Confessions of a Social Media Mall Rat

I feel digitally homeless. It is a feeling of dislocation, lack of focus and general malaise.

What once were clear lines between activities on facebook, twitter and my blog have been blurred, or even erased.

Mallrats PosterI used to think of twitter as the “pub chat” with friends and casual acquaintances and facebook as the “speakers corner” where you could set up your soap box and rally interested listeners to your cause.

But these were just the social spaces, you spent time there but you always headed home. In this context, “home” was one’s blog, the place to invite those friends to join me after the pub, or the place to hold lively discussions and events.

But something happened. People stopped coming. There were simply too many homes to visit, so we all started hanging out more ‘together’ in social spaces.

Facebook grew. It stopped being an open square. It grew and built pleasant boulevards, with plenty of park benches to meet on. It roofed off the sky and promised dependable weather for any gathering. In exchange for viewing a few ads, it gave us the spaces for talking, meeting, watching movies, even eating (or sharing food porn) and sleeping. It became a mall. EVERYTHING happens within it.

We turned into mall rats.

According to Urban Dictionary:

Mall rat: A surly teenager who spends all of his or her time at the mall with friends. Typically seen standing around glaring at customers — sometimes these fascinating creatures will pick fights with mall security and call them “fascists” for enforcing the mall’s loitering bylaws. Also often seen intimidating the elderly people in the clothing stores, they flock back to the “baggy pants with mile-long wallet-chain” section of the clothing store when an employee threatens to call the police.

It seems unlikely, but in fact those of us who used to blog actively are the ones most likely to shout “fascist!” and accuse Facebook of imposing anti-social, privacy-invading terms. Are we that different? We think we own the place yet fail to spend any money, glare at the newcomers, and then threaten to leave, yet continue to hang around.

We have to. Imagine what would happen to our klout scores if we left!

It is a depressing thought.

However, what is more depressing is that the more time we spend wasting our intellectual effort, curiosity and creativity pretending we are being cool in the mall, the more we are building Facebook and not our blogs and ourselves.

Those blogs, our homes, are crumbling.

I see the value of large shopping centres. There needs to be a place to hang out, but we can’t make it our home. We must have a place to go to be ourselves, make a statement and build in order to be able to invite our real friends.

It is time for me to reduce the time spent on social “networking” drastically, and instead focus on my home and my friends.

My name is Robert. I am a Social Media Mall Rat. I am on the road to recovery.

Thank you for coming to visit me, please stay a while and share a glass of wine while we chat.

  • ArnoldWaldstein

    I agree with you in spirit for certain.  And I believe that cruising
    the social nets is like changing channels on the TV in a trance.
    That
    being said, change has indeed happened and a single channel reality for
    communications are just not possible nor natural in my opinion. And as well, like it or not, the international wine community has chosen Facebook predominantly for its ‘place’.

    I went into this in some detail and the enormous readership and comments of this one might warrant a look if you missed it.
    You can’t airlift community http://awe.sm/bGx8k
    Have a great show in Spain!

  • guitartim

    Yep, you’ve nailed it right there.

  • http://wineconversation.com/ thirstforwine

    ArnoldWaldstein I read it at the time, but will re-read (always enlightening). I’m not saying there are single spaces. I’m not saying “tear down the malls”. I am saying, “Quit living your entire life in 
    Like the kids who need to “get a life”, we bloggers who started communities in facebook to generate audience and traffic now find ourselves mesmerised by the mall and we’ve left the homes to rot. I’m hoping to reconnect with ME on the blog, and from there find a variety of interesting places to hang out socially, and, hopefully, somewhere better than the mall to visit regularly 🙂

  • http://wineconversation.com/ thirstforwine

    @guitartim thanks! just a thought I felt compelled to share

  • ArnoldWaldstein

    thirstforwine ArnoldWaldstein In spirit I’m there with you on this one Robert.
    To me it’s about being a leader or being a follower. Cruising for distraction or sitting back and focusing on bringing something to light and sharing it from your point of view, from your place.
    Good discussion.
    BTW–with your commenting system is there any way I can get notifications of when someone responds to my comment? I didn’t and knew you would respond so left myself a reminder to get back. There must be a better way. Let me know, via email I guess 😉

  • http://wineconversation.com/ thirstforwine

    ArnoldWaldstein not sure – am just experimenting with it – not sure it is working as hoped. In theory I can share on twitter but comments don’t make sense divorced from content. I’m pretty sure the option SHOULD exist

  • http://wineconversation.com/ thirstforwine

    ArnoldWaldstein have you tried this page? http://www.livefyre.com/profile/edit/notifications/

  • oldparn

    Ha! Klout scores. Very good, sir.
    I enjoyed this post. Social media is such a tricky old space. It promises so much but ultimately seems to yield so little in terms of broadening one’s audience or scope. And the more algorithmic my timeline gets, the more it’s filled with the same voices, in any case. So, increasingly, there’s not even the serendipity of unexpected (re)discovery of a person or subject.
    Anyhow, I’d love a glass of wine, since you’re offering.

  • oldparn

    PS. Which one’s you in the image?

  • http://www.rivieragrapevine.com/ Chrissie

    Very true, however especially when you’re starting out (as I am) you need social media to get the word about your blog out there! Although when you find that you’re spending time tweeting/facebooking updates rather than writing new content – perhaps that’s the time to re-evaluate the priorities. I guess it’s all a balance, but in the end, if you don’t have decent or recent content on your blog, there’s no point trying to create a social media presence for it.

  • http://wineconversation.com/ thirstforwine

    oldparn Silent Bob, of course 🙂

  • http://wineconversation.com/ thirstforwine

    @Chrissie yes, we need to go back to using them as tools but remembering that creating creating content can go hand in hand with creating an audience / tribe / community but they are not the same thing

  • Carolyn Blakeslee

    “Mesmerized” is the right word. I’m not pleased with the amount of time I spend (waste?) on Facebook. Thanks, Robert.