Browsing Tag: Social Media

    Social Media

    Social media still isn’t a good idea…

    October 7, 2018

    This is just a quick follow-up to my post from 10 days ago about frustration with what social media is doing to me, and to many of the people I follow.

    TIME magazine just had a good article touching on many similar points that I was trying to make.

    In his work, Van Bavel has found that tweets containing strong moral and emotional language, what he sums up as “moral outrage,” are about 20 percent more likely to get retweeted. This is correlated to the fact that politicians on the ideological extremes — be they Democratic or Republican — tend to have bigger followings than their moderate counterparts. “Taking strong, polarizing stances, that’s what gets rewarded,” Van Bavel says, describing President Donald Trump as “off the charts” in this department.

    And each time someone is affirmed by “likes” or new followers for a post, they’re trained to share the same kind of content in the future. “If bad behavior or provocative and angry and ranting tweets lead to more attention,” says Deb Roy, director of MIT’s Lab for Social Machines, “well, you’ve just incentivized that behavior on the platform.”

    If being deliberate and nuanced yields dispiriting crickets, it’s easy to see how users could get into a cycle in which they’re constantly trying to find things to get outraged about instead. Algorithms that select for popular content may be prioritizing and spreading the very types of posts that make people the most angry, says Yale psychologist Molly Crockett, and the social usefulness of outrage may be depleted in the process.

    My experiment — the one I explained in that recent post — is still being tweaked, but overall I think it’s a huge success and I’m really happy about the new approach I’m using on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I’m hoping to do an update post in the near future with some observations about what’s changed.

    Social Media

    Social Media isn’t a good idea anymore

    September 27, 2018

    Social media sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? You can chat with friends more easily than ever, get updates from family members, share baby and cat photos or root together for your favorite teams. Mark Zuckerberg has talked for years about “connecting the world” and “bringing the world closer together”, and it all sounds so wonderful. Twitter’s mission statement centers on free expression and how every voice can impact the world … and again, it all sounds so wonderful.

    But reality isn’t a mission statement, is it?

    Social media has divided us more than it’s brought us together. It’s where angry mobs have appointed themselves as society’s thought police and pat themselves on the back when they ruin someone else’s career (or life). It’s where Russian bots (and others) con us into believing the untrue. It’s where kids regularly get bullied. Social media lets us live in echo chambers and filter bubbles, getting our news from obviously one-sided sources like Breitbart or Daily Kos that foster the us-versus-them thinking that’s taught us to hate anyone with a different opinion. It’s destroying our democracy. When I scroll through my Twitter or Facebook streams, I see hate being spewed by people who preach love and intolerance from those who preach tolerance. I see hypocrisy everywhere, and by the way, I include myself in all this, too. I’m certain that I’ve contributed plenty to the mess that social media has become.

    Sure, social media has done Good Things, too. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the Arab Spring movement of 2010/2011, when protesters across North Africa and the Middle East used social media to coordinate their battle against political and economic repression and injustices. But even Wael Ghonim, who helped spark that revolution, has changed his tune about social media. In a 2015 Ted talk, he said “The same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.”

    I agree with him. The more I think about it — and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately — the more I realize that social media just isn’t a good idea.

    My Rules of the Road

    For the past two years or so, I’ve actually given myself a New Year’s resolution and followed through on it: Mute, block and unfollow aggressively. Twitter is my primary social media home and I regularly watch multiple accounts there, along with a couple curated Twitter Lists. To keep myself sane, I try to balance the amount of right- and left-wing activity. I’m constantly muting and unfollowing accounts — including long-time friends! — when my stream gets out of balance.

    I don’t use Facebook as often, but it’s my wife’s main social media home and the best way for me to see how her days are going. (Messenger is also often the quickest way for me to reach her if I have a question about something real estate-related that we’re working on.) And just like I do with Twitter, I’m regularly unfollowing or unfriending people on Facebook if my news feed gets too political in one direction or another. In fact, on Facebook I’m really stingy about even accepting friends requests — mainly out of fear that someone I like will turn out to be a different person on Facebook and ruin the experience when I’m there.

    Instagram? That one’s easy. I have but one rule: Post anything political and it’s over. I’ve unfollowed good friends after they’ve shared a photo related to their favorite president or candidate.

    Time for a Change

    All of this has been going on for years now, and I’ve been willing to put in the effort to manage my experience on each platform in a very hands on way. But I’ve decided that it’s too much work for too little reward.

    (Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to suggest what anyone else should or shouldn’t post. As long as you’re playing by the platform’s rules, post as much political stuff as you want. I’m saying that I no longer have the stomach for what it’s done to all of us as a group and to me individually.)

    Not only has social media become too much work, but I think it’s also done more harm than good. And not just the macro-level stuff I mentioned up above in the third paragraph; it’s done harm at the micro/personal level in my life, too. I’ve found myself arguing with and getting disappointed by my son for some of the content (inappropriate in my opinion) that he’s tweeted. I have friends whom I like less because of things they’ve said on social media — things that were hurtful to me or (IMO) ignorant or irresponsible. If you think it’s a mistake on my part that I’ve allowed social media to impact relationships that way, fair enough … you’re entitled to that opinion. But that’s how I’m wired, and it’s not easy to change inherent personality traits, is it?

    So I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to change how I use social media. But that decision creates a new problem. I’m a digital marketer. I can’t just walk away from social platforms — work-related responsibilities make that impossible. So for now, here’s what I’m going to try:

    • On Twitter, my @mattmcgee account will be used for broadcasting only. I’m going to unfollow all personal accounts that I follow. Some will be moved to the Twitter lists that I watch. I’ll continue to follow a limited number of “impersonal” accounts, like my favorite sports teams, music artists and industry accounts. I’ll be using Twitter lists even more, and actively filtering out any accounts — family, friend, you name it — that put noise in front of my eyes.
    • On Facebook, I’m tempted to delete my account and start over — to create a new account that only my wife and closest friends/family would know about. But I have a handful of groups that I’m active in, including real estate/work-related ones, so keeping my current account alive seems like the wisest choice. But like I’m doing on Twitter, I’ll be unfollowing the vast majority of friends/Pages/etc. that I’m connected to in the hopes of limiting what I see in my news feed.
    • On Instagram, I’m going to continue what I’ve been doing — i.e., unfriending any account that soils my timeline with politics and other garbage.

    I’m not trying to piss anyone off here or make you feel bad. It’s actually quite the opposite; I’m taking steps that I think will help me be a better friend and preserve relationships that are important to me. I’d never ask anyone else to change how they use social media — “you do you” and all that. Likewise, I hope you’ll let “me do me” and respect that this is something I feel I need to do. If things change a week from now, or a month or a year from now … whenever! … I’m open to re-friending, re-following and returning.

    In the meantime, if you need to reach me, you can still tweet at me. I may not see it right away, but I should see it at some point. If you’re not on Twitter, there’s always that old standby called email. If you don’t have my email address, try the Contact Matt link up above.

    Thanks for reading. Thanks for understanding. Be gentle with me … and with each other. We’re all in this together. Don’t forget that.

    Social Media

    Second thoughts on social media

    December 11, 2016
    (This guy would fit right in on Twitter these days.)

    Two weeks away from Twitter? Yep, I did that recently. It was two of the most enjoyable weeks of my life.

    Part of the hiatus was because I was out of the country on vacation with my wife, and even though we had plenty of internet access, family policy is that we don’t advertise when we’re traveling.

    But the hiatus was mainly because I’m growing tired of Twitter. When I get on Twitter, I see too much hate, hypocrisy and drama. I see too many people who think they’re funny, trying to crack snarky jokes at someone else’s expense. Too many people who claim to be tolerant, but have no respect for anyone who disagrees with them. Too many people who think they have all the answers and know what’s best for the rest of us. Too much smug self-righteousness.

    Yes, I know I’ve been guilty of some of those things in the past. And all of that is why, for now, I’ve had enough.

    I see a lot of the same things on Facebook, by the way, but at least there I can click “Hide This Post.” And to Facebook’s credit, it’s starting to understand what I want in my News Feed and what I don’t. I don’t see any of that on Instagram, thankfully, and that’s where I’ve been spending most of my social media time in the past few weeks. I’ve also been blogging more in this space — four posts in November! And one at the end of October!

    But as far as Twitter is concerned, I’m not reading as much, not tweeting as much, and when I do tweet, it’s mostly been for work-related content lately. I suspect that’ll continue.

    And based on what I described above about the stuff I see on Twitter, not to mention things like fake news, harassment, terrorist recruiting and so forth, I’m just not convinced social media is such a good idea.


    Oh Tweetbot, Sometimes You Make Twitter So Difficult

    December 12, 2012


    I really do love Tweetbot. I love it enough to spend $20 on a Twitter client, even when so many other Twitter clients — including the official one — are free.

    But it’s missing a couple key features that I loved in Tweetdeck, my previously preferred Twitter client. Tuesday’s events reminded me of one of those features: the ability to formulate a single tweet by clicking “reply” on multiple tweets.

    What happened is this: I got a promotion on Tuesday, being named Editor-In-Chief of both Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. And when the news was published, a ton of super awesome people used Twitter to send me congratulations. (Thx again, everyone!)

    There were so many tweets that sending individual replies just wasn’t feasible. I wanted to reply to everyone, but in Tweetbot, you can only reply to one tweet at a time.


    I started a reply to Drew Conrad, as you can see, and what I wanted to do was also click “reply” to Aaron Friedman’s tweet and have his username added to the tweet right after Drew’s name. And then click “reply” to Bryant Garvin and have his username added right after Drew and Aaron.

    You can do that in Tweetdeck, but not in Tweetbot. And that stinks.

    I had to go back to Tweetdeck so that I could easily reply to multiple people in a single tweet, like this:

    Another thing Tweetbot is missing (that Tweetdeck has) is the ability to schedule tweets in advance. It’s very basic in Tweetdeck, but it’s useful. Since that’s missing in Tweetbot, and with Buffer just launching some serious improvements, I might have to bite the bullet and upgrade to a paid Buffer account.

    But I still love Tweetbot, despite these two missing features.


    Pheed Sharing Settings: How Not to Set Defaults

    October 22, 2012

    An odd tweet showed up on my account tonight. It was a message saying that I had posted something on Pheed, a similar sharing/social network.

    And that did happen — I setup a new account on Pheed and did a test post to see what it looks like. But the automatic cross-post on Twitter was unexpected and annoying.

    When I created my account, Pheed walked me throught a few pages of account settings. But it didn’t show me the “sharing” settings, which the accidental tweet led me to find. And that’s when I noticed Pheed’s lame sharing settings had Twitter posting on by default … and also defaulted to signing me up for every email alert possible.



    Talk about annoying … this is how NOT to do default sharing settings.


    Google+: A Ghost Town in Our Mid-Sized Town

    September 16, 2012

    I’ll believe that Google+ is catching on when I can look at the “Nearby” circle and see content that’s newer than a day old.

    I took the screenshot below a couple nights ago. It’s not like the Tri-Cities is the middle of nowhere. We have 253,000 people in the metropolitan area (2010 census). We have a fast-growing airport that’s served by four airlines. We’re the 4th-biggest metro area in Washington state.

    And every time I check the “Nearby” circle on Google+, it’s a ghost town.