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Is it possible to be anti-social in social media?

boy-hidingLife can get in the way sometimes. Do you know what I mean? It’s hard to keep up with work and family responsibilities sometimes, let alone keep up with a blog or a twitter account or a Facebook account actively. Then throw in the foul weather the mid-Atlantic states in the US have experienced in the last month and the general winter season which can also set set the mood.

Here’s my dilemma: it’s been a rough winter this year in Central New Jersey. We’ve had record snow and cold, which have affected my health. No cold or flu, but aching sinuses and asthma, and I swear I’m getting arthritis too. Work has generally been busy, but I’ve hit a lull just before a holiday weekend and two weeks before going to a conference for a week. I’ve dealt with more snow days and two hour delayed school days than I can count, which stresses me out when my son is home while I’m working. In other words, I’m beat physically and mentally.

And all this while, I need to keep up with this blog, and try to keep up a presence on social media–at least on Facebook and Twitter–so that people don’t forget that I’m still here. But to be honest, I’m just feeling anti-social right now, although interacting with people other than my son, my husband, and my chiropractor would probably do me some good. It’s the dead of winter, and I’d like to simply hibernate for a while. But I need to try to get my articles out, even if it’s just curating some cool articles here and there, but I almost don’t have the energy for even that most of the time.

It got me thinking… How does one be anti-social on social media? I mean, there’s the obvious way of being totally obnoxious and being a jerk online. But how does one become know in the social media world as being anti-social? It seems like an oxymoron, I know, but think about it. Social media is named as such because it’s all about engagement with others and interaction at its best. But what do you do when you just don’t want to engage, but you’re perfectly fine with simply “listening” for a while? Is listening or reading anti-social, especially in social media? This brings back my thoughts on being a lurker. Nothing wrong with being a lurker, but the idea of being involved in social media and being a participant in a particular culture–in this case, the culture of technical communicators–means that one needs to speak up now and then. But what if there’s not a whole lot to say, or nothing that is very motivating at the moment? Therein lies the rub.

So, how does one get out of such a funk? I think the answer is that you have to force yourself to be out there. Yes, it’s easier to hibernate, but it’s a lot more work to push yourself to do what you have to do. I do enjoy my blog, and I do enjoy social media, but there are times that retreating is not such a bad thing. Sometimes I just don’t have a whole lot to contribute to a conversation. Sometimes I do. I try to make time to curate at least one or two articles if I’m not up to writing. I still want to share and discuss–don’t get me wrong. But now and then, I feel a need to retreat and pull back a bit.

I’m sure that once I get out of these winter doldrums, and get out for a bit (especially with a conference coming up), that feeling will change. But in the meantime, pardon me if I’m anti-social. I need some quiet time to read and absorb information.

What do you consider to be anti-social behavior in social media? Write your thoughts in the comments below.


Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

3 thoughts on “Is it possible to be anti-social in social media?

  1. That’s a good question, Danielle. While it requires a certain level of commitment to become active in social media, everyone understands (or should understand) that we’re all human. We’re subject to ups and downs. We have times when life goes along at a steady hum and when life becomes complicated and stressful.

    Therefore, when someone is less visible on social media — especially when their blog postings become less frequent — there are two things to keep in mind. First, your followers are probably willing to cut you a break, because they understand the human condition. Second, most people — the ones who aren’t avid followers — might not even notice that they’re seeing less of you. They’re too busy living their own lives. It’s just the way we humans are.

    So if I were you I’d cut myself some slack. It’s not anti-social to dial back your social media activity, and people won’t take you to task for it. Also, you shouldn’t “push yourself” (your words) if the result is going to be more frequent, but lower quality, interactions.

    My two cents.

    1. Thanks, Larry. I know I’m a little hard on myself, but I know it’s because I want my little blog here to do well, and in my eyes, I’m still trying to grow it, so some sort of effort needs to be made. One thing that I try to be careful about is the content that I curate versus the content I write. I could easily post things that are just randomly related to tech comm, e-learning and technology, but I do try to post things that I think are genuinely relevant and interest me, as I figure that it would interest other people as well. I really do read–or at least do a thorough glance-through–of every article that I post that I don’t write myself, to see if it’s truly about things that I support or feel can contribute to a conversation, or at least make readers aware of these events going on. Writing original work is not as easy, as you know, and I do try to write something worthwhile when I can. I have some articles I haven’t finished writing that are very overdue only because I want to truly take the time to write them carefully and thoughtfully. Oddly enough, even though I’m a trained technical writer, I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, but rather as a person who does understand how to write well (or at least passably), so it doesn’t come as easily to me as it might to other bloggers. I’m hoping that with some new inspirations in the next week or so when I get a chance to get away from the doldrums of home that I’ll be a little more mentally refreshed to add more to the blog as time goes on. We all need a break now and then, and I suppose I need them more than the average writer, as it is. 🙂

  2. We appreciate your candid thoughts. Enjoy your conference, and know that spring is exactly one month from today. New ideas and energy will definitely be growing with the onset of a welcome new season.

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