My first social media profile appeared on a dating site in 1997. I wanted to find a partner, hopefully for the rest of my life. Life as a single mother with two kids and long working days was rather lonely. The kids had many friends and hobbies of their own, but my life did not leave much time for me to go socializing outside of my home.
That’s why I turned to the Internet. The site I used was first of its kind in Denmark. There were about 10.000 profiles, 80 percent of them men and many of them working in the IT-industry. Immediately after publishing my profile I started getting several contact requests every day and dutifully I replied to every one. Soon corresponding with people on that platform and meeting a few promising candidates took too much of my time forcing me to develop routines and procedures to manage this new endeavor and not get depressed over unmet expectations and less than satisfying experiences.
Over a year and a half I became an expert in Internet dating before I found the perfect partner for me. But that is a different story that you can read somewhere else on my blog.
Ten years passed before I created a new social media presence, this time on Facebook. The reason was to connect with some of my fellow students in a summer certificate course of the Berkeley University. Soon I started getting invitations to connect with old and new friends and colleagues all over the world and I started looking for people with whom I had not had contact for a long time. Everybody seemed to be on Facebook.
Again this new platform consumed more and more of my time and I had to discipline myself to be able to handle other aspects of my life. Therefore I stopped actively contributing to any Facebook discussions and uploading any content of my own, except occasionally uploading a link to my own blog entries, and wishing my contacts happy birthday or anniversary.
This kind of passive approach is my preferred approach towards tens of other social media sites where I have a profile. My young Finnish relatives are using Instagram, therefore I have an Instagram account. Some of my fellow travelers share photos with me on Pinterest. Therefore I have a Pinterest account.
Many of the massive-open-online-courses on the 10 platforms that I was involved with during the last five years use different dissemination methods. They either have their own discussion forums and file- and video- sharing sites or require that I use Vimeo, YouTube or other sharing sites to upload my coursework. One course in telemedicine had a requirement that I had to follow certain doctors on Twitter, which of course I did.
While glancing through email notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Quora, InterNations, the Airbnb-community, and other social media sites over my morning coffee, too often my eye catches some interesting headline and I follow the link to the platform. This is dangerous because typically after reading the article in question, I end up spending a lot of time reading other information that is nice to know, but that I don’t need to know. However I cleverly convince myself that storing some of that info in my brain may be useful in the future and create some new neural connections.
Not to be present on social media would save me a lot of time. But it would make my life less interesting. As a lifelong community and people oriented person I need relations with other people to feel that I am alive. Currently I travel a lot all over the world and cannot commit to being present in organizational life in any local community in particular.
Therefore following digital inputs from many of my relatives, friends, acquaintances and even strangers, likeminded or even not-so likeminded people makes me feel more at home in this world. Validating some of these people by liking, pinning or expressing in other ways that “I hear you” and writing blog articles about my life experiences, makes me feel that in some small way I contribute to other peoples lives and they contribute to mine.