I’ve been running across more complaints of “social media fatigue” of late. I suppose it runs in cycles. With Google+ arriving on the scene, complaints began to pick up before things settled back down. Now, with Lori Andrews’ opinion piece in Feb. 4, 2012 of The New York Times, many people are learning what they probably already knew intuitively — that Facebook’s inventory of data on all of us is vast and detailed…and we are not going to see it any time soon. On top of any fatigue you might have experienced, does this make you want to jettison? Don’t bother. Be informed and adapt.
With the enhanced data management and targeted approaches we see with Facebook and other sites, being conscious of how you participate is something you should do daily. Crafting and developing one’s online presence is something seasoned forum participants have been doing for years. While owning their words, and on many occasions having to rise to defend to them, forum members have honed skills that serve them in all social media settings today. In particular, they have learned that various forums can have wildly different standards of accepted behavior. So they adapt their content and tone accordingly.
Your “social” presence is now currency, both for advertisers and for you. Since you currently have little control over the data that is culled from your activities online, assume everything is public and for the taking. Err on the side of “1984,” with all your posts and pictures available for potential employers, mortgage officers, the I.R.S., and law enforcement officials to review — and then decide if how you participate on social media sites could compromise you. Then relax and go about your business, because the “Internet” you knew from a decade ago, even a couple of years ago, is gone. Forever.
Where it was once touted as a way to quickly access a vast repository of the world’s knowledge, the focus has now permanently shifted to the people who use the Internet. “Liking” something is now one of several idiosyncratic bifurcations which end up quantifying you for the people who are actually paying for the Internet. You are not blithely logging in and typing a missive. You are reinforcing your demographics and affiliations, your race, class, level of education, and buying power. This is the Internet. And this is how it will continue to get monetized.
Fatigued? Get over it. The walls are coming down and who you are online is being defined for you, like it or not. Push back by being informed. Adapting doesn’t mean being complacent, just opening your eyes and proceeding with caution.