

    Facebook has to be the pot of gold to a marketing manager since they can potentially advertise to a granular level so minute which I don’t believe has been attainable before. I’m sure I’ll be seeing advertisements of items catering to my exact needs and interests if I keep I say yes to all of these requests.

    Let’s not forget the scary part, the fact that it’s a website and like any other website it’s open to hackers. I’m sure there have been hacking attempts even break-ins. At some point, someone will get in and take what they want. While there isn’t much to gain from hacking Facebook, since it doesn’t have save anyone’s financial information, I can imagine at some point that the functionality will be in there. When it does, identity theft will be really, really easy.

    I boil Facebook down to a glorified contact manager and that’s what I use it for. Nothing more nothing less.

    Now let me update that profile. ;)

  3. I became a fan of Facebook a couple of months back and I go through it almost nightly now. I come home from work, spark up the BBQ, my wife has happy hour set up and we have a computer with cloned monitors connected to the vast dub dub dub while we eat, drink and watch YouTube videos and view our Facebook accounts. I say view because that is primarily what we do. I’m not much into writing (except for work, of course) but I do enjoy seeing what old friends, acquaintances and classmates are up to. If there is someone that I would like to reach out to, I message them, ask for their phone number and call them.

    I am ALL about gathering socially in person, over hooking up in the Social Media scene but, my wife and I have definitely found a use for Facebook.

    I have lost touch with friends over time. I’m not looking for old flames (happily married). I actually HAVE tried to find long lost friends in the past, but to no avail. Now they are finding me. I didn’t even know they had been looking.

    Last week a VERY good friend of mine, from my college football days, found me on Facebook. I really missed his friendship over the years and had no idea how to find him, so I gave up and you know what, my wife and I are taking our babies to his home this weekend for a BBQ to meet his family and hang out.

    I have many stories like that one and it wouldn’t have happened had I not put myself out there, in Facebook.

    Oh, and I’m not too worried about having prospective employers seeing my ‘possibly inappropriate content’ on Facebook because the President of my current job happens to value me so highly that she would never let me go nor would she ever think I was inappropriate no matter what she saw or read :)

    BooYah!

    • Richard W. says:

      I’m with Hallstrom here. My best friend from elementary school found me last year some time after we hadn’t seen each other since high school graduation twelves years ago. So we ended up trading numbers and met up for lunch down in the OC a few months ago. Surprisingly there was nothing awkward at all about it which is what I had been most worried about. He had just gotten married and showed me his new house afterwards which was very nice and chatted for several hours. Now I need to figure out how to get some inheritance money… ;-)

  4. Waleed R says:

    I second Frank’s comment. =)

    But to Barbara’s credit, I’ve taken a 7-day break from all Social Networking and I have to admit I never realized how much more appreciative friends/family & colleagues are when you reach out to them without a computer monitor & 100 emails in front of you.

    I still wouldn’t mind finding a “red-cup” photo on Barbara’s profile.

  5. Rob Nager says:

    The only problem with being a Social Media Phantom is that it prevents old friends who are REALLY intent on finding you from doing so. It may, in some instances, turn a simple search into an all-out quest.

    I used to wonder how business was done prior to the fax machine then how any of us struggled to purchase stamps and travel – travel!!- to a mailbox before email. Now I routinely find myself in situations where friends and I are sitting together speechless while typing away on our smart phones.

    Unfortunately new technology lulls us into a state of increased helplessness that can prove frustrating when information is not at our fingertips.

    It is quite satisfying, however, when one is able to find that old friend anyway…

    • Barbara says:

      I just re-read this post after quite a long time and wanted to post a follow up to the last comment.

      While I am still not on any of the social media, Rob Nager was a friend from (ahem) 30 years ago that found me through this blog post and from his comment we reconnected and are close again. But our interactions are Saturday phone calls to catch up, in person meet ups with business brings me to his home town. So maybe social media can be useful afterall….

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