I’m now three weeks into picking up and using non-walled garden social media systems instead of traditional ones, specifically Diaspora over Facebook and Twitter. It has mostly been a good experience despite some major disagreement on some of their decisions on user experience and other rough edges that I hope to help fix soon as a contributor. But the thing that puts social media apart from blogging or other static production ecosystems is the concept of sharing and interacting with other users. By the nature of the the fact these massive digital halls are still pretty empty I’m just not getting my fill of that.
I have been fortunate enough to have started making some new digital friends over there. I’ve actually also gotten two real world friends to join as well. While I haven’t seen much from my real world friends I do get a few interactions from my posts or from commenting on other people’s posts on my stream. However that is a different kind of connection than what I feel when I’m actually interfacing with real world friends on my old social media platforms. While it’s nice that someone read and liked a post of mine, and maybe commented on it, it’s better when it’s someone I actually know. I liked getting insight into my friend’s lives and vice versa. I liked the connectivity I felt being able to private message them on a whim to say hello.
Just a few weeks into this, and almost two weeks from not being on those systems at all, I’m already missing out on information and happenings in their lives that I otherwise would have known about. This isn’t some theoretical thing about some person I met 20 years ago and have never heard of or from since. This is me finding out a week later that something happened because I just happened to have overheard another conversation of a person I know well. “Well I guess that means you eventually found out about it after all.” Yeah sure, if you find that sufficient in the modern age I guess I did. That point is that is still a dramatic separation that is an artifact of this maneuver. I also never realized how many people whose only contact information I have is from Facebook Messenger. I don’t have e-mails, phone numbers, or anything else. I left my contact information on alternative systems up on my Facebook wall, but guess what…most people don’t go to people’s walls they read off their news feed. Maybe in a couple of years they’ll say “I haven’t heard from Hank, I wonder what he’s up to and finally see it,” or maybe not.
I had been wanting to get into a slower media culture and not be so reflexively connected to people over social media. I started that over a month ago with wrangling my newsfeeds. Yet even then I had the ability to actively seek out close friend’s content, and we always had direct messaging. I don’t have any of that in these new systems because there is no one there. That is the nature of feeling more disconnected from my real world friends and the only way to fix that is to get more of them over to these new systems. What are the impediments to that? How can we overcome that? That’s a topic for another post. In the mean time it’s more about adjusting to this new, hopefully temporary, monastic-like not-as-social social media experience.