Note: This post is Part Two in a three-part series about a social network called Path. It’s also about social networks in general and which ones are worth it. Be sure to read Part One first. Part Three is here.
This is an important quest. We are spending more and more of our time interacting with each other on the Internet. As such, I believe we must choose the highest quality methods of doing so. But which?
Part Two: My Network of Social Networks
In Part One, I talked about what Path is. Here, I will discuss the social networks I currently use and how I feel about them. This exploration will help us determine what role Path can fulfill, if any.
Facebook sucks. Everybody knows it, but everybody’s on it, so nobody can disconnect from it. If you’re still in that phase where “Facebook stalking” is a thing, I can’t help you. The older I get, the more I realize just how useless Facebook is. I’ve hidden everybody I don’t care about, and I still rarely find anything of value in my News Feed.
The people I actually love, I see or text on a regular basis. The news sources I actually care about, I subscribe to via RSS or Twitter. The events I actually want to go to, I don’t hear about through Facebook invites. The games I actually enjoy playing are not about planting virtual crops. As for photos, I just don’t care about putting them up on Facebook anymore. If I think you’ll like a photo I took, I’ll text it to you or show you on my phone when we hang out. Or I’ll tweet it. I don’t need everyone to see the hundred pictures I took on vacation. It’s probably none of your business anyway.
Facebook is a means for people to feel validated on the Internet. It feels good when someone Likes your post or comments on your photo. It feels good to read other people’s sad Facebook statuses, or to see how fat that bitch from high school has become, or to check if so-and-so is single. It feels good to know someone is having a worse day than you. It’s all a distraction.
Organizations are no better. I cringe when I see respectable businesses telling people to “Like us on Facebook!” As if that’s going to help you or anybody. Facebook is a waste of time. How much of a waste of time depends on the user. It’s social titillation, and it’s shallow and lame.
Hey, jerkface. If you hate Facebook so much, why don’t you just delete your account?
An excellent point. I should, but there are two main reasons why I haven’t yet.
The Quarter-Life Enlightenment Facebook page. While I personally see little value in Facebook, I can understand the fact that some might use it as their primary news source. I want to provide as many ways as possible to subscribe to QLE, be it Twitter, RSS, email, or Facebook. If you’re on Facebook every day, then Liking the QLE page might be the easiest way for you to stay up-to-date on new posts.
I’m fortunate to not be affected by Facebook’s addictive qualities. Usually, I just read the new posts in my News Feed a couple of times a day, and then I close it. I don’t look at people’s profiles or pictures, and I very rarely search for anything specific. Thus, the need for me to disconnect from Facebook is less severe than it might be for other users. It’s definitely a matter of time though.
[Facebook and MySpace] feel like malls to me. But Twitter actually feels like the street. You can bump into anybody on Twitter.
Yes. I’ve interacted with people I greatly admire on Twitter who might have otherwise never known I existed. That’s really cool.
The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity. There is no forced, awkward Internet friendship. You’re either following someone, or you’re not. The 140 character limit cuts out all the crap. You have to think about what you say and how you say it. Twitter reflects the way I feel about relationships, in the sense that you actively choose who you want in your feed. You can follow celebrities, athletes, writers, politicians… whomever you feel contributes value to your life. There is no obligatory, regrettable acceptance of friend requests.
Twitter is a wonderful ongoing conversation. I love it very much.
I love Instagram, but I mainly use it for its integration with Twitter. If I take a photo I want to share, I’ll usually take it with Instagram and post it to Twitter in addition to my Instagram profile. It’s a great app — well-designed, fun, and simple to use. Plus, it has a widespread user base. Every iPhone user I know uses Instagram.
Google+ is weird. It’s like Google Facebook for nerds. Some people have really started to use it as a publishing platform, but I haven’t felt compelled to do anything more than post a link each day, like the Facebook fan page. I’ve yet to find a way to automate this process. Google+’s interface is certainly nicer than Facebook’s, but it’s become quite clear that people are having a hard time switching.
In addition, there’s been a lot of talk recently about users moving away from Google because of their increasing tendency to “be evil”. Many have taken to DuckDuckGo for their searching needs. I’m heavily invested in Gmail, so I haven’t yet begun to get off Google, but it is on my radar.
Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.
I’ve never really used location-based check-in services, mainly because I rarely feel compelled to let people know where I am. From time to time, I’ll add a location to a picture in Instagram if I think it’s relevant, but that’s all.
SoundTracking, Last.fm, etc.
I love music, and I often want to share what I’m listening to with people. Posting lyrics as tweets or statuses isn’t very effective, so I’m more interested in services that allow you to post a preview of the song you’re listening to. That way, if I post about a song by The Long Winters, people can click through and listen to what I’m hearing. I prefer that to only posting out-of-context lyrics.
I had a Last.fm account a while back, but I don’t use it anymore. I’ve taken to posting songs with the SoundTracking app, which works well enough. Nobody is on SoundTracking itself, so I use it to post songs to Twitter. It gets the job done.
I can’t really take LinkedIn seriously. To me, it feels like adults were jealous of Facebook and decided they needed to get in on the game. LinkedIn feels like Facebook for adults, rationalized under the pretense of “networking”.
So, what about Path?
Where does Path fit into all this, if at all? My online social needs are being fulfilled by the above services with varying degrees of efficiency. Is there any room for Path? Can it replace or supplement any of my existing social networks, or is it just another unnecessary account? That’s what I’ll be discussing next.
Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion to Greener Pathtures!
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