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Life is not a straight line

I have a confession. I'm getting fed up with Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media. Why? They all suffer from the same fundamental hypothesis: that life is a straight line from birth to now.

Just look at how Facebook tries to stuff life events into a neat timeline, generating something advertisers can mine to gain clicks. Or LinkedIn, which obstinately ranks work experience chronologically instead of by what's important. And that platform is not friendly to entrepreneurs like me who have parallel projects underway.

And now Facebook wants to allow children to create profiles that will haunt them in their 30s, 40s and 50s. (Even if Facebook is no longer around, I'm sure that the stuff on their servers will somehow survive. Like that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when people put into cryogenic hibernation in the 21st century find themselves waking up in the 24th, but the Enterprise computers can still dig up their personal profiles from the past.

Social media profiles are all well and fine, but when I want to pivot my career path, or reinvent myself, what am I to do? I'm experiencing this to a certain extent at the moment, as I am shifting my target market from self-employed professionals and solopreneurs, to technology startups, especially in my local market.

Should I flush my profiles and start over? Or make the change and let each of my subscribers / friends / connections decide whether to continue the relationship or not?

When I first got really serious about social media in 2008-09 (especially the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn triumvirate), it was an ideal platform to build an audience and stand out from the crowd. But now these platforms have gotten wise to those of us that used their channel to get our messages out for free.

In their quest for monetization and valuation, especially Facebook, they have tightened their filters so much that today I can only speak to people who are highly correlated to who I am right now. I notice that it's always the same twenty or thirty people (out of my over 1700 connections) whose posts I see and who sometimes respond to my posts.

We are automatically corralled into circles and groups and social graphs determined by your “likes” and my “likes” and the people and “likes” we share. Which is all well and fine if what I liked yesterday is a reliable indicator of who I will be tomorrow. But what if I want to connect with new people? Try new ideas? Flush all my past “likes” and groups and social graph affiliations and start anew?

I've done this a couple of times in my life, making a clean break and moving to a new city, building new networks with a new positioning and branding. Each move may have been triggered by a life circumstance, but it ended up being a rewarding growth moment for me. Maybe it's time to pull a similar pivot on my digital persona and make a clean start.

Creatives needs permission to experiment, to fail, to succeed, to change direction or to make quantum jumps to whole new projects and directions. Some people may call it “ADD” but I call it permission to be a real person and not an advertising profile.

Life is not a straight line. That would be way too boring. I prefer zigging and zagging from A to me.

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Image: Anna Kucsma (“The Loopweaver”) via Flickr
Link to image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loopweaver/440308423/
Used under Creative Commons license

Facebook Explores Giving Kids Access (WSJ)


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