Last week, I set up a WhatsApp group for bloggers, with the idea that it would be a trusted and supportive community for bloggers where we could ask questions and gain advice. I knew there were already Facebook groups and Twitter chats out there that provided this, but I had been learning about WhatsApp groups and the benefits of having them, and thought it might be a cool thing to try.
I put posts out on social media, inviting people to send me their requests to join the group, hoping I might get a couple of people join up. What I wasn’t prepared for was the resistance to my idea. There were a few people who really didn’t like the idea of other bloggers having their phone number and didn’t want to join in. I was surprised by this, as it hadn’t occurred to me that people would be overly worried about people having their phone numbers.
Ten years ago, our mobile numbers were a closely guarded secret, which we only revealed to our “real” friends from whom we wanted phone calls and text messages. These days though, with smart phones able to ding with push notifications from Facebook, Twitter, emails and numerous other apps twenty-four hours a day, what difference does it make if a person has your phone number? They can probably intrude on your life more by sending tweets or Facebook PMs than by sending a text or a WhatsApp, any way.
It occurs to me that the difference here comes back to the two types of networking communication styles, which I spoke about in this post about online personas and Thomas Power. The traditional, institutional approach to communication was “CSC” – Closed, Selective and Controlling, where you would control who could contact you and when, you would be selective about who you speak to, who can speak to you, how you interact and so on, and it was a very closed network.
This networking communication style is gradually being replaced by what’s referred to as “ORS” – Open, Random and Supportive. Bloggers by definition usually tend to fall into this catagory more than the former – we write about our lives and reveal details of them on social media, including photos, audio recordings and even video footage of our lives. That’s quite an open communication style as it is, but we’re also random, in that social media by definition is very social, and allows anyone to interact with us or comment on our work. We’re generally supportive of new media and ideas, because we’ve already taken Facebook and Twitter to our hearts, and many of us are already up and running on Periscope and Meerkat.
Personally, I run a business which incorporates my blog. It’s in my best interests to be contactable by whatever means necessary, so that potential clients can get hold of me and become actual clients. Although a personal situation forced me to change my mobile number shortly after S was born, my fear of a certain someone getting hold of my mobile number has dissipated; what’s the worst he can do, really? Call me names? Been there, done that. Abusive texts in the middle of the night are so last decade, darling – and they are easily deleted. It doesn’t worry me if the “wrong” person gets hold of my phone number – they could just as easily get hold of my Twitter handle or my blog address.
I am very active on social media, as you may have noticed. My mobile beeps and dings and makes odd noises 24 hours a day. It makes no difference to me whether those noises come from social media or email or texts and phone calls. If it’s disturbing me or I want to go to bed, I switch my phone to silent and get on with what I was doing.
Since setting up the Bloggers’ WhatsApp group, we now have around 30 members. I’ve also set up a group for people who are self employed and wanting advice and support, and that one has been fairly popular too. If you would like to join either (or both), please do send me a tweet or email and I’ll get you added!
You can read more about CSC vs ORS on Rich simmonds’ blog here.
Ashley Beolens · 05/07/2015 at 10:13
Interesting, I can see where you are coming for but from a personal point of view my phone number is that little bit of my communication life that should be just for people I choose to pass it on to. If I wanted to stop being as open I can quit social media, delete email accounts etc. but changing my phone number would be much more of a hassle, and would affect personal connections more than the others.
I guess it is the same reason that people HATE cold calling but are not as fussed by spam emails, it feels much more like an intrusion than the others much more personal of an approach that interrupts your time without your consent, handing that access to people freely is to many one step too far. Does that all make sense?
Vicky Charles · 05/07/2015 at 18:02
That makes sense completely Ashley. I think when the phone was still plugged into the wall in the corner of the living room I felt the same – because it’s a massive intrusion and you can’t just unplug it without risking missing important calls. With my mobile though, I’m not overly bothered. Horses for courses!