Social Media Laggard

Jan 4, 2023 · 1199 words · 6 minute read

The start of a new year is a good excuse to try new things. Yes, you could have done it earlier, but didn't, and now you're scrambling to add meaning to some time accounting, so you might as well hang that spare unrealised idea onto it. I want to give social media a try, about twenty years after it really became a thing.

To say I'm late is an understatement. If we go with the tech adoption cycle I'm now probably well past the last group of "Laggards" and in some special category that even a cave man would consider behind the times.

That's not entirely true, I joined Facebook in 2005, and used it heavily towards the end of university, but have only ever connected with people who I'd met in-person first1. The same is true with WhatsApp, which has largely replaced Facebook for keeping in contact with friends I actually speak to. At this point I really only keep my FB account as I think it might be useful to have some old acquaintances' contact details, should I need them, but very few people post anything anymore. This means my feed has become a sad scroll hole of sponsored posts, reels and suggested groups with almost no real human interaction.

I'm not sure what killed it, but I suspect it was what felt like a personal space shared with friends being slowly filled with more and more 'outside' content, making it clear that this wasn't a space for you. It's like trying to talk to a friend in a room where every ten seconds someone opens the door, leans in and loudly yells "Oi, buy these trainers made of recycled plastic" or "I bet you can't solve this puzzle!", not very conducive to meaningful conversation, and I think the same is going to be true of any advertising funded service.

What I've never done before is made new contacts and even friends online. My wife has done this almost as long as she's had internet access, starting with forums and IRC, through almost any online medium, up to and including the present day. I, of course, can understand why - she's charming, funny and smart, and think that gives her an unfair advantage, but trying to talk to new people this way is not something I've tried before.

I do have a blog, that I have irregularly updated since 2011, but that feels very different. It's me gathering my thoughts and solidifying them in text, and if I ever want to finish anything and make it coherent I need the threat/encouragement that someone else might read it and want to understand what I'm trying to say. It also feels like it's paying back all the thing that I've found on people's sites over the years, either solutions to problems, or just nice personal experiences. While blogs can spark conversations, that's not something I've tried to do with mine.

In tandem I will try to get few more posts published, I have quite a few half done things lying around I want to finish, but they never quite seem to come together. I'll have to try and be less fussy about them and just publish, to motivate that I've signed up for and see if I can get rolling with 3 in January2.

My main hold-up is going to be what to say, talking to strangers is not a skill that comes naturally to me. A lot of people online seem to talk about their work, but I suspect that's a selection bias based on people hustling, especially in the web-tech industry.

I'm lucky that I like my job3, I like aviation, and am glad to be able to do interesting work in such environment with a lot of great people. But it's not something that I can talk about publicly, even working in the civil aviation part of the company. There's too much commercially and technically sensitive data involved in the day-to-day activities that there's nothing to publicly talk about, or only in terms so vague and broad that there's no point.

Family is another topic where I'm going to be vague, my children are a huge part of my life, and the reason I have almost no free time, but I feel it should be up to them to decide how much of their information gets shared online, and until they're old enough to understand and decide that, they're not going to feature much. I'm also aware that your own small children are something special, as far as you're concerned they're the cuddliest (when they stay still), smartest (dangerously) and most irritating (please, no, let's not stop to befriend every snail on the way to nursery) children in the World; but to most other people they're just loud sources of snot, and you're not going to convince them otherwise.

So if I'm not going to write at length about my family or work, which take up most of my time, then I'm left relying on my charm, wit and incredible good looks - which is like being stranded in the jungle with a disposable plastic fork, a half-sucked boiled sweet and a lemon scented moistened towelette (already opened).

Regardless of my poorly equipped start, I will try, as you can't have a conversation and meet people if you don't say anything. Recently the trend seems to be for Mastodon, so that's what I'll try, if there are a lot of other 'new' people, it'll feel less like I'm disturbing anyone, and I can mix in with the rest of the new crowd. I did think of creating a solo instance, but I've heard that isn't the point. I was recommended, which is a curious, and shifting, menagerie of personal web services, but seems like a nice community that also has a Fediverse instance where you can now find me as Plus the price fits my whimsy money budget. So say hello. Please. It'll stop me from having to try and think of something to say first..


Ok, again, on a technicality I did use Twitter in the past, briefly, when promoting a former band, gigs and music nights, but only as a promotional tool, and never under an account in my own name that did anything more than post about the next event. But that was never about me, it was about the marketing.


Yes, this counts as one, and is only cheating a little bit by being a meta post mainly about social media and not blogging. Since a lot of blogging is about blogging, if you banned all the blog blogging, there'd be barely any blogging brought back - so I think this post is allowed to count.


On average. There are, of course, days that are frustrating or annoying, and working at a large organisation brings with it the usual irritations such as excessive meetings, politics, administration and all the problems that come with trying to get a lot of people to work together; but I've not seen much to make me believe that these issues don't also exist in any other large organisation.