My Facebook Experience
I’ve been using Facebook for a few months now. I currently have 1,907 Facebook friends. I’ve been a fairly active user ever since I joined. I get new friend requests, comments, and emails there every day.
Overall I’m glad I joined Facebook. It takes extra time to keep up with it, and it can easily become a time sink if you aren’t judicious in how you use it. However, I’ve found it a good way to meet people with compatible interests.
I set things up so that whenever I update my Twitter status, it updates my Facebook status automatically. Also, if I make a new blog post, the link is automatically posted to my Twitter and Facebook accounts too. Facebook has an app that anyone can add to their account to do this. To set this up with Twitter, I used Twitterfeed. You only have to set these up once, and after that it’s all completely automated. Nice!
There are four primary ways I use Facebook now:
- Broadcast medium. I use Facebook as a broadcast medium via the auto-updates that appear when I post anything to my blog or my Twitter account. This is fully automated. This brings more readers to my blog posts. It gives people an extra outlet to keep up with my work.
- Gathering feedback. Facebook is another place where I receive general feedback (via comments posted on my Wall and Facebook email) as well as specific feedback about my Twitter updates and blog updates. Most of this feedback is pretty general (“great post”), but some of it has been helpful. The Facebook feedback is usually short and snappy, so it gives me a quick vibe on people’s reactions to a post. The feedback I get via email and the forums is usually much longer.
- Making new connections. I’ve met some pretty cool people on Facebook. This includes new friends (people I now keep in touch with regularly) as well as new business contacts. I’ve received a few interview requests and speaking invites via Facebook too. Facebook has been more beneficial as a business tool than Linkedin. My Linkedin account generates mostly spam and inappropriate requests and has been largely useless. Between the two, Facebook wins hands down for business networking.
- Maintaining existing connections. Some people prefer keeping in touch with me via Facebook instead of using regular email or phones. Some of my existing connections have strengthened with people who happen to be on Facebook. I think this is because my Facebook friends see my updates more frequently (vs. if they just subscribe to my blog feed or newsletter), so they think about me more often as a result.
The downside is that I can’t respond to all the feedback I get on Facebook, including the emails people send and the comments they post on my Wall. It’s just too much to keep up with it all. A few times people got upset when I didn’t reply to their questions, but I have to triage. However, I think most people understand that when you have nearly 2K Facebook friends, you can’t be equally responsive to everyone. If people think I can do that, their expectations are totally unrealistic.
Another thing I don’t have time for is getting involved with all the Facebook apps. Most of them are way too cutesy for me. I really don’t need people sending me virtual candies and such. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the sentiment behind it — but I just don’t have time for that sort of thing. I almost always decline requests that require me to add new apps to my account. If you want to send me extra love, just hold the intention in your thoughts, and I’ll receive it. No need to send me virtual snacks via Facebook. 🙂
I also decline all Facebook cause invites. People send me new ones every day. Again, it’s not that I don’t care about the fate of whales or polar bears. It’s just that I don’t have time to get involved in five new causes every day. I have to be more focused than that.
Spam hasn’t been a big problem for me on Facebook. When people start spamming me with too much junk (some Internet marketers have done this), I just unfriend them. Problem solved. If you spam me, I can guarantee you won’t be my friend for long. If you send me a message that says, “I know this looks like spam, but…” you’ll be unfriended before I read the rest of your message. I have zero tolerance for anything that looks like spam.
I normally accept all initial friend requests. The limit is currently 5,000 friends, so my account still has room for about 3K more friends. I thought about creating a separate fan page, but for now that seems unnecessary, and I don’t see what it would accomplish. Maybe if I hit the friend limit, I can consider it.
There is a lot of stuff in Facebook that is awfully cutesy and which seems totally pointless to me, so I simply ignore that stuff. When I stick with my core reason for using Facebook, which is to cultivate new compatible connections, it does fulfill that purpose quite well. Many people find me on Facebook because they see I’m friends with one of their friends. This has a rippling effect of expanding my Facebook network in interesting directions. For example, I frequently get new friend requests from other raw foodists because I’m friends with lots of other raw foodists there.
I’ve been using Twitter a bit longer than Facebook. I currently have 2,409 followers there, and I’ve posted 479 updates. On average I gain roughly one new Twitter follower per hour.
One thing that helped boost my follower join rate was adding my Twitter page to my signature in our discussion forums. If you regularly participate in any online forums, I highly recommend you do the same. Your signature links will appear on every post you’ve ever made (assuming the forum software is decent). People who find your old forum posts (such as via search engines) may start following you on Twitter if they like what you posted. This way your old posts are working for you. Be sure to also link your forum signature to your Facebook page if you want more Facebook friends.
Overall I like Twitter. I wish I adopted it earlier, since I’d have a lot more followers by now. Many bloggers who started using Twitter earlier have way more followers than I do.
Using Twitter doesn’t require much time at all if you’re disciplined, especially since my blog posts are automatically announced there. I have it set to announce Erin’s blog posts to my Twitter account as well. If I get a quick thought I want to share, it takes 30-60 seconds to post it on Twitter.
I use Twitter mainly as a broadcast medium. I don’t reply to all the questions and comments people send me there — that wouldn’t be a good use of my time. As with Facebook, a few people get upset when I don’t reply to them. I do reply to some people there, but replying to everyone who contacts me there is totally unrealistic.
People often send me cool links via Twitter, and I’ll occasionally re-tweet them or share them in our forums. Earlier today I shared a link to a heart-warming Youtube video (16:23) that someone sent me via Twitter this morning. If I get too busy, I don’t even look at the links people send me. I can’t keep up with all the links people email me either. If you send me a link, the odds are less than 50-50 that I’ll even look at it.
Even on Twitter I get a lot of people asking me to help them with certain causes. I appreciate the seriousness of some of these requests, but it’s just too much for me to get involved with this sort of thing. I do what I can now and then, but I can’t get behind every cause that crosses my plate.
While I don’t do a lot of out-linking from my blog posts — I feel it would add way too much clutter to the archives if I did — I often share cool links via Twitter. Those links may not be seen by as many people, but I think it’s a good compromise. I prefer to use my blog for sharing original content. If I want to pass on a link or share something timely, Twitter works well for that.
One of my favorite things to do on Twitter is to share interesting, inspiring, and/or challenging quotes. Sometimes I’ll tweet a famous quote I come across. Other times I’ll post a sentence or two from my book or my blog that I think people will find stimulating. I get some cool feedback on these quotes, so I think people like them. Again, all of these tweets are automatically posted to my Facebook account too.
The downside of adding Facebook and Twitter to my life is that it increased the flow of new connections coming into my life. At first this was great, but soon I started feeling over-socialized. I was forming more new connections than I could sustainably manage. Adding these new contacts is easy. Maintaining ongoing relationships with all of them is impossible.
In lieu of spending even more time answering emails and such, my most practical option was to raise my standards for the type of online socializing I would do. Otherwise I could spend all day on this stuff and never get any real work done.
Consequently, I’ve become much pickier about which connections and conversations I’ll get involved with personally vs. keeping my distance. This applies to my regular email as well as to forum discussions, Facebook feedback and emails, and Twitter responses.
This wasn’t easy to do. There were many people I felt deserved a response, so I constantly have to remind myself not to follow up on anything that doesn’t pass my pre-qual tests. I don’t always succeed, but I’m gradually getting better.
I admit I feel a bit guilty about all the stuff I have to let slide. But I can’t justify spending all day answering one-on-one feedback when I have more impactful things to do.
Even though I’ve added Twitter and Facebook to my life, I’m actually doing less online socializing than I used to. The reason is that the extra incoming communication made me more aware that it isn’t a good use of my time to over-socialize online. I quickly realized that in order to stay productive, I had to be more selective than ever.
Consequently, I’ve been letting some online-only friendships fall by the wayside if the compatibility connection just isn’t there. I’m letting a lot of emails go unanswered these days. In fact, many of them are now going unread. I used to read every email I received, but no longer. If people send me lengthy emails about their life stories and how my work has helped them, I used to love reading that stuff, but I can’t justify spending time on that anymore. It steals too much attention from other things. It’s unfortunate that some people will spend hours writing these long messages that will go unread. I’m grateful for the intent behind them, but I must be more careful in how I use my time. If I take the time to read those emails, I have to do less of something else.
Incidentally, if you’re considering sending me a long email in the near future, please don’t. I probably won’t have time to read it. I do appreciate the intent, however.
A big problem with online socializing is that it can become a crutch that crowds out face-to-face connections. I’d rather meet new people face-to-face as opposed to sitting in front of my computer typing emails. So I’m intentionally withdrawing from a lot of online socializing in order to free up more time for face-to-face interaction. I’m dropping the quantity, so I can raise the quality.
Ironically, the net benefit of adding Facebook and Twitter to my life is that they caused me to back off from online socializing and to become much more selective with socializing in general. The upside is that these services help me cast a wide net, so I have new potential connections coming into my life every day. Then I sift through the contents of that net with a pair of tweezers. I look for strong compatibilities, and when I find them, I follow up to see if there’s the potential for a deeper connection to be made. Sometimes this results in new friendships or business contacts, and other times it just fizzles.
Dealing with Rejection — When You’re the Rejecter
What I dislike most is that this approach requires me to “reject” more people than ever, usually by ignoring them or blowing them off. I still feel a bit guilty about this. But obviously this isn’t going away if I’m going to keep doing what I do. It will very likely continue to get worse.
Still, there’s an ongoing incongruity between my feelings and my reality that I haven’t yet resolved, and I dislike that very much. For years now I’ve been receiving more feedback than I can possibly respond to. And now I’ve ramped that up to an even greater level. Now I can’t even read it all. Logically I know that it’s unrealistic for me or anyone else to expect I can personally follow up with everyone who contacts me. So why do I still feel like everyone deserves a personal response? Why do I feel like I should do my best to maintain every online relationship I have, even though that’s totally impractical these days?
It feels rude to ignore people who take the time to keep in touch with me, especially those who genuinely want to connect or who offer encouragement and support. I think it’s very nice that such people take the time to email me. So how can I respond by ignoring them?
Something is messed up with my beliefs here. I’m looking at this situation from a disempowering perspective. I can see the truth logically, but I’m not feeling it emotionally. My heart just isn’t onboard with my brain’s solution. Some part of me is resisting the idea that possibly for the rest of my life, I’m always going to have to blow off people who reach out to connect with me. This includes saying no most of the time to people who ask for help (and need it).
When I switched to a 100% raw vegan diet this year, something strange happened to me energetically. There are lots of ways to describe it, but one way to explain it is that I used to have an imbalance where my power chakra was a lot more energetic than my heart and third-eye chakras. This year that imbalance has totally flip-flopped. In plain English, this means that my emotions and intuition keep bringing problems to my attention that at present, I lack the ability to solve in a way I feel good about. So I have a lot of motivation and drive to do certain things that I’m simply not able to do to my satisfaction. My solutions often make me feel worse than the problems they’re intended to solve.
This new imbalance has been causing me problems for several months now. On multiple occasions, I’ve acted on some of these heart-centered impulses, but the results weren’t so good. I’ve gone out of my way to help people in a few situations, but the results left me feeling empty and disappointed. This relates to some offline problems I’ve been tackling lately, i.e. stuff I’d never blog about due to the importance of protecting people’s privacy.
This Facebook/Twitter expansion seems like it might be another manifestation of this imbalance. Originally I felt motivated to join these services as a way to reach out and connect with more people. It certainly had that effect. But the side effect is that I now must reject more people than ever, which is the opposite of what I wanted. So yeah, you could say it’s a solution of a sort, but it’s not a solution that makes me feel totally good.
Ultimately in order to resolve these issues, I need to correct the energetic imbalances I’m experiencing. That may take some time though. It’s like whenever I take some kind of action now, I can feel the rippling consequences of it so deeply that I end up focusing too much on the negative side and not enough on the positive. It’s like my emotions and intuitive abilities have become over-energized and don’t know when to shut up.
On the many occasions when I have to blow people off, I wish they wouldn’t think their disappointment so loudly… cuz I can hear it, you know. It’s like constantly having one of those Obi Wan moments after Alderaan got Death Starred.
Update: After spending some years being active on social media, I quit Facebook and Twitter in July 2014. A year after that, I wrote One Year Without Social Media to share what it was like to drop social media.