Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Perils of Social Networking Part 1: Where in the World am I?


Like a latter day Carmen Sandiego in the social media landscape, I often wonder "where in the world am I today?" This hit me last night as I was filling out my new profile on Mashable which I think I got, quite accidentally one day, by leaving a comment on one of Pete Cashmore's posts...

which I discovered last night around 1 a.m. (ok, early morning then) while googl'ing myself, and then felt some odd compulsion to keep filling out the forms...although I didn't customize my profile all that much. Just didn't have the intestinal fortitude to tinker with the MySpace-like interface...

Yet, just the other day, I was going through my card catalogue and looking up various social networking sites that had sent me pitches over the past year and I signed up for. This nostalgia came upon me after getting two requests to join from Quechup (and then this a.m. a notification that "someone" had been searching for me at Rapleaf--(will someone *please* tell me who that "someone" was??)

In my 4x6 index card catalogue, where I keep all my registration information in basic alphabetical categories, I discovered logins for stuff like:

  • Bloggoggle


  • and
  • the Speaker's Wiki (not nec. a social networking site--but I did update my profile a couple of months ago)


  • a number of logins to wikis or other kinds of sites for conferences


  • a whole host of newspaper website logins


  • Bloglines, Digg, reddit del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, and my never-updated MyBlogLog and Flickr accounts....


  • and the list goes on...and on...and on....

    on any particular day I could be more places online than I'd have time to visit if my entire day was dedicated to f2f social interaction.

    So, the question comes down to what do I really need out here? What can't I live without and why can't I live without it?....

    Currently, I make time for LinkedIn and Facebook--for lots of different reasons. I'm learning to like LinkedIn for that professional stuff. Some folks have found me on LinkedIn who haven't found me on Facebook (perhaps it's because they don't see a need for a Facebook profile?) And even though there are overlaps in my network, I wonder if the folks I know on Facebook are linked mostly because they like me, while the LinkedIn folks like me but also might see an advantage to having me as a professional connection (and not just someone who occasionally makes them laugh or pisses them off--dual nature, you know.)

    When things are professional, you don't necessarily care about the last book someone read or the music they're listening to right now. Maybe for some folks that's a consideration for hiring (really funny that Dave Weinberger and I have similar movie tastes, that is, according to the Facebook Flixster app...) but for many it's not as important as what someone's marketing or writing creds might be...

    Yes, I know...I can hear y'all saying that it might be a happier place if we were hired mostly on our hobbies and social habits rather than where we worked and how we got along there--but maybe we're asking far too much from our jobs and have far too little time for in our personal lives.

    And maybe that's what's all behind all this mad dash for the best new social networking tool--some strange need to combine our work lives and our personal lives into one seamless ball of constant phone calls and emails and questions about this or that thing that needs to get done yesterday...

    When maybe what we need is to learn appropriate boundaries between the work and the social that consist of more than just a week or two out of the year when we (try to) walk away from it all.

    Honestly, I love to socialize online--but it's important for me to keep track of where I am and I must have a reason (a why) for being there. I can't be in every single social network because "someone" was checking my online reputation, or there's some remote possibility that someone will find me there and hire me for something...

    In a sense, that reminds me of when I was young and figured if I hung out at the right New York nightclubs, somebody would "discover" me. Well, that obviously didn't work :-)

    So, it comes down to personal time and personal resources. I have limited amounts of both--which might become even more limited if I were working full-time at something unrelated to life online. So, it's important for me to carefully pick where my profile lands, and to perhaps Just Say No to some of these social networking sites.

    Further, there might even be a very good reason for Just Say No--that I don't want too much of me scattered and then abandoned across the vast landscape of the Internet. Mostly because I don't really know what might happen to Me if the site goes under. Sure, I've read the Terms of Service on each site--but do you think I have the capacity to remember them all? Yikes! I'm good with names and faces but Terms of Service are a bit of a stretch....

    So, it may come down to going in and deleting a number of superfluous social networking accounts, and not signing up for other social networking accounts if they appear to be superfluous. I'm not the Paris Hilton of the Internet and a totally full social networking dance card might actually keep me from doing the kinds of stuff that may create meaningful cash flow (which, right now, is rather low.)

    With social networking sites, there can certainly be too much of a good thing...and we will have to eventually decide for ourselves which of these things is the good one for us in our current social and career situations. If we let others tell us, we could end up not even knowing where--or who--we are on any given day.

    just my $.02....
    Update Chris Heuer notes and apologizes for any Quechup-related spam that may have got sent out under his name. Makes a very important point about ruining trust. Also see this on Quechup spam from Dwight Silverman.

    2 comments:

    Terry said...

    On Quechup, beware. A warning went out this morning that it sends out spam to everyone in your address book, tagged from you. Here's the specifics from Techblog:

    http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2007/09/spam_alert_just_say_no_to_quechup_1.html

    Tish Grier said...

    Thanks, Terry! here's the Techblog post on Quechup--and I'm putting this in as an "update" as well.