I use three social media networks – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. I blog too – so maybe that is a fourth channel.
Facebook is primarily for personal interests – keeping in touch with family in India and elsewhere, keeping track of what is happening in the world of dog shows and keeping in touch with friends from school. I have a handful of work peeps there, but that is just coincidence.
Linkedin is my address book for the most part – and for the most part, I use it to get a curated list of good reading material.
Twitter falls in between – I have no intentional personal/professional divide there. But if I am forced to categorize, it is skewed more towards work than personal.
For the most part – being active in social media has only been helpful to me both on work front and personal front. I used to think that they have very little in common though. Facebook keeps a conversation in one place, which is hard to do in twitter despite hashtags etc. Linkedin has been the least engaging for me – but that is because I don’t get into groups all that much despite signing up for a few. And twitter has been awesome for me despite all its flaws – except for a few people who just incessantly post famous(?) quotes, forcing me to unfollow them.
But as time progresses – I have realized that I was rather wrong in thinking they have not much in common. I think there are three common characteristics in social media irrespective of the specific channel .
1. “The last word is mine and mine alone” syndrome
There is an undeniable urge people have to always be the one who gets the last word in. It gets downright silly – and at least in my circles it is the same whichever way you segment (age, gender, education, country, or pretty much any thing you can use to divide a group into two). There is no denying that I have done it too.
In real life, more people try to make a point and walk away gracefully when they are heard. That is not “a thing” in social media. In social media – a good majority stay and fight every nitty gritty endlessly and ensure that the whole conversation goes south and all relationships sour. And then they rinse and repeat. It does not matter what the topic is – if they don’t get the last word, they will keep at it with absolute tenacity.
2. “I hate the current president” syndrome
It does not matter whether the president got elected democratically just like your guy did the last time – in social media, hate for the current president is perpetually a hot topic. While the tempo increases at election time (which is expected), it does not exactly go away after elections. Granted there is some election or other at any point .
If anyone had any doubts on whether the country is divided at a random point in time – just logon to FB and read for an hour. People – including some analysts that I think have the most balanced views on enterprise – have no sense of balance in their political beliefs.
Now I have lists of such people that I just mute for a few months around election time .
3. “God and Bill Gates loves or hates you depending on what you share” syndrome
About a fifth of all posts on my feeds in facebook are from people who share something saying god will punish you if you don’t share in next five minutes, or from people who are convinced that Bill Gates is going to send them a big fat check for sharing something about his software or his foundation. In fact – I think there is way more of these folks than there are Nigerians promising to make me rich via email. If you don’t believe that a sucker is born every minute – check face book. You can thank me later 🙂