After experimenting with several social networks over the last few years, I've come to the conclusion that I'm spread too thin and that my social networks aren't serving me anymore. Rather, I'm serving them. So in an effort to streamline my networks, I'll be implementing the following changes in the next few months.
My LiveJournal is the weakest link right now, since my web site blog is robust, comment-ready and available for RSS through Feedburner. I also don't check my LiveJournal very much anymore for friends' posts, since these are usually cross-posted to other social media sites, where I'm notified of them. So in the next month or so, I'll stop posting teasers of my blog posts to LiveJournal and leave a static forwarding message there that directs readers to my web site. I'll likely still check my LJ f-list from time to time, but I expect this activity to be infrequent.
Addendum: I've just added all my LJ friends to my RSS reader, so I won't miss your posts!
I hate Facebook. I have always hated Facebook, and today it made me want to cry. Right now, I interact on Google+ and forward those posts out through Feedburner to Twitter, which forwards them to my Facebook Timeline. However, I do check my Facebook account about once a day to see what my friends are doing and to comment on their links, 'like' their baby pictures, etc. Recently, I signed up for a Goodreads account using my Facebook credentials, and my Goodreads activity began to appear on my Timeline in the 'Recent Activity' section. Well, that was all right, I thought. I don't mind if people see what I'm reading when they visit my Timeline.
What I didn't realize (and as a technologist, I'm wretchedly embarrassed to admit this) is that most of those comments, likes and Goodreads activities were appearing in my friends' Facebook streams even though they weren't (except for Goodreads) appearing on my Timeline, and I couldn't see them in my own Facebook stream. Now, I'm given to understand that not all of my comments and likes are automatically publicized this way, but I honestly can't figure out which ones are and which ones aren't. Worse, I can't figure out whether or not my posts to Facebook groups are treated this way. I know that I've had friends post replies to messages written on Events invitation pages even when they weren't invited to the event in question (and that confused me at the time, come to think of it). But if I write a message in a private group, who sees it? Presumably only the group members, but I thought that of events, too.
Here's the thing. In spite of the fact that all my posts are public, I do try to keep a fairly tight rein on my social networking presence. I don't allow others to freely post to my Facebook wall, and as of today, the only person who sees the posts I do approve is me. I've also figured out how to hide my f-list from my timeline, since I really don't think it's anybodys business who my connections are. The other thing I care about is good netizenship. I would never knowingly spam my social networking feeds with every book I'm reading in a half-hour time span, but that's just what the Goodreads Facebook app did for me when I listed the books I was currently reading (I've since deleted my account). I also don't think my friends necessarily want to know about all the baby pictures, cat pictures and funny memes I've liked, and I'm somewhat mortified that these things were probably posted to their Facebook streams without my knowledge. I'm so sorry if any of you have felt spammed. And frankly, while I certainly haven't commented upon or liked anything I wouldn't talk to my teenage niece about, I think it's rude of Facebook to presume that I want to tell Sally about the things I've discussed with Joan.
This afternoon, I combed through Facebook's privacy settings, its help files and several external tech articles for an hour trying to figure out a way to shut this off, to stop spamming my friends and ensure that my comments and likes are private. But while I'm given to believe this service used to exist in the old Facebook Wall paradigm, I don't think it does in Timeline. That means the only way I can control this issue is to either limit my interaction with friends on Facebook or to leave the network entirely. When you add to that the fact that Facebook forces Page owners to pay for placement in their fans' streams, deliberately obfuscates certain privacy settings and makes it difficult for users to cross-post from other services, it seems clear to me that the company is creating an environment designed to control user behavior for the purpose of profit-making. Of course, that isn't news to most Facebook users, but it it's gotten worse of late and isn't something I can stomach anymore.
I'm not deactivating my account, because there are people and communities who use it to connect with me in meaningful ways. If you're among those people, please keep connecting. I'll respond to events invitations and participate in groups if the situation warrants, but my comments on other people's posts will be limited going forward, and I doubt I'll 'like' anything at all. I'll still forward my Google+ posts to Twitter and Facebook, and I'll reply to any comments left on those posts no matter what network they come from. But my efforts this afternoon have left this command-line Linux user feeling like she was being forced to use Windows, and it was nosebleed frustrating.
So, look for LiveJournal to stop posting my blog teasers in about a month, and look for my Facebook participation to be limited going forward. However, my blog can be accessed here (goo.gl/74nsQ), you can subscribe to it here (goo.gl/4OYjC) and my Google+ profile is here (goo.gl/Fe9Qs). You can also find me on Twitter here (goo.gl/lZsm7). I hope to see you around.