I’ve been hearing about a lot of situations recently that could have been solved simply by one of the involved parties becoming inaccessible.
Before everyone gets angsty and says “NO WE ALL NEED FACEBOOK AND TWITTER LOL I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT FML,” I should probably define what I mean.
inaccessible (adj.): In this context, being inaccessible implies that you interact with people on your own terms in order to maintain your own sanity. It does not mean becoming a socially retarded hermit, nor does it imply changing your mobile number or going out of your way to rudely avoid others.
My second reason in favour of weaning myself off social networks:
When people yell all over each others’ personal social network pages, it reduces productivity, causes a maelstrom of information influx and promotes gossip. For whatever reason, people have no desire to censor and exercise control over themselves over social networks. I’m not asking the social network addicts to stop (there are thousands of other people available to do that). I’m only outlining stategies I use to forcibly take myself out of the loop as required in order to maintain sanity.
My Twitter account does update my Facebook status, but most of those updates are about new blog entries such as this one. This is simply an effort to reach out to the reader ship, if you will. By using the Selective Tweets plugin for Facebook, I don’t allow normal Twitter updates to go to my Facebook status. There isn’t any need. If people really want to go through the trouble of following me on Twitter, they can go ahead. They’re mostly just going to get blog article updates anyway =). You see, I use Twitter rarely; bouts of increased Twitter usage happen when I make a new contact, respond to someone, or look for shows and concerts coming to my town (through the artists’ Twitter pages). I’m well aware that nobody wants to read about every minute of my day. I’d rather put out a decent blog article every couple of days and use Twitter just for notifying people.
This also serves the other important purpose of keeping me away from Facebook. I’ve gone down in my Facebook usage to about once every three days. There are just too many event invitations and status updates for me to worry about. I don’t play any games and maintain the minimum possible extra applications (Selective Tweets is the most useful for me). Recently, I even stopped syndicating this site to Facebook. It just keeps things cleaner. Side note: if you’re playing Facebook games, it might be time to take a serious look at your priorities and gaming tastes. Just a sincere thought, originally suggested by [slink]Kalenree[elink].
My golden rule of inaccessibility, however, is to keep personal information as private as possible (<– unnecessarily alliterative). I could divulge personal information for everyone to read. Or I could have a person strike up a conversation with me because he/she is curious about something personal. I’d much rather prefer the latter; I have full control over what kind of information I want to divulge and I know exactly where it’s going.
I translate these strategies to my instant messaging habits as well. I consciously try to stay offline (not appearing offline, but genuinely killing the instant messenger application process running on my machine) more often these days. It’s made my productivity soar, and it’s forced people to use email or telephone to reach me.
Email I’ll use. I’ll respond as instantly as possible, even if it’s as simple as “Got your message. Will respond in detail later tonight.” It allows me to formulate my ideas and convey them crisply. If you need to reach me, email is the best way to go. It is platform agnostic and doesn’t rely on proprietary protocols. Using OpenPGP, I can sign and encrypt my emails for added authenticity and security. It may seem like overkill until one realizes just how stubborn sites like Facebook are about holding onto one’s personal data (ever tried deleting your Facebook account? Legitimately DELETING it? Ever read any of the privacy policies on any of the extra applications?). I am sorry, new age Tweeters and Facebookers, there is still something charming about receiving a (plaintext) email. The normal email comes from a specified someone who has been granted access to your email address. You open it up, read its contents and respond at your earliest convenience. This gives you some inaccessibility, since you are now dictating the conversation on your terms. It’s entirely free from people yelling on personal pages, tweeting, following, re-tweeting, wall spamming. Guess what, it also travels through the same fibre-optics used by Twitter and Facebook, so it is just as fast.
Surprisingly, these simple adjustments have the effect of making classic phone calls or in-person meetings much more special. I am a huge advocate for the old fashioned sortie. “Oh cool, that sounds like something super interesting that you’re doing” is a more gratifying statement to me than “yes, yes I know, you already told me this through your Twitter.”
I’m fairly certain that this article is going to upset some people, but again, I’m only outlining what I do to maintain my sanity through the social networking movement. Social networking has its perks and I do use it, but I do choose to limit my usage in order to exercise control over when and how I interact with people.
Going back to the initial premise; some social situations could indeed have been avoided if one party spent a little less time on an instant messenger, exercised caution with their tweets or Facebook statuses, or chose NOT to upload a particularly risqué photograph. Sure, it’ll make you just a little bit more inaccessible, but it seems that this tiny bit of restraint can cure these social problems before they start.
If you need me, call or email me. I’ll take the SMS or BBM too, only because society moves too quickly for people to sit down and talk (and rightfully so. Too much talking gets us in trouble).
Oh, commenting on the post is okay too.
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