Updated: October 9, 2013 7:48PM
I have an announcement.
I do not “like” Kirk Dillard.
Not in the Facebook sense, anyway.
And that’s now a problem for me because when I opened my Facebook page Thursday and saw a big, honking “D” for Dillard as one of my “likes” I removed it.
On Dillard’s own campaign site, my NBC5 colleague Mary Ann Ahern (among a number of other reporters) found herself listed as a Dillard “like.” She removed it.
Neither of us remembered ever clicking the “like” button for him or any variety of other politicians we cover.
Ah, but we didn’t have to.
All we had to do is accept them as “friends.”
“Liking someone doesn’t mean you really “like” them,” patiently explained NBC5 website platform manager, BJ Lutz to me, “and ‘friend’ isn’t necessarily a friend in the Facebook world. It’s just a way to exchange content.”
But in an election year, it looks just like an endorsement, doesn’t it? Which it isn’t.
This is not Dillard’s fault.
And I actually do like him. And the whole gaggle of other candidates running for governor: Pat Quinn, Bill Daley, Bruce Rauner, Dan Rutherford, Bill Brady.
I like politicians in general. They keep me in business.
But I’m “liking” Facebook less and less as unsolicited ads pop up on my two sites, my “friend” page and my “fan” page.
Not that long ago, I felt quite liberated when I killed my LinkedIn account, feeling that it had become a spam spewing machine, clogging my inbox with relentless requests.
Now I’m debating whether to kill off Facebook too, a site I have used to post columns and TV stories I’ve done.
Hardly a decision to be taken lightly, I clearly was in need of a social media intervention.
And who better to call than the brilliant Dan Sinker, creator of @MayorEmanuel, the unauthorized, hilarious Twitter feed and running account of the Rahm-quest for mayor. Sinker ultimately turned it into a James Joycian-type book on the campaign. He now heads up Knight-Mozilla Open News project, a cutting-edge effort to combine open web innovation with journalism.
Sinker sees the journalist’s Facebook conundrum. “How can you do your job if you don’t ‘friend’ politicians to see what they’re saying? . . . [But] there are all sorts of ways to exploit these words — ‘friend,’ ‘like’ — that would imply that actual relationships exist where they don’t.”
Sinker reminds us that Facebook’s vocabulary was dreamed up by a college freshman who transformed Internet interactions into a kabillion dollar enterprise. “The idea that Facebook mimics reality,” he says, “is false.”
Which is why he quit Facebook in 2011, recognizing that “to not be on it is to take a stand against it.”
Sinker relies on Twitter.
“It’s an asymmetrical universe. I can follow someone but they don’t have to follow me. Or vice versa. I can reach just about anyone that way.”
Without “friending.” Without “liking.”
Sinker says he’s not going to be tweeting out the current campaign the way he did Rahm Emanuel’s run.