On February 18th I gave up FaceBook for lent. To some of you, that would be no great hardship, but form me – let’s just say it was a wrench. You see, I love FaceBook. I am the (self-professed) ‘Queen of the Status’. I like to sit and ponder over the perfect one-liner for longer than is strictly necessary. It’s usually a gag of some sort but the main aim is to enable some kind of discussion. Because the replies are the best part.
But I was beginning to resent the growing mobile phone addiction that the constant FaceBooking was causing. Picking up my iPhone every thirty-five milliseconds, silently demanding, ‘entertain me, god-damn you!’, well it was becoming a problem. I was tiring of my constant need for instantaneous social stimulation. So it’s not that I’m some raving Catholic or anything (though I am a Catholic, just a horribly lapsed one), I simply gave it up for lent as I needed a break.
The trouble is, I didn’t promise to give up social media as a whole and now my many wasted hours on FaceBook have been replaced by many wasted hours on other social networking sites. But you see I understood the ins and outs of Facebook, the very minutiae of it’s workings (even being the complete technophobe I am, I only learnt how to do a screenshot the other day – and I’m forty-three years old); whereas with these ‘replacements’; sometimes I’m a little out of my depth…
Blog: I once undertook a travel blog a couple of years ago whilst on a month-long trip around Brazil, but after a long hard day on the beach, I often found writing it a bit of a bind. And in all honesty, I only started this blog as a means to an end. It was a way to lead people to my novel. But blog-writing has completely transcended that now – because I truly LOVE writing it. It’s kind of the same thing I was doing on Facebook, but at great length. It’s like a VERY public diary which is absolutely perfect for a bashful exhibitionist like me, ‘Look at me! Look at me! No, don’t look at me! Alright, do look at me but only for a few seconds! And then look away again!’. I don’t have terribly many followers and I don’t suppose it has helped to sell a single book but I don’t care! I’ve had traffic from all over the world coming to visit – I know, REAL strangers who say nice things when they aren’t really obliged to! It doesn’t get better than that!
Twitter: I’ve never been a huge fan of Twitter. I’ve always likened it to walking around your empty house shouting to yourself. There is very little response, little to no feedback. If you want instant social gratification, Twitter may not be your bag. Lately I’ve come to view it as more of a ‘gateway’ to other sites. Your Twitter account provides a pathway for your followers to your blog. And once you accept that, it’s more accessible. But don’t come to Twitter for debate, because you just won’t get one unless you like banal banter with yourself.
Tumblr: As far as I can ascertain, Tumblr is pretty much another kind of blog. I’ve signed up and got an account, posted a few bits and bobs and steered clear of it. I don’t have any followers but it did lead one person to my blog once, so I should be thankful for that.
Stumbleupon: Oh dear God, never have I been so lost. I’ve created my page, stuck a picture of my ugly mug on it and sometimes share my blog posts there. That too referred one person to the blog but I’ve no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve no followers. I’ve tried to ‘stumble upon’ things but I don’t appear to be following anything in spite of that *backs gingerly away from Stumbleupon*.
LinkedIn: My WordPress blog seems to think I might want to share things with LinkedIn but I fear this is just for business-people wanting to make connections with other business-people? And I think people hope to be head-hunted via their LinkedIn account..? (oh yes, nicely done, me – I think I’ve fooled people into thinking I know what I’m talking about. Yep, totally saved it there). But I’m not a business-person, so I can’t imagine this is for me.
Reddit: Or more affectionately known (by me) as ‘idontgeddit’. I’ve created my page, posted a couple of bits, no doubt, completely inappropriately, closed my eyes and hoped for the best. I got completely freaked out when it asked me what ‘subreddit’ category I wanted to post something under – so I submitted and ran away to hide under my rock again before somebody called me on it.
Pinterest: So you ‘pin’ stuff you see on the internet on your virtual ‘pin board’ and then you…no.
Google+: Now I love this site. I’d never heard of it a month ago but it’s my new fave (after blogging). I may be using it entirely inappropriately but the Google+ community seem very forgiving. It’s led me to some great blogs and in turn led others to my blog (and to a much lesser extent, to my novel). I believe +1ing something is akin to a ‘like’ on FaceBook. And I’ve, ooh, 18 or so followers? People re-share your posts and you re-share theirs. The traffic to my blog has greatly increased from visitors all over the world due to Google+. All the users seem extremely kind and supportive (even if I don’t deserve it) – so I would highly recommend Google+ if you haven’t ventured there already.
So I think I’ve very expertly navigated you through the muddy waters of social networking. Have we all learned something today? Yes, I think I was pretty darn adept at times (especially when covering Pinterest and Path, I excelled myself there). But don’t get me wrong, on the very dawning of Thursday 2nd April (end of lent), I will be back on FaceBook like a whippet chasing a stuffed toy rabbit out of the traps.