So I began to think - do others censor themselves on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc.? The whole idea of Web 2.0 and social media is transparency
- but does that mean that you should say and post whatever you want? Or
because of the neverending/everlasting network that is the Internet, do
we need to be even more careful about what we say and post?
I'm not, myself, a big believer in total honesty in social interactions. When I ask someone how they are, it is only in rare cases that I'm actually interested in details. I don't want to hear about a casual acquaintance's digestive troubles, for example, or the bitterness of messy divorce in a grocery store line.
It is a fool, I think, who bares all to more than a small group of highly trustworthy individuals. In the increasingly generalized social media universe -- where FaceBook pages are attended not just by friends, but by relatives and old buddies from years passed and people who are, really, little more than casual passers by -- it would be nearly suicidal to not self-censor.
While lately I've been wondering if it's time to connect this blog to the rest of my life, every now and then I post something that would outrage people who know me -- only a trusted few of which are readers and occasional commentors. If I do abandon the shroud of anonymity -- and I likely will in the next few weeks -- this will become a very different blog. The reason is that I'll care more about what people who read it think, because those people will have an influence over my real life.
Self-censorship is, I think, an entirely necessary social function, whether one is using social media or not. We all know people who don't self-censor, and while they can be entertaining at parties I, personally, don't really like to stand to close to them. And I certainly don't tell them anything of consequence.
One of the appeals of Internet anonymity is that you don't have to self-censor, but as social media integrate into people's lives self-censorship will become, again, integral to social survival. That social media are part of the big, universally available, almost universally searchable web is one more reason to be careful.
Social media will inevitably need to develop levels of access. That is, FaceBook will have to allow not just friends, but best friends and secret friends and all the different kinds of friends each of us has in real life. This will allow us to self-censor in certain company, while mainting what has previously been known as intimacy in other. No matter what, in most circumstances some sort of self-censorship is an absolute necessity.
the practice of aggregating as many social media contacts as possible, substituting quantity for quality of contact
Even when I don't post updates on Twitter, I get several notices every day that someone I've never heard of is now following me. In my small Twitter universe, I am being followed by both Karl Rove and Splashhotties, which I think indicates quite a cultural range. Or, perhaps, that there are a lot of people out there who are doing the social media equivalent of SPAM. That is, they're following thousands of other people not because they're interested in what those people are doing but because they hope the people will do the same for them.
Call the practice slutting; it can be done for both commercial and non commercial purposes. That Splashhotties and Karl Rove, both running fairly sophisticated marketing programs, would want as many connections as they can get surprises me not at all. (And I have no illusions about how personal these communications are.) But there is also slutting going on among just regular folks. I have a friend who has a neice, and when I first signed up on Facebook my friend asked if I would "friend" her niece. I assumed the niece to be a plain-but-goodhearted gal as new to Facebook as I was, only to "friend" her and discover that she was a seemingly normal grown-up with a happy familiy and more than 600 Facebook friends.
The niece seems very nice, but she's keeping score. And that, my friends, is "slutting."
turns your Twitter list over to an automated chain-letter function,
guaranteeing you 15,000 disinterested followers in a couple of weeks
and, inevitably, turning Twitter into a generator of infinite,