August 6, 2012
★ Rethinking Social Networks

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Snapping a Photo

I owe a lot to The Internet; my current paycheck being just one of the small things that is a direct result of being always connected. I’ve shared a lot with the web. Millions of glimpses into my life have made their way to the web directly and indirectly. I’ve been trying to find a balance. Over the last 5 years, I’ve played a balancing act but have been called “prolific” more times than I can count when it comes to online sharing. 

I finally found a job and friends that are accepting of this. It comes down to what is best for me and that is for me to retract even more than I already was. Since I took a social media break from Twitter in early 2010, the value of real-world friendships grew. It was in 2010, I strengthened the relationship with those outside of Internet land and, since moving to New Hampshire my network has grown. I’ve lost many “Internet friends” but have gained a few real life friends. It has been an eye-opening experience. 

With my condition of poor short term memory, I document a lot of things for myself. It’s not for anyone else. It’s cool when someone I know comments on a photo but not all that important. I appreciate the millions of photo views on Flickr and this blog but it’s not what drives me. Even this post is something I’ll enjoy reading in a few years when a fundamental shift occurred in my life. 

Path for iPhone taught me that you can have meaningful dialogue and sharing with a handful of people. It was what I had hoped Twitter would always grow into and I’ve enjoyed using it. However, my yearning for posterity has caused me to be turned off by it lately. The reason I push all Path photos to Facebook is so I can have my script on Backupify download them. Facebook is a middle-man for updates from my Path application. All of my tweets are backed up and so are my blog posts. I’d prefer a backup versus exposure. Path still doesn’t offer any portability and that’s ruining my excitement toward it.

A friend asked me a few weeks ago, “Why do you still have a Facebook account?” That’s a great question. Those that are friends with me on Facebook noticed that my FB profile is looking terribly bare. No profile photos or cover photo, no likes or groups or events being attended. Nothing really all that personal except for what I post on Path or Blog Posts. Why still have a Facebook account?

Facebook is a glorified distribution network for me these days. The majority of my interactions with friends is via Email, Twitter and the telephone. Facebook is reserved for two things A) Promoting content I’ve put elsewhere to a large audience B) Communicating privately with friends who don’t bother to email me or don’t know me well enough to have my email address / phone number. If that’s the usage, why put anything there other than content I want to share and allow any one with an FB account to message me. 

Twitter has always been a distribution network. Anyone can follow me and peak into what I’m up to. This is nice but means I have to remain censored and never tell the whole story or risk some embarrassing consequences.

Path is a private network but I can’t back it up so, as far as I’m concerned, it’s worthless. 

LinkedIN has always served a purpose. It’s a resume, a stay-in-touch network and a way to discover what others are doing. It serves as a job finding tool when you need it so must be maintained. That’s the extent of it. Their news feed tools are worthless to me unless my aim is to perform another “distribution” of some content like a blog post.

The more things I do offline, the more I feel this desire to capture things offline. It’s like the majority of your friends don’t have Facebook accounts (still a case even today) and you have this great week with them and want to share photos. Well, there’s no point in uploading the photos to Facebook because they’re not even going to see them. Actually, in our narcissistic existence, if the people that matter to you the most will never see them, why even take the photos to begin with? 

The answer is memories and that’s why I continue to capture dialogues and moments on SD cards and hard drives. Backupify scrapes all of my networks into a single gigantic backup so social media is a way to ensure my moment gets backed up to the cloud OR it’s seen by as many strangers as possible.

As I get older, the desire to be seen / read / retweeted has dropped a lot. When you get the majority of your happiness from things experienced outside of a computer screen, the measurement you place on getting a comment on your Internet blog drops significantly. It’s why when I say / do something online that pisses people off, I no longer cry in a corner about it. I close the laptop lid and go outside and do things with friends. My blog’s comment board fills up more and more but I’m out having a great time. By the time I get up the next morning, what a troll said online has no more affect on me. It’s in the past and I had fun last night with friends. Life goes on.

I don’t even look at Twitter & Facebook anymore. Most of my friends who do great things and are actually my friends will call or email me when something important in their life is happening. I read The Times and New Yorker when I want to be informed. So, it’s not like my life is any less rich for not spending all day watching a stream of links. 

So, with all of this said and my effort to continue cataloguing moments while continuing to experience life away from the Internet, I’ve decided to find a solution that will enable me to capture each and every day in a tool that has rich backups to standard file formats (plain text / RTF) and, if something is truly important enough to share with 15,000+ strangers on my Internet profiles, I can do that. 

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Day One is an application that I discovered via Shawn Blanc’s blog. It’s an application that runs on Mac, iPad and iPhone. The total investment is $10 to run on all three devices. His review covers everything I would have written about the tool.

Starting today, I’ll no longer be posting photos to Facebook or Twitter or Path unless they really matter. Twitter will know I’m getting married or moving to a new place or denouncing my US citizenship but I’m going to try privately journaling. Sometimes, these journals may go on my blog. To those who only follow me on Twitter, not much will change. I’ve been minimalistically sharing things for the last year. 

I started writing Day One’s journal on my lunch break today and realized that I haven’t written a single word about my life that wasn’t syndicated since launching my first blog in early 1999. I have not recorded a single life moment that wasn’t shared with as many people as possible.

I believe that this has lead, for many of us, to a personality of impressionists and braggarts. I believe those of us born after 1980 need to spend more time impressing ourselves with what we actually achieve and not the Internet with a selection of moments intended to exude-awesome. 

So, I’m challenging myself today to journal what matters the most to a page that only I can read. My memories will be preserved minus the ROI metrics I place on syndication. There will still be tweets and my accounts won’t be deleted (mostly because I wish Path would eventually offer an export option) and I will still do things online that are defined as “social”. I’m just going to make a good attempt as journaling versus sharing. Maybe this will help my conscious make some more breakthroughs on becoming a better person versus applying enough filters to make the photo of a normal day look extravagant, expensive and “way more fun than your normal day”

Thanks for reading.