Friday, April 30, 2010

Social studies

I guess it should come as no surprise, but I find that I'm not typical in my social media habits. I've known that for a while --I first got clued in when I realized no one else follows my rule that I don't friend anyone on Facebook who I haven't friended, or at least met, in real life.

But now that I've been blogging and playing around with Twitter for a bit, I see that my ideas for how to make social media tools useful to me aren't the popularly accepted ones. It's kind of heretical to admit, but I don't want as many friends/followers/fans or whatever as I can get. And I don't want to follow every interesting person or blog I run across. Because it's just TOO MUCH. I can't pay attention to hundreds of people, no matter how fascinating they are.

The usefulness to me of Twitter, in particular, seems tied to being discriminating. I love how I can get glimpses into the lives of authors, editors, librarians and others I admire on Twitter. I like getting tips about a publisher opening to submissions or an editor changing jobs or books getting awards. I especially like getting a feel for editors' personalities and tastes.

I can do all that only because I limit how many people I'm listening to. I don't understand how people with hundreds or even thousands of connections keep up with any of them, even with the help of organizational tools and filters. My real-life friends who are busiest on Facebook hardly ever see my posts because they're lost among the hundreds of posts by their virtual friends. So why should I bother trying to communicate with them that way?

A social media professional I spoke with compared the social media world to being at a big party where there are lots of interesting conversations going on at once. She said you can decide which ones to join. But to me, the din of all those people talking and the effort of trying to figure out which conversations might be worthwile keep me from paying attention to any of them. (This imagery is getting away from me. I now have a picture in my head of me at a lively party, except I'm the old lady in the corner with a hearing trumpet, saying, "Eh? What's that?")

Call me old-fashioned if you will. But for now, I think I'll keep my social media involvement rather narrowly focused. That way, it's useful but isn't a major suck on my time.