How Do You Use Various Social Media Platforms? How Should You?


The proliferation of social media platforms raises questions about how, if at all, we should use them.

The introduction of Threads earlier this month, the recent surge in Bluesky (and before that, Mastodon), on top of familiar major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok gives us all lots of options about how to communicate with people. 

Some people seem to post the same things on multiple platforms. For example, when writing on them as Daily Nous, I usually share the same or very similar posts on both Facebook and Twitter. Though some readers follow DN on both platforms, some just mainly use one or the other, and I want to reach all who are interested. 

Yet when it comes to posting just as Justin Weinberg, I differentiate my usage across platforms. There is very little overlap between what I post on Facebook and what I post on Instagram. I’ll use FB mainly for sharing personal happenings, occasional professional developments, photos of family and friends, and bits of culture I like. Most of my posts there are not public. Meanwhile, I use my Instagram, which I keep public, for sharing (what I think are) some of the better or more interesting photos I’ve taken. 

But, outside of publicizing what’s posted at Daily Nous, I’m not a heavy social media user, and I don’t take what I do as representative of the norm.

And I’m not sure what, if anything, to do with the newer platforms. I’ve begun sharing DN posts on Bluesky, but I just can’t bring myself (yet) to start using Threads (I have an account, but haven’t used it for anything).

On top of questions about what people use the different platforms for, there are questions about how the use of social media interacts with various aspects of one’s career. This has been discussed a bit before*, but as technology, culture, and practices change, so do norms, and so it may be worth revisiting. 

So, let us know: How do you make use of the variety of social media options out there, both personally and professionally? How do you think we should? What advice do you have for how to use them well? (Or advice about not using them?) Is there a kind of social media platform you wish existed, but doesn’t? Tell us about it.

(By the way, did you know you can link directly to a comment? Just mouse over the comment and a small link icon will appear on the top right of it; click on it and it automatically copies the link. Just in case you want to, you know, share your comment on social media.)


See, for example, “Social Media Advice for Academics” and “Philosophers on the Internet

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Sam G
9 months ago

As a student/consumer who doesn’t often have much to share, I get almost all of my news on philosophy (including DailyNous, APA, NDPR, PhilSci-Archive, etc.) and other interests through an RSS reader rather than social media. I use NetNewsWire, but there are lots of other RSS apps.

RSS has several benefits over social media:
1) You choose exactly which authors come in, without being distracted by all the other noise on social media, or being fed content by an anger-seeking algorithm.
2) There’s no scrolling, hence no doomscrolling.
3) My many news subscriptions and social media interests arrive together in the same app (so I only need to check one site instead of dozens), but I can still organize them into separate folders.
4) For some sites (e.g., HackerNews), I subscribe directly to the comments feed — no need to scroll through every story to get to the discussion.
5) There’s no personal profile to maintain, so I choose which stories to Favorite based on what I actually want to look back on, not what I want others to think of me.

Liberal
9 months ago

Especially in light of the (slightly adjacent) events of Yoel Inbar’s hire at UCLA apparently being scuttled for his minor criticisms of DEI statements, I am confident that my policy of never talking freely under my own name on social media has been wise (at least for my career).

Chronicle: This Professor Criticized Diversity Statements. Did It Cost Him a Job Offer?

OnlyMe
9 months ago

I use public posts on Twitter and Facebook mainly just to let people know when I’ve published something. Haven’t gotten on Bluesky yet. I don’t get involved in political or cultural disputes on social media — not because I’m afraid of career fallout or cancellation for expressing my views, but because it seems pointless.

Freedom Fighter
9 months ago

Graduate students are often told to stay off social media or to refrain from doing anything too political on social media for fear of harming their job prospects.

But I think it’s important to remind hiring committees that someone’s having strong or activist political leanings is no evidence whatsoever of what kind of teacher, researcher, or colleague they will be.

Faculty involved in hiring ought not hold such expressive activities of job candidates against them. Doing so may not technically violate the academic freedom or free speech rights of candidates, but it does seem to “punish” them, and that seems to go against the spirit of academic freedom or free speech.

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson
Reply to  Freedom Fighter
9 months ago

> someone’s having strong or activist political leanings is no evidence whatsoever of what kind of teacher, researcher, or colleague they will be.

Really?

Caligula's Goat
Caligula's Goat
Reply to  Freedom Fighter
9 months ago

There’s *having* strong political leanings and then there’s *engaging* in online speech about it.

It’s impossible, inside or outside the academy, to withhold judgment about a person based on the content of their literal speech acts. If one of my colleagues engages in promoting white nationalism online…it’s going to be hard for me not to think about how this affects their collegiality, treatment of students, or my desire to talk to them when they’re in their office.

Putting your thoughts out there means putting your thoughts out there. You have to be willing to accept the consequences of your public speech if you’re going to engage in it. It’s good advice, not just for graduate students but for anyone, to remember that anything you say online can be held against you. Be as judicious and cautious with your online speech as you would with your words in physical spaces.

Liberal
Reply to  Caligula's Goat
9 months ago

Do you endorse what (apparently) happened to Yoel Inbar at UCLA?

Caligula's Goat
Caligula's Goat
Reply to  Liberal
9 months ago

I want to separate two questions here re:Inbar (or anyone like him):

An interpersonal question: should our judgments of people (as colleagues, friends, persons) be informed by public speech?A legal question: is it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of their public speech for the purposes of employment?I think that, from my point of view, it’s obvious that the answer to #1 is YES. To the degree that Inbar’s speech caused others to dislike him, advocate against him, etc., on the basis of his speech then I think that’s all fine. His supporters should have been more vocal, in my view, and they shouldn’t have let the graduate students determine the department’s hiring decision (assuming that that’s what happened). If enough faculty at UCLA found his views (or his defense of his views) to be indicative of him as a scholar or colleague then that’s how the speech cookie crumbles. This is despite the fact that I *agree* with Inbar about the nature of DEI requirements.

I have far less to say on #2. I expect that we’ll get some answers soon from relevant district courts regarding things like DEI statements. I personally am not a fan of institutionalizing altruism / ethics (because of Goodhart’s law) and think that DEI requirements won’t do any substantive good but whether or not they’re legal? That’s not my area.

Last edited 9 months ago by Caligula's Goat
Sam
Sam
Reply to  Caligula's Goat
9 months ago

The question was whether you endorse what happened in the Inbar case, not whether it involves a violation of current law. The two issues can be separated. (Of course, you might fail to endorse what happened because it violated the law, but that’s not what you said.)

You seem willing to allow the practice of holding one’s literal statements against them in hiring and promotion. You wrote that it’s “impossible […] to withhold judgment about a person based on the content of their literal speech acts,” and you think such speech acts can bear upon questions of collegiality and ability to carry out professional responsibilities.

Would you endorse a law requiring that the practice be allowed in public institutions? If you would, then why not endorse what happened to Inbar as something that should be allowed? Presumably because you believe it is or might be an unacceptable instance of discrimination. But then why not also believe the practice (of holding one’s literal statements against them in hiring and promotion) is or might be unacceptable discrimination? If you do have this latter belief, then why would you endorse a law requiring the practice be allowed?

Nick Hadsell
Nick Hadsell
9 months ago

I think more philosophers should get on Substack. It’s a really good outlet for us to work out ideas, popularize already worked-out ideas, network with other writers, and read some generally good work.

Substack has also just added a “Notes” feature that basically functions like Twitter feed (without all the crazy bots and addictive algorithms).

I currently use mine to work out ideas I plan to cover in my dissertation/share stuff for friends and family who wouldn’t bother reading a chapter I’ve written. It’s fun.

There are already some very good philosophy substacks:

https://dailynous.com/2023/01/12/philosophers-on-substack/

GradStu
9 months ago

I am a graduate student who will be going on the market soon. I avoid all social media. I have a few reasons for this: concerns about preserving privacy from greedy corporations who want my data; concerns about not wanting to further enrich those who own social media platforms; concerns about the deleterious effects social media has had on public discourse, relationships, politics, attention spans, mental health, and the spread of misinformation; and concerns about preserving a neat separation between my private/family life and my public/professional life. If it is true that my absence from social media will harm my career — and I highly doubt this — then so be it. I would rather leave the field than cave on important values and principles to — at best — marginally improve my chances of landing a fancier job.

Last edited 9 months ago by GradStu
@SylviaFysica@scholar.social
9 months ago

Especially for senior academics, I highly recommend opting out of for-profit, centralized platforms. These include Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Twitter, Bluesky, TikTok, and Substack. These privately owned media practice data mining and manipulate their ‘users’ to spend ever more time on their services. Not participating on these platforms and choosing other ways to communicate is a form of feet voting and role modelling.

Things to consider doing instead:

  • Explore the fediverse: a federation of servers that interoperate through ActivityPub (an open-source protocol), so it’s decentralized by design. The vast majority of servers are run by volunteers and are non-profit.
  • The fediverse includes Mastodon servers for microblogging. Different servers have different policies, resulting in a different ‘vibe’. You may like fediphilosophy.org or zirk.us. There are no opaque algorithms: mostly chronological feeds based on the accounts and hashtags that you choose.
  • Social media have become crucial public infrastructure, so I’m glad to see universities from the Netherlands (surf.nl/en/mastodon-pilot-for-research-and-education) and Sweden (social.sunet.se) are already running their own servers. I hope more universities will join: netzpolitik.org/2023/a-call-to-action-universities-of-the-world-into-the-fediverse/. Would calling it diamond open access social media help, I wonder?
  • Of course, companies can set up a server, too (like Meta just did with Threads), but you may choose to join a server that doesn’t federate with them.
  • There are other types of fediverse servers that support sharing long form (writefreely), videos (peertube), etc.
  • Alternatively, you may set up or revive your own website or blog. Ideally, it has an RSS feed.
  • As Sam G said, you can read others on the free web through RSS readers.
  • If you want to access or share content on commercial social media without sending them your data, you may use an open-source front-end (such as nitter for Twitter, invidious for YouTube, etc). There are browser plugins that redirect links automatically (such as LibRedirect on Firefox).
Twitter Aesthete
9 months ago

My experience with microblogging sites like Twitter vastly improved when I stopped treating them as sources of news or places to have debates, and switched to using them to show me beautiful things. I follow many artists and artisans and seeing their work makes me happy instead of the drain and anxiety that my older habits produced. But this is largely a matter of temperament, and there are philosophers who thrive in Twitter debates. It’s just not for me and it took longer than it should have to realize this.