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Monday, 5 September 2011

Think Before You 'Like'

There are more social networks popping up all the time, and one thing that I’ve noticed with all of them is that they are designed so you can easily repeat anything you find to your followers.  This post is to explain why I think you might be better off NOT pressing the ‘like’, ‘retweet’ or ‘share’ on Facebook, Twitter and Google +1 respectively.   

You are probably thinking ‘but it’s so easy’ or perhaps shaking your head at the screen as you believe I have just told you not to share this post.  But that’s not what I’m saying at all.  I’m not saying don’t ever press that button.  I’m simply suggesting you think about it before you do.  Think of it this way – if a stranger handed you some business cards, would you happily go and give them to your friends, family and anyone who happened to be standing nearby?  When you share anything online, you are advertising it.  Now, I’m all for word of mouth advertising (which is the closest phrase I can think of for it) but only for products and services that I truly love.  I would never recommend something without trying it for myself.  And I think that this should apply to ‘liking’ as well.

Not only does retweeting anything you find clog up your feed, it can actually harm you (well, your reputation anyway).  When you tell your followers about a product, you aren’t just sharing it, you are reflecting who you are.  We all know the phrase ‘everything you say and do can, and will, be taken and used against you’ and with technology this is even more prevalent.  We are constantly judging others by what we see online – and we are constantly being judged.  And the thing with services like Facebook and Google +1, that information is out there, for anyone to find, forever (or at least until we all stop using the internet which I don’t see happening anytime soon).  If you say something to a friend, it can be forgotten.  If you type something into twitter it will always be there for others to access (even if you delete it, it is already in the feeds of all your followers).

So back to my point about passing on what you find.  I think it’s great that we can share what we love so easily with anyone who knows (and doesn’t know) us.  But I think with this freedom we should exercise a little care.

I have to admit that I’m as guilty of this as anyone, especially when it comes to Facebook.  I was recently editing my profile and I realised that I’d ‘liked’ an enormous number of pages.  I don’t expect anyone to read them all.  And therefore they won’t know what I really love.  (I am currently in the process of going through them all and ‘unliking’ any that shouldn’t be there – an excruciating and annoying process, but one I believe will be worthwhile.)  As I said, it can all be used against me as anyone who does happen to glance over my profile will see the huge list and automatically assume that I’m either very well-rounded or have no focus in my life (the fact that both of them may be true isn’t the point – it’s whether I want everyone I know to make that assumption or not).

Do you ‘retweet’ constantly, or do you show restraint?  Think, what do your ‘likes’ say about you?

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