How to Use Social Media

Social media is useful, and can help you to become a better person and to make the world a better place. Its benefit comes in the form of a sort of advanced group and network type of thought - and its weakness relates almost entirely to its properties as an echo chamber. Nevertheless, most software will evolve to games, location based services and social networking. They are all a type of interface into us - and we should use them to our advantage.

The first step is to realize that all of the sites that are classified as social media - are first and foremost, simply just another website. Most of the technology available to them - is available elsewhere. The best use of social media usually involves setting up your own site. Others would have you believe that hosting is the best way to go with this - which is to say, they'll run your page and make it easy for you to work with their template driven models. This is false. The best way to go, is to make your own site. That's the first step.

Once you have your own site, add to it the things you would want or need. A blogging platform is probably a good choice. Images, sound, whatever work you want to share. Then go out and use other people's websites.

In this way, you can point the connections that are found there - back to you, directly. The other sites will act as a kind of front end redirector to get those that want to deal with you, back to you. Most social network sites main utility is to simply act as a search engine to find those people that you love and care for, anyway. And also, of course, people that you think will love and care for you.

The real thing is, nobody can love you through a virtual interface. They fall in love with an avatar of you. Make sure to set all your relationship status lines to single. And keep them there. If you meet someone, and you fall in love, and marry them - then fine. You're married in real life. But you don't wear a sign that says you're married. You don't carry a business card that says "in a relationship". So don't put one up online. There is a considerable amount of drama associated with this kind of thing - where you have to set your status to whomever you think is wonderful. But on a social networking site, the common thing that people will do is then lurk. And let's face it, that is really a voyeuristic activity. So set your status to single, and defeat anyone who's attempting to use it to create drama. Even if you're married for 20 years, just remember - when you die, your wife becomes a widow. That means she's single, automatically. So don't put a sign on yourself that tells everyone whether or not you want to date anyone. You're better off dating everyone, loving everyone, and being faithful to one person in real life - than you are telling everyone else you're faithful to one person in a virtual life. It doesn't do much for you either way, and it's an important feature that you need to disable from the social networking sites - because the fundamental drive of most social networking sites is to farm information from you like sheep and that single status line is very, very important to them.

If I could riff on this for a minute? This is the 21st century - and most corporations collect massive, massive amounts of data on everyone. Every credit card transaction is analyzed. One store likes to find, for example - whether or not a woman is becoming pregnant - by analyzing her purchase patterns. Multivitamins? Unscented hand lotion? They want to find out in her first trimester so they can send coupons to her. We are the most heavily marketed-to people of all time - and nearly everything we do , is studied. Most of the social network sites are also trying to deliver to these same corporations - everything we say.

This is important. And it leads me to the final point. Which is, don't say it on a social network site. Say it in real life. Use social networking - not as a kind of journal or live blog. Save that for your website, where you own your own content. And where you can write with freedom under any kind of anonymous handle that you like. Use social media for connections to friends, and family - and little else. They will know if you're single or not -and if they want to read what you write - they can head over to your site. Don't let social networking sites become a sort of third place provider - where you can have virtual coffee with people. Let them simply serve as connectors to allow you to establish six degrees of freedom from within your boundary. Focus on your real life, real interactions.

And if you ever use it during a concert, or art show - you should seriously think about not using it at all. You might be surprised to find out how easy it makes your life - to have one less reason to be at a computer terminal or smart phone, typing away information.

Finally, there is one thing you need to be aware of - and that is jurisprudence. Social networking can be very, very dangerous. A person must be considered innocent until proven guilty. This is the basis of our law and of fair play. Social networking offers the allure of giving - to anyone who can make a slick production - the ability to use the court of public opinion to indict and convict anyone, anywhere. Never. Ever. Use social networking in this fashion. It is the kiss of death for society, art, and everything you love. Most if not all of the people who make real change in the world have at one time or another come into conflict with either the status quo, the law, or both. If you allow any random clip to be played , to determine whether or not a person is guilty or innocent - or you feel like you have to continually follow the latest "meme" .. the effect is insidious. At first, it will feel just like watching yet another funny cat video on youtube. "I just can't stop watching this". However, over time - it will create the hive mind. Those that stray will be punished severely - and everyone will forfeit talking to each other and real interactions (with real consequences) for safer ones that end up making everyone a "star" - and at the same time letting the laugh tracks take over the live studio audience. It is a very real danger, given the enormous social change that can be wrought by maintaining and creating social networks - and bringing people together for specific actions. Groupthink has horrible consequences for government, art, science, and justice. Don't do it.

Lastly, it's always a good idea to login only once every six months - to the big sites. They are trying to make money off you by reselling your information, but the six month window keeps that information from being marketable to anyone else except the people who are making very high quality things. I mean, seriously - how long does it take to make a better car? Do they make a different one of those, every three days? No. If you remember that the primary reason you're logging into the commercial sites - is to extract information about your real life friends - and to help you to organize and redirect them back to you - then the secondary use of the site is to make it clear to the rest of the world - corporate or otherwise - where you're headed and what you're into - without someone else being able to exploit it against you. Staying away for long stretches of time, gives you perspective.

Hope it helps.