Think about the tools that line the perimeter of a garage. You might see a broom for sweeping, a shovel for digging, a saw for cutting, or a rake for, well, raking. Each tool is bought and used for a specific purpose. You wouldn’t use a garden rake for sweeping up dust because the spaces between the prongs would create an impossible task. Similarly, you wouldn’t saw wood with a shovel because the edge is not jagged.
Now, think about the tools that comprise your online life. I refer to web platforms and social media sites with login and password systems for you to create a profile. Maybe you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Reddit, Quora, Pandora, Tumblr, Slack, or Plurk.
Do you share the same photograph, screenshot, illustration, recipe, or meme to all of your platforms? If I followed you or visited your publicly-viewed content, would I see the same information everywhere? Or, do you share some content on some sites and other content on other sites?
My online life is balanced. I don’t share the same interests on the same sites. There is occasional overlap but it doesn’t happen every day. I also follow different people in different places. Likewise, I’m followed by different people in different places. For instance, Ellen DeGeneres has followed my tweets for years but she’s not my Facebook friend.
On my Instagram profile, I share photos from nature walks and culinary creations. I sometimes send these to Facebook but I don’t do it all the time. I try to keep my Instagram life separate. I follow a number of independent-minded celebrities (as silly as that might sound), along with everyday people who share their photos and videos about travel, architecture, fitness, and food.
On my Twitter profile, I write short bursts of information such as random thoughts and ideas. I reply to a lot of reporters and scientists, asking them questions about this or that. They usually respond.
On my LinkedIn profile, I display a souped-up version of my resume. You can scroll through my teaching background, discover my skills, read student and colleague testimonials, and (maybe) hire me. Other than on that site and on a couple of other employment websites, I don’t share my job skills anywhere else.
As for other social sites, I use Reddit to respond to randomness. I use YouTube to find videos and add them to my playlists for future playback. I’m on Facebook, too, which I mainly use for group discussions these days.
Then there is my blog. This is where you can read my fleshed-out thoughts about the coronavirus, minimalism, digital media, and other fascinating topics. I believe that blogs are excellent places for big ideas.
It’s hard to write big ideas on Twitter. However, if I have an idea that could be written in 20 words, I’ll share that in a tweet and not in a blog post. For the same reason, I’ll search for a photo on Instagram or Pinterest because the search function is much easier there than on, say, Facebook.
Many years ago, Penelope Trunk inspired me when she wrote about using different media for different interests. Her post led to my own post that I wrote in 2014.
During a recent chat with Kristi Hines about using different sites for different reasons, I was inspired to update that 6-year-old post into this one. How’d I do?