As stated last week, I plan to start going a week wIthout some things in order to best evaluate my needs. It should come as no surprise to any of my patrons that I have been struggling with how I approach social networks.

Don’t get me wrong, they are a great tool for communication and engagement. In fact, there are many people that I have met and converse with primarily through social networks that I would call my friends. I would not have been able to build these relationships without these tools.

I have no problem with advertising at all. When it is done well advertising can connect people with really useful products and ideas they may not have heard of otherwise. If a social network wants to go down the advertising path to pay the bills, I can support that.

I guess what I’m increasingly uncomfortable with, and the reason for this break, is two fold:

  • I find I spend and share far too much of my time and words there with no clear intention of why I’m doing so. Are the things I’m saying really things others need to know? Is it helping them in any way? Is it helping me by sharing them? Could the words I’m sharing there be better shared some other way? On a website or a book? With a tool that allows me better control and retains personal ownership.

  • As a writer, I make my living off of my words. Is a social network, as a tool, worth the trade of letting someone else profit from my words as well? Is it OK for them to listen into my conversation about the double-shot of espresso I pulled and then deliver a burr grinder ad into my stream? Does the fact that I happen to be in the market for a burr grinder make that transaction OK? Because, those words are ultimately what they sell to advertisers and use to deliver “relevant” advertising to us.

Once again, I’m not saying it is good or bad one way or the other. I honestly do not have an answer. These are all questions, along with many others, I will be pondering during my mini-sabbatical. I will also be pondering how to come back with a better intention and approach. Which, ultimately, is what we should be seeking with any tool we wish to use well.