Not Being Social

Since drafting my previous post I've had a little time to use the various social networks again, and I guess I've come to the realisation that I actively dislike social media as it exists today. There are a number of contributing issues, and I can provide a couple of examples and some of my reasoning.

I have given Instagram a few tries over the last five or six years. Each time it was enjoyable for a while but I rapidly became dissatisfied with the experience. I recently spent a weekend with friends in the south of England and during that visit some of the reason why became apparent to me. I took a couple of photos that I really like, and shared with friends via iMessage. I also shared on Instagram. The resulting exchanges on iMessage were pleasant, and on Instagram folks tended to just hit the heart icon and scroll on. This isn't an indictment on Instagram — it's working as intended — but that level of interaction is dissatisfying and I guess somewhat disappointing for me. It's not a pleasant feeling, and it's effectively dissuaded me from contributing any more to that platform. I'd still like the opportunity to share some of my photography somewhere online, but Instagram is not going to work for me.

I wanted to rejoin Facebook in order to keep in touch with friends. A number of friends have moved away in recent years, and some will be doing so in the next few months. As my own situation is changing, too, Facebook's suggestion of social contact in a centralised platform was appealing. Of course I was fooling myself on this, because although that's Facebook's superficial promise it is misdirection. Facebook incentivises the generation of massive sets of data pertaining to quantified attention. The result is that you wade through 100 'liked' and 'shared' cat memes (or worse) before you get to anything that a friend has posted that is original and/or of meaningful personal content. Even then everyone is so disincentivised to post anything of actual value. Cultivating a worthwhile signal to noise ratio under these conditions, even with the (pretty weak) feed management tools available, is untenable.

I could continue, however there's the more relevant fact that once the 'honeymoon' period, where everything felt new, wore off a familiar sense of frustration returned. The truth is that I just don't enjoy having these services in my life anymore, and the period I spent on hiatus was notably more pleasant. This time around I can see that without the distraction of a number of unpleasant Twitter experiences, which while contributory to the magnitude of my frustration at the time were not the sole or even most significant factors, my experience is predominantly one of dissatisfaction and occasionally one of stress. Unfortunately there is nothing that social media offers to balance the scales; my satisfying and meaningful social interactions come while face–to–face, or through a direct, private channel such as iMessage when immediate proximity is not an option.

My Facebook account will be scheduled for deletion a few days from this post being published. Following this I'll be making an attempt to provide alternative contact details for the couple of new people I have had a positive exchange with since rejoining. Following those efforts, all other accounts will be closed as I am ready to do so. Anyone who wishes to get in touch and doesn't have a contact method can use the e-mail address associated with this blog. This address is available via the social icons at the bottom of the page (soon to be just an e-mail icon).