What’s our Social Media contract?

Perth sun set

For reasons that I don’t really need to get into here, I was “off” Facebook for over a year. When I returned, it was with hesitation and apprehension. I decided that I no longer wanted to run the risk of going down rabbit holes, ending up in fruitless discussions about topics where the science is clear.

As a result, I am posting much less than before. I don’t know if the people who welcomed me back (I had some heartwarming reactions) were expecting this. Sure, I voiced my apprehension in the first message I posted on Facebook after reinstating my account, but I didn’t explicitly say “don’t expect too much from me.”

I did, however, post things about my workshops, and more recently about a course I’m creating. At one point, I asked my Dutch friends and contacts whether they’d be interested in Dutch version of that course. Not many people responded, so I though (and wrote) that apparently there wasn’t much of a market for it.

That remark led to a response from someone who said it was a bit strange for me to have been off Facebook for so long, to then only (?) post about business-things and simply trying to flog stuff. It’s hard to translate the exact idioms, but this is pretty much what it meant. I don’t quite agree. That “business-stuff” is actually very personal to me, and I’m definitely not trying to “flog stuff” the way Gwyneth Paltrow sells her rubbish on Goop. To name just one.

Now, this response coming from a Dutch person and me being Dutch, I can only appreciate the candor and directness of the comment. They spoke their mind, and that’s absolutely fine. The world could do with a bit of Dutch candor (and the Dutch could sometimes do with a tad more humility, truth be told).

But it got me thinking, not so much about the actual message, but the underlying why. Why is it an issue? Is it an issue just because of the nature of my posts, because I was away for a long time, or the combination? Then I realised that it seems we have different, non-aligning expectations about what Social Media mean to us. This is not something that is debatable, though.

It becomes a bit of an issue, though, when you’re called out based on someone else’s view, on their interpretation of your online presence. Suddenly you’re held to a social contract that you didn’t knew existed. We never sat down and discussed what we wanted to get out of our interactions on Facebook (or any other Social Media).

What are the rules, and who determines them?

Let’s be clear: in our case the difference in views seems trivial. Pfew! Some people are treating Social Media as if there’s no tomorrow, putting out the worst kind of messages humanity has to offer. But that’s not us.

Where do we draw the line, and who determines that?

I’d like to end with a bombshell conclusion, but I don’t have one, to be honest. My current stance with Social Media is that I’d rather not be on any, but it’s 2018 and I am not a Luddite. I heavily curate what I post, though, and as a result my timeline may skew to the things I personally value at any moment. No cat videos, no fruitless interactions about the Earth being flat or Climate Change being an invention by “left-wing snowflakes.” Please. I do post awesome photos of the sun setting over Perth! But only every so often. Just let me know if you want more of them.

No more going down rabbit holes for me. At least, I’ll try.