Social media used to be so easy. You put your photos on Facebook and your definitely-not-million-dollar shower thoughts on Twitter.
It was nice, simple, and stress-free.
It’s not like today where you waste half of your day deciding where to post shit to.
It’s a classic case of too much choice. There are just too many social media platforms to post to and it’s increasingly a challenge deciding what format to use. If you’re an avid social media user, I’m sure you’ve probably faced the same dilemma before.
My social media meltdown came last week.
While working in the press room at Google I/O, a fire broke out at a concession stand and we were all quickly rushed out and evacuated to a nearby safe zone.
We heard distant fire trucks blaring their sirens as they raced their way towards our location. A helicopter seemingly appeared out of nowhere and circled overhead, further adding to the fire’s urgency. Throngs of Google I/O staff and attendees hovered about trying to learn what had happened.
Without fail, almost everyone whipped their phones out and immediately started sharing to social media.
Juggling a handful of platforms and different formats isn’t fun. It’s f*cking work.
I felt compelled to do the same, but couldn’t decide which social media platform to use. Which of my followers would actually give a shit about a small concession fire? Sure, it was at Google I/O, but still. It wasn’t like Shoreline Amphitheater was burning down.
My first instinct was to tweet. Would something in 140 characters suffice? Should I share a photo of the chopper? Maybe a short video of the scene? I couldn’t decide and ultimately resisted the urge to tweet snark about all the Google Home smart speakers being safe, lest someone might actually be hurt somewhere.
Then I opened up Snapchat and took a few Snaps and tossed on a geofilter. I normally post to my Snapchat Stories without much thought on the content subject or quality. But right as I tapped on the post button and was presented with the “Send To…” screen, I called it all off. My Snapchat friends wouldn’t care. Most of them follow me for tech; it would be, dare i say, “off brand” to post about a small fire to Snapchat.
I didn’t think of posting to Instagram because I still use my feed as a place to present my best photos and videos, and I think most people do, too. But I can’t say I wasn’t tempted by Instagram Stories. But again I faced the same situation as with Snapchat Stories: nobody would care. My Insta Story post wouldn’t be entertaining or aspirational. My account isn’t for breaking news and I don’t want it to be known for it.
I guess I could have posted something to Facebook, but lulz. No. Just no. I rarely post to Facebook anymore. Facebook’s only good for reminding you of upcoming birthdays and events.
As I wrestled with the very real first-world problem of figuring out which social media app to use and where to post, I noticed people were live-streaming the events. “Seriously?” I thought. Who would want to watch a bunch of tech journalists standing around bitching about temporarily losing their workspace and not being able to write about Google Lens and all of the decidedly boring (but practical) things Google announced?
I’m not much of a live-streamer (even though I’ve got unlimited LTE data, and running out of data is the last of my concerns) and “going live” is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when I’m sharing to social media. But since everyone else was streaming I considered it.
That brought me back to where I started. Do I livestream on Instagram? On Facebook? On Periscope? On YouTube?
By the time I finally settled on a tweet, the fire had been put out and the press room was open again. I ended up posting nothing on social media. And guess what? Nobody cared. I stressed out for nothing.
Social media’s purpose is to make sharing easier and to spark conversations — it’s supposed to feel natural. Juggling a handful of platforms and different formats isn’t natural. It’s not fun. It’s f*cking work.
It’s great there are so many rich ways to tell stories, but at what point do the tools get in the way? How is any sane person supposed to decide where to post their “Stories” to when the format’s shoehorned into every social media or messaging app? (This is all your fault Facebook.)
It’s not the first time I’ve felt anxiety from using social media and it won’t be the last. The only remedy I can think of is to pick one or two platforms and drop the rest. Yes, FOMO on the ones you’re dumping, but you’ll be happier, healthier, and life will go on.
I’ll probably go with Twitter and Instagram — a tweet or a post on Instagram Stories is more than enough for me to handle. Love you Snapchat, but nobody’s looking at you anymore.