I’ve been asked a few times recently how to use certain forms of social media. There’s no catch-all answer, but over the years I’ve evolved a personal MO for each outlet that I use. As is fitting with evolution, these uses are subject to change and/or obsolescence. Here’s how it currently stands:
Not Right About Anything is my outlet for the majority of my work. I like to comment on current events, as well as create cartoons, graphics and videos. I did such things long before the Internet was a thing to most civilians, so I find that having this platform works well for me. I treat it as a publication, giving its entries the most time, energy and review (even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes). I recommend a blog platform to those with more to say than social networks allow, and who want a potentially wider audience. When I started this blog in 2004, social media had yet to catch fire, and it was frequently the center of my online communication. Direct feedback has trailed off considerably since then, but the focus of content has changed little in nine years.
Advice: Blogs are an involved form of social media. If you find yourself writing a lot, it might be useful. If you’re into shorter prose, or want to share with just a handful of people, Facebook and Twitter might be better.
Currently, I use Facebook to make witty statues to make friends laugh, and/or share personal details that I’m comfortable to share with my friends, relatives, co-workers and former bosses. When I first signed on in 2005, Facebook was exclusively a college site. As the status feature evolved and the site’s reach expanded to everyone, I wrote less about politics and other controversial topics and became more neutral, not to mention more careful in my words. I’m still funny, though, I like to think. Given the site’s reach, I find myself perhaps most mindful as to what I say and share there than anywhere else.
Advice: Chances are you’re on Facebook already. If somehow you’re not but are curious, it’s probably the best place to start online.
I was a relative latecomer to Twitter, joining in 2010. I demurred for awhile, because I frankly wasn’t impressed with 140 characters; I’m not known for brevity. Anyway, everything I heard about Twitter suggested that it was an even more insipid version of the old MySpace bulletin board. But it grew on me, and now I like it very much. It allows me to toss off one-liners to an instant audience, as well as see an amazing cross-section of live-tweets from other people. And not just friends, but athletes, actors, politicians, professors, pundits, scientists, businesses and publications. It’s where I, like millions of Americans, first learned of Osama bin Laden’s death. I like also that I can share my links to a different audience than the blogosphere and Facebook. And that I can live-tweet events in a way that is less annoying to followers than it used to be on Facebook. This also helps tremendously in the frequent instances that I regret tweeting something. Additionally, I often test out blog ideas in their infancy on Twitter, and sometimes participate in memes that later become rich blog fodder (such as Aged Bands and Rejected Olympic Events).
Advice: Twitter is terrific even if you choose to never tweet. Follow the right people — they don’t have to follow you back, another bonus — and you might feel like you’re in the coolest town square anywhere. If you do tweet, you’ll learn the art of being short and concise. That’s useful to everyone.
I’m on it, but I don’t use it very much. I feel like if it predated Facebook, nobody would have ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg. Google+ has video chat, which I’m amazed hasn’t caught on like it should; after all, weren’t TV phones always representative of the future? The future is here, friends. I may use this more in the future when I move away again. That remains to be seen.
Advice: If you’re into video hangouts and smaller Facebook-type circles, look no further. But if you want to find me, I’m more likely to be elsewhere. I could see myself using this more if I became semi-famous or otherwise sought out for some reason.
I never especially cared for MySpace, and I signed on in late 2006 only because it filled in the friend gaps that Facebook did not yet reach. Having blogged for two years already and being used to the clean, HTML-friendly stylings of Facebook, the garish frames of MySpace and the nickname system seemed juvenile by comparison. But for a couple of years, it served its own niche for me. I blogged very personal entries, the kind of things that I wanted only my close circle of friends to see. I also used it for a few months as a weekly aggregate of my Not Right blog entries (not that anyone cared). Later, the bulletin board became a must-read. But it died out quite suddenly when Facebook opened its virtual doors to everyone, leaving MySpace to become a ghost town of Mafia Wars players and spammy friend requests. I still have a profile, but mainly because I’ve been dragging my feet about saving the photos that I don’t have anywhere else. With the site’s new redesign, I may have to get on that pronto.
Advice: If you’re into music, MySpace might be worthwhile. But its relevance as a social network is long over.
I hear a lot about LinkedIn as an indispensable business tool. In my experience, it hasn’t been as productive as I initially thought. But that’s because I don’t work in a particularly corporate field. For those who do, it seems to serve a considerable purpose. Obviously, it’s the kind of site where you put your best face forward, much less conducive to the casual vibe of other online networking. Also, they make you pay for a better experience, which I currently don’t. As it currently stands, I have my résumé out there and a handful of connections, mostly with people with whom I’m connected elsewhere.
Advice: Check out LinkedIn, especially if someone with whom you’d like to network is active there. Creative types might find it less fruitful. And unlike the other sites I use, money talks there.
I always enjoy getting real e-mail that isn’t Facebook notifications, mailing lists or ads for C1al1s. So drop me a line.
Advice: You have it. Come on!