The merits of being messy online

In a world of perfectly curated Instagram profiles and success-filled Facebook profiles, it’s good to have a messy space online. Somewhere you can experiment, explore and not worry too much about what others might see.

Apps on a phone screen
Messy spaces CC BY 2.0.

You’ve probably read about fake news, the filter bubble and good or bad campaigns. It’s understandable that you may not want to use the social media profiles you love to read about or test these ideas.

But it is useful to pick a channel you’re not currently using, or are not particularly in love with, and make this your ‘messy space’. Somewhere you don’t mind playing with settings, following updates from people or causes you may not agree with or posting a random image or having a random conversation.

For me, this is Facebook. I’ve long since given up trying to curate and tidy the network of people, pages and groups that I am connected with. My only nod to tidiness is to make sure I’m happy with my basic security settings.

I’ll happily follow, test, and experiment with (almost) anything in Facebook, to see how it works, what other people are saying and generally get a more rounded view on people’s experience of this particular channel.

I don’t mind that the newsfeed is a jumble of random updates and information. After all, that helps me understand how others might see their Facebook feed (and why people are put off too). It’s also a constant reminder of the importance of video. When Facebook is struggling to make sense of my eclectic choices of who to follow, I can at least be sure that anyone who posts video will be at the top of my feed.

Don’t be afraid to have a messy space online

  • a channel or site that you don’t necessarily love to use, but want to better understand
  • be aware of what your public profile looks like. However, if it is messy don’t worry too much about what others think
  • look at this space, and use it as if you are one of your audience. What do you see that works, and what doesn’t make sense?
  • keep exploring features, buttons and content