Tag Archives: social media

Run Deep Not Shallow

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My friend Serdar tweeted thusly:

“speculation: nostalgia for 8/16-bit gaming / computing is nostalgia for an era of dedicated devices and focused time, an era when you could sit down to write or play sth and not have 200 tabs assault you sidelong”

As I retrogame, I had to think this statement over. I came away with the conclusion Serdar wasn’t right in the whole, because there are many reasons. But he was right in the small as, on review, I saw this in myself and others.

Echoing memories of a simpler time.

This reminded me of an exercise I had done to evaluate my life and career. Often replaying my choices, I took a walk for an hour and worked backward through my life, looking at my major life choices. I had many deep insights during my stroll, but at times I remembered life before internet-driven complications.

How much of my time today was really mine?

I finally found a way to express this when I discussed social media with a communication professional. They noted the research required to go into a good strategy these days and how easy it was to be distracted. I summed up their conversation as “what are the deep patterns?” that mattered to what they had to say.

We are distracted by so much that professionals have to keep developing counter-distraction approaches.

Thus we come full circle to what stuck in my head due to Serdar’s Tweet. So much of today’s mega media always-online culture of constant chatter was a distraction from “deep patterns” of life. Like powerful currents running beneath a body of water, those are important, not the sparkly ever-changing reflections on the surface.

The deep patterns, the powerful currents we need to navigate, steer, and control, are easy to miss in an age of 200 tabs and constant scandal-chat. It often feels like there’s more of everything, but what matters is a shrinking percentage of the whole vying for our attention.

How many times have you wanted to scream but does any of this matter?  Admit it, it’s a non-zero number.

For me, I’m glad I have experience and interest in meditation, philosophy, and psychology. Some Taoist abdominal breathing or pithy Buddhist quotes help bring me enough awareness of the distractions I face. But sometimes, it’d be nice to just not have 200 tabs, ten text messages, and email piling up.

It’d be nice to just focus on a good game.

Steven Savage

The Social Self As A Business

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

To mark this post historically, this was posted the day Tumblr decided to cut out some adult content (it’s hard to tell exactly what they meant, it got weird)  This was quickly followed by an algorithm that clearly was terrible not doing it’s job, and leaving people to discuss leaving.  When you can’t exactly spell out a vision for what you want to do, that vision seems to be “stop some nudity”, and your system is bad, yeah people are going to leave.

This doesn’t entirely surprise me, an old hand at watching internet companies shoot themselves in the food.  I’ve seen sites and services appear and vanish, sometimes quite sadly.  This has led me to an important but unpleasant truth.

You have to run your social media presence like a business.

What do I mean by this?  Simple

  1. Social media is vital to our lives (for some of us more than others)
  2. Social media companies rise, fall, and change.
  3. To reach your social media goals, you have to consider your vision, make a plan, and have expenses – just like a business.

For me, a writer, this is more vital – but also as my writing is a hobby, it’s almost more effort.  I mean it’s hard to disentangle my audience, my fellow authors, and my sarcastic video game posts.

But it still comes down to this – business decisions affect social media, social media is connected to our lives, so we have to run that part of it like a business.

No, I don’t like it.

I don’t like knowing something may vanish the next week because of a merger.  I don’t like seeing people leave a site due to some weird policy change.  I dislike wondering who’s harvesting my data.  It’s tiring and it’s exhausting, and annoying, not to mention a bit dehumanizing.

But this is where we are now, when business decisions affect where you post recipes and if you repeat an Overwatch meme about Hanzo’s shirts.

Maybe in time we can build more humanized platforms.  Maybe we can get others to evolve.  But until them your social media life has to be run like a business, especially if you have any large groups, complex plans, side businesses, media presence, etc.

If it helps, what I do is actually review my social plans once a month – who’s planned what, do I want to host an event, etc.  I’ve had to work my social media reviews into that, along with my marketing reviews for my books.  It helps, but it’s annoying.

And again, I don’t like it either.

Steven Savage

Further Thoughts on Social Media

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

I was discussing the Facebook security issues (the 2018 ones, if you’re keeping track), with my friend Serdar. Serdar is skeptical of many social media companies much the same way I’m made of carbon. But one of his comments got me thinking when he referred to “a one-armed bandit of gamified social gambling.”

At that point suddenly, a few things came together for me about social media problems and how they’re the same as another technological problem we’re currently fighting.

Social Media As Gambling

Yes we use social media to keep track of friends, schedule events, etc. But buried within far too much social media interaction is the attempt to get a payoff. We want a story to go viral. We want to reach a new audience. We want to see some new meme.

Thus we keep pulling the lever. Or reloading. Or posting. We might not calculate the cost/benefit because it’s fun, because it’s social – and because it is a lot like gambling.

Trust me, I’ve been here with everything from attempting to market my books

That’s when I realized it. Know what Social Media has become for too many of us.

LOOT BOXES.

Yeah. I went there. I just compared a lot of social media usage to one of the most controversial and hated things in gaming – and *I* have PAID for Overwatch Loot Boxes. Don’t get me started on my TF2 days.

But yes, too much social media has become loot boxes:

  1. Repeated usage.
  2. Hoping for a payoff.
  3. That is of limited value.
  4. Or very unlikely.
  5. And we’re compelled by chance and social pressure.

I’m still processing this realization. It’s rare I have thoughts that completely grind other thoughts to a halt, and as I write this (late the 21st) I’ve not grappled with it.

I do see one way forward though. Much as gambling isn’t reliable (if fun), we need to treat our social media and time as something more reliable – an investment. Sure some gambling is fun, but ask ourselves what risk and reward are, what the long-term benefits are, what the returns (not payoff) is.

Think about social media that way. Invest over gamble.

– Steve