In the wake of such tragedies as the shooting in Aurora, Colorado and the Norwegian mass murder, some have insinuated that a person’s social media accounts might tip off society as to who is and who isn’t likely to to be a psychopath. On a subtler note, Forbes published a piece about how employers are wary of people who don’t have Facebook profiles. A Slate advice columnist advised against dating people who don’t have Facebook profiles.
I spoke with life coach Irina Baranov about what social media profiles might indicate about the users of certain sites. Basically, I wanted to know if my Twitter addiction and Facebook use was sending red flags to people I didn’t even know and if I should be concerned about the people who weren’t popping up on my feeds.
Facebook: “I think there’s something really interesting about people who choose not to [have a Facebook profile],” she says. “It’s so prolific that it’s just become a part of our culture. It’s like having a cell phone or having a TV—everyone has one. But, look at the people who aren’t. My dad isn’t on Facebook and that is not an accident. He’s a software engineer. He’s a very technical guy, but he’s drawn a line in the sand and said, ‘No. I want to have face-to-face relationships.’ He’s very intentional about it. Is he abnormal? Yeah, it’s outside the norm, but he’s a good, sane, loving guy. If he wasn’t married to my mom, I’d recommend him to other middle-aged women.”
Twitter: “Twitter is a much more immediate kind of networking site. We constantly know what’s happening with either the sports teams we’re following or the weather or entertainment news. It’s a very immediate gratification kind of thing. It’s about having your finger on the pulse of what’s going on right now.”
The fact that I’m addicted to Twitter wasn’t much of a surprise to Baranov.
“I think it’s ripe breeding ground for a little bit of compulsion addiction,” she says. “Even if you look at people who don’t tend to have obsessive compulsive natures, once they get on Twitter, it sucks them in. There’s nothing wrong with checking it first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed. I just got back from PBS and everyone in the studio was on Twitter morning, noon and night. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it, but it’s a good breeding ground to get hooked. So, it takes some intentionality to take a breath, step back and say, ‘What do i really want to use this for?’”
LinkedIn: A LinkedIn profile implies “business person.” I’m going to guess most stay-at-home moms don’t have a LinkedIn profile. Most 95-year-old senior citizens in an assisted-living facility don’t have a LinkedIn. When I asked Baranov if having a LinkedIn profile might imply that a user isn’t as important as they’d like to be, she suggested that that’s probably not exclusive to LinkedIn: ”Sure, Bill Gates doesn’t have a LinkedIn, but he probably doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter, either.”