I have a problem with social media. It is restrictive. I am not referring to things like the 140 characters in a tweet. Limitations can sometimes be the source of great creativity. To me, social media constrains you to only what's possible within the network.
Although every major network is trying to tie their user account to a real life identity, it fails at its most fundamental. Looking up someone on Facebook does not tell you who they are. Just their perfectly staged photos and witty comments stolen from somewhere else.
At the very best, your Facebook profile reflects your reality on Facebook. You can say the same about twitter, google plus, instagram or any of the likes.
On twitter, it's all about one liners. If you filter out all the bots (and humans) that hash and rehash content, you arrive at human beings that carefully format their content that works only on this platform. It is easy to spend hours going from tweet to tweet, never really understanding what is happening.
As a new user, this might seem like the weirdest experience and make you think it's a bunch of idiots yelling randomly. But that's what it is all about. Those who love twitter love it for this very reason.
On Facebook, the content is similar, only it follows its own format. The content is catered to people who will most likely hit that like button. People who don't talk to you in person will hit that like button on the picture you just posted. And you better like their next post in return.
Again, this is the rule of the game. Whatever network you participate in you have to apply its rules if you want to thrive in it. The motto of every social network is "connecting people", but in reality it is just a game to play, with no prize at the end really.
People participate more and more and these are taking the place of personal websites. I find it surprising that even on linked in, developers pass their social network as their personal website. Or worse, on their personal website, all they have are links to all social network profiles.
Facebook, Twitter, tumblr are all familiar platforms. Everyone knows where all the content is located and how to consume. It is much easier for a person to share content there because they don't have to think about design, ux, ui, or anything for that matter. It is easy.
A personal website is hard. Even if you do the one click install to get a WordPress blog there are still many more things involved. You need a domain name, you need a hosting service, you need maintain the website.
Even when you manage to handle all those, you don't have the instant discoverability of social networks. You have to make your website known. You have to count on Google to bring people in, you have to tell people about it so they find you and link back to you. It is just so much work.
But there is one thing that makes a personal website better then all social networks combined. You own it. As simple as that.
You have full control over your website. No one can come and bully you just because they feel like it. As you can see, nissan.com does not belong to the Nissan car maker. It belongs to a single individual whose last name is, as you guessed, Nissan. They tried to bully him for years unsuccessfully. If he owned facebook.com/nissan, the automaker would send a single email to Facebook and they'd kick him out.
A personal website does not necessarily have a standard format, although you can use one of the many CMS in the market. Moving from personal website to personal website feels like an adventure. Everything is different, and the owner has the opportunity to share things the way she sees fit.
You make the rules.
Maybe I'm just nostalgic or a dinosaur, but I still think that it is much better to have your own website and make it your principal focus rather than be on twitter. A social network should be something in addition to your arsenal, not the main focus.
Personal because you own it.
Things you share on your website belong to you. A tweet belongs to twitter. A like belongs to facebook. Ello... yeah.
What happened to websites? I hear interesting things about a developer and when I want to know more, they don't have a website. Where are their blogs, their writing, and all the things we make so necessary about a programming career?
I hear a programmer that doesn't code on his spare time is not a true developer. I don't believe that but I expect everyone of us to try at the very least. Have a blank website with your name on it. Sure, github is great and all, but where is yours? Yes, have a github account, but on it, put a link that points to your failed attempt to a website. Even if it says coming soon.
This is the only thing that belongs to you. Believe it or not, github can go bankrupt. And they will make a nice download link where you can save all your activity. But sooner or later it will be yanked off the web. Have all your web profiles, but please don't forget your own website. It is the only thing that will matter one day, and that you have full control of.
By being on the web, we have agreed that we will share some information about ourselves. If I follow you on twitter, would it mean I get to know you? or would it mean I know who you are on twitter?
At the very least, create a crappy website. Let this be you. Let it evolve into who you are today. Get started today.