How I (Don’t) Use Social Media

This is an uncomfortable post to write. I’ve never wanted to use this blog to discuss personal issues and it feels very vain and self-important to describe some of my own personal habits and practices. But every time I’ve mentioned the things below people are intrigued and interested. Some people are even relieved to find someone else with some of the same practices. So here goes…

My personality strongly shapes my use of social media. I am introvert and an intensely private person. I am also learning in very profound ways what kinds of relationships I want in my life and I am working very hard to find and nurture them.

Specific ways in which my personality and interests shape my social media practices:

  • Facebook: I don’t use Facebook. Like most people my age (33), I was an avid Facebook user for several years. But I don’t use use it anymore unless I specifically receive an e-mail message or a personal request of some sort. I don’t dislike Facebook or people who use it. I simply reached the conclusion that it was not meeting my needs. I realized several months ago that I didn’t like reading about my friends’ and colleagues’ lives because it was unfulfilling. I don’t want to read about their lives – I want to be part of them. For me, it feels cheap and even a bit hollow to read about and see pictures from someone’s life when I want to be part of that life. Maybe it’s selfish but it’s important to me that we reinforce our relationships in substantial ways. I want to hear about your weekend over coffee, not Facebook. (And I never got anything out of Facebook as a scholar, student, or professional; maybe I just never looked in the right places for substantive information or support.)
  • Twitter: I don’t follow anyone. I typically use Tweetdeck and I have it set up to search for several hashtags and subjects of interest to me. It’s how I try to avoid the banality of Twitter: I don’t care what you had for breakfast but I do care if you have something to say about a passion we share.
  • LinkedIn: I don’t have a LinkedIn account. The idea of pure networking – meeting and “connecting” with people just to use them – is morally offensive to me. People are not means to ends and I refuse to use them in that manner. Yes, I’m sure that I’ve got a very skewed and probably incorrect perception of LinkedIn and how it’s used (e.g. I know some people love the discussion forums and get quite a bit of professional knowledge and support there). But I’m okay with that and with those who use LinkedIn; I just don’t think it’s for me.
  • FourSquare: I don’t have a smartphone so naturally I don’t use FourSquare or other similar tools. Even if I had a smartphone I don’t think I’d be comfortable broadcasting my physical location (although it would simply alternate between “work” and “home” most of the time). I don’t agree that “privacy is dead” but I think that we’re (often unwittingly) doing our damndest to kill it.

I’m not a Luddite or an antisocial recluse. I just have a very good idea what I want out of life and my relationships with others and I don’t care to use tools that don’t contribute to my life in the ways that I believe are positive. I know there is a price to be paid for a refusal to use these tools or an unusual usage of them. I’m okay with that.

Maybe you think I’m wrong or misguided. I’d love to hear from you! And I’d love it even more if we could spend time together substantively addressing and appreciating one another. So let’s not discuss this on my Facebook wall. Let’s discuss this over coffee, drinks, or dinner.

Yes, I know that’s unrealistic and we’re destined to have most of our conversations in blog comments, Twitter messages, e-mail, and – if we’re lucky – Skype. But a guy can dream, right?

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  • Joe Sabado

    Kevin,

    I do hope to meet you someday. Getting the chance to work with you, albeit virtually, gave me some sense of your perspective and it’s really refreshing. Straight to the point, no sugar coating, I like it!

    Joe

  • http://mistakengoal.com Kevin R. Guidry

    Thanks Joe! I’m not very good at “sugar-coating” things and I do prefer to communicate clearly and directly. However, that in no way implies a lack of empathy or sensitivity. I believe you can be honest and kind at the same time; at least I try to…

  • http://joesabado.com Joe Sabado

    Definitely – I saw that in your comments as we wrote that piece we are working on. One of the most apparent observations I had when I joined twitter was this “echo chamber” effect where majority of folks seem to be coming from the same perspective and I know that’s not the case, even in student affairs. That’s why I welcome a different way of perspective.

  • Tim Bounds

    It’s funny that you posted this since I’ve been working on a post about how I do use social media. My post is meant for people who are new to this and haven’t yet been able to get past the idea that all you share is what you had for lunch. But since I’m sure you understand how social media can be used, you have very good reasons for not doing so. I’ll be sure to include a link to this post as a counter to any argument I make. Thanks.

  • http://www.arcanys.com outsourcing company

    This is a shocking/controversial post for social media users. But I must admit you sure have an interesting and unique way of viewing things. Clever candid.

  • http://lesliedare.com Leslie Dare

    Kevin — This is a great post. Like Tim, and likely others as well, I too have had a draft post on this same topic. I now feel motivated to finish and publish. I think you will have started something of a meme with this post! And, to Joe: I can confirm (having worked with Kevin in person) that he is indeed very good at showing both his opinion and empathy at the same time.

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  • Eric Teske

    As long as you realize the majority of students use social media in a very different way than you do, you are certainly entitled to your own preferences. However, there is something to be said for trying to understand how and why students use this technology so we can meet them where they are. If students prefer filling out evaluations on Twitter, for example, we should be knowledgeable enough to make it happen, rather than shying away for personal reasons. Again, nothing against your personal preferences, I’m just talking about a social media literacy for being able to work with students.

  • http://mistakengoal.com Kevin R. Guidry

    Eric, I don’t think most people use social media the way I use it, much less students. :) You’re absolutely right that regardless of our own practices and preferences we must keep an eye on how students (and others) are using these tools. That’s why I pay a lot of attention to the wonderful research aimed at youths and teens, both the quantitative stuff such as the Pew Internet & American Life Project surveys and the qualitative stuff like the ethnographic work documented in “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.” I despair at the divide between higher education and our peers that teach K-12 because we often miss out on the research that deals with “their” students even though those same students soon become “our” students.