UPDATED November 25, 2016: This is a post I made on my personal Facebook wall earlier this year. I'm posting it here so I can refer back to this post sometimes. For those of you don't know me personally, feel free to follow me on what is going to be my main Facebook page from now on: Debbie Ridpath Ohi on Facebook.
Hi all! As some of you know, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love that it enables me to keep in touch with some of my friends, groups and online communities I care about, connect with people I meet at various conferences and meet-ups. However, I am finding it more and more difficult to keep up with everyone I'm connected with on this Personal account because I've been using my Personal FB feed as my main feed.
It's my fault, I know! Some of you only accept FB friends from people you know well personally and have met in person. I tried to do that in the beginning, but then I started to go to more work-related conferences and began to meet people I really liked and wanted to keep in touch with. Either they would send a FB friend request or I would. I’d also get FB friend requests from people who have been following my blogs or comics online for many years, before Facebook, with whom I had corresponded but have never met. Sometimes I’d get requests from people whose names sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn’t quite remember (I am very very bad with names) so I’d message them to try to figure out the context without insulting them (“Could you please remind me how we’ve met?”) and that often spun into conversations which, though they might be enjoyable, began taking up more and more time. So I started accepting FB friend requests from anyone as long as we had some mutual FB friends; looking at the list of these mutual friends automatically told me whether they were from the kidlit/YA community, board gaming community, filker community, my old college friends, my old Inkspot days when I was a freelance writer, etc.
GOAL # 1 OVER THE COMING YEAR:
Rethink how I’m using social media. Facebook is the biggest time suck and most negative experience for me, mainly because I always feel like I’m behind, never able to keep up with posts from closer friends and family, and my feed is full of posts from people I don’t know personally. My message inbox (IT DRIVES ME CRAZY THAT FB DOESN’T LET US TURN OFF OR FILTER OUR MESSAGE INBOXES) is always overflowing with group messages and people I don’t really know asking me for favours, or mass promo mailings. More personal messages get lost, which is why I discourage my friends from relying on FB messages as a way to reach me.
I used to always post a happy birthday message to anyone on my friends’ list who had a birthday and came up in my “these are your friends who have a birthday” feed. It was easy, just a short message. BUT then one day before I did my usual “happy birthday, xxx” post, I realized that the name sounded familiar because I had seen sad news about that person on Twitter. I did more investigating and sure enough, the person (whom I did not know but was familiar with because of his posts) had DIED a few days before. Yet people were still posting “Happy birthday, xxx!” messages on his FB wall, but these were interspersed with condolence messages from those who actually knew this person.
I was horrified.
I stopped my automatic birthday message posting after that, and tried to only post if I knew the person and after I checked their FB wall to find out what was going on their life and see if my message was appropriate or not.
I also started thinking hard about how I was using FB.
I'm going to gradually go through my Friends list on my personal account and prune. If we interacted a long time ago but don't anymore, you probably won't even notice that we're no longer FB friends. My posts on my personal account are all public, so you still have the option of reading them. I'm probably not reading yours right now anyway because I have too many strangers on my FB Friends list (hence the need to prune). Just being on each other's FB Friends list is not networking, if we never interact or read each other's posts.
I’m going to use my Author/Illustrator account more often for posting art, writing, my mini book reviews, giveaways and comics. If you and I tend to only interact at conferences, I will likely opt to follow your Page instead of being FB friends. If you are someone who uses FB messaging to add me to group lists without my permission or sends me promo mailings via FB messages, I will probably also remove you from my personal connections.
Right now my personal FB Friends list is at 4832. Which is CRAZY, for a personal account. The limit on personal FB accounts is 5000. Once I hit that limit, people will no longer be able to send me FB friend requests. I hate the idea of personal friends not being able to connect with me on FB while I know there are thousands of people on my list who don't know me except that I'm a friend of <insert kidlit person here>. Or maybe they met me once at a conference years ago, but we rarely interact anymore. Connections and friendships change; there is a natural ebb and flow.
My ultimate goal is to be able to get my personal FB feed back to what it should be, and using my FB Author/Illustrator Page for sharing content with and connecting mainly with those interested in my art, writing and book-related posts. It will NOT just be for promo or business-related content. I will be posting my doodles, found object art, writing about my office stationery obsessions, what I'm reading and enjoying, highlighting children's book writers and illustrators, doing book and doodle giveaways, talking about creative process and more.
I originally posted this on Facebook but have also posted it here so I can refer to it from time to time. If I get questions about why I’m changing the way I use FB, I will point them to that post. There will be ruffled feathers and awkwardness, I’m sure, which is why I’ve postponed doing this for so long.
Thanks in advance for understanding, and for reading this far. :-)
p.s. I am NOT saying this is what everyone should do. As I mention in my social media workshops, I strongly believe there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY to use social media. I also don't believe everyone HAS to use social media. You have to find out what works for you. If you find yourself repeatedly spending an hour or more on FB just to feel drained or frustrated or demoralized by the end, I encourage YOU to rethink how you use social media. Even just cutting back your social media time (sometimes I actually set a timer) can help. Speaking of which, I'm shutting down FB now so I can do some writing....