Sam Harrelson

Don’t fall for lots of likes and retweets

Also good advice for churches and nonprofits doing social media marketing on a shoestring budget:

Bots manipulate credibility by influencing social signals like the number of aggregated likes or shares a post or user receives. People see a large number of retweets on a post and read it as a genuine signal of authentic traction in the marketplace of ideas. Do not fall for this. Trends are basically over—they’re too easy to manipulate. This goes for any information online that feeds off of public signals, including things like search autocomplete or content recommendation lists. Journalists can no longer rely on information sources reflecting some form of online “popularity.”

Source: The bots beat: How not to get punked by automation – Columbia Journalism Review




Facebook’s Growing PR Crisis

Facebook’s announcement Wednesday and others last week reflect a major shift in the company’s relationship with third-party apps. In the past, developers could get access to people’s relationship status, calendar events, private Facebook posts and much more data that was highly valuable to advertisers, including political campaigns. Now they will be required to go through a much stricter process.

Source: Facebook says most people on its vast social network may have had their public profile scraped by third parties – The Washington Post




The dangers of thinking “They’ll get it because they’re young”

So very true despite the stereotypes (spoken as a former college / high school / middle school teacher turned tech consultant). Parents have a big burden to bear in helping their young and old children make wise decisions about how and why to use the web. Just assuming “they’ll get it because they’re young” is very dangerous.

What is surprising about this data is that while education is a factor in online security literacy, age is less so. Users aged 65 and older were seemingly just as knowledgeable as users in the age range of 18-29; while online literacy bias in general is weighted toward younger users, the Pew survey suggests that overall there is a shared standard of what we know and what we don’t know.

Source: Why did we give our data to Facebook in the first place? – Scientific American Blog Network




Paying for everything you do

What about the users?

Advertising isn’t why Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook or, presumably, what gets him out of bed in the morning. Engineers and designers whose identities are invested in changing the world don’t want that work tarnished by association. But the decision to pay for everything Facebook does by selling advertising means–whether he likes it or not–Mark Zuckerberg is just as much the CEO of an advertising company as a social network. The sooner Facebook reconciles this for itself and its users, the less vulnerable it will be to stories like last week’s.

Source: Admit It, You Don’t Really Understand Facebook




Surveillance Capitalism

Surveillance capitalism is deeply embedded in our increasingly computerized society, and if the extent of it came to light there would be broad demands for limits and regulation. But because this industry can largely operate in secret, only occasionally exposed after a data breach or investigative report, we remain mostly ignorant of its reach.

Bruce Schneier – Facebook and Cambridge Analytica




Data Panic

I’ve been following Curran’s tweets and posts and press blitz the last couple of days, and I have to say that I’m not a fan of his scare tactics and frequent plugs for people to donate to his Patreon so that he can continue his “work”.

Yes, your data should be intensely personal and used wisely by yourself and companies you use to accomplish things in your day-to-day. However, this sort of shock posting intended to scare and react quickly to statements like “GOOGLE KNOWS YOUR WEIGHT!!” isn’t helpful.

This is absolutely nothing new, and yes… we’ve long known that Google can track your locations (if you opt-in and allow location services) and know your YouTube viewing history.

Let’s not tell Dylan to investigate what his internet service provider knows about him…

The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look

Source: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | Dylan Curran | Opinion | The Guardian




Large implications as Facebook shuts down Partner Categories

This is significant. Many large companies (Fortune 100 type) have their own data sets on customers and potential customers and audiences they’d like to target. They’ve been able to combine that data with Facebook’s or Twitter’s own user data in incredibly effective (and cheap!) marketing campaigns tied to email newsletters and website promotions. None of that really changes here.

What does change is the democratization of that ability to do intensely targeted marketing for smaller companies and groups. Many of my clients, for instance, are nonprofits and churches operating on shoestring budgets but aware of the incredible reach that Facebook provides. Part of that reach had to do with Facebook’s Partner Categories program that allowed for companies or groups to use customer data with 3rd party data sources (Experian, for example) for campaigns at a reasonable cost. That aspect goes away now.

This third data set is primarily helpful to advertisers who might not have their own customer data, like small businesses or consumer packaged goods companies that sell their products through brick-and-mortar retailers.

Source: Facebook is cutting third-party data providers out of ad targeting to clean up its act – Recode

It’s a good move for many reasons and I expect to see many social outlets follow suit (Twitter, for example). However, it does make the playing field that much more complicated for smaller businesses or groups that don’t have the ability to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on customer surveys and data collections.

This multi-device, multi-channel world that we’re living in presents tremendous opportunity, but the reality is that connecting these experiences is still very challenging. Especially on a budget.




If you automate tweets for marketing purposes, you might want to read this

Back in January, Twitter announced upcoming changes to its service that would discourage use of automation tools for “amplification” of tweets. Now we’re beginning to see the effects of this change.

One of the great things about using Twitter for marketing is the relative ease of “amping” up tweets and causing increased “velocity” which signals to the Twitter algorithms that more followers should see the tweet. If you’re using the default Twitter app on the web or on your device or tablet, you’re not seeing all the tweets of all the people you follow in real time. Instead, Twitter (much like Facebook or Instagram) uses machine learning algorithms to try and determine what you might want to see. That’s still a big revelation to many, but it definitely impacts how we use Twitter for marketing and messaging purposes. Much like Facebook or Instagram, the more people that like or interact with your tweet, the better.

Agencies and social media managers have long used tools like Buffer or HubSpot or HootSuite to manage multiple accounts and cross-pollinate those tweets with likes and retweets to increase velocity.

The beauty of that approach is that it’s fairly cheap to achieve what looks like a successful series of tweets if you’re using stats or variables like “views” or “favorites” as your main metric. The trick is, you shouldn’t. In the marketing world, it’s common to brag to your clients about the number of page views or “engagements” but in reality, those metrics never measure up to much more than ego inflation. What Twitter is doing here is a healthy thing for its platform as it encourages more meaningful interactions and activity on tweets, even in a marketing context.

Unfortunately, I know of so many nonprofits and churches and small businesses that rely on “a kid down the street” or an intern or a “young person who knows computers” to manage their social media accounts. There are numerous scary and telling cautionary tells on the web of companies or churches or nonprofits causing themselves major headaches by relying on inexperienced users of social media to manage accounts because of their age or hipness or perceived credibility. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc) have really become your front door on the web. It’s often how you can best get people back to your site. So treat it with care and make sure the manager knows the best practices. Tools like Buffer or HootSuite allow for groups or companies on shoestring budgets to really make a powerful use of Twitter as a marketing platform. But moves like this show us that the market is changing and users are wising up.

Here are the highlights from Twitter’s changes that have begun rolling out:

Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts. For example, your service should not permit a user to select several accounts they control from which to publish a given Tweet.

Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts.

The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

Users of TweetDeck will no longer be able to select multiple accounts through which to perform an action such as Tweeting, Retweeting, liking, or following.

Source: Automation and the use of multiple accounts

As always, get in touch if you need help.




Churches and nonprofits should realize that Facebook privacy issues are just the tip of the iceberg

Way back in 2012, I was featured in a New York Times article titled “How To Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet” and offered up this bit as part of my interview (I was teaching Middle School Science at the time):

“The topic of privacy policies and what lies ahead for our digital footprints is especially fascinating and pertinent for me, since I work with 13- and 14-year-olds who are just beginning to dabble with services such as Gmail and all of Google’s apps, as well as Facebook, Instagram, social gaming,” he said. “I have nothing to hide, but I’m uncomfortable with what we give away.”

It feels like we were so naive then, doesn’t it? Perhaps.

Here’s a segment from a great post by Doc Searls:

Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.” Irony Alert: the same is true for the Times, along with every other publication that lives off adtech: tracking-based advertising. These pubs don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They bring people’s bare digital necks bared to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all for the purpose of “interest-based” advertising.

Source: Doc Searls Weblog · Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing

I have no problem admitting that I’m a fanboy of Doc Searls. Search through the 12 years of archives here and you’ll find me quoting or sourcing him many times in posts regarding advertising throughout the years.

This is one of those seminal posts that I feel like I’ll come back to later and want to reflect upon giving newfound insight or knowledge. That often happens with posts from Searls.

What I’m particularly intrigued about here is the 1) action and 2) reaction notion of “NOW WHAT?”. It’s been no surprise to us that work in the marketing and advertising world what’s happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over the last couple of weeks.

In fact, it’s incredibly easy and almost encouraged to use Facebook data to target people to an alarmingly intimate degree. It’s part of the game. I’ve always felt icky about the situation and I’ve more than once steered clients away from targeting users using FB Ad Manager for campaigns that would otherwise have been fine without that element.

It’s been an uneasy compromise for many of us, knowing what we give away in exchange for the enjoyment of friends and family pictures on Facebook. But this isn’t new. We just waited too long to do anything about it.

So where do we go now? I like Searls’ argument for a reader-first method of distinguishing rights and responsibilities for data on the web. Having worked in AdTech circles for 20 or so years now, I’m dubious about the execution or transformation that it will take to bring about such a revolution though.

Aside from the ethical dimension, there’s also the notion of democratization. Love it or hate it, AdTech and Facebook Ads and Twitter ads and affiliate marketing have leveled the playing field for many small businesses and nonprofits who could never have afforded agency rates as we knew them.

Perhaps that’s the lesson here for us all to learn. There needs to not only be profit involved in algorithmic marketing based on user profiles of demographic data, but also ethics.

We all need to do better with our marketing campaigns. However, the genie is out of the bottle to use another saying. There’s no going back to the quaint world of multi-million dollar Mad Men style creative brand advertisements dominating the industry.

I’d posit that’s a good thing. Meanwhile, online news and publishing and business and church and nonprofit sites should do better about monitoring the type of data they collect and pass on to 3rd parties either knowingly or unknowingly.

Churches and nonprofits especially need to heed this warning. Tracking is built into so many website builders and content management systems and email newsletter systems that they use. However, churches and nonprofits turn a blind eye to the reality that now faces them in an era where people are increasingly already turning away from their outreach.

It’s time to take the web (and those you’re looking to reach) seriously.




Google Rolls Out “Mobile First” Indexing Today

Facebook is undergoing serious challenges to its place as a web hub between the public PR crisis involving its role in the mis/use of data related to Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 election as well as its ongoing tweaks to algorithms which now demote business and group pages in preference to users seeing more content from friends and family.

In the midst of that, there’s been a real uptick in the amount of attention that Google search results receive and topics such as SEO and page loading speed as more and more companies begin to reconsider their social media ad spends on Facebook and Twitter. Companies of all sizes are either pulling their Facebook ad buys altogether or crunching numbers to determine the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Suddenly, Google search results and SEO are becoming the new darlings of the marketing and advertising world again. So, it’s important that starting today, Google is rolling out its “mobile first” indexing scheme.

Whether you’re a big company or a small church or a medium-sized nonprofit, it’s important that you take into consideration elements such as how quickly and how well your website loads on mobile devices (if you want to rank well, at least):

To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.

We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from our main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, we will be using the mobile versions of content.

Source: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Rolling out mobile-first indexing




Podcast on Church Marketing

Thomas and I recorded a new episode of Thinking Religion last night that covers many of my thoughts about how churches and nonprofits use (and should use) social media, email services, web apps etc in their marketing efforts. My basic point is that “social” media is reaching the same point that “broadcast” media did years ago. Rather than having one or three TV channels for news and shows and 2 main newspapers for the country or one radio commentator that we all listen to, broadcast media as we knew it broke up into many small islands that Netflix and Hulu etc descended from. The same is happening with social media today. Instead of a person having to be on Facebook because that’s where everyone else is, there are many little islands forming off the backs of interests. Don’t build your island on Facebook’s coral reef and expect it to last forever.

You can listen here:

Dr. Thomas Whitley and The Rev. Samuel Harrelson discuss The Great Social Media Reckoning of 2018, broadcast media vs social media, why you need a website (and why your church needs a GOOD website), and the importance of bringing it all back home.

Source: Thinking Religion Episode 144: Should Your Church Delete Its Facebook Page?




Reaping Data

Not to mention how companies and governments so haphazardly use this data for causes and purposes…

The unchecked power of companies that harvest our data is a great problem—but it’s hard to get angry about an idea that’s so nebulous. Like climate change, the reaping of our data is a problem of psychology as much as business. We know that the accumulation of massive power in so few hands is bad, but it’s impossible to anticipate what terrible result might come of it. And if we could envision them, these consequences are imaginary: abstract and in the future. It feels so oppressively intractable it’s hard to summon the will to act.

Source: Cambridge Analytica Is Finally Under Fire Because of Whistleblowers | WIRED




Facebook is facing an existential crisis

Zuckerberg really needs to make a statement. This is going thermonuclear and Facebook’s sole commodity is trust via relationship.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has done immense damage to the brand, sources across the company believe. It will now take a Herculean effort to restore public trust in Facebook’s commitment to privacy and data protection, they said. Outside observers think regulation has suddenly become more likely, and yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears missing in action.

Source: Facebook facing an existential crisis over privacy and data – Mar. 19, 2018




What Facebook knows about you and me and what I can do about it


Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information from a huge swath of the electorate to develop techniques that were later used in the Trump campaign.

Source: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions – The New York Times


I often have consultations with clients involving data sources. Marketing has always been closely tied to the acquisition and analysis of data related to potential target audiences or desired demographics. A large part of what I do every day is staring at spreadsheets and trying to derive direction or wisdom out of data that Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snap or Google has gathered from their (often overlapping) groups of products users for our clients’ campaigns.

I loathe using the term “campaign” to refer to anything marketing related… it’s not a battle and we’re not at war. Even worse is the dehumanization that often occurs in marketing conversations we all have about the data generated by real people on the web. Both are related in that our gathering and use of this data combined with our resulting conclusions and “targeting” (again with the militaristic violent language) makes actual people into abstract data points.

It’s little talked about in our industry, but data ethics are something we really need to take more seriously in all aspects of our marketing efforts, whether you’re working with a Fortune 500 company or a small country church.

I know that I personally feel a twitch of regret mixed with reservation when I click on a radio buttons to specify that I’d like to target women above the age of 40 who have relationship issues but live in this affluent ZIP code and enjoy looking at pictures of wine and spirits on Instagram. It’s terrifying. But, it’s relatively cheap and incredibly effective. Our church and nonprofit clients on shoestring budgets can’t get enough of the reach and response from this kind of data marketing (“like shooting fish in a barrel” is a common saying for a reason).

I did a good deal of work on ethics in Divinity School. I’m taking a course in the coming weeks on Data Science Ethics. Now, I need to do a better job of thinking through these types of marketing efforts and explaining the ethical implications of using this data given that most people have NO IDEA how much is known about them (yes, because of Facebook and social media but also because of the relative ease of connecting someone’s phone number or address or email with their browsing history, activity on location tracking services, voter records etc). I need to do a better job of helping clients think through the humanization and dehumanization involved with marketing and advertising and their own goals (especially for churches and nonprofits). I need to do a better job of providing real alternatives to the types of data usage that resulted in situations like our current political climate. I need to provide shoestring budget options for marketing that emphasizes humanity and relatedness rather than victory.

Otherwise, I’m just hanging out in Omelas.

Is there space for “ethical marketing” in a crowded environment of agencies driving the cost of “targeting” and “campaigning” and “development” to the lowest common denominator in terms of price and friction? I’m not sure. But I’m just crazy enough to start giving it a try.




Nonprofits, the smartphone, Facebook, and Google

Interesting thoughts here from the NY Times CEO on how they are shifting focus in relationship to Facebook and Google due to the smartphone revolution … much of this applies to how nonprofits and churches can do better marketing as well:

It’s about how you think about the product and what you’re trying to do and what is the value you’re giving to users. The areas of weakness in the publishing industry have been not having an audience strategy or sufficient brain space to think about how you serve your audience. It’s very easy to get tracked into assumptions about who your audience is. In legacy media, journalistic parameters were set by the geographical limitations. [The smartphone] changes everything. You need to reinvent journalism from the ground up with this device in mind, and then try and figure out what you’re going to do on a laptop and the physical newspaper.

via ‘Facebook is not transparent:’ NY Times CEO Mark Thompson says the platform’s role needs to be clearer – Digiday




How should we regulate Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms?

So how does Facebook’s ad system work? Well, just like Google, it’s accessed through a self-service platform that lets you target your audiences using Facebook data. And because Facebook knows an awful lot about its users, you can target those users with astounding precision. You want women, 30–34, with two kids who live in the suburbs? Piece of cake. Men, 18–21 with an interest in acid house music, cosplay, and scientology? Done! And just like Google, Facebook employed legions of algorithms which helped advertisers find their audiences, deliver their messaging, and optimize their results. A massive ecosystem of advertisers flocked to Facebook’s new platform, lured by what appeared to be the Holy Grail of their customer acquisition dreams: People Based Marketing!

via Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here? – NewCo Shift

I’m really torn on this one. John Battelle here (a tech publishing veteran who knows a good deal about online advertising) argues for more regulation and transparency of Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms.

I’ve seen how both Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms can work wonder for good causes like the nonprofits, religious group, and community organizations that are our clients. It’s wonderful to see the way that we can work miracles (hyperbole) to create new reach, fundraising, and awareness campaigns for these groups on a limited budget using Facebook Ads and AdWords. In the past, that would have required them to spend exponentially more on marketing and advertising. But now, we can help these groups grow on a shoestring. That’s a good thing.

However, we are at an inflection point.

I agree with Battelle on a theoretical layer, but there’s also the notion of democratic capitalism and the need to allow markets to flourish or wither based on their own actions (does our democracy value ethics, morality etc the same as it has and what does that mean for advertising?).

On the other hand, there are other advertising platforms that are major players in Asia and will be major players on a global scale soon such as Alibaba and Tencent and Rakuten. If we hamstring Google and Facebook, do we run the risk of advertisers abandoning those platforms for greener global pastures?

On the other hand, Russia interfered with our Presidential election and it’s no secret that politicians and special interest groups are doing bad things with these platforms.




Facebook Page Reach Has Declined 20% in 2017

Facebook isn’t the newspaper where “if you post it, they will see it.” This takes a little bit of shift in how we view concepts such as “spam” and “bugging” but algorithms don’t work like our chronological brains.

What to do if you’re a small business, church or non-profit with a small number of Facebook Page likes but looking to grow? Post video. Post often. Don’t assume that because you post something on your Facebook Page (not your personal one) that all of your followers or audience will see it.

What’s more likely is actually another News Feed update introduced in June 2016, which put increased emphasis on content posted by friends and family over Page posts. Facebook’s always looking to get people sharing more personal updates, and those updates generate more engagement, which keeps people on platform longer, while also providing Facebook with more data to fuel their ad targeting.

via New Study Finds Facebook Page Reach has Declined 20% in 2017 | Social Media Today




Facebook Nones, Snapchat, and Instagram

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We’ve been hearing about the decline of Facebook’s popularity among younger users for years now. It looks like Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Snapchat are finally providing an avenue for “Facebook Nones”:

Facebook is losing appeal among teens and young adults which is contributing to generally slowing growth for the platform, according to the latest projections from research firm eMarketer.

At the same time alternative social apps Snapchat and (Facebook-owned) Instagram are seeing rising and double-digit growth in the same youth demographic — suggesting younger users are favoring newer and more visual communications platforms.

Teens favoring Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, says eMarketer – TechCrunch




What Time Should We Post to Our Facebook Page?

I get this question quite often, especially from churches and non-profits:

“What time of the day should we post to our Facebook page to make the most impact?”

It’s a tough question to answer given the number of variables and because every church/group has a different set of Facebook followers and likes. You’ll find a number of posts on the web giving you suggestions as well (such as this one from CoSchedule). However, churches and non-profits are different beasts than companies, so you have to keep that in mind when finding a good time for your posts.

Here are a few graphs we put together from four different churches and non-profits we work with at Harrelson Agency (anonymous and with their permission). The graphs display the times when the fans of a Facebook Page are using Facebook on their computer, iPad or mobile device over the span of the last month on average. All have relatively the same size of Facebook audiences (and are close to the same size in terms of members).

This is completely anecdotal data, but it looks like the peak time for the most users being online is around 9 PM (that’s especially true on the weekends). Some days like Mondays had fewer users on Facebook but the graphs display a pretty interesting average over the past month. So if you’re looking for the most immediate eyeballs, the afternoon into the evening is a better bet than first thing in the morning or into the late evening (though there are some advantages to that as well).

So take from that what you will… I think it’s pretty interesting. Keep in mind that there is a great deal of variance and data points to employ if you’re looking to come up with a specific marketing plan around Facebook posts. This is just to provide a rough approximation based on a data set that I came across and thought was intriguing.

And you should probably not post an important update at 3 AM.




Last Night on Earth

I’m an only child. I realized rather early in life that being an only child and one of the few kids in our rather small family would have an impact on a number of aspects of my life from playing sports to how I held my shoulders at school.

I was consciously aware of myself rather early in life. I’m not sure if others go through this period of inner awareness and I wonder how that development affects us as we grow into adulthood. I have a vivid memory (for what that’s worth) of spending what felt like days and days on a working hierarchy of my mind. I laid out what I thought were all the potential body systems and thought processes I could have. Everything from “standing up” to “writing in cursive” to “reading a book.” The purpose was (I think) to be able to understand the how as well as the why of me. I wish I still had that notebook from when I was 9 or 10. As a senior in high school I used the topic of “Ego” for my year long thesis project. I explored the Id and Superego with Freud and Jung and Catherine of Siena and Hesse and Lennon and Margery Kempe. I was reading Doyle’s Sherlock stories at the time and the concept of a brain attic immediately appealed to me as I explored these new thought technologies. That was especially true as a shy and socially awkward only child growing up in a culture where I didn’t feel like I “fit in” (what teenager ever does?). I didn’t realize it at the time, but that project and those explorations have profound effects today on my views of spirituality, politics, sex, relationships, and identity.

I left that exploration behind and put the project in a neat jar in the corner of my brain attic. Sometimes, I’m tempted to go open the pithos but I worry that it will only unleash more turmoil and I’ll close the lid before elpis has a chance to escape. Other times, I meander past it and know that I should just break it and send to the trash fire where other items taking up space go.

I look at my 9 year old now, and marvel at how much she is rapidly changing but also wish I could tell her even more blatantly that it’s ok to explore the inner self. It’s an amazing journey. I hope she doesn’t put her pithos in the corner to collect neuron dust but keeps up the struggle and joy of inner discovery.

Last night, the person I freely call “my brother” messaged me a video at 2 AM from a bar where one of our favorite songs was being covered. I didn’t see the message until this morning, but the thought and intentionality that led to him sending me that at that moment in time and space made me smile. He could have shared that via Facebook or Instagram and tagged me or included me in an @ message in a sort of public shout-out meant to display our affinity for that song or each other. But the private nature of the message was intimate and special and meaningful.

Another one of my great friends that I also call a brother is fond of letter writing still. It’s hipster and chic and trendy to reflect back on lost practices like letter writing, but that doesn’t negate the impact. He’s had major life changes recently. I’ve been meaning to write him a letter with some of the thoughts and items from my brain attic that might give him some additional insights. We’ve exchanged messages and phone calls, but I’ve not taken the time to follow through with intimate sharing via the medium that I know would impact us both the most. Is that because I’m afraid of that pithos in the corner?

This week’s Roderick on the Line podcast covers this notion of sharing and online personas and what we communicate to the public about our own brain-processed visions of the world when we use Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. It’s worth your time to listen.

Connecting with other humans via social media on a broadcast level is comforting to this only child. I don’t have to really let you know who I am or what I’m necessarily seeing or thinking because I can control the message and the filter. I can bend my reality and share it with all of you in a way that helps negate intimacy. You get to see what I self-diagnose as my interesting self, but you aren’t privy to the artifacts and boxes and souvenirs in my brain attic. And that pithos.