Social Media: Stifle Yourself II

I briefly discussed my frustration with social media here about eighteen months ago. I can’t remember what specifically moved me to write that, but I clearly recall being annoyed while I typed. (The heat didn’t help; I was living in Houston at the time.) Regardless of what was happening then, one things remains true: the social media (over)saturation has only increased, and I don’t think it’s all been for the better.

Sure, I tweet. And have a Facebook page (now a “lovely” Timeline). And have satisfied the LinkedIn and Google+ requirements. And tumbleweed occasionally brushes past my space. (Yawn.) But for those of you who may be connected to me through those various avenues, you know that I’m not the most voracious user. The networks mentioned above are listed in order of activity. I’ll tweet a few times each week, but 99% of those are related to either blog updates or gigs and recordings. Occasionally I’ll tweet something separate, as I did on Sunday about the Charles Lloyd concert. Same goes for Facebook. The rest are pretty much parked to secure the name and satisfy my minimum requirements of existing and have a “friend”/connection. I’ll accept incoming requests, but rarely am I logged in or doing anything. I think I can safely say that my online presence is an abject failure, considering I never created a Tumblr and only recently joined SoundCloud (again, mainly to park).

In full disclosure, I am pretty active with Twitter and Facebook (aside from personal/private accounts), and do see their value. They’re interactive – allowing me to be more interactive via my site and blog – and are helpful tools for getting short bursts of information out to people. With social media in general, I try to stick to the core: information and interaction.

Since first securing michaelteager.com a number of years ago I intended for my website to serve as the hub. I still do. The main site and MT-Headed are where you can find all you need to know about Michael Teager the musician, teacher, and blogger/writer. All else is just a satellite, nothing more than a TIE Fighter to this Death Star. You won’t find much of anything different on the other sites, and that’s not unintentional.

A few months ago I was listening to Paul F. Tompkins discuss his social media presence on The Long Shot, and my jaw hit the ground when he said he’d like to trade in his main website for separate, equally active presences on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. It just doesn’t compute for me. Similarly, Spin magazine recently went über-hipster by focusing on album review tweets. Lame. Have our attention spans really become that short? Is general readership just that lazy? Or are so many figures and organizations so desperate to be on the “cutting edge” of social media that they’re willing to sacrifice part of their core platform in the process? (I fear it’s a combination of all three, with the latter taking the largest bulk of blame.) If someone’s interested, my hunch is that he or she will click the mouse or tap the screen. Perhaps more than once! If twice is too much, then perhaps a “fan” wasn’t really lost…

Perhaps my biggest complaint about social media in general is that with everyone gunning to get everyone’s attention at all times, there’s too much irrelevant information churned out each and every hour. After all, I’m subscribed to a whole host of outlets for updates on items of interest. However, to retrieve that information, I have to suffer through so much garbage that it’s often more trouble than it’s worth. It’s too Who cares?!? as opposed to Hey, that’s neat! I’m sure I spend at least 90% of my time deciding what not to read rather than what to click through to. (There’s a similar correlation to my nightly comb through my RSS subscriptions, but that’s more heavily curated.)

As mentioned, I do enjoy the interaction. However, not every tweet or update warrants a response from everyone else. Not everything requires a snarky comment (and this is coming from a snarky cynic). And not everyone needs to provide a Hallmark-esque comment for every holiday, award, or death of anyone above a D-list celebrity. Too much piffle leads me to likely ignore the more substantial updates and tweets. (Yes, I publicly grieved – digitally – for LeRoi Moore, George Carlin, and Peter Steele, but they are figures who’ve meant a lot to me over many years, especially the first two.)

If only Archie had lived long enough to tweet…

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