On Christmas day 2009, my ex defriended me on Foursquare and stopped following me on Twitter.
Fair enough, I suppose. I didn’t need to know what bars he was going to and he didn’t need to read my 140-character self-deprecations. But I noticed his unfollow immediately and I cried, really hard. Three glasses of mulled cider later and I began to meditate on the aspects of sharing our lives, our work and our love online.
For all the other modern messes out there, here are 5 New Year’s social media related resolutions:
1. I will not stalk my ex on Facebook. There are so many different reasons why Facebook makes breaking up with people exponentially harder. First, if you were in an established Facebook relationship, the ensuing broken relationship will fill up your friends’ newsfeeds, dragging your already broken heart out into the virtual highway. Second, it means you have access to his or her life, even after you are no longer a part of it. If you don’t have enough willpower to avoid viewing your ex’s photos like a slideshow, then feel free to de-friend him or her. Just realize, that chances are they won’t ask for your friendship on Facebook ever again so it could make for an awkward digital reconciliation .
2. I will be more discerning with my friend requests. On Facebook, if your News Feed looks anything like mine these days, then you need to start being more discerning with your friend requests. Ask yourself 3 questions: Have I met this person in real life? Do we have mutual friends? Do I want this person to see photos of me and status updates for the rest of my Facebook using life? If no, then hit ignore or keep them on the wait list until you can answer yes to all three of those questions, otherwise known as Facebook purgatory.
On Foursquare, this is even more important. You can’t seriously want people you don’t even know to know where you are every time you check-in. That’s downright dangerous. I receive loads of Foursquare friend requests from people I don’t even know, most of the time its because they are new to the platform and haven’t realized Foursquare is more personal in nature than other platforms. But some of the time, the requests are simply scary.
3. I will not “auto” anything on Twitter. Don’t auto-follow. Don’t auto-DM. Don’t auto-tweet. Don’t do anything that shortcuts the already less-than-personal nature of social media. Nobody likes being on the receiving end of auto-generated messages, so don’t be the person to send them. In other words, be a human.
4. I will not spam my “friends” asking them to “Like me.” So you’re an artist, a fashion designer, or a musician, or you just think you’re going to be famous because you live in L.A. and you can breathe properly. Don’t badger your entire network asking them to “Like” you. If you’re really trying to get your message out there and gain notoriety ask your Mom, Dad, your roommate, a couple close friends, your boss and your significant other, but then stop there. More importantly, do something worth notoriety. If its truly notable, people will notice. It’s already a shallow effort and chances are you’ll piss off quite a few people who would’ve “Liked you” on their own without having you request their approval. Lastly, you’re devaluing the entire “Like” process by guilting your friends into adding one more “Like” to their Facebook page.
5. I will forget about MySpace. MySpace had its day, along with Ace of Base, white washed jeans and JNCOs. There are much better ways to waste your time on the Internet.