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Social Media: Not Working

Moving Away

I don’t feel like promoting this post much. I wrote it in newsletter format. You are welcome to read it, but it is more a personal note to myself. I’ve reached a time of put up or shut up in my life, and this is my line in the sand.

As always, you are welcome to make remarks in the comment section.

Not Working, by PurpleCar

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Paisano® 19 May 2011, 4:41 pm

     Good for you my friend. I understand totally. I’ve thought of the same things many times but alas I am beholden to this river of social sloth. I will hate to see you go…always enjoyed seeing your tweets and blog posts but I know you need to follow your bliss. Remember to enjoy the journey….for only then can we truly arrive.

    • PurpleCar 19 May 2011, 7:33 pm

      As always, Pai, you are a good friend. I appreciate all your support. And the most “me” I have ever been online was during the Seesmic days, so I’m glad you were there for that. Come back and say hi. I will be concentrating on this blog and my books. And promise to kick my ass if you see me spending too much time on the River banks.

  • Mark Dykeman 19 May 2011, 5:55 pm

     My initial thought on the newsletter format is “this is beautiful!”  The content is way outside of the echo chamber and this is a good thing.  I expect you’ll find a lot of nay-sayers but that is probably a good indication that what you’ve written about the future of this space is accurate.

    What you’ve written about your inner nature is a bit of a surprise but I can certainly relate to it.  I don’t write about my work and rarely write about personal matters… we all have our reasons, right?  In my case, though, I’ve been able to find more like-minded people online than in person – I live in a small town.

    Hope this new resolution works for you!

    • PurpleCar 19 May 2011, 7:30 pm

      Thanks, Mark. Not sure to what you are referring: Is the future of the space newsletters or is the future of social media moving away from independents? I think probably both.

      I have become quite adept at seeming open. I’m not, really. People just think I am because I can draw them out. Also, I do let out an opinion or two about things, just not personal, important things.

      As for your small town, I get it, grew up in one myself. I run into the strange reactions about my online life here in the populated burbs, too. Apologism and secrecy never work. They can take me or leave me. And some do leave me alone. It hurts, but people can surprise you. You never know from where allies can spring. I am hoping, online, to find a few of my own.

      • Mark Dykeman 20 May 2011, 8:45 am

         A confession:  I now realize that I misunderstood a key point of your newsletter:  that you aren’t going to pursue social media as a career path, which I totally get now.  I thought you were talking about a general pull-back from using social media (and you may well be) but a key point is the career aspect.  You want to do the kind of work that depends upon a certain amount of reflection and solitude – focused, deliberate attention.

        I can believe that social media is being absorbed into overall marketing/PR/comms offerings, although it may take some time for this to happen.The newsletter format was a refreshing change, something you don’t see very often.  That’s what I was getting at.  

        • PurpleCar 20 May 2011, 9:30 am

          Ok that makes more sense.

          I never wanted a career in social media. People sought me out and I just went with the flow. I’m not willing to take that extra step to look for work, especially since I see the trend normalizing, which any successful early adopter tech does. PR agencies will clean up the mess, believe me, and soon. But more importantly for me, I have to wake up and realize that I’ve drifted away from my goals. There are plenty of ways where I can make plenty of money. I’ve done it before and I could do it again. I’m educated, experienced and a quick study. But money isn’t everything. It’s a lot of things, almost everything, really, but not every thing. I want to see if I can be successful at writing, and although I’d like to keep my circle of social media friends, I just can’t participate in the culture that heavily anymore. So, it’s two things: 1. I have to wake up before I slip into a career I never planned for (again, like tech). 2. I need to curtail the time I spend
          interacting with friends online. 3. I need to get back into that quiet, contemplative space where I spent most of my writing life, when I had one.

  • Tony Davies 19 May 2011, 10:53 pm

     Hi Christine, that’s a fairly intense discussion. I admire your ability to write your thoughts and hang them on the washing line of the WWW. Even if, as you say, they are not your innermost thoughts, which you still keep private, its still gutsy to bare all and wait for the inevitable criticism.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do but I hope you keep this site going. I enjoy my weekly dips into this tributary of the river.


    • PurpleCar 20 May 2011, 9:20 am

      Thanks, Tony, that’s kind! I will concentrate more on this blog, more on writing offline, and less on Twitter and general blog reading. It’s nice to know people are out there reading… makes me think my time is better spent writing longer-than-140-character pieces. 


  • Mike Dellinger 20 May 2011, 9:49 am

     This article is what is, and always has been, awesome about you! best of luck with your writing. 

    -Mike D.

    • PurpleCar 20 May 2011, 9:55 am

      Mikey, I love you like Flyers love fights. -S

  • bethharte 24 May 2011, 9:35 am

    Christine, I want to say thank you for writing what I have been feeling and thinking about a lot lately. I, too, keep things close to the vest but have shared my thoughts with close friends. I think people are too narcissistic and selfish for social media to last… I hope Twitter and Facebook are prepared for that. I saw the decline of many social groups in 2004 due to human behavior rearing it’s true self (the good, then the bad, then the downright ugly) and I have been predicting the same for our little social media bubble. 

    As for social tools and business, I think they will be around for a while, but the use will change. Customers and the companies they support will benefit more from private social interactions. It’s only a small few that enjoy airing their dirty laundry publicly. 

    As for a social media job, just like you, people keep wanting to pigeon hole me there. It’s something I am not interested in, I don’t think those positions are viable.  And as a marketer, I have already experienced that they aren’t. Twice. I want a traditional marketing job. You know, the kind where you actually get to interact face-to-face with customers. 😉 

    Hope to see you soon,

    • PurpleCar 24 May 2011, 8:54 pm


      Twitter will, I think, weather the storm. They will introduce other features and more new-user assimilation, so they will survive. Facebook will change drastically probably, but not until a good competitor comes in. They are taking the Microsoft approach and buying up API features and possible competitors, so I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out… I think they have staying power if they are smart.

      BUT your point is well-taken, the LOLZ and the trolling ruin everything in time. The Mayor gamers have already ruined Foursquare, and it hasn’t had a chance to go big yet! But that’s bad design. The forums of the late 80’s were bad design, and folded in the 90’s. Trolls will come. 

      Trolls have come into the social media space, and I can see how you would want to distance yourself from that. Especially if you’re a bona-fide marketer. A regular job at a real company would have been what I would have started applying for if I were to stick with this area. But the reality is, I’m not sure if my unique combo psych-and-tech background would offer competition to someone of say, your stature, when a PR company is hiring. I’d offer an interesting interview, but it would be you who they would hire. So why would I even try to compete in that? It doesn’t make any practical sense.

      I think the dark dirty laundry days online are over. Customer engagement and interaction yield dirty laundry, and companies will want to avoid that. It’s a fine line that can be walked, but only under the guidance of an experienced and diverse team. Independent consultants can’t offer the big manufacturers the assurance that they can keep their toes on that line.

      Thanks for commenting, Beth. I was so happy to hear that you can see my logic. I know I’m on the right track if you are on it, too.


      • bethharte 24 May 2011, 9:32 pm

        I hope Twitter and Facebook figure out how to pay back all of that VC money. 🙂 

        I wasn’t really referring to trolls, per se. It’s this notion of “personal branding” (which everyone knows I am not a fan of) that seems gives people a sense of entitlement. And yes, I am talking about the social media fishbowl… I am sure it exists in other communities as well though. I am not the psych major, but I think if people are insecure and get their “10 minutes of fame” it can do wonders for their self-esteem (yes, that was sarcasm).

        The earlier days of deep conversations, debate, etc. have faded into a constant parade of “look what I have done lately.” Maybe that’s what is missing for me.  

        Just to be clear (for others reading this), I am not referring to the concept of social media or the tools not lasting. I am referring to social communities in general…they tend to fall apart as people tire or move on (but we know that about communities).


        • PurpleCar 24 May 2011, 10:34 pm

          Yes, exactly. I railed on the tools in an earlier post (search for “Pigeons” on my site) and I guess I’m just stuck in that mode. Sorry.

          The “personal branding” term was supposed to replace “reputation” but I don’t see it catching on. People don’t want to be compared to organizations. Covey tried to do this with 7 Habits of Healthy Families and it was disingenuous and awkward. 

          Do you think people are looking for their 10 minutes of fame? I’ve met some weird people in this gig, for sure… actually using a comment on their blog by a “famous” blogger as their claim to fame. I just kept thinking, “You know they aren’t really ‘famous,’ right?” It’s funny how people naturally settle into an echo chamber, and as you said, naturally fade away from them, too.

          I love the friends I’ve met through Seesmic, Twitter, and just the Philly scene online and off. I wouldn’t give them up for anything. But one rule that has always, always rung true for me (and is now at the point of cliché) is “content is king” … I don’t feel like I’ve given the world my best content. Getting caught up in the the greater or specific social communities online will guarantee that the world won’t get that content.


  • Don Lafferty 24 May 2011, 12:29 pm

    Disclaimer – This is NOT a pitch to get your butt to the PWC. 😉

    Six years ago I went looking for a writing community. When I googled “writer’s groups philadelphia” I found The Bucks County Writers Corner in Doylestown where I met Jonathan Maberry, Joy Stockey and a handful of other writers that to this day, make up my local writing community. Jonathan urged me to attend the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference which he credits for jump starting his meteoric rise as an author. It was like a drug.

    After years of sneaking my writing in, I made a conscious decision to focus on becoming a better writer. One thing led to another until Maberry got me hooked up with a team of writers to author a book on all the ways the Internet has changed the way we connect with people. We planned to write about business and romance, sex and medicine among other things. When we divided up the research, I got stuck with community; at the time this meant MySpace, LiveJournal and Xanga. So I had my 12 year old daughter get me on MySpace and my social media journey was underway.

    A year ago, after becoming the go-to social media person in the Philadelphia writing and publishing community, I reflected on the path that got me to that place. I thought back to the reason I looked for a writing community way back in 2005, and how I’d accidentally allowed this thing to hijack my real dream along the way – the dream to become a better writer.

    And so, last April I dropped off the face of the social media earth for a while and I wrote. I didn’t write about social media or publishing, I wrote stuff I made up. I wrote about the characters who’d been begging to get out of my brain and onto the page. I told stories that only I can tell in ways that only I can tell them, and I took the leap of faith that all writers dread. I submitted some of those stories to real publishers.

    But that last part doesn’t matter as much as the writing does.

    So, sweetheart, unplug and write. Feel that feeling that only writers get. Nurture your characters,  grow your stories and be true to yourself – your writer self. I, for one, am glad the social media cosmos thought it was necessary for our orbits to intersect, and count my friendship with you as one of the reasons I’ll never attach regret to the feelings I have about jumping in when I did.

    • PurpleCar 24 May 2011, 8:26 pm

      You know, Don, I was wondering where you’ve been, honestly. I’m SO HAPPY to hear you’ve been writing. Writing is what we are meant for. Without a doubt.

      I’m amazed the Bucks group was so helpful for you. It’s rare to find that; you know this, right? 

      I love the story about how you got the reputation of being the expert and hence you got pushed into being an expert. This is the same path I took. My first Tweet-Up was so confusing for me and everyone there because people would ask me what I did and I’d have no job to tell them. I couldn’t tell them “stay at home mom” because when I did, they couldn’t parse it. Why would someone who isn’t a marketer want to be into social media? That was the question in those days. It wasn’t about community or staying in touch with the world at large. I understood social media, as a psychology and technology person, in ways others could not. I became an expert and I was pushed into staying one. I’m rebelling now, as you are.

      Yes, let us not forget the friends all of this have brought to us. I wouldn’t give you up for anything. No regrets. Just plans. 🙂


      • Don Lafferty 25 May 2011, 8:28 am

        The writing community that Maberry has nurtured is indeed a rare thing; supporting, instructive and creative. It’s also free. Come to the gig we do every month at the B&N in Willow Grove. Last Sunday of the month, from noon to 3:00. (Except for this month, due to the holiday).

  • Mike_S_Htown 24 May 2011, 6:45 pm

    Hi, Christine,

    Interesting reading, as always.  A few brief thoughts:

    –It’s sounds like you are simply going through a re-balancing.  Social media has taken up more of your time than you like, and you’re going to fix that.  Still you may find that you don’t need to become a social media teetotaler?

    –I believe that you underestimate the value and quality of your social media writing, and its value as legacy for your children.  I also don’t believe that your participation to this point has resulted in any atrophy of your writing skills.  [Though it’s true that I haven’t seen examples of your pre-social networking writings.  🙂   ]

    –It seems to me that the most interesting non-science fiction books that I have read all had some tie-in with the world-at-large (e.g. Freakonomoics and Superfreakonomics).  I suspect that social media will play some role in keeping you in touch w/ the world — and therefore will play some role in your future writing.

    –And, finally: perhaps working in today’s social media environment isn’t your cup of tea.  Tomorrow, though?  Don’t count out a future convergence between social media (or its successor) and a Purple Car reprise!

    But, what the hell do I know — I’m just a computer geek!  🙂

    • PurpleCar 24 May 2011, 8:18 pm


      Putting network communication aside isn’t the goal; obviously, as I’m answering comments on my blog… 

      To not allow myself to be swept into a career I never really chose for myself is the goal. Early Adopter disease and the sheer mind-numbing boredom that can accompany being a stay at home parent steered me toward the social media realm. I love my techie connections, as most of my social media circle are quite technically oriented, but writing takes a shitload o’ concentration. I hope my friends will still come around to find me here, writing away. Twitter and FB need to be less prominent in my life.

      Mainly, I’m saying time is coming; Kindergarten is coming up, and then 1st grade for my youngest, so I’m looking ahead to see how I will spend those hours. It won’t be with social media work. I’m going to finish up my bartering deals and any other outstanding projects and then lay low. I’m not going to network or search for clients (not that I ever had, but I’m just saying, I’m not going to start). I’m going to weigh heavily what I spend my time on. 

      Will I still write about social media? In the Media Psychology sense, I will. I’m fascinated by how people interact with technology and others, so I can’t stay away from it even if I tried. And there is a non-fiction book proposal about parenting for the digital age that has been floating around my brain for quite a while. I’ll hire you as my Technical Advisor for that book.

      Thanks for coming around, Mike, I always love your uber-geeky and yet practical perspective.

      • Mike_S_Htown 24 May 2011, 9:09 pm


        No, I get it (I think)!   My bad.  I’m an excellent writer compared to many of my computer  scientist peers — but, it’s all relative, unfortunately.  In the land of the blind…  🙂

        What I tried and failed to convey the first time: your Muse may take you in interesting and surprising directions.  So, even though social networking may not be your work calling any longer, it may still play a prominent role in Purple Car 2.0. 

        Maybe working in the social media arena is toxic to your soul, and too much time spent FBing and Tweeting keeps you from working on major writing projects.  But, there is no need to put your talents into a figurative box to protect you from social networking time- and morale-sucking — that’s how I interpreted the point of your newsletter, anyway.  [No jokes about my reading and critical thinking skills if I’m wrong, OK?  🙂   ]

        Re: shitload o’ concentration: I wonder.  Maybe some of your best writing will come when you are less focused?  Some of my best programming and management ideas were engendered in the shower.  No kidding.

        Well, your PC fans will keep up w/your journey here — thanks for sharing it!

      • Ari Herzog 27 May 2011, 7:37 pm

        It is evolutionary for an (early) adopter of technology to grow tired of the technology. I’ve changed my Twitter usage, for instance, more times than most — including deleting the account once and then recreating it in an effort to start fresh with 0 followers but the same name. Suffice to say, that caused a lot of confusion when people thought they followed me.

        The moment you stop doing something that doesn’t excite you anymore is the moment you are doing the correct thing.

        • PurpleCar 28 May 2011, 9:59 am


          I love this truism: “The moment you stop doing something that doesn’t excite you anymore is the moment you are doing the correct thing.” God, how true is that?

          I thought I *was* following you on Twitter! LOL


  • Veronica Sopher 27 May 2011, 12:21 am

    Hi Christine, I found this post and your blog via @akula:twitter the other day, and just now got the chance to sit down and read through it. I can definitely appreciate your thoughts and feelings regarding this thing called social media. It’s smart of you to draw the line for yourself and I admire that. As you already know, it’s easy to get swept up (and possibly away) by it all, or at least very distracted from what’s truly fulfilling or important. Although I currently work in social media marketing, I’m also a mother and a wife, and I find myself filtering things through those points of view when working with clients. The thing is, as much as businesses strive to be relevant in people’s online interactions, I suspect that the most precious status, photos, locations, etc. are often the ones that aren’t shared openly on social networks.