Social Media and Me

On social media an endless list of companies, independent sellers, artists, writers and athletes all vie for an audience to plus, like, tweet, pin, Instagram, share a video, etc. hoping that a social media reader who follows them will spread the word that this social media site is cool. These social media companies also want to make money, lots of money for themselves and those who buy ads on their site.

Some writers I have read online and commentators on programs I have watched on television warn about the manipulative practices some social media sites use to get the young to be enchanted with them. These companies, these writers and television commentators warn against, utilize tracking software and buy mass data collected by other companies to get a handle on users’ tastes.

Many of us accept that third parties provide data on us when we order a product, a new credit card, take out a loan, buy food, go to a movie, and so on. We like buying items whether we need them or not. And to a certain extent, in so doing we all give up some privacy in one form or another. However, so many of us like me utilize social media and other aspects of the Internet regularly. I like finding out what piece of wit author Tim Hurley posts next or what bit of history historian Liz Covart or author Chaunce Stanton will share.

I also want to know what the entertainment industry is up to. What movies, TV shows, documentaries, and so forth are up coming. I also want to know what is in the news without necessarily having to turn on the television. I can just pick and choose what I want to read or hear online. I am aware any or all of this is tracked. I think fine you companies and big gorilla corporations want to know what boring stuff I do, go ahead with your data mining. I have tools to fight back with. I have installed computer extensions that will block some of you and I clear my history on a regular basis to get rid of what my browser settings may let slip in.

I certainly understand why these writers and commentators have a beef with some of these things. Everyone on the planet has become someone to market to, to influence what he or she buys, what he or she drinks, who is elected, what music is popular—the list is endless on how a company can market to influence shopper choices in the company’s desired direction.
However here is the rub. Some of the same writers and commentators use social media themselves and take corporate money. Some of these sponsoring companies are ethical and work to find a way to reduce or eliminate invasion into public privacy. But there are other companies that give money to these same writers and television people who do intrude into people’s privacy by buying from data mining companies.

I think setting boundaries on social media use is a very good idea and the more people who support that the better . Because in the end an independent seller, artist, writer, dancer, athlete , etc. wants an audience to pay attention to them and share their messages. Why? Because like I am trying to do with my blog and the social media sites to promote my book “Switching Stations, Switching Stories,” they hope to make some extra money from it. I am aware I should monitor myself online and I do. I want my privacy respected and I want to respect the privacy of those who follow me. I do not care to send out a mailing to them either via e-mail or through snail mail. I do not want to purchase their information either because I do not want them to do that to me, although I do admit that unless this individual is part of a gorilla sized company it’s very unlikely. However, I still need to monitor myself on social media and choose carefully who I choose to connect myself with there.

I have to be sure to make certain that I do not get banned from using a social media site or by an ad or service company for any nasty feedback, inappropriate language, pop up ads, taking advantage of paid ads I may create, etc. I can understand this and obey these rules. However, in another respect it seems odd to me that the social media sites do not have to follow more of their own rules like not using pop up ads on its users or targeted ads based on what they track users doing on their sites.

Now again, I could stop using social media sites for work and not use it to promote “Switching Stations, Switching Stories,” but it wouldn’t force an upheaval in big gorilla company practices. Plus I would be shooting myself in the foot and defeating the very purpose of using it for extra money. No, the best and only thing I can do, is to behave the best I can and be a good example online. I am not the only person who does this. We are all setting a positive example while at the same time not abusing the desire to make money by not pestering the very people we are appealing to. I want them to have as free a choice to buy my book as I have to buy what he or she is selling. Maybe in a future decade or century all the little people like me could quite possibly change the tide and force the big gorilla companies to emulate us.