Untangling From Social Media - Part One

May 28th, 20203 min read

For a bit over a year now, I've been in this weird experiment of untangling from social media.

I wish I could say it was over ideals about data collection and the worries that companies like Facebook have too much data, but that wasn't it.

Instead, it was the balance of value: I wasn't getting as much from products like Facebook and Instagram as much was they were getting from me. Why keep giving them so much data? It no longer made sense.

Because it's so interleaved with our lives, it's pretty hard to actually untangle from social media. Here're some areas where it's forced me think harder:

Keeping Up With Friends

The no brainer part is in connecting with friends and getting inspired by them. Social media is amazing for that.

I find myself having to go a bit more out of my way these days to connect with friends. It does prioritize deeper friendships and quickly identifies which were more surface level.

I'm torn on whether that's a good thing. How many friendships out there are hanging in limbo because both people are in this weird stalemate of not putting in the effort to reach out? Without social media, you do have to put in more effort.

Are there alternative ways to keep in contact with people? Chat apps and the ever increasing presence of RCS help a lot, but I hope to have an update in a future post on this topic.

Web Tracking

When I started this blog, I decided to have zero data collection. There's no Google Analytics here, no Mixpanel, nothing. I've got no idea if you've read this blog, what audience segment you fall into, or anything about your interests.

And yet! Social media has found a way to get its sneaky tendrils on my site. The other day, I saw that Ghostery found Twitter and blocked it on this site. This was weird because as far as I knew, I had no social media platform code on my blog.

It turns out the content embedding library I was using for GatbyJS was indiscriminately adding the Twitter platform code to my blog...which of course gives them usage data and user insights on my blog.

youtube-embed
DoubleClick ads from a YouTube embed

I'm not sure yet if there's a good way to render tweets, IG posts or videos without being ensnared in data collection. Sounds like there's some value in UI complete media embeds without tracking.

The crazy part is this all happens even when I'm paying special attention to keep data collection away.

How can a website possibly be GDPR compliant if it's not even able to keep track of all the data it's capturing? A lot of times, 3rd party libraries add their own host of trackers that I'm not convinced are GDPR compliant themselves.

Can you imagine how much data is being captured on you for a traditional website that lives on ads and product placement?

Partnerships

With things like my racing, I've had the fortune of getting sponsors to help support my hobbies. However, I no longer have a way display results or keep in touch with those partners in a way that also has high reach. It limits the way in which I can return their investment in my hobby.

hookit
My HookIt score has drastically dropped after I unlinked social media

The solution then becomes creating a social presence strictly for business uses...which makes the hobby a bit less fun.

But that goes with the territory if you're asking a business for some type of help. You do have to provide value in return like any other relationship.

I don't really get to escape social media, do I?

Future Opportunities

I'm not the first to struggle with these problems nor am I the last. But it is a bit perplexing when you try to tackle those problems yourselves.

It sounds like there's a need here. People do increasingly value privacy but it's at odds with how culture, technology, and business are trending in their operations.

I'd love to think about this further. Hopefully you'll see some ideas for solutions in later posts here!

If you've got any thoughts on the subject, feel free to message me.