Which You Is Where? A Social Network Problem.

I’ve always had one major complaint about social networks: They’ve created multiple Ryans, and I sometimes lose track of which Me is Me when it comes to certain sites.

When I first started using sites like Facebook or MySpace I was only friends with my real life friends and there were no problems. I could post pictures of parties and concerts and other places that people in their mid to late twenties go without worrying about any repercussions. I didn’t have to worry about what pictures I uploaded, what I said about people’s pictures, or what I bitched about on my blog. I was even able to tell the punchline to dirty jokes like “why doesn’t Barbie have any kids?”

Today though, I can’t do that.

Over time I saw my MySpace and Facebook profiles grow from just my friends to include family, co-workers, family of friends, other businesses, and even clients from work.

After all, you can’t deny a friend request from a client when you’re still hoping they’re going to sign a huge deal right?

Now, my accounts are all polluted. I stopped being Ryan and started turning my social network pages into corporate web pages. They’ve all become Ryan the professional, and I think that’s what will inevitably kill off social networks.

I’m noticing the same trend with lots of my friends – both real friends and MySpace friends.

Those who aren’t making their profiles more professional are going to soon regret it. I still see profiles of high school teachers that include pictures of them in their underwear, but for the most part people are learning not to do this anymore.

In fact, we recognized very early into identity.net that there was a strong need for users to have “multiple me’s.” The “me” I linked from my company web page was different from the “me” at this blog, which had nothing in common with the “me” that you see at the bar on Friday nights listening to country music bands.

That problem is still facing all of today’s social networking sites. Creating several MySpace accounts is a pain, and the Lori Drew case has shown us that creating one under a “nickname” so that it can’t be found could be cause for the FBI to come knocking at my door. I certainly don’t want that, so my only current choice is to not post the fun pictures, jokes, and blog entries that I’d like to share with my friends.

That solution is also “no bueno.”

Most teens (as I observed my 17 year old cousin here in Dallas do) just move from one platform to another. They started on friendster, moved to MySpace, and are now all over Facebook. When I ask why, it’s always a reason that has to do with having too many mixed friends on one of the sites.

But they can’t site hop forever, and they’re running out of alternatives. It’s only a matter of time until the next MySpace or Facebook “killer” comes along, but will it suffer from the same problems too? And when it does come along, which “me” will I create an account with?

For that matter, which “me” is really “me?”

http://modernsmile.com/about/testimonials/ About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com


  1. Great post HG. This reminded me of a post I *would* write if I had time for http://www.akpcep.com which was inspired by a guy I know dying unexpectedly recently. He obviously had a facebook page, myspace, bebo account, online webmail, the usual shit. None of which knows that he’s no longer alive obviously – but they all continue to grow, get spammed, get networked with everyone else, people still post on his wall saying they miss him etc.

    This is a phenomenon I call “virtual ghosts” – whereby the dead actually have a kind of digital afterlife – their image, thoughts, feelings, etc remain online in perpetuity.

  2. i’m agree with u