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Social Experience

May 10th , 2012

Yesterday I found out that someone I followed on Twitter closed their account and left the platform for good. They weren't a friend of mine, in fact I didn't really know them at all. I've never met them and I have no knowledge of their life.

I'm sure this person had a good reason for leaving and, obviously it's up to them what they do online. For them Twitter wasn't really working out. In itself it's a sharp reminder of how hard it is to put ourselves in other people's shoes. We can't even get inside the experience another person is having, let alone inside their head.

All I can really understand is my own experience and it's a pretty roller coaster one at that. In this case the departure of the person in question has affected the way Twitter feels for me.

The loss of one person out of the hundreds I follow has made me think about what I value on Twitter. In reality the conversations I have are with a very small group of people. And that small group of people provides me with a rich set of varied experiences, each of which means something important to me.

I often think about a post-platform world, where I'm using little bits of everything to maintain conversations with the people that matter. I think it's inevitable. But, for me, right now, Twitter is the sticking point in all of that visioning. In my life Twitter is a backbone of all the other services I use. I believe it has a more personal feel than anything else. But then maybe that's just my experience.

What I do know is that the personal experience has been emphasised by one person's departure and this disruption has made me revisit what I want out of all these social networks. It's not a revelation, I've been thinking about where I should put my efforts for a while. But the logical clarity it's brought is timely and useful.

So I'm going to do what I tell everyone else to do. I'm going to really think about what I get out of all these things. I've got no real criteria for judging things. There are no metrics. The business measurement of social media is actually pretty easy. But personal ROI, what is that? How can I apply critical thinking to something as personal as social experience?

I suppose the only way forward is socially. I'd love to know what you think. Have you considered what you're doing on all these things? What you get out of it? Help!