Taking Control of Your Social Media

me and amyWhat a joy to be able to connect with readers through social media. One junior high boy wrote to me  yesterday that he loved The Dry. He said it was “awesome”. A girl wrote recently on FB that she was enjoying The Dry.

Social Media is a buzzy set of words. Without social media how do we connect with people that we know now? Or how do we meet new people who share our interests? I don’t know the answer. The world is not necessarily friendly. There are few opportunities to connect to people we would want to hang out with daily.

With social media such as Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest you can at least view those trying to connect with you. I don’t connect with people with no photo for instance unless I do know that person already. When someone tries to connect to you, wanting you to “accept” them, you can check out their page first. This would be difficult to do in the physical world. It’s not as if you can ask a person who wants to meet you walking past on the street all the pertinent questions within a few seconds. I think if someone stopped me on the street, I’d be apt to run away. Unless I’m walking the dog and they have a baby in a carriage.

Meeting people on Facebook is a snap. You can see where they’re from, where they live now, what they do for a living, if they own a dog… all in the comfort and time period that you wish, before accepting them as “friends”. It seems safe.

Are computer “friends” the same as friends? There are pros and cons about the “friendships” we have on the computer. Our FB friends are there as we share troubles, have a birthday, or celebrate a book launch. They might live on the other side of the world, but they are able to press “like”, type “Congratulations!” or “LOL” just as if they lived nearby and will be meeting up for lunch later in the week. The cons are that some FB friends are friends in a disconnected way.

Fortunately, you can control how much and to what extent FB friends, twitter friends, or LinkedIn friends/associates can see of you and what they can see of your other FB friends. The part about “your other friends” is important. I have marked on my security controls that friends except acquaintances can see my posts on my personal FB page. This is important. I may not know my friends’ friends so I don’t actually want them to see pictures of my family.

We all get the occasional repeat repeat of announcements in our news feed. An example from back when it was popular is Farmville. I never wanted to get on Farmville, but Farmville under the guise of being posted by friends would send me invite after invite to join. To the far right and upper corner of every post you can scroll your mouse over and see a little drop down box. In that box you can “mark as read” or “turn off”. In other words, you can turn off those annoying “please join such ‘n’ such” bits that turn up every other hour.

Another way you can control what shows up on your actual FB page is that you can delete and even edit what appears or what you’ve added. There have been things that I did not solicit or want to appear on my page. The occasional old photo where someone has “tagged” me I enjoy seeing. I don’t enjoy seeing ads to enter contests, or buy products. In a post, you can run your mouse over the top right hand corner and you will see a drop-down box that asks if you want to: change date, add location, highlight, hide from timeline, delete, or report/mark as spam.

Any post you post to your own timeline or to someone else’s you can go back and edit later, or immediately. Just like my writing, I often see mistakes in a post that I’ve posted when I read it again the next day. And just like my writing gets edited often more than once, so a post gets edited. You can do this, too.

Not seeing much on FB? If you click on “Home” at the top of the page you will see a long list/feed of what everyone on your friend’s list has posted. Poignant, sad, hilarious, scary, morbid, encouraging, and interesting stuff gets said every day. Scroll down and engage in fun, happy events. Leave a short comment or click “like”. Spend a little time doing this every day. You may see someone whose opinion makes you smile and think “I wonder if they would join my friend’s list?” Do it. But not often and not many. Facebook does not encourage mass “friending”. In fact, you can get booted off.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas about how you can control what kind of FB experience you have. Give yourself an enjoyable fifteen minutes a day on your FB visiting friends.

Briefly, I want to share the one thing I’ve learned of value from Twitter. There is a lot of information being passed around on twitter in the form of “how-to’s”. Check out what interests you. If you find something you like or have found very informative, retweet it. You can scroll over the top right hand corner of a tweet and see your options appear.

Control your social media so that it doesn’t control you. Enjoy getting to know others in shared business or interests. Have fun and be careful. Navigating the internet is like walking down the street. For your own safety you need to know what’s going on around you.

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