You’re on Facebook. You’re on Twitter. Maybe you’re on Tumblr or Posterous or Orkutz or any number of other places. Perhaps you have a blog. You even had a MySpace account before the tumbleweeds accumulated so high that you could no longer see the login box. You feel social, connected, important.
Now let me tell you why your social networking skills suck.
If you’re worried about who stopped following you on Twitter just so you can stop following them, you’re following people for the wrong reasons.
If you think every ‘like’ and comment on Facebook—or anywhere else for that matter—deserves a response, you’re ‘liking’ and commenting for all the wrong reasons.
If you think you should be thanked every single time you retweet something on Twitter, you’re retweeting for all the wrong reasons.
If you measure a connection’s worth by how many times a person has ‘lilked’ or commented or otherwise acknowledged something you did, you’re making those connections for all the wrong reasons.
If you stop following someone’s blog or stop commenting there—when you once did so regularly—simply because that person stopped following you or stopped commenting at your blog, then you’re following blogs and commenting on them for all the wrong reasons. Hell, for that matter you’re blogging for all the wrong reasons.
If you post a photo and feel let down when the praise and adulation doesn’t measure up to your expectations, you’re sharing your photography for all the wrong reasons.
If you wonder or try to investigate who’s gone every time your ‘friend’ count drops on Facebook, you’re sending or accepting friend requests for all the wrong reasons.
If you’re worried about who’s been viewing your profile, you have a profile for all the wrong reasons.
Now let me tell you why I know these things and why you should listen to me.
I’ve been around the internet far longer than most of you have. I remember when Mosaic was the only browser in town. Most of you have never heard of Mosaic and even fewer have ever seen or used it.
I remember when having an internet e-mail address was a privilege, when mostly no one even knew what an internet e-mail address was, much less what it might be worth.
I remember ARPANET before “internet” was even a word.
I remember when HTTP wasn’t a protocol and TCP/IP was highly unusual except in very specific circumstances.
I remember when the thought of stealing a photograph from a book and claiming it was your own or using it as if it was your own would have horrified and disgusted all reasonable and moral people.
I remember when Facebook was private.
I remember when you had to own your words and take responsibility for them.
I remember a year ago when I was quite active online, but then my circumstances changed dramatically, hence I was given a chance to stand back from the fray and watch it through my forced unpredictable and often extended absences. I came to see it as unimportant, a neat plaything, an ongoing conversation one could walk away from and reenter at will without feeling obligated in any way.
And that’s the point: The only obligation in the online world is to be yourself, not to measure worth by ‘likes’ and comments, not to quid pro quo every follow and every ‘unfollow’ and to seek acknowledgement for every little thing you do.
That’s right: your social networking skills suck, so either shape up or ship out. Nobody owes you anything. You’re not entitled. Get over yourself.
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This rant brought to you by the letter ‘a’—as in asshole—because I saw a comment on Facebook recently where someone said it pissed them off when they ‘liked’ a photo and subsequently received no gratitude from the person who posted the photo. Shame on you!