Rethinking social media in a nasty(er) world

For some time I’ve been quite adamant about the general uselessness of social media when it comes to the wine market. The “influencers” influence no one except for those they’ve swindled into paying for their services and in general I find the genre of media from a business perspective to have all the worth of a big fat fart–Kardashians excepted as they are a wholly different species of fart.

In swinging by Domaine Treloar a few days ago I was reminded of something that winemaker, Jonathan Hesford said awhile back which is that he uses social media simply because he likes it. And on a personal level, I quite agree with him. Instagram I enjoy for keeping track of where I’ve been and why my pants don’t fit anymore. My cuss-prone Twitter I enjoy for engaging other like-minded cuss-proned individuals. Facebook, well, I’ve found it to be quite worthless and while I have an account I don’t use it other than to post articles from either this rag, my wine rag or whatever other rag I’ve convinced to publish my writing in.

I was generally happy to keep things as they were until two changes happened in recent history. The first was November 8th, 2016 when a hate-spewing fool was elected 45th president of the United States by using social media in its darkest manner which is to seed fear and isolate people to better control them. That wildly turned me off to Twitter for some time as it showed how useless it was all but for the evil that occupies our planet. This continues but I try to just ignore that dark, moldy corner of things, but it’s not why I’ve made a massive change to my account.

The second problem I’ve encountered with social media are the lurkers. I have a paltry number of Twitter followers at a bit less than 2,000. I would never rate myself as an influencer, nor as anyone terribly relevant. But what I consider myself to be is curious and I like to explore. As I explore, I broadcast what I find to hopefully share with others. What I’ve found however is that lurkers are my undoing.

Journalism in general and wine journalism in specific are dwindling in terms of what is being paid, outlets to write for, and what there is to cover. Stealing articles ideas is now common practice and I wouldn’t believe it until having seen something I’d mentioned offhand be picked up and turned into an article by someone who follows me but never engages. I despise these people as some of them don’t even follow me but have slipped up when meeting me by saying, “Oh, I love your Twitter.” “You follow me?” “Oh, sure, from time to time.” “Ah…”

So this has led me to do something rather drastic. While I initially put my account in protected mode so that only people who follow me could see the tweets, this was lacking as it breaks immediate engagement which is the only real purpose of Twitter. Also, you gain nothing by having much of a history on Twitter except for people to either a) snatch something you might have been working upon or b) take offense at something you tweeted in the past. Both of these options are less than ideal and so I’ve deleted all of my tweets for the last 10 years and from time to time, I’ll do it again.

This rather draconian approach allows me to still use Twitter without really having to worry about it for the most part but it goes hand in hand with working to reduce usage of the platform and regard it in more of a Facebook manner. We’ll see how well I’ll do with that.

Oh, Instagram will stay private as in addition to the aforementioned issues, there’s also the fact that follower spam is simply out of control and this allows me to block various Russian and Ukrainian accounts that are follow fishing or I don’t know what.

Beyond this, I only see fully checking out of social media altogether on a personal level which honestly, I’ve seen work well for many people as you get next to nothing out of it for what you put into it but again, what I do in it, I do for fun so, 10 years in, let’s try Phase II.

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