As someone who uses social media to market my personal brand, my business, my author persona, and for my clients, I often take my presence on many networking platforms for granted.
Of course I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I dabble in a few others, but those three are my stalwarts for communication.
Over the years as I’ve met more and more people through networking I’ve accumulated significantly more *friends*. In fact, as I write this I have 424 of them on Facebook.
I say *friends* because it’s obviously a bit of a misnomer.
The standard definition of a friend is: “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations”.
Personally I feel the word affection oversells it a bit for a lot of my Facebook connections. They’re alright, we perhaps get on, but that doesn’t necessarily make them my friends (any more than I am to them).
For me, a friend is someone you’d call up and invite round for a coffee. You’d go out your way to phone a friend on their birthday. You’d actually check in with them once in a while.
I assure you I do not do that with the vast majority of my 424 *friends*. And more’s the point, they don’t do it with me either.
Those of you that have had the pleasure of being friends with me on Facebook (or actually, shock horror, spend time with me in real life) will know I’m ever so slightly opinionated. I quite like a drink. I occasionally get selfie happy. And I swear far more than my Mother is comfortable with (sorry Mum, don’t know what happened there).
I’m loud, I’m proud and I’m gobby. And just occasionally that really gets up people’s noses.
Whilst I understand and respect people’s rights to take a step back and think “oooh, she’s a bit whoa”, there’s not a tiny part of me that’s sorry. You see, my Facebook profile is all about ME. The good, the bad and the hungover.
On Facebook you see the real me. The piddled off with the world, frustrated Mum who wonders if it’s acceptable to drink at 2pm because it’s already been a long day. The Mum who can’t help but find it funny that her three year old can swear like a sailor in total context. Yes, I know it’s not ideal, but he’s not beating the cr*p out of anyone or calling people names, so I’ll take that as a win. The Mum that sometimes thinks her autistic son is playing the ASD card a little too well, and might actually just be a kn*b at times.
Yeah, I said that.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking more about my social media presence. This whole accepting friends invites from people I barely know, but maybe met once at a networking event just because they asked and it would be rude not to isn’t sitting well with me. I want to share photos of my babies, I want to moan about the client that hasn’t paid, I want to talk about my day and the idiot that wound me up without fear of recriminations.
I want to, and I will dag nammit.
So, I am having a legendary cull (though, because I’m not an attention seeking numpty I won’t be announcing it and then congratulating the people who were lucky enough to ‘survive’). My cull isn’t meant to be the virtual equivalent of two fingers sticking up at a foe.
Instead it’s a nod to the fact that our relationship is, and should be, purely professional. If you have been deleted (the ultimate virtual insult), please do not be offended. Remember I am doing this because we are not mates, and that’s not a bad thing. I want you to see me as the polished, consummate professional I pretend to be Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Well, some of the time between those hours, anyway.
Equally, I want to see you in the same way.
If I bump in to you at a networking event I don’t want my first thought to be “That was a lot of cleavage on Friday night”, or “Interesting adjectives you’ve been using for your ex-husband’s new girlfriend”, or “You come across as a self-indulged know-it-all in your look-at-me posts #LuckyGirl #Mumpreneur #LaptopLifestyle #HashtagAllTheThingsUntilSomethingSticks #IAmSoAmazingEveryoneWantsToBeLikeMe”.
They’re just examples from this week.
Some of them might be slightly exaggerated. To my knowledge nobody has used the last hashtag. Which is actually a shame. That would have been amusing.
Invariably we add people because we want to feel connected, but connection only comes from interaction. When all your *friends* do is sit there and watch your life unfold before them, but aren’t actually part of your day to day doings, then that’s not friendship. That’s voyeurism.
Let’s just keep that, and the sales pitches to LinkedIn, shall we?
PS: Currently down to 260 actual friends. It’s strangely cathartic!