I didn’t have a second thought when I deleted Facebook from my phone last weekend. Low risk, really. I mean, guys, I didn’t actually delete my Facebook (and even if I did, it stores my data, allowing me to reactivate at any point). I wasn’t saying Facebook’s time was over. I wasn’t even suggesting folks should go off it. The world is on it — I care about what the world is doing, and doing it with. It’s just that it’s not going to happen on my phone right now. There are too many other things I’m doing that are fitted for what’s in my hand. My job is to practice Nowness — and that’s good personally, professionally, technically and philosophically.
I’m attempting to not overproduce my life (as much — yes, I’m still filtering my photos). But we all remember the stories written about spending hours in our head thinking about what our status update would be. We want to look beautiful, fun, smart, rich, famous … the psychology has been hashed a hundred ways. #overit
I want to know what people are doing, or have been doing, in the last 24 hours or so. This is Instagram (the new Facebook; it’s owned by them after all). I have control over, for now, what I see. It’s straight forward, no settings or groups. The stream is based on the most recent post from folks I follow. Easy. Light. Quick. Visual. Great for mobile. Great for checking in without the stress of feeling like I have to engage more deeply or make my own update. I just want to know where people are, what they see, what they think in their little bubble of America or the world.
I’m in to Snapchatting; broadcasting in the moment, to a closed few. Sometimes this is with Snapchat. Sometimes, most times, this is with text messaging a group of my friends — SMS has come a long way. I have multiple running group texts that have been going on literally for years. It’s closed to just us. We screengrab e-mails, Instagrams, the Internet. We share photos of where we are. We make plans. We give status updates. I don’t need another app for this. I like my one-to-one or one-to-few connections that feel safe and low pressure.
I want to know who I am talking to. On Facebook, I have a range of an audience. It’s sophisticated that way. My mother, friends from high school, professional colleagues, my ~7,000 ‘subscribers’ — Facebook will let me talk with each of these groups at once or separately. I appreciate that, but doing that on my phone is not how I want to spend my time.
Back to the newsroom, I wax academically and nerd-like on the concept I’m calling Adaptive Journalism. This idea that we are crafting stories and experiences that consider the device and platform as the first criteria for how we approach our storytelling. At times it’s normative, to be fair. And then sometimes we can hit right on it and look across the platform spectrum and see how we’ve actually done journalism that is device specific, referer specific. Medium as much as the message is the story we’re attempted to tell or gather. It’s a good time to be in journalism. It’s a good time to practice Nowness this way.
Someone who once worked for me told me the best advice I ever gave them was to say that ‘everything we are doing right now will be be wrong in six months.’ What I meant is that it’s all changing all the time and that’s okay. That’s good. Produce and keep moving to what’s next. Our primary job is to tell stories through the best experiences we can build at that moment for the devices and apps and platforms our audiences are on. So maybe I’ll put Facebook back on my phone (or watch?!) next year. Or maybe I’ll be producing journalism just for Facebook. We’ll have to see where the Nowness is.