Like many people my age, my first experience with social media was MySpace. Technically, AOL chat rooms were before that, but that wasn’t really social media. I would only chat with individual people (chat rooms were a mess) and the anonymity of a screen name stopped me from posting anything too personal.
I posted inconsistently on MySpace. It wasn’t until I migrated to Facebook in 2005 that I started consistently putting my life online for the world to see. Back then the wall was a huge text block that anyone could edit and I didn’t worry about privacy because the only people on Facebook were my college friends.
Over time Facebook grew and I became “friends” with family members, coworkers, people I met at conferences and old classmates. Whenever I posted things to Facebook I would overthink it, trying to think about who is going to see it and what they’re going to think.
As a result, I left Facebook for a few months. In that time, I discovered Twitter and Reddit, where I could connect with people who had shared interests. I ultimately returned to Facebook, but now what I post there is very different. My life is spread out online in the following way:
- Facebook: Highlights of my personal life. I like staying in touch with people that I’ve known for years, but I recognize that many of those people don’t know me that well anymore and anything that I post is only going to give them a snippet of who I am. Using this to my advantage, the only content I consistently post on Facebook is a monthly montage of my life using the app One Second Everyday. I record a second of video every day, stitch it together and post it. Here’s an example. This way, people get a sense of what’s going on in my life and I don’t feel like I have provide a lot of context for complicated thoughts or justify inane material.
- Twitter: Musings and short conversations with niche communities. I’m interested in education reform, vegetarianism, mixed martial arts, social media, New York City, hiking, and endurance sports (among many other things). I could find groups on Facebook of people that are interested in these topics, but Twitter is really the best vehicle for finding out what’s new in the niche communities I care about. Also, I’ve had more luck getting responses from high-profile people in niche communities on Twitter than I have anywhere else.
- Snapchat: Silly pictures of my everyday life. One of the things that makes me think deeply about what I’m going to post on Facebook or Twitter is the fact that posts are permanent (unless I go back and delete them). Anyone can look back over time and see what I’ve posted, which stops me from posting silly things that I don’t want people looking at for years. Here’s a Snapchat story of me hanging out with my friends at an annual Tiki party we have in Long Island. I would never post that to Facebook.
- Reddit: Connecting semi-anonymously with people about topics of interest. I use Reddit and Twitter in a similar way, with the biggest difference being that Reddit’s anonymity allows people to have even more frank conversations over the topics we love. If you look at my posting history on Reddit you can figure out who I am pretty quickly, so that’s why I only call it semi-anonymous. Given that, it’s one of my favorite places online.
That’s it. I used to use Instagram, but have since replaced it with Snapchat. I only use LinkedIn out of necessity for work, never to browse on my free time. I use YouTube pretty frequently, but it isn’t a great place to connect with people. The comment section is notoriously terrible.
Over time I’m sure that my platforms of preference will evolve. I’ll let you know how that goes. Feel free to leave a comment below and tell me if this jives with how you’re using social media.