Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning


The other day I had yet another friend trying to “link” to me through Linkedin. I don’t do Linkedin. Or Facebook. Nor did I do MySpace. And I won’t do the next big social media thing.

I’m not anti-social. I always reply to email from people I know (and never from people I don’t). So when it comes to social media, my goal is to stay OOTL: Out Of The Loop. Why?

One very good reason to be OOTL is that it keeps me from even more contacts from people I don’t know. Unlike some out there, I’m not interested in collecting what Facebook calls “friends.”

That reason should be good enough, but of course I have many more. What I think of when I hear about social media is one to many. That is, it’s communication from one person to many people. Asymmetrical. Unequal. It’s form is, “I talk, you listen.”

It’s the form favored by dictators and others not interested in any response. It’s not structured for a response. Some businesses are run this way—but more aren’t. A business (or any organization) can function better as a team with equal rights and opinions.

Another example is the family. Social media is good for keeping family members in touch and up-to-date. The problem for businesses, teams, and families is that social media isn’t built as a private chat room. They’re on the Web and open to the World.

It’s that intrusive aspect that bugs me. All I need is one glance at the email address of the sender and the subject line and I delete it. Caller ID is even easier than email. But when the software is more sophisticated, it’s harder to know what to avoid.

I understand many people miss high school and are using social media to maintain (or resurrect) that experience. Some of us don’t and therefore won’t. Some of us have full lives without the need to attach needless people as an ersatz form of fulfillment.

Again, to restate: I am more than happy to hear from friends and communicate with them. I just refuse to do it via some medium that exposes me to people I don’t want to hear from and will not communicate with. For some examples, see Phish of the Month.

I’m toying with an idea to make this point more emphatically. Since I have no middle name (or initial), I’m thinking of adopting OOTL (rhymes with toodle). Maybe I’ll start a trend—of non-joiners. Or maybe just another blog.


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