Taking Stock Of Online Life, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:01am

This morning I was poking around on Facebook. I decided, then and there, to winnow my “friend” pool. Why? I never meant to be on Facebook, I joined back when I was blogging in an anonymous High WASP way, I was connected to several people I don’t actually know and with whom I share very little.

So I posted about my intentions, hoping in a non-anonymous High WASP way not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Then I “unfriended.”

All this was, as I said there, pretty inconsequential. But it did make me want to ask you guys, how’s your online life these days?

This is me. I blog here. You know what that is, at least for the moment. My Twitter is for politics of all sorts, with the occasional links to good clothes. I chat there, I joke, I express outrage. I’ve made a systematic effort to follow respectable sources of opposing viewpoints, i.e. the National Review, and to make a special list for Privilege readers.

I post the occasional photo to Instagram. I am not good at answering comments and may try to do better. I also have accounts on Snapchat and Pinterest, but don’t use either of them much at all. I’ll still pin photos from my blog or search for something on Pinterest, I still look at Snaps from one blogger I like, but that’s it.

And you? Plans for 2017? I have been very lax with Instagram follows, much more enthusiastic on Twitter, but if you have a handle you’d like me to engage with, leave it in the comments or email me and I will muster. And if you’ve decided to back away, from what, and why? If I can ask.

Have a good weekend everyone. Human beings are what we’ve got as a fellow species.

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  • I’m not ready to take stock, quite, but have been thinking a bit around this. Most often when I’m feeling a bit sick with exposed vulnerability after some blogpost or other. Or when I wonder how easily my home could be identified, my windows peered into, after I post a photo of my view on Instagram. Most often, I push those anxieties aside as the sort of thing that could derail life in the 21st century, but sometimes…. Interestingly, I’ve gone the opposite way to you re Instagram and Twitter. I loved Twitter for the first few years, but the subsequent changes to it dulled its appeal consideraby. Lately I’ve been considering tiptoeing back to check it out, especially for its political and cultural potential. Instagram has been a joy, but changes threaten that platform as well, with an increasingly commercial thrust. I really like FB for keeping in touch with family and friends/acquaintances in other places and so far I’ve been very restrictive about which friends from social media I’ll accept. A good question for a Saturday morning, especially one on which I’ve been thinking a bit about the Christmas cards I rarely send anymore and the ones I love receiving (there’s a connection there, right? cards being the social media of long ago and once upon a time)

    10:29 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Ah, what a great construct. Cards as social media. They were that. I should explain, also, I use Tweetdeck on the web for Twitter, which allows me to make columns, which allows me to decide who I hear all the time and who I checkup on at will. And I am considering many changes in 2017. This post is research, I am hoping to find out who is where.

    10:38 am
    K-Line said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Hey Frances: I wouldn’t worry overly about being too exposed. I’m really good at figuring out shit about people on the internet (partly my age, perhaps, partly my natural skill set) and I don’t feel that you’re giving too much away. I think you do a really good job of walking that line. I have a diff self-identification-threshold than you, and even I know very clearly where to draw the line for myself. I think that’s the important thing to remember.

    Weirdly, I’ve never been on facebook. It seems like blogging-lite (which is unappealing to me). If I want to know someone from the past, at this time in my life, I’ll find her some other way. Chances are I really don’t. And I used to LOVE Twitter, which I’ve tried to re-join, but it’s just not the same – I couldn’t agree more. And that’s sad, IMO.

    Instagram is my latest frontier. I’m not sure what I think about it. Let’s say it’s fun to take pictures and the convo is better than nothing.

    6:16 am
    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Thanks for the reassurance ;-)
    Facebook is really useful if you have a large family, a bit spread out. . . Or if you’ve moved from a community you loved and aren’t quite ready to cut the strings… just saying. . . .

  • Am not now nor have ever been on Facebook. Seems like a time usurper. Am on instagram and twitter, oh also Pinterest. Enjoy other people’s posts, not too good about doing so myself. I try not to live my life online. Yours and Muffy Aldrich are the only blogs I read.

    12:37 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, Me and Muffy Aldrich. What a unique distillation. But I totally get it and my aunt would approve.

  • I really enjoy Facebook. Why? Because I connect with many far flung family members on FB. We share photos and just generally keep up in a fun friendly (and more casual way) than emails, phone calls, or letters would be. I have also reconnected with many childhood friends on FB. This has been the most fun of all. It makes me connect to my 16-18 year old self and remember why I really liked these people! I do have to admit that I have done a fair amount of unfriending on FB. Why? While I am very interested in politics, I try to stay away from the really ugly, the character assassination, and especially racism. I grew up in deep East Texas which, unfortunately, is a hotbed for the above. For me, Facebook is about good things—family, experiences, children/grandchildren, dogs, recipes, etc. I do post about politics and enjoy having somewhat of an echo chamber on FB.

    I follow a few people on Twitter, but usually forget to check it. I also follow people on Instagram and forget to check it too.

    I will admit to really enjoying Pinterest. I’m a visual person and create boards of things I really like. I also create boards that I want to refer back to—things like color palettes, art techniques,recipes, products I like etc.

    12:38 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., I love your Facebook presence. I’ve learned a lot about politics from you. And if I could get Pinterest to stop showing me “suggestion,” I’d like it again.

    1:32 pm
    Susan D. said...

    I totally agree about Pinterest suggestions. It’s just not what it used to be. I have loved having you and several other of my virtual friends on Facebook. I do consider you all to be my real friends. Isn’t the internet great—most of the time…

  • I used to use Facebook only for family and friends I already knew. Since I set up a FB page for my blog that is linked to my other FB page, I post almost exclusively things related to my blog. I can still follow family and close friends. I have other “friends” who I know just signed up for access to blog posts. I simply can “unfollow” them if I choose. They’re still on my “friend”list but I don’t need to see their posts if I don’t choose to….which I sometimes don’t.

    I love Instagram. And I like Twitter, but mostly for links to interesting articles in The Atlantic, Paris Review etc. And I follow a lot of writers etc who interest me. I do find Twitter annoying when people post a link to the same blog post multiple times a day. I know this is due to a marketing strategy…and many people use scheduling platforms to do this. But I find it all too “spammy” and I’ve unfollowed accounts for that reason. I ues Google+ communites exclusively for blog posts. And I use Pinterest a fair bit. Mostly for fashion.

    I’ve read a number of articles on how to maximize all of these platforms to improve blog readership, but most of them involve too much time investment for me to implement. Or dollar investment… and I’m determined NOT to go there. If my blog doesn’t make any money (and it doesn’t) I don’t expect it to cost me anything but my time. So I’ve started using my daily hour on the exercise bike for my social media. I update Instagram, Pinterest, read my feed on Twitter etc. It’s amazing how quickly an hour can pass when I do that. And then all this social media stuff doesn’t eat up the rest of my day. And I get fitter in the process.

    I saw your FB post this morning, Lisa, about “unfriending” people who weren’t really friends or family. I think it’s important for everyone to find a sane way to use social media, drawing their own boundaries, and deciding which platforms are useful and/or fun for them and which aren’t. I wonder how much of social media I would use at all if I didn’t write a blog. Considerably less, I think.

    12:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, That’s a good idea, the hour exercising = an hour of social media.

  • I reserve Twitter for photos of people who take up two seats or commit some other egregious subway sin. It’s really good for instant status on what’s happening, way faster than any official source of subway news.

    12:52 pm
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, Ha! That’s kind of funny.

  • I’m not on Facebook due to the nature of my work (criminal lawyer). I like instagram and mostly follow landscapes, interiors, fashion and assorted friends. I have a Pinterest account but haven’t quite figured out how to use it, which may be a good thing.

    12:53 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Leslie K, Oh yeah, criminal lawyer, yikes.

  • I joined Twitter a couple of years ago but rarely looked at it until a few months ago. I became addicted. It had something to do with watching a train wreck. After the election I cut way back on following news sites and now I can look at it just a few minutes a day to keep informed on interesting blog posts and news. I have read your blog for years, Lisa, and met you in person last year in Los Gatos. I was happy when I found you on Twitter–your point of view on many things is similar to mine. I don’t Tweet often myself, though, usually just in response to someone else’s comment.

    Facebook is for my friends and family. I’ve had to hide, but not unfollow, some folks whose political and religious hobby horses are not interesting to me. I have a couple of FB friends I’ve only met in person once, but as we exchange views we find a lot in common. I’m working on a book proposal and am learning how to make a Facebook page about it. Always something new to learn. Also, I sit in front of my computer for hours every day, and I like taking a quick break to FB or Twitter a couple of times a day. I joined Snapchat but haven’t looked at it much. I don’t like FB’s suggested posts or friend suggestions though.

    I have my parents’ old photos and I like to post one or two now and then, so the younger generation out there can see them. Last year I did Christmas 1949, and this year I think I’ll do 1970.

    8:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan W H, Ah, the infamous gathering in Los Gatos;). It was fun to meet you. And Twitter, in which I had been losing interest, totally took over my life in the aftermath of the election. I have found so many concrete examples of what to do to try to fight looming disaster.

  • First of all I have always liked your blog because it wasn’t really about being privileged, but about acknowledging good fortune on a variety of levels: brains, family, education, friends, travel, work, experience — and then posting about how it’s made you think about life, books, biker jackets, second weddings, death, India, Princeton, parents, etc. You’re refreshingly unapologetic about your WASPy background (something that has always been a subject of slight derision in the newsrooms I’ve worked in) and it’s fun to read another’s take on all the cultural quirks of growing up WASP. That early pearls post is a classic.
    I have always adored clothes and ALWAYS dressed for work. You never knew who was going to walking into the newsroom — once it was Barack Obama — and I always felt people took me more seriously when I had my “armor” on. While my taste isn’t as daring as yours — and my figure, while trim enough, isn’t anywhere close to a size 6 — I love how you defy the norms of late 50s-early60s-hood, and take my inspiration from you. I will probably never stop dying my hair but I did buy a biker jacket and I feel terrific in it. Thank you!
    Also let me say I am mostly a fan of FB, because as a retired journalist I still feel the urge to tell people about things…without actually doing all the hard work of reporting, writing, meeting deadline, arguing with editors (who all have a “delete color” button on their keyboards). I covered politics off and on for most of my career and remain fairly obsessed, even though this year has occasionally been too much for me. I post almost every day, but again almost never about what I ate for breakfast or how depressing life is (I have dear friends who do that and I try to be sympathetic but I think that’s a discussion best had with a trusted listener and a glass of wine or a therapist, not to hundreds of FB friends) but about politics, culture, the occasional meme. I do try to avoid cat videos.
    Thank you again for letting me wander AmidPrivilege! So much good writing to read…

  • I still have a twitter account and post my blog there, but that is about it. Mostly the same for Facebook, but I do use it to keep up with some friends, both local and distant, and contacts who use that forum. I’ve used Instagram spottily. It seems I am basically pulling back and feel no need to have a general online presence other than through the blog, but even that is (temporarily) radio silent as I am recalibrating.

  • As a teacher, I stay away from Facebook. Waaaaay to much potential for disaster there! I don’t do Twitter, Instagram, and look at Pinterest only in the summer when I have time. I expect as my children marry and/or move and/or have children, I will “do” Facebook (or the newest social media platform) to keep in touch. However, there is nothing on the horizon for either of them, so I have plenty of time to catch up to the millennium.

    1:36 pm
    Susan D. said...

    Carol, As a former teacher, I understand your misgivings about being on Facebook. It’s important to know that YOU control who you are friends with—you don’t have to be friends with students OR former students–ever. I purposely keep my friends’ list fairly short. And, from time to time, look at my friends list and delete any that don’t fit with my FB philosophy–which is family, fun, like minded friends, and more fun.

    10:28 am
    Mary said...

    @Carol, I understand. My college developed a fairly stringent social media policy that kept me from FB even after I determined for myself that it was too difficult to manage the boundaries between the personal and the professional.. Younger academicians would make a very different argument for why there should not be any boundaries.

  • FB is a big conversation with my art friends, old school friends, and family. Although I have a lot of “friends” from my years as a columnist for a mixed media magazine, I have a Close Friends list, which is the one I only read. My IG feed is just pure indulgence where I have curated the most wonderful array of British folk artists, illustrators, etc., from all over the world. Twitter is where I go to read news “opinions”, spy on the Savannah Owls, and catch up with bigger name artists who post frequently. Blogging, oh my poor blog. Even now, while out on disability, I can’t bring myself to blog about much of anything as I feel the peering eyes of my Fortune 500 corporate employer and its employees taking notes, as well as litigation adversaries. So I’m looking forward to retirement to spread my online presence again.

  • This is an interesting post, with equally interesting comments. (Your reader comments, Lisa, are part of the reason I keep reading and enjoying your blog!)

    I do no “social media” whatsoever – other than occasional responses in this blog, Generally, I figure that if I want someone to know anything about me, I’ll phone, write, or email that person. (Or – gasp! – have a actual face-to-face conversation.) And I am really offended by the notion that a “friend” would think that some sort of large-scale group contact could possibly stand in for personal engagement. Or for friendship.

    We seem to be living in an era of the commodification of personal experience and relationships. To me, being a “friend” on FB is the opposite of friendship – it’s being a number in the development of someone else’s brand or “Facebook presence.”

    I went to the Chateau de Versailles last month for the first time as a tourist (I’d been there previously for evening concerts in the illuminated Hall of Mirrors – fabulous!), and it was awful: full of tourists taking pictures of everything, but looking at nothing – while putting themselves face-first. What is the point?

    Do they even know who Louis XIV is, or what happened in this spectacular place, or why it is so important? Being there, being physically at the Chateau de Versailles, is just something to send to their FB page, or Twitter account, or whatever “social media” they are currently involved with.

    What a waste of human potentiality and personal understanding…

    On the other hand, their ticket-buying helps pay the bills for the chateau’s upkeep, and I am just sounding like an old-fogy elitist or Wasp or something worse … for example, just OLD!

    Well, I’ll be 75 on my next birthday – and as my heroine Eloise (or her nanny) says, “Toujours gaie, cherie, toujours gaie!”

  • Hello Lisa, I think that I missed the boat with the various social media. Even if I subscribe now, it seems that the excitement has subsided while the rules are tightening. I never liked the way the owners increasingly spied and accumulated data on the users.

  • While a mere youngster at 51 the travelers who are more about selfies make me sad – for them, for me, for the power of the screen to take over….we’ll always do one or two as a family when we travel but mostly I prefer a real photo taken by a stranger. Those are the best and often when I look at those photos I remember the person I met and got to know in that tiny moment – a teen in Yelliwstone who got us & a geyser, a trio of older women in Florence from England, a sweet younger couple in Venice – I took their photo after they took ours….all quite sweet.

  • Excellent post – I think lots of us are reevaluating our online presence at this time.

  • I have a love hate relationship with FB. This election has brought out the very worst in many people and they spew it repeatedly on their pages. I’ve unfollowed the ones who can’t move on and asked to see less of the others.
    Instagram takes up a lot of time. I love Sue’s idea of doing it on the bike! Pinterest is fun. I enjoy it and use it to wind down. Twitter has become too crowded and I forget to check it too. There just isn’t time in my day for it all. Not if I want to enjoy my life!

  • I like FB and post sporadically…mostly I link to my blog posts.
    I do not tweet but I do post daily on Instagram…it is quick and easy.
    I occasionally go onto Pinterest if I am looking for something specific or if I am checking out fashion images…

    It is a good reminder that we keep our online presence tidy and if things are not working that we edit them accordingly.

  • Interesting for me to contemplate as an aging rhetorician. I was intrigued and fascinated by the initial unfolding of cyberspace. Could imagine the infinite research possibilities, little realizing the thing itself would change so swiftly as to decimate the prospect of further study.

    I understand what people need and derive from various digital venues; I just don’t feel compelled to participate much now. I was all about blogging 5 years ago but find I can no longer muster the energy to sustain it. I told some of the stories I needed and wanted to tell; it was a great vehicle for that purpose. I once used Twitter as a breaking news source and now use it mainly to keep tabs on local news/stories/people. It seems that as technology morphs and shifts so does my relationship with it.

    I tell the tech-facile 20somethings I work with now in a corporate environ that I am an analog woman living in a digital world. I am OK with this identity and don’t mean it in a judgy or self-deprecating way. I accept that I will never be a digital native. I think I am still looking for some of the same things I was looking for in my youth when I was ripping through card catalogs to find books and hadn’t the advantages of the instantaneous or the lure of endless distraction: love, the meaning of life, connections to others, and all of those things I am most apt to find in the moments I live off-screen.

  • Between the election and “friends” who think eating in XYZ Restaurant is noteworthy, I deactivated my Facebook account. I do find Twitter handy – I check what’s trending every morning when I wake up so I know if anything noteworthy has happened while I was sleeping. I like to use Pinterest with online browsing and shopping – if I’m in the market for burgundy flats, for example, I can pin all the candidates and then go to one page to compare them.

  • I do wish , sometimes , to go back to before the internet . I think I enjoyed life more . I read more , talked more to more people and wrote more letters . I’ve never even liked the telephone much and the TV was more optional than PC’s . Everyone MUST have an email address – which lays you open to all the other cyberspace temptations . I have a blog which is fun occasionally altho’ I have few followers and thus share posts to Fb , LinkedIn & Google whatever it is . I would like to leave Fb because I feel so much better when I have 24 hrs without it but I have friends on it who wouldn’t keep in touch otherwise . What I really like are other people’s blogs – like yours Lisa !

  • I started searching out blogs to read five years ago when I was temporarily and unhappily living in an apartment while looking for a house to buy. Often unable to sleep while I thought about launching our downsized post retirement life, blogs seemed to fit into my scattered thinking. Now they just weary me and I am gradually giving them up. I realized I was craving dialogue and not with just the blogger.

    I have been, since its inception, an active participant in the website Ravelry, a website for knitters and enthusiasts of fiber in general. (The occasional NYTimes writer, Perri Klass…also a pediatrician…recently devoted a column to this website) and this site which has 5 million or so participants worldwide, meets my needs perfectly. In my most active thread, there is daily discussion of virtually everything, and such threads exist for almost any interest (from Goth knitters who like Gilmore Girls to politics in the UK). The blogs I will keep will be related to fiber, literature, maybe a little travel and food, or relevant to my own community.

    I have never used Facebook or Twitter, although I will peek at my husbands facebook pages to keep up with family pictures. I find Instagram even less interactive, but I am willing to look, and I do find looking at Pinterest sort of soothing, like looking through waiting room magazines. Thats it, otherwise it takes up too much time, and at 70, I use the time I have left as best I can!

    So this is by way of goodbye, actually. My life is on track again, but this is not quite the right track for me right now. I may peek in from time to time, but my own online life is taking a different turn. Thank you for your thoughtful blog and I wish you well.

  • I use social media but not heavily, and I’m circumspect about it. I think in one way I felt I ought to, so as to keep up with the times; whereas, really, I probably prefer email or phone. I joined Facebook when I moved jobs, mostly to be able to keep in touch with former colleagues, and I tend to be quite passive on it – I don’t usually post things because I don’t really want to be that visible. Ditto Twitter – I prefer to read others’ tweets, rather than tweet myself. I started a blog recently, and I do enjoy the creativity of doing that. I sometimes wonder how people find the time to be on social media extensively – I think it’s important not to sacrifice too much time to the virtual world when we could spend it living in the real one. Balance is key.

  • I like facebook for staying connected to my friends who are around the world in some cases. I have turned to Twitter to take out my frustrations on this election, which has me so upset I just don’t know what to do. I am sooooo worried, especially when I see all the tweets coming from someone who is not studying the issues, has no interest in history or policy or briefings. I wonder how long its going to take for another head of state to slam us good!

  • Congrats on tidying up Facebook!
    I left Facebook over a year ago. Then I went back this year because a friend was dying and Facebook was where support was gathered and grieving shared and events planned. I haven’t deleted my account because that would instigate some drama. So I leave it as a time capsule. There are so many policies of Facebook that I can’t stomach. Leaving it means I have lost touch with so many. It also means that keeping in touch is, once again, an active intentional act. I noticed that Facebook is a passive way to keep in touch without really, IMO, keeping in touch. I prefer higher quality and fewer interactions over many meh interactions. I had a millennial show me how to use snapchat and I still use it to browse but don’t really grok it. I have always loved Twitter the best but I see them being bought eventually and hope it doesn’t ruin them.

  • Hi Lisa
    As many have echoed, great post, and yes, we, your readers, have formed a kind of group discussion via association and as one said above, it is great to read the comments, it adds another dimension to just reading the blog author’s comments (which are awesome in themselves!). Facebook. What a difficult relationship I have with that one. A self-imposed exile for a year after inadvertently offending my brother with what was meant to be a ‘fun’ post. That took my breath away. Still haven’t recovered from it and it doesn’t seem our relationship has either. Reading FB posts gives me a dreadful sense that I’m missing out: FOMO. Everyone seems to be having such a JOLLY time on there. Obviously their lives are WAY more exciting than my daily struggles. Then you get the odd post of a dog missing half it’s skin to show us westerners about the dog-skinning festival in India (I still think it was just gore-porn) the image horrified and shocked me (and still does) so I had to unfriend that person who thought they were doing the world a favour in ‘sharing’ it. My daughter has a couple of serious mental illnesses, and is addicted to social media. The hype around the US election almost took her to suicide, thinking that the world was going to end. We are in Australia. Her latest upsets are the posts from Aleppo. Last night she got one of a little kid who was covered in dust and screaming as the shelter they were in had been bombed. She thought at first it was a halloween thing, but then realised that it was actual footage from the war zone. If I could smash her electronic devices I would. Such is an addiction. It is rarely the things that are good for us that we become addicted to. I actually hate Facebook. It was designed by a college student for college students. I think that says a lot about where it’s proper place should be. I do have family spread far and wide, and it can be used to stay in touch, but do I really feel a warm connection seeing them posting a generic ‘selfie’ from some far away tourist attraction? And worse, seeing family that I wish I could be with, enjoying the company of other friends? Thanks for this post, it has allowed me the time to decide that I will exile myself from it, for another 12 months, then I’ll re-evaluate. Blessings to all and thanks everyone for your thoughtful participation in Lisa’s little haven.

  • Right after the election, I cleaned up my FB account. Unfollowed people who I care about, but whose political rants made me crazy. I didn’t want to unfriend because of the possibility of hurt feelings. This approach has made FB much more enjoyable for me. I don’t Tweet or use Instagram, but occasionally pin on Pinterest. Reading blogs and occasionally commenting is more my speed and feels like valuable communication. And it is more controlled. Cheers!

  • I am on Goodreads and Linkedin. Adamant against getting FB, Twitter, or Pinterest. Instagram, maybe; I’m an artist and craftsperson so that makes sense.

    I find Tumblr blogs intriguing, they seem to function as scrapbooks did for prior generations of the young, smart and geeky.

  • I applaud your editing your digital life in this manner. I think we forget, given the ubiquity of social media, that we are allowed to make that choice. I am also envious! As a journalist it is more or less required for me to be out there, and I end up consuming content I would rather have avoided if given the option. Though I do edit down my FB to be relatively private, and I am careful on Twitter to stay within professional bounds. (Am also on Insta, where only my friends have found me; on Pinterest largely for gathering resources, not for self-marketing; and kept a Tumbler Today in Ebolanoia during Ebola but have abandoned it since. Drawing the line at Snapchat.)