Tag Archives: Online Communities

Social Media Has Come Full Circle

On the surface, this might seem like a think piece on social media and social games. How social media has evolved and devolved to take us back to some sort of cyber grassroots state of loneliness and how we’re all just here to find a connection.

Nope.

In November of last year, HootSuite published an infographic on “The Evolution of Social Media.” You can check it out here:¬†http://blog.hootsuite.com/evolution-of-social-media-infographic/.

It traces 5 years of social media. 5. Granted, a lot has happened in the last 5 years. The amount of social media users is staggering. People are using social media to innovate, to change the world, to drive business, build brands and other Important Things.

They’re also using it to connect to other people.

When it really comes down to is, the Facebook and Twitter users that companies are trying to hook with compelling content and calls to action are people who, even though they may buy what the companies are selling, are maintaining their online community because it’s their COMMUNITY. The people they interact with are their friends, or at least they are sort of friends, and it becomes very important on a psychological and philosophical level.

This isn’t news. Since AOL launched in 1985, people have used computers to connect to one another. By 1997, they could chat with each other real time. Google was born in 1998 and by 2000 the dot com bubble went kablewy and people were already wondering about the future of the Internet. That was the first year that I, personally, started using the Internet with any frequency.

I know, right? Late bloomer for sure. In 2000, as Google announced that it had indexed over a billion pages, I was taking surveys on a site called emode.com. The first quiz I took was “What Type of Dog are You?” I was a Golden Retriever.

I didn’t realize it, but emode was a social networking site. Later owned by Tickle, Inc., Wikipedia says that they provided “self discovery and social networking services.” I slowly built a profile and made a few “friends” but didn’t accept any date invitations and never sent anyone any pictures. I actually met a friend on that site that I remain friends with to this day. I’ve never met him in person, but he was the one who typed “you should make a Friendster account. It’s fun.”

So I joined Friendster. The personality quizzes gave way to testimonials written by people who knew you in real life and who had known you on the Internet long enough to say something nice about you. You posted pictures of yourself. You looked up ex boyfriends and ex friends and long lost family members. Sometimes you found them.

I’d just gotten settled into Friendster when this same friend said “Hey, everyone’s moving over to MySpace.” I said I didn’t want to go over to MySpace. But those customization options were too tempting and I caved. You could post songs to your profile and change your background. You could pick who your “Top Friends” were (a pressure-filled task) and you could have your own blog. I started blogging there, almost lost a job over it in 2005, and this blog was born in its first Blogspot iteration soon after.

In January 2008, based on an invitation from the same friend who lovingly dragged me into every social media platform I’ve actively participated in (you know who you are :)), I joined Facebook. Since then I have shared probably way too much information (though not nearly as much as a lot of people I know), have watched friends go through breakups and heartbreak, have gone through the same thing myself, and have, on the balance, had a pretty good time on it.

My friends are generous with their likes and comments. They cheer me up most days. While it’s not like it used to be (what is?) it’s still a nice place to “be.”

Lately, Buzzfeed and Zimbio have had personality quizzes clogging up everyone’s feed. “What Game of Thrones Character Are You?” and “What Disney Princess Are You” have provided delight to some, a cause for disdain and complaint for others.

But today, I saw it. “What Kind of Dog Are You?” Social media, for me, has come full circle.

And, apparently I’m a Lab.

Screen shot 2014-01-30 at 12.42.15 PM

The Politics of Blogging

I really miss writing here. I’ve been blogging on this site in one incarnation or another since 2007 or so. For a while I thought I would become the next Heather Armstrong or Jenny Lawson and then, after a bad Google Adsense mix-up, gave up on that and decided to amuse myself. I’ve written movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts and more, all framed through the “me” lens that is the essence of a “me blog.” That’s what this is, really. It started out as my MySpace blog, for Pete’s sake. A blog that, incidentally, I deleted 70% of because I made the boneheaded mistake of blogging about work.

smh
smh

I think I’ve told that story before. It’s a cautionary tale for everyone who blogs – be careful what you say on the internet because it will exist FOREVER. You can never get away from it. And yeah, that’s true. So, because of all the stuff that’s been going on in my life in the last couple of years, I haven’t blogged. Partly because it felt fake to post movie reviews when I had a sick family member or a huge life change. Partly because I’ve WANTED to write about those things so badly that I haven’t been able to trust my own judgement about what to share and what not to share.

amazing photo by chrisbatu.com
amazing photo by chrisbatu.com

I read all this thought leadership on social media and blogging. Partly because it’s one of my jobs (well, one part of two of my five jobs) and partly because I am genuinely interested in it. How the world has changed since I was in middle school, even. High school, too. We didn’t have a computer in my house growing up. I didn’t have a computer in my home until 2002 or so, and it was a work computer. The fact that I rely so much on the internet now astounds me. The realization that I itch to write about my personal life on this website rather than in a journal where the pages can stay private and hidden both shocks me, shames me and pleases me just a little.

So, anyway. The other day I was sitting on the front porch of my cute, quirky, totally non-functional little apartment and I heard a dog barking from far away. The sound started getting closer and closer, and soon a bright blue car passed my house. A brown dog had his head out the window and was barking joyfully, rhythmically, every two seconds like a metronome. The car passed by with the dog still barking, and I laughed with pure pleasure at the ridiculous and hilarious things that happen every day, as long as we stand still long enough to experience them. So do I need to vent online about my family problems, my failed marriage, my fears and worries, or the fact that I got laid off the day before my birthday? No, I don’t. I can’t promise I won’t occasionally mention those things, but mostly I’m going to tell you about those beautiful bizarre moments as they happen.

Because life really is amazing.

Thoughts on Stuff and Things

This is sort of a brain dump.

Am Creepy

If the people I love knew how beautiful I think they are, they would be totally creeped out. I don’t mean it in a creepy way, I just think that when you love people it amplifies their beauty in your eyes. For me, it amps it up big time.

I figure I should add some pictures to visually stimulate you into reading all my self indulgent ramblings
I figure I should add some pictures to visually stimulate you into reading all my self indulgent ramblings. Wouldn’t it be funny if those were BATS instead of birds? And even if they are just birds, clearly she would really need that umbrella, because the odds of getting pooped on just increased a lot, Sister.

It’s History. It’s Poetry.

I have this one acquaintance with whom I have practically no interaction, but we are Facebook friends. He posts late night poems in his notes. Whenever I check Facebook in the morning and I see posts from him, I get really happy because he’s actually a pretty awesome poet. Kind of Ted Hughes-ish. It makes me happy when people have these talents. Because the guy is not a “I’m going to be a famous poet” guy, nor is he a “I went to grad school for poetry” guy. He’s a guy who does other stuff, but he writes these amazing poems.

ted-hughes-poet-1
Ted Hughes, not the guy from Facebook. Because how creepy would THAT be?

The Internet

I’m aware of the fact that my mind is busy constructing a new philosophy about the internet. It’s not ready yet, but when it is I think that it might change some of the work I do. It’s already changed a bit of what I was working on. I think it will change more. It’s funny. I think social media is kind of good. I know people who think it is a colossal waste of time and I get that. I wonder what other things I could have accomplished while I was checking Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, G+ and the rest. I wonder about the time I’ve lost because Facebook was a gateway to certain online games that have sucked away time AND money. Then I realize that people like this one lady I know, Donna Highfill, who writes and is very, very funny are using the internet and social media in a ¬†positive, good way. That she posts status updates that make me think, laugh and that is good. I’m all about using social media for that. Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about the internet. SEO especially. Ethics. PR. Stuff. So I’m aware that my mind is busy working through this problem and kind of irritated about it, since I have stuff to do, darn it.

This is a totally unrelated image. It's a painting by August Friedrich Schenck. Enjoy. I find it heartbreaking and creepy all at the same time.
This is a totally unrelated image. It’s a painting by August Friedrich Schenck. Enjoy. I find it heartbreaking and creepy all at the same time.

Real Estate

I’m fascinated with this real estate thing. I’m working part time for a REALTOR (they make it all capitals for some reason) and I’m so blown away by the fact that people can do this for a living. The guy I’m working for is really good at it, so I’m learning a lot. It’s a complicated business but the needs and need fulfillment are simple. Somebody needs to buy a house. Somebody needs to sell a house. Help them. Get paid.

For some reason, I laughed for, like, 2 minutes at this picture.
For some reason, I laughed for, like, 2 minutes at this picture.