Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Socially (un)acceptable?

I would broadly describe myself as a technophile. I like new technology and I spend at least as much if not more time than the average citizen online. And as these online activities start to take up more of my time, I find their integration of increasing benefit.

However, I’ve recently started to see where the integration should stop, an endpoint to it all, if you will.

For example, I like that I can post tweets and facebook updates from one to another and vice-versa on the go. I appreciate how my email is synced between the web, my laptop and smartphone. The way my diary is synced through online servers is a godsend. Earlier this morning I read about a new iPhone app that worked with foursquare by saving a list of your favourite destinations, and using geo-technology checked you in to these locations if you visited them, saving you the effort of having to pull out your phone and do it yourself if you couldn’t, or if you forgot. I thought this was a great idea, a great time and effort saver.

The more technically minded readers will all recognise this as Web 2.0, or cloud computing. How all our data and services are synced up to a central server or service allowing us to access all our information, all the time from wherever we are.

But the endpoint I mentioned earlier has also hit me almost like an e-piphany (see what I did there?).

I’ve seen the idea crop up repeatedly from a number of sources that “facebook is for all the friends you’ve made, twitter is for all the friends you should make”. It essentially says that people use facebook to communicate with the people they know, and twitter for the people they’d like to know. Well in that case do I really want constant cross integration between the two? Are the messages I post to one group the same messages I’d like, need or want the other group to see? Certainly not in my case.

Last night I participated in my weekly communications tweet chat – essentially a collection of like minded individuals who come together online and have a communications debate. Messages are exchanged for an hour at a relentless pace, and I certainly wouldn’t want my facebook friends news feeds clogged up with this. It would be like a foreign language and I’d lose them all as friends.

Nor do I appreciate foursquare and twitter linkages. They clog up my twitter stream and I find them irrelevant most of the time. Meanwhile, none of this should appear on linkedin. I can think of many more examples, but the point essentially is this: we’re using and integrating these online services to make our lives easier, but in doing so are we making others lives more difficult?

I think in some cases we are. For me it’s all about self concept, considering how our actions impact on others and how they see our actions from their frame of reference.

In the same way we (used) to be self conscious about how we use our online services and mobile phones in the presence of others in the real world (offline) I think we also need to take a step back and be a bit more self conscious about how we use our online services in the presence of others ONLINE.


  1. Hi Mahzer

    Great article and I agree with you totally.

    I constantly come across people who use Pingfm to upate across ALL networks with the same message - same goes for Friendfeed if not used wisely.

    TrueTwit to validate followers annoys me. I always look at who follows me and decide on each individual case as to whether I should follow back or not - I care about who follows me, they are precious to me and so I thank them individually and try build rapport.'Bots' & spammers can be blocked if required, its no big deal!

    I dislike auto follow-backs - makes me feel a number not a person & strongly detest automated 'thanks for following' messages too. Is it really so hard to look at someones profile & to appreciate the fact they may want to get to know me, read what I say and to thank them? 'Bots' not included of course.

    I recently had to change my settings to stop Foursquare constantly updating to Twitter. My friend @RobertWard saying quite rightly that it is annoying to see these updates in the Twitter timeline. Keep Foursquare in Foursquare and keep its originality and fun.

    I am a strong believer in 'quality'and in keeping originality. LinkedIn is business to business, Facebook is family & friends, Twitter is new relationships that could eventually fall into either of these 2.

    Our fast paced lives and the ever increasing number of applications & networks evolving means we too often look for a quick fix. As a result it can lose the personal touch and we can forget the very purpose for which they are there, and we are a part - which is to connect with meaning and build relationships.

    Quality over quantity, personalisation over generalisation, altruism over narcisism.

    Lesley Aveyard

  2. Hey Lesley,

    Thanks for the comment, and fully agree with you.

    Just seems to me that, as with everything, we're ruining this great communications tool (SM).

    It's going the way of email. Spam, junk mail etc etc. Companies are coming up with these twitspam tools just as CRM packages can now email spam your database.

    I will always keep my SM presence personal. Carefully screening my followers and following. I'd rather have 50 known followers than an extra 100 spam followers.

    A real shame.