Just when you relax and think social media is your friend, it knifes you in the back. Sure, social media makes like more convenient. Even as an old guy I can see that. But you can never let your guard down. Like real life, you’d better watch who you associate with. I’m going to beat around the bush and ramble a little before getting to the main point. First let me review:
Facebook: I have lots of friends. It’s easy to keep up with what everyone is doing with a quick scroll. All my Twitter posts (mostly jokes) also post on Facebook. Sometimes I’ll also post my Instagram posts on Facebook, if I’m in a generous mood. Perhaps I should wish people happy birthday on Facebook, but I rarely do. If I really cared, I’d call them or send them something more personal. I also rarely like other’s posts. I’d rather keep as low a profile as possible. I’m weird that way.
Instagram: I have fewer followers, and follow fewer people. Less scrolling. People post pictures of other people, and themselves. I admit, I’m more of a loner. I consider Instagram a place I can be creative, posting interesting pictures. I’m tempted to post pictures of bobbleheads and shoes, and ballparks I visit. I try to be me.
Twitter: again, I don’t follow many. A place to get Braves info from beat writer Dave O’Brien, a little politics from a radio host (I forget his name). Christian insight from Andy, Louie, and a few others. Old school sports photographs. My NBA friend. And a few funny people: Steve Martin, Conan O’Brien, a few professional comedy writers, and a few other funny people I’ve met along the way.
Occasionally I will retweet someone I know. Before retweeting someone I’m not familiar with, I’ll click on their account and check them out. Sometimes the stranger is profane, and I won’t retweet. Sometimes someone’s retweet isn’t really something I like seeing on my Twitter feed.
A few years ago I joined a bobblehead group on Facebook. The great thing is that all my regular friends don’t have to put up with all my bobblehead posts. A few of my bobblehead friends have become regular friends: we’re comfortable sharing our lives with each other. Being friends helps up better communicate with each other. Some of these “friendships” have also bled over to Instagram and Twitter. Some are Christians. Some aren’t. One is agnostic. I’d like to think relationships like these could lead to conversations about God.
Any time you connect with someone, you learn more about them. Some constantly post political rants. Some like photos and accounts you’d rather not see. One bobblehead acquaintance asked to connect with me, so now I see his bobbhehead posts on my feed. That’s ok. There’s a separate “suggestion” section where you see posts that people you’re connected with like. Distant relatives, if you will. Here I’ve noticed this bobblehead dude liking accounts I’d rather not be associated with.
On Instragram these likes don’t show on my main feed – but on Twitter they do. So what I like shows on the feeds of the people that follow me. Whereas Facebook exists the masses, youngsters theses days spend more time on Instagram and Snapchat. Twitter seems caught in the middle. People made up accounts and connected with me, but it seems like many might spend more time on Facebook or Instagram (but what do I know). Still I know from occasional likes that a few close friends are still on Twitter: Don, Lang, Rob, Travis, and Bill and his wife to name a few. Not sure about my kids and their cousins.
Follow a lot of people, and don’t check your Twitter for a while, and you “miss” a lot. Not sure if others take the time to scroll through everything they miss. Seems like a tough task when you follow a couple hundred people (I only follow fifty, and my feed is cluttered).
As you scroll Twitter and Facebook on your phone, if you’re not careful you might “like” something by accident. Most of the time that’s not the worst thing – everyone likes to get likes. But you might accidentally like someone’s political post you disagree with. Or something worse. And if you like something on Facebook or Twitter – even if you immediately “unlike” it, that record of your like is out there for all to see. So you’d better be careful. That’s what happened to me.
I check Facebook and Instagram more than I check Twitter. But Sunday while cooking I was checking Twitter, scrolling down my feed. At one point I set my phone down on the counter while I tended to the panini press. Then I reached over for my phone. My thumb hit the display, and I noticed I had swiped a photograph, changing the screen. I swiped back. To my horror, someone I barely knew had liked an obscene photograph or video or something, and my thumb had hit the like button. Just great.
I quickly unliked it. I’d never seen someone like something that obscene on my feed. The fault was mine, for several reasons. For not being careful, for sure. But mostly for associating with strangers in an unsafe place. What could I do? Who saw that I liked it?
Later I noticed my follower total had decreased by one person. I’m not sure who. I looked at my 103 followers, for the first time in a long time. Who are they? I listed them, and realized I didn’t know two-thirds of them – 60-70 people.
What about the people I follow, whose content (and likes) I allow on my feed? How well do I know them? I purposely follow people of both political persuasions, both Christians and non-Christians. For the most part I know where they are coming from, what they bring to the table, and take it with a grain of salt. On some I like to read people’s reactions to their posts, to see if people are agreeing, challenging them, or just hollering at them.
Is all this worth spending time on social media? You know, some people aren't on social media. They seem to be doing just fine. A question for another day. But if you unfortunately received an eyeful because of me, I sincerely apologize. I was wrong. Know that I feel terrible. I have to be more careful in the future – especially who I allow in to my social media circle.