See ya later, Facebook friends

When you’re young, you sling around all of those quotes about what makes a real friend… someone who is honest, loyal, has your back, will shut down rumors about you, will laugh with you and cry with you… and as you get older, you somehow narrow down your “friends” and realize who those people truly are.

Psychology Today reports “Dunbar’s number,” proposed by anthropologist Robin Dunbar in 1992, is a commonly used assessment of the number of relationships we are cognitively capable of keeping straight; that number is 150.” Whereas, a Huffington Post study shows that most americans just have 2 close friends.

So, in looking at these numbers, I see that I have 598 Facebook friends (189 fewer than 2 weeks ago). Apparently only 2 of these are close friends and only 150 of them are real relationships. The latter number is the one I will put more weight on, because I know which of my Facebook friends are my “close” friends. I started thinking about this topic after reading a blog post by one of my graduate professors regarding unfriending on Facebook. Dr. McArthur claims that unfriending leaves a mark… but I have to wonder, does it really?

I bet more than half of the people I unfriended over the past 2 weeks haven’t even realized it yet. It started when I saw someone post about a TV show they were dying to see that night and said “SOA kant kum soon enuf!” It probably wouldn’t have been bad if it was a 5-year old who was learning to spell that wrote that, but it’s someone I graduated high school with. I almost immediately deleted her (after showing a classmate the nonsense that was posted). I then moved on the to chronic political status post-ers. It was debate night, so it made it fairly easy for me to do this. Now… to clarify, I did not just delete people because they are campaigning for the opposing party, I deleted them because they are close-minded individuals with pea-size brains who do not understand a whole story before they bash a candidate for it or promote a candidate for it. Those are the ones that I do not care to see on my newsfeed.

Yes, I know I could have just changed my preferences to remove their posts from my newsfeed until after election season, but part of me just doesn’t believe that they add any value to my life so there’s no need for their posts to be viewed. That takes me to the next round of people that I deleted… those that I met at college parties and haven’t talked to since. WE ARE NOT FRIENDS. I honestly am a little appalled at myself for creating such a collection of people like this and allowing them access to my life for all these years. Delete, delete, delete!

Now, I’ve unfriended my fair share of folks, and I’ve probably been unfriended by equally as many. Only twice can I think of that I thought, “man, that sucks, I thought we were friends.” It didn’t really hurt, was just more of a bummer that I couldn’t see what was going on anymore. Isn’t that what Facebook is for anyway? To see how much fun other people are having in their lives and live vicariously through them?

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Teaching Twitter

Tonight I am teaching an intro class of graduate students the ins and outs of Twitter – or as much as I can in 45 minutes. I’m one of those that’s been using Twitter since you texted your updates to 40404, and I’m one of those that constantly has my Twitter feed up to make sure I’m not missing anythign. That’s the thing with Twitter, it’s possible to miss something. Whereas, Facebook, well it moves at a slower pace. You don’t update that 10 times a day (without annoying your Friends).

I have to cover the basics, as there is a strong possibility that some of the class members are not signed up for Twitter, or they are but are reluctant to use it for a number of reasons. These classes have a variety of age groups, variety of jobs, and a variety of reasons why they’re taking the program.

I asked my followers to share with me their most important Twitter Tips and I got:

DM! You can direct message instead of Tweeting”  – well, yes, you can. But that kind of defeats the purpose of “tweeting.” But if you have a question that you don’t want made public, you can direct message a follower.

Not to follow too many people on your first day” – good point. For one of my classes we had a Twitter account that got suspended (permanently) for following too many people. It’s considered spam/harassment, and advised against. Start with following your news sources, CNN, Huffington Post, and add in others that share your interests or celebrities or me: @ashalee126. You want to follow people that will add value to your Twitter conversation, and celebrities aren’t likely to do that, or to retweet or reply to your messages. Also, your friends…. if they’re not tweeting but have an account, don’t feel obligated to follow them. (They won’t miss you – and you won’t waste a follow). Keep the goal in mind of having more followers than you are following.

If your Tweets are private, some people can’t see them” – Correct, and also common sense. Anyone that you have not approved to follow you, cannot see your tweets. Your tweets also cannot be retweeted. And even if you are using a #hashtag to join a conversation, those that are not following you, cannot see what you said. I don’t understand the point of “private” tweets on Twitter. Maybe someone can explain?

I plan on recording the lesson this evening and will update with any new questions that arise. For now though, share what your best tip is for using Twitter effectively. Ready, set, GO:

Engaging without Enraging

Social Media is a great way to connect, especially when you’re discussing a certain topic, and even more so if it’s a hot topic like the Presidential Election. There were countless statistical studies done recently during the RNC and DNC to show how many tweets were tweeted per minute during certain keynote speakers addresses. If you were tweeting along, you could simply click the hashtag “RomneyRyan” which was promoted during the RNC or “Forward2012” which was promoted during the DNC and read, review or even join in on the conversation by adding the hashtag to your tweet. 

However, my issue with Social Media and Politics, lies more within Facebook, where folks feel it’s necessary to not only share their political opinion, but to go on to bash the other candidate with (for the most part) incorrect information – or at least biased information, with e-cards, and with genuinely distasteful comments. I believe that you should still follow the rule you were taught as a child, not to bring up money, religion or politics in most settings. You would not get on Facebook and announce your salary, or ask your friends what they make. You would not get on Facebook and openly state how you feel about another religion. And therefore, you should not get on Facebook and make political comments and then end your post with “I don’t care if you disagree, I just wanted to state my part.” No, if you’re going to start a political debate on Facebook (which has the option for your “friends” to comment) then you are opening yourself up to a full-on debate, because let’s face it, not all of your Facebook friends share your political opinion.

How naive is it to believe that all of your Facebook “friends” would agree with what you are posting? Most of your “friends” are family, people you work with, or have met through post-grad life, people you went to college with and even (gasp!) people who attended your high school. Now, it’s possible that your spouse, your kids, your best friend, and maybe (not in my case) your family, will agree with your political stance, but there’s no way that you have been selective enough to choose friends that are in your same political party. So out of the 853 friends you have on Facebook, you’re probably offending more of them than you are resonating with. 

Good rule of thumb for your social media posts: If you wouldn’t walk into a room with all of your “friends” or followers and loudly & proudly (without provocation) announce what you are saying on social media, then it’s probably best to be kept within your own home, or a quiet dinner with your BFF.