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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Avoiding Social Media & Staying Real

Evaluating the digital reflections of our social media "selves"...
Today marks the start of year four for this blog. It's now survived well past the "average" lifespan of a blog, which was not something I was able to envision four years ago.

Oddly enough, I'm commemorating the event by posting something that I started writing back in early 2014, probably around month three of blogging. This post was meant as potential filler for when things got slow on the sewing front.

Turns out that even though my sewing pace is slow, I've had enough other topics to write about that this post has sort of been forgotten.

That doesn't mean that it's lost any relevancy, however, since I've continued to have the occasional inquiry as to my availability on social media platforms other than Blogger. At year four, you still don't see those ubiquitous social media icons displayed in large format at the top of the page. Am I missing out on opportunities to promote this blog? Maybe. Is that important to me? Maybe, but maybe not.

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By the way, is it just my impression, or has there been an exodus towards "quick fire" social media on the part of craft bloggers over the past few years?

And while I'm asking questions, let me also ask another: am I the only one who cringes whenever someone says "like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter"? To be perfectly honest, it always sounds like a pitiful, pathetic plea... made to masses of people who are only important as a part of an ever increasing number to feed one's ego.

I don't mean that to sound harsh, because as a marketing tool, social media is highly effective when used properly. It's probably a necessary evil to doing business these days. (Doesn't mean that I still don't cringe when a business says "like me", but that's my hang-up, not yours.) On the other hand, for average "Joes and Josephines" — as a teacher of mine once said — it's as though self-worth has come to depend a great deal on numbers that we have no control over... i.e., how many online followers/"friends", how many subscribers/readers, how many visits from how many different places. It's endless. And endlessly troubling.

Blogging even comes with social expectations and obligations that one might not anticipate. For instance, there are those "I just found you at blankety-blank and added you to my blog list... follow me back at such-and-such". What kind of person makes such a request?

my list of tags
Judging by the size of the "promo link"
tag, I actually have quite a few
posts with links to other sites...
My main reason for not officially following any blog is that I don't have much time for blog-hopping. Additionally, I'm a stickler for equal opportunity. It's obvious that there are a handful of blogs that I regularly visit, but I know that if I were to put together an actual list of such places, I'd start to feel obligated to add to that list, whether by guilt or by influence, and a list like that will eventually come to mean nothing. (Some people's blog lists look like indices to major reference books... as in, there is a ludicrous number of entries. These individuals either sit around reading blogs day and night, or they're just pawns to the "follow me" requests and being followed by them means almost nothing anyway.)

Of course, in not having a list, I'm not fully contributing to the "web" part of the world wide web. For that reason, I've compensated by highlighting the specific work of other people/bloggers and providing direct links as much as I can, within my blog posts. (Check out my list of tags on the sidebar... if you filter my posts using the label "promo link", you will see all of the posts in which I mention other sites that have caught my eye. And if they've been mentioned more than once, you can be sure that I am somewhat of a "follower".)

But getting back to my first thought: what about Facebook and Twitter? Not being on Facebook has actually been compared to not having a toilet in your home. I want to state for the record that while I am not on Facebook, I do have four toilets in my home. More to the point, I would admittedly freak out if I didn't have a toilet in my home, but I don't see the day when I'll freak out about not being on Facebook.

As for Twitter, I snagged an account several years ago to claim my name, and did in fact start using it in 2016. I follow five accounts operated by my local emergency and news services and have to say that I really like how efficient it is at aggregating pertinent info. We had crazy weather in 2016, with warnings and watches foisted on us during the summer on an almost daily basis. Twitter was actually the best way to access everything at once. That said, I have neither tweeted nor followed any other individual's pithy chirps. Seeing the crazy conflicts that take place daily on Twitter, not engaging means that I minimize the possibility of inadvertently sticking my foot in my mouth.

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Having avoided Facebook for so long, when I started this blog, I knew I wouldn't succumb to setting up a corresponding Facebook account that would — in all likelihood — replicate what's here and seriously suck my time in keeping it current.

Curiously enough, one of the testers for my Diva Envelope Clutch suggested setting up a Facebook group for pattern testing purposes so that testers can communicate with each other via that platform... after all, it wouldn't require my involvement. (But the idea of not being involved with something that's ultimately mine raises the potential of other issues that I won't get into right now.)

To expand on an earlier statement, we've really lost something with regards to what Facebook, Twitter, et al have done to bloggers who used to post with some regularity. Instead of their blogs driving their social media content, it's now 24/7 natterings on these other platforms punctuated by the occasional blog post. It's unfortunate that some bloggers have diverted their efforts to these other — in my humble opinion — less meaningful pursuits.

It's obviously about opting for an easier way, because — as most bloggers come to realize and some smart readers know — blogging is hard work. It takes time and a huge commitment. It's why those who start off blogging five times a week very quickly find themselves unable to keep up. (Craft blogging, in particular, has to be balanced with actual crafting.) And I'm sure that's the explanation most would give if they had to explain why they've switched from blogging to "that other stuff".

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By the way, let's be clear that I am not without some appreciation of the value of social media. I like that when a "bad guy" is out and about, it takes no time for the news to go around the world via those mediums. I like that good causes get recognition and crowd funding through the power of social media.

But on a regular daily basis, I'm becoming more convinced that the bad has totally outweighed the good. Why? I've come to suspect that most of the good effects of social media are more or less accidental, while the bad is intentional.

From way, way back (in the 90s), I've disliked the mob mentality of the internet. But today's real time, rapid fire social media feeds that frenzy in the worst possible ways. People initially gravitate to social media platforms on the premise of joining inclusive communities, on gaining a sense of belonging. But more often than not, the end results are extremely divisive. Never mind that the notoriety that arises from becoming a recognized social media "personality" or online "celebrity" can give rise to a twisted sense of self-importance. It doesn't take much to go from feeling ordinary to feeling entitled and powerful and believing that one's digital reflection is the real thing. As human beings, we are very weak that way.

And I'm not implying that there are sewing blog authors who are megalomaniacs or narcissists (!), just that the situation — wherever and whenever it occurs — is distasteful.

Most of all, I stay away from quickie social media because I really, really, REALLY value my privacy, and need to have as much control of it as possible. (Apparently, studies have shown that I'm giving away my age by admitting to a need for privacy. Whatever. The fact is, once you lose it, your privacy is virtually — if not totally — impossible to get back.)

But really, you already know how many toilets I have in my home. If you get to know much more about me, I might have to come after you. ;-)

So that was a rather long-winded way of saying why I'm still not — after four years — wanting to spread myself thinly across quickie social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

Knowing that I'm in the minority, however, let me ask you this: what is the best thing that social media has done for you?


  1. It is great that you have stuck with blogging Rochelle. I have been blogging for over 9 years now and have seen most of the blogs that I have followed stop blogging. Some have gone to FB or Instagram. Even though people interact briefly on FB with comments or discussions, you really don't get to know them like you do with blogging. I feel like I have made friends through blogging, but just because you friend someone on FB or they friend you, doesn't mean you know a single thing about them. It's just so phoney baloney! Even my real life friends on FB pretty much spend their time reposting stuff from others to spread it around. It's not like there are real conversations there.
    I did join FB originally because being a bag tester there was a private group of testers. But FB is a huge time waster! Never even looked at Twitter. I joined Instagram to see what it was about, but then found I needed a cell phone to load photos. Well I don't have a cell phone, so while I have an Instagram account, I have no photos to share. So in the "about me" section I mentioned this that explaining why I won't have photos posted due to no cell phone. Do you know that I got about 8 followers? Just the other day I got another follower. Makes you wonder what they are following? Lol! I have only looked a couple of times at other people's stuff. Since Instagram photos disappear after a short time, it is weird so many follow it.
    I agree with what you wrote here and I will try to stick with blogging for as long as I enjoy it and for as long as I can. The I like you if you like me stuff reminds me of little children who are trying to make their first friends.

  2. Thank you for not falling in with the hoards that believe if you are not on Facebook you don't matter. I refuse to become entwined with Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Because I don't subscribe to these social medias, I find I have much more time to do the things in life that really matter.

    1. Kudos to you for having real life priorities over social media navel gazing! My day is occupied enough by the computer; I can't imagine what time would be left if I were to "live online" like some people do. Thanks for contributing to the discussion, Pamela.

  3. Like you, I value my privacy. I keep my Facebook friends to a minimum and like very few pages as then my news feed fills up and I can't keep track of what's going on with my friends and family. I've liked pages to get the free pattern but then end of removing them from my feed. Then I feel bad for only liking them to get the free stuff so I've stopped. I feel like it's another way of commercialism invading our lives. I don't care for Twitter because of their short posts. I prefer the longer posts that blogs allow. I'm glad that people like you continue to write posts so that I have something to read. I've heard people say that Twitter and Facebook is going to take over and blogs will be something of the past. I sincerely hope not as I love reading articles with more substance. It's nice to be able to immerse myself into articles about sewing and be able to leave the "real world" behind for some time every day. I hope you stay honest to yourself and not let the pressures of the world change you. Do what makes you happy and people will enjoy reading your posts, as I do.

    1. What an insightful (not to mention lovely) comment; thank you so much for your kind thoughts and for adding them to the mix.

      You bring up an issue that I've always had a problem with, regarding freebies that you have to sign up for or otherwise take action on. As I've indicated in a previous post, it doesn't matter when it's a big multi-national company that runs my local grocery or drug store, but if it's someone's blog or - in the current context, someone's social media feed - I would feel guilty for doing so only to "get the prize", knowing I'm not going to be a long-time supporter. That's the inherent difficulty with getting followers that way; if you have to bribe them, you run the risk of not keeping them.

      I'm extremely grateful that there are people such as you who appreciate my wordy posts! And for the immediate future at least, I am quite happy doing what I'm doing here... without the added stress of social media.

    2. Very well said. I also enjoy reading the posts.
      “Like & follow me on Twitter” requests irritate me so much, comes across as very needy

  4. I reluctantly joined Facebook years before I began blogging, as a way to keep in touch with my eldest son when he was overseas. Over time, much to my surprise, I've come to like it, and I do get on there every day. Apart from easily seeing my kids' photos, probably the best thing that social media (Facebook) has done, was to enable me to find girls I'd lost touch with from my teacher training days. Subsequently, we've organised a few get-togethers. Without Facebook this would not have happened.

    I think, perhaps, that people of our age - (who do use social media) - are able to do so without getting too caught up in many of the things you mention. Because we've had a lot of our adult lives without social media, we're not as likely to feel the need to 'like', 'follow', etc.

    As far as my blog is concerned, my blog is what's important to me. Yes, I'm on FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and G+, but they're just side things. On Facebook I mainly share links to sewing tutorials. Twitter I dislike and rarely use. Instagram I'm learning to like. My daughter convinced me to join, saying it's great for sharing photos. I'm not the fan she is, but I do enjoy looking at photos every now and then - gardening, travel and some sewing. G+ I rarely use - don't know why I joined. Pinterest is my form of bookmarking things I'd like to come back to, plus a way of sharing tutorials, with a few other interests.

    Both Facebook and Pinterest have been beneficial to my blog. Every now and then something I post to Facebook will drive traffic to my blog, but often as not, it's something someone else posts. In recent times, I've had a lot of traffic from Pinterest, both from my posts, and the posts of others - mainly since I've started playing with the photos in some blog posts. It started off as a bit of an experiment to see if spending time on one image made any difference, and it did. In some cases a huge difference. I enjoy playing with Photoshop, and so it was a bit of fun for me and it paid off for my blog.

    My blog for me, however, is the main interest. It's where I can write posts of substance, and where readers are more likely to add to the discussion with valuable comments.

    An interesting post, Rochelle.

    1. Ha, ha... no one would ever leave a comment of this length under a social media post!

    2. I can't confirm, but you may have set a new record for length, Pam!

    3. Actually, out of curiosity, I did a cursory check and Daryl once submitted a 710 word comment (re: sewing dilemmas)...!

  5. I started with Facebook as a way to stay in touch with my kids, and now see pics of the grand kids. Pam’s comments about Pinterest has me thinking I should take a closer look at that - I rarely use it.
    Rochelle, please keep on writing your posts - always interesting, informative and I love it when you reconfigure a sewing project whether it’s one of your own or someone else’s. Explanations are clear and you inspire me to think outside the box and be creative - thanks.

    1. Thanks, Bonnie, for reading and for adding to the discussion (twice). Thank you more for your kind words of support. I can't speak for all bloggers, but I'm sure the majority of us would love to get the validation that you've just extended to me.

      Yes, Pinterest is excellent for its pre-filtered "visual bookmarking". (And my blog has benefited greatly from users who have pinned my projects.) Just be aware that you can easily spend hours looking through someone's pins!


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