How We Should Or Should Not Use Social Networks

This is a com­pan­ion post to The Dis­il­lu­sion­ment of Social Net­works. If you have not read it, please do, before con­tin­u­ing to read.

What I did not dis­cuss in that post is our expec­ta­tion from oth­er peo­ple about how they should be using social net­work­ing or how they should go about their online com­mu­ni­ca­tion in gen­er­al.

  • You con­nect with some­one on Face­book, which you use only to share per­son­al stuff, only to find that they use it only to reshare fun­ny or inspir­ing or (insert your own adjec­tive here) pic­tures and mes­sages.
  • You fol­low a “thought leader” on Twit­ter, only to find the per­son rant­i­ng about the traf­fic, or politi­cians, or sim­ply singing prais­es of oth­er thought lead­ers, or sim­ply RTing any and all pos­i­tive men­tions of them­selves.
  • Some­one you fol­low on Twit­ter sud­den­ly goes into over­drive, and there are a stream of tweets that drown every­thing else in your time­line.
  • All you see from your friend/relative on Face­book is the great time he/she is hav­ing or has had with great friends. There is no real per­son behind all the shares, it is all just an image he/she wish­es to por­tray on social media.
  • Some­one tweets mul­ti­ple thoughts on a top­ic and we think it would have been bet­ter if he/she had blogged about it, since the essence of Twit­ter is its 140 char­ac­ter lim­it.

Sounds famil­iar? There are many exam­ples and I won’t both­er to enu­mer­ate them.

What under­lies our dis­il­lu­sion­ment? Our expec­ta­tion.

We have very spe­cif­ic ideas about how one should use a social net­work. When our expec­ta­tions are not ful­filled, we are dis­il­lu­sioned. As far as our dis­il­lu­sion­ment is about a social net­work, it is okay. But often, we cross the line. Often, we are already dis­il­lu­sioned about the per­son who has not met our expec­ta­tions of how he/she should use social net­works. This is scary and it hap­pens all the time.

We are pre­dis­posed to a per­son who we have met online, but have nev­er met in real life, just because of how that per­son behaves online.

This is the oth­er side of the Con­flict of Online & Offline Iden­ti­ties.

Why should we have expec­ta­tions about how oth­ers should com­mu­ni­cate online? Why should we have expec­ta­tions about how oth­ers should use social net­works? But we do, just because we are accus­tomed to using that spe­cif­ic online com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel in a spe­cif­ic way, and any anom­aly offends us as a vio­la­tion.

If we allow our own spe­cif­ic ideas of online com­mu­ni­ca­tion and social net­work­ing to dis­il­lu­sion our­selves about peo­ple, the only thing we end up achiev­ing is dis­tanc­ing our­selves from them.

Instead of online com­mu­ni­ca­tion being a vehi­cle for greater con­nect­ed­ness, it can end up dis­con­nect­ing us from peo­ple.

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