Does Social Media Qualify as a Deliberate Input?

Yes and no. You, as the user of social media, have to make it high quality, so it becomes a ‘yes.’ If not, as a social media ‘reader’ you are being influenced however a particular platform organically happens, and you’re leaving its inherent ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to chance.

(If you don’t use or care about social media, feel free to skip the rest of this post.)

If you are a social media user, you may have noticed that it was missing from my list of Deliberate Inputs shared two days ago. That too, was deliberate on my part, for I’m currently re-thinking my own time given to using social media, and I’m in the process of tweaking the accounts I do use. One by one, I’m slowly questioning and reviewing all of them, starting with the ones you see linked for you up in my Talking Story header (LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter). It’s turning out to be a longer process than I’d anticipated, however it’s good to discard auto-pilot regularly, question your habits, and think these things through.

You remember that bit about habits don’t you? (The Riddle.) You are your habits, so make them good!

At the bare minimum, ‘tweaking usage’ in social media means two things to me: How I listen at a platform, and how I speak up (updates).

You may recall this starting for me back in July, when I removed the Managing with Aloha group from LinkedIn, and took a digital holiday (I’ve actually been taking several of those holidays!) As of this writing, LinkedIn is simply an online business card I’m keeping current for others who might look for me there, and nothing else; I’m not actively using it in any meaningful way. I do continue to update Tumblr, Twitter, and Flickr.


And then there’s social media’s newest darling, Google+: A good amount of cheering can be heard from its growing legion of fans. VC Fred Wilson for one, has written “Why I’m Rooting For Google+”. The whole Circles thing is intriguing to me as opposed to ‘friending’ (more on that momentarily), and to those of you who have sent me invites, mahalo — please know they are on hold for me, for I don’t want to jump into a new ballgame until I’ve done the sorting out of my old ones as I’m about to explain. While I’m on the subject of account choices, I still don’t use Facebook, and I’m not planning to.

Social Media requires deliberate intention

First of all, we users have to understand that free social media platforms aren’t actually free: We may not pay for them with currency, but we do pay with our clicks and updates. Here’s a short post by Marco Arment commenting on Twitter, where he explains that users shape developer ad targets: We aren’t a platform’s customer. We’re their research team.

Adding ‘apps’ to the mix, is another way we might use a platform with someone else’s influence added onto it as another layer” However, as Patrick Rhone asks here: Isn’t the web enough? In my own usage I’ve discarded the apps I’d tried out before (an example would be Hootsuite for Twitter), and gone back to a web-only/platform-pure practice, using my smartphone apps only when I travel (or for other reasons that aren’t connected to social media: Killer Apps).

The arguments can be made: “But I like the social conversations, and the online stretch across geographic boundaries.” And, “Isn’t the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ timely, and thus something I should pay attention to?” Social for social sake is very valid: I wonder about those things too, not wanting to levy my judgments too quickly, particularly in regard to crowd-sourcing (for as you know, I prefer face-to-face or voice-to-voice conversations, and talking story here on the blog). Twitter in particular, handily beats most news media in alerting me of events as they happen. And I readily admit there’s an element of pure play with social media, which is certainly not a bad thing. Stowe Boyd once said, “Twitter is about hope and love, although the casual observer might miss that completely.”

So, let’s get that hope and love, and the deliberate optimism of positive expectancy. We, as users, can tweak our usage enough to make it truly useful and relevant to our more fervent interests: We can program social media to be deliberate versus distracting (or distressing). There is no doubt that social media can be incendiary: So what kind of fire does it start for you, and are you okay with the burn of that fire?

For instance, one way I believe social media ‘programming’ to be broken, and horribly so, is with ‘friending’ and ‘following.’ In my opinion, both words have been tarnished within the framing of social media, for they’ve become quite the numbers game, and are more about marketing, broadcasting, and a dysfunctional attempt at branding visibility (i.e. manufacturing popularity perceptions.) So within my current tweaking, I’ve largely discarded the ‘friending’ association of following in favor of better curation instead, so my social media streaming will influence me in the best possible way when I am reading those streams, and listening in. As Maria Popova (aka the brain picker) explains:

Twitter is quickly evolving into a superb way to discover fascinating content you normally wouldn’t have, by following interesting people who tweet with great editorial curation. The key, of course, is exercising your own curatory judgment in identifying said interesting people.

I feel the same way about Tumblr (listening), and continue to love using Ho‘ohana Aloha for my finds (speaking up) when Twitter’s 140 characters just won’t do.

So to wrap this up, if you think of yourself as one of my friends — in what the word is supposed to actually mean — and I’m not following you, please don’t be offended, for I’m no longer associating my friendships with social media, but with interesting curation, following (and un-following) in a way which may seem random to you: Don’t read anything into it, for even I can’t adequately explain the roads I travel when my value of ‘Ike loa kicks into high gear! I just slip-slide into that slick rabbit hole of joyful learning and enjoy the journey.

Play is Serious Business

I’m trying to speak up in a more interesting way of ‘editorial curation’ for others too, and tweet or tumble what I think will be interesting to anyone following me. If you follow me, and I haven’t followed back, it’s because I just can’t keep up with the numbers game on social media, nor do I want to. You’ll have to get my attention in another way (and that usually happens with great conversation.) I demand the same from myself, and do not expect followership from you simply as reciprocity, for at its best, following is not a passive activity, is it. I love playing around with numerology and measurement, but social media is not a factor in that study, not for me.

Any more thoughts on this?
Let’s talk story… I was thinking the weekend was the best time, if any.

We talked about learning curation last summer too, quite the delicious concept… I wonder what it is about these 3rd quarter months that triggers it.

And as a postscript… might there be such a thing as an unlearning curation? This gem was on my Tumblr dashboard this morning (hattip Tanmay Vora):

“Creating a ‘learning organization’ is only half the solution. Just as important is creating an ‘unlearning organization’. To create the future, a company must unlearn at least some of its past. We’re all familiar with ‘learning curve’, but what about the ‘forgetting curve’ ”“ the rate at which a company can unlearn those habits that hinder future success?”
~ Dr. C. K. Prahalad

Good Morning Austin
Good Morning Austin by Thomas Hawk, on Flickr


  1. says

    Hello Rosa, you echo so many of my thoughts and practices here, but I’m grateful to you for writing them out so coherently!

    I use Twitter really for those random moments of hope, love and humour and get a lot from that. I also like some of the random links and new blogs I find from it. I don’t think at all about reciprocity though, and follow only those whose content I enjoy for whatever random reason it might be, to me. I also reduced those I followed from over 2000 to about 400 over the summer, and it transformed my experience (I had been ready to give it up).

    Facebook I use barely at all – but there are people who I know might like my writing / photos who wouldn’t otherwise find them – I think it depends who your readers / customers might be – it can be a choice / practice you make for others rather than yourself – and it doesn’t eat time (for me anyway)

    Google plus is a mystery to me. I had been optimistic about the circle possibilities but I have to confess I’ve stopped using it for now. I don’t find I want to read the updates / links of those I read there and don’t have the inclination to find new people – I already have enough interesting people and content via my feed reader and twitter – I simply don’t want or need any more. I think those who sing its praises are primarily those who are fleeing their own practices on other platforms, and couldn’t hear themselves think because of the noise.

    One of the plus sides of the social media fatigue so many people have mentioned this summer after the arrival of google plus – it points us back to our blogs. Blogs still remain the best place to express thoughts, and engage in conversation.

    Talking story even :-)

    • Rosa Say says

      Yes Joanna, let’s return to the blogs! I know we’re likeminded in that way, and wonderfully so. You’ve always inspired me in the way you focus on commenting — you elevate conversations in such marvelous ways.

      I do have a Facebook account, initially to simply ‘park my name’ there as toe-dipping, and then strictly for family — it was the only social media outpost many of them were on. But the noise from their ‘friending’ and random conversations grew to be such an irritation that I turned all the notifications off, posted a ‘heads up’ kind of notification on my wall that it was inactive, and now ignore it, feeling that my readers, partnership prospects, customers, friends and family do easily find me and contact me in other ways.

      People have encouraged me to take the Google+ plunge, saying, “just give it a weekend, for that’s all it takes to get started.” but I think about another adage — “don’t start what you can’t finish” (and then maintain well), and I keep it in my Someday/Maybe queue. Bottom line for me is simply, do I really need this, or want this now? and the answer has been no, I don’t.

      Now Twitter” oh Twitter. I need to shift my current experience there as you have, and it’s a slow process where I’m using private lists right now to help me make that shift. Like you, I do enjoy Twitter, and for several reasons. However… I’ve noticed that a poorer quality stream can turn me into a broadcaster there and little more, and I want to return to conversing, and talking story there too — another way you set a magnificent example Joanna!

  2. Rosa Say says

    About that decision I had made to ‘park my name’ on Facebook:

    At first, it was because I seemed to need an account to read the other accounts there (it may be different now, not sure). Links would come in to my blog from Facebook, but I couldn’t follow them to thank the originator without having an account of my own and causing those magic IP cookies to work.

    Then I kept it parked for reasons similar to what author Robert Fulghum explains here much more eloquently than I can without sounding awfully self-absorbed (for he is much, much better known than I!):

    A Letter to Friends – An Apology
    It has been brought to my attention that Robert Fulghum is on Facebook.
    I didn’t know that…

    So at this point in time, while I cannot claim the same digital ‘blessed ignorance’ that Fulghum does, my Facebook parking remains a preemptive strike of sorts, best I can presently manage.

  3. says

    Oh there are lots of lessons in that piece Rosa thanks for pointing me towards it!

    “It’s the only way I can keep the outgoing thoughts going out.”

    Absolutely – and if we lose that part we’re snookered.