Facebook and the Midlife Crisis
So I thought I would write this tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating post about my weirdness with hugging (I called myself a hugging snob) and how that equates to Facebook (then I called myself a Facebook snob)…and furthermore, how that equates to using Facebook specifically to build a quality network…A network that will be effective for you when it comes time for a job search.
That is what I do.
I learn about/experiment with trends so that I can advise job seekers on how best to employ them in their job search based on actual experience (that is the focus of this blog, after all).
Many of our job seekers at ITtechExec, technical pros with a few years of experience under their belts (those of us in our middle years, shall we say), come to us for help with personal branding but feel that social media, Facebook, in particular, is…perplexing, dumb, a waste of time, not worth its weight in stock. Yet they have ventured on to Facebook because they were told they should, especially in this job market, and they are finding themselves wondering how they got there and what they should do now. This same audience is questioning what makes for an effective network (or community) and how they can build that using social media as one option.
That’s the audience I was trying to reach with my post.
When I first joined Facebook, I accepted every friend invite. But as I mentioned in my first post, I didn’t really see as much value in it for job seekers as I did with LinkedIn or Twitter. So I deactivated my account (for at least a year and a half!). No one seemed to miss me. Then I decided I would give it another shot as I wanted to explore other aspects of Facebook that many people don’t seem to use as much, such as groups and branding pages.
But this time, I decided to take the opposite approach to it (one very few are taking). What if I kept my network really small, made myself difficult to find, etc.? Would I find the experience anymore effective? To do that, I picked ~45 people that I interact with on a REGULAR basis. I didn’t think about whether we were family, colleagues, etc., just about whether we actually interacted.
Considering that I had not been on Facebook in well over a year, who would even care whether they stayed on my list anyway?
What I discovered is that social media is having an even bigger pull than I realized. Who friends you, unfriends you, likes you, unlikes you, follows you, unfollows you suddenly gets linked in to deeper relationship issues, much deeper than it should. Here we are feeling snubbed…and exposed, especially when someone close to us uses Facebook or other social media in a way that seems like a personal attack.
So, as you can imagine, my use of the word “dumping” in my previous post really touched a nerve.
(If it makes anyone feel better, my own father “dumped” me from his FB friends, to employ his own “strategy,” and we still see each other at least once a week!)
No wonder I feel my midlife crisis coming on.
Social media is just a tool. Facebook is a more personal one, LinkedIn is a more professional one, Twitter is a more informative one, Google+ is a mashup one, and so on. But in the end, no matter what the environment, it is just a tool…nothing more. And there are no concrete rules for how you should use these tools. No one guru has the answer because no two people use the tools in the same way or for the same purpose.
One person might see Facebook as a way to keep in touch with everyone they have ever met. Another might see it as a way to share content with a specific group. Some might not really give it any thought at all. And others, like me, might just see it as something to experiment with because, after all, it is just a tool.
My goal was to see whether my strategy would work or have any value and how that could relate to the job seeker.
And value I did find. Engaged networks are invaluable…but they can come at a cost.
That doesn’t mean that people I “dumped” have no value or that I have some deep-rooted dislike for them. Again, it’s a tool, remember? And a rather silly one at that. It also doesn’t mean that we won’t ever be closer or more involved with each other’s lives.
Facebook is not a marriage contract or anything! (At least not yet anyway…)
So my advice, especially for those of you entering your own midlife crisis, is to keep your Facebook network (LinkedIn/Twitter are another story) small if your intention is to use it for job search or related purposes. You no longer have to be as harsh as I apparently was because Facebook blessedly does allow you to “group” people now into different categories, in which you can set aside a core group that you want to interact with the most (and just ignore the rest, I guess; a more “polite” dumping, if you will).
Just don’t broadcast your strategy, even if it is for the benefit of others and is part of your job, like I did.
A wise social media strategist once said that we are all in trouble once we start taking social media too seriously. The future of world relations or at least your next family gathering could very well be at stake. :-)