My love affair/hate on with blogs and Social Media.

Or How Facebook and Twitter hijacked my post.

So here I am writing a blog entry.

Blog entry. Blog entry. Blog entry.

I make fun because earlier this week I’d decided to ditch the blog all together due to the very fact that I always felt like I needed to be writing a blog entry.

I’ve really been sort of re-examining my whole online agenda.

I started putting stuff I wrote up on the Internet way back before the word ‘blog’ had even come about. Not trying to cop any sort of street cred here, just a fact. I used to do it back when you actually had to load a whole new HTML page up for each of your entries, and if you were really a glutton for punishment (or a total loser with loads of free time – comments to yourself), you’d build an archives section to chronicle your mediocrity. This was back when WebCrawler was the browser du jour on the interweb. Remember that?

I started writing stuff to complain. Cause I was pissed off about stuff and I thought even though no one wanted to hear my shit in person, for some reason, everyone on the Internet would. It’s always been a place to vent. To be politically incorrect under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’ and the ‘it’s my blog and I’ll offend who I want to’ mentality. Anarchy rules. 

But really, after awhile, you can only be mad at so much stuff. That and EVERYONE ELSE on the planet eventually got a blog and the singular uniqueness of it went away.

Now I’m all into the Social Media thing. The twitter, the Facebook (which I swore up and down I’d never use), flickr, etc. etc.

It’s a double edged sword the The Social Media (and blog) thing. At some point it becomes kind of a drag. People start to make certain assumptions or try and read into your statements and statuses. It’s a bit unnerving. You start to wonder if you should censor yourself because your boss/parents/significant other/sibling/best friend/local supermarket clerk might be reading. That’s when you really know you’re losing your mind – when you start to think “what if some random person you meet in a bar reads this? What if I offend them?” As if your blog has this ‘massive’ reach and audience. Meanwhile way back in your archives, your second post was entitled “Why I Hate The World: A treatise on how everyone but me is a complete idiot.” That was back when you were hard. Back before you had mandatory sensitivity awareness training at work. Weren’t too concerned about these offensive issues then, were you?

It’s a hard thing when you start to realize just who IS reading your stuff and the ramifications that opening your filthy mouth on the interweb can have. I’ll not lie to you. I have censored what I write here at various times for various reasons and invariably, every time, after the fact, I’ve felt like a total ass. No one knows I was an ass, but I do, and I have to live with my ass-self and it’s not much fun. When I censor what I write – for me – it pretty much goes against all the reasoning I had for starting to write in the first place. I justify it by saying things like “well it’s better than not having written at all” or “at least you’re keeping in touch with everyone”. Load. Of. Crap.

I feel like a boss/relative/friend/dog washer should accept me for who I am. Sure they can disagree with my opinion, or perhaps think I use ‘fuck’ too often, but I’d like to think that we all could be that way. The reality – we all know – is that it’s not. Unfortunately, bosses take none to kindly to tales of ‘lost weekends filled with bong hits and loose women’ or blog posts with titles like “How to stick it to the man: Making the most of your fake sick day”. Those are usually much more interesting reading to most folks though vs. “Did some yardwork this weekend…”

I pretty much fluctuate daily between being all over the (Social Media) sites to pulling the plug on all of it. Sometimes I think it’s a waste of my time. I feel a bit guilty as it is a way to stay in touch with far off family members and friends, but we all seem to get so caught up in it we forget there was a time (only maybe 5/6 years ago?) when we managed without all this crap.

I know, I’m complaining yet again. But it IS my blog after all, and your the sucker reading it. Offended?

It’s become cliche, the argument that we’ve all ‘lost touch with our real-world relationships’, forsaken them for the online ones. Really, most the people I interact with in Social Media circles are within my geographic proximity. I seek them out that way. I figure the prospect of actually ‘meeting in person’ at some point is that much more interesting. I really don’t have a whole lot of interest in conversation with someone from Utah. I mean, I’m sure we could find something to talk about but…

Just today I went through my Facebook friends list and dumped a bunch of people that I hadn’t talked to since we ‘friended’. I mean, really, what’s the point? These are people that – were it not for Facebook – the chances of me ever talking to again were pretty much nil. Was my life that empty without them? And once we found each other, were we so ecstatic that we corresponded regularly, sharing intimate details of our lives and providing invaluable inspiration for each other? No. We sat and lurked and checked each other’s pages for details and goings on without ever having to interact on even on the most elementary level. If you were sitting, watching the details of someone’s life on a day-to-day basis from, say, your car in front of their house – it ain’t called being ‘Friends’. It’s something else all together.

It started with a generic message. “So and so has sent you added you as a friend”.You know, in Facebook, when you add that long, lost buddy that you’ve missed, it gives you the option to send a personalized message at the same time. Most of the people that have friended me have neglected to utilize this feature (hence some were dumped), and really after they friended me (the social equivalent of ‘tagging’ you with a radio collar) that was the last I heard from them, save bullshit statuses and inane fucking Facebook games and ‘Gifts’.

I mean, what does it say about you when you:

1. Friend someone.
2. Don’t have the common decency or balls to actually write anything personal.
3. Never correspond directly.
4. ‘Gift’ the person with a cyber-yellow raincoat.

 What the fuck does that mean?

I guess I’ll let it go for now. I mean the reality is that I’m on all these sites and apps and I do enjoy most of the interactions with folks I’ve found, but aspects of it still completely astound me.

For all it’s faults, I still think overall that Social Media is a good thing. It has allowed me to ‘met’ people that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have, who probably wouldn’t even have given me the time of day in the real world. However, when presented with a few witticisms and a profile that I’ve padded with some inaccuracies and half-truths, I seem all that much more appealing in the on-line forum. Thanks to spell check, an online thesaurus and outright plagiarism, I can come across as a highly developed, very erudite individual – not the backcountry hick living in the woods that I really am. Ah the marvel of modern technology!

One of the people I’ve duped into belief of my charade is a woman I’m ‘friends’ with on twitter. Aside from producing some fantastic artwork, she’s intelligent, well spoken and extremely interesting all the time. ‘Course maybe she has a thesaurus too. @Venison (such a great word, the sound of it combined with what it represents and the stigmas attached illicit so many different feelings/responses), said something the other day that I thought hit the nail on the head.  “These “develop a brand” people are the same ones who took something as interesting as blogging, and RUINED it with crap.” 

Blogs used to be about people bitching. People arguing. People emoting. At the very least interesting discourse. Now it seems they’re about driving traffic. Building the brand. Click thru. ROI. Big companies run by old men trying to get a foothold of credibility with a sector that in the past has done nothing but use the medium to speak to what’s wrong with these very companies.

Really this is part of my contention with Social Media. The co-opting of it by companies, corporations, marketers – what-have-you – has essentially negated the very essence of what it once was. It truly has become ‘new media’ in the sense that like all the previous forms of media (radio, tv, etc.), it started out as one thing and has morphed into something else. Someone, somewhere said – hey, we can use this to make a buck. It was all downhill from there. What bothers me as well is that you’ll find a lot of Social Media advocates out there, blasting out hundreds of tweets a day about how great it all is and the subtext is that they’re also sending out links to whatever it is they’re shilling. Even if they’re not selling anything, they’re selling themselves. The person AS brand. 17,000 followers, but really not that much interesting to say (I know, I’ve followed some of ’em). It’s the Internet equivalent of high school. People are following them, because they want OTHER people to see that they are following them. Social Media cred by association. Virtual 6 degrees of @KevinBacon.

Maybe it was an inevitability. I mean, all of us could only tweet about this morning’s coffee and our smelly co-workers for so long, but to me at least it seemed a little more genuine. It was truly more ‘conversational’. I sign on each morning and chat with the same people. It’s like they’re co-workers, sorta.

Now it’s like striking up a conversation with someone, then having another someone bust in and try and sell you web development just cause he heard the two of you talking about the Internet (of course you were talking about Internet porn, but he doesn’t get that). It’s made the Social Media world the equivalent of the hotel bar at an insurance convention.

Perhaps I’m just bitter ’cause I don’t have many followers. I have follower envy. Does Cialis work for that?

I think I’m just lamenting the transition from one era to the next. Social Media is exciting, yes, and the potential and prospects are interesting. Still, part of me will always be fond of the ‘early days’ of Social Media when it was more about people and less about product. Of course I’m sure people said this about Apple, too.

Remember AOL? Remember when it first came out and everyone would troll the chat rooms talking to anonymous folk? The times you’d go in the lesbian chat room and feign sensitivity to try and score bi-sexual chicks? Don’t scowl at me. Yeah, like me and my friends were the only ones that did it. Man up and admit it. Somewhere AOL lost sight. They inundated you with free sign up cd-roms every fucking week (at least we had coasters) and endless new versions until finally someone said enough and came up with something else. In essence, Social Media is the something else. Twitter is like a big chat room, only there’s no set topic and you get to pick who can/can’t come into yours.

Oh Social Media, how I love to follow you. Where you’re going I don’t know, but I’m ready. Even though I trash talk you now, I know something new and fun will be coming around the bend and I’m in for the long haul. Besides, I’ve paid up the hosting for my blog ’till the end of the year anyway.

And, hey, can we stop off on the way in the lesbian chat rooms?

: : : :

Funny. When I started out this post I was gonna blather for like a paragraph about the blog and then get on to the inane, matter of fact stuff. Got a little carried away.

Other than my Social (Media) Issues as outlined above, things at the Ranch are well. Our dishwasher has died, so now we’ll have to hire someone else to do that, let the interview process begin.

I’ve started trying to take better care of myself. Eating less crap, exercising every day. Lyn is too. We’re doing good, feeling good. I think, time/logistics permitting, I may even try and enter some mountain bike races this season. Of course now that I’ve actually put it in writing, all hell will break loose.

We’ll be travelling to Halifax in March to get Colin and Olivia’s US paperwork/passports and I’ve also been asked by Goose Lane author/Dal Prof Darryl Whetter to give a presentation on Graphic Design to his Creative Process class. I’ll get to use visuals and PowerPoint and everything – I just need to figure out what the hell I’m doing between now and then so I can try and explain it accurately. I’m not sure if I’m going to divulge to them my secret ‘throw darts at the wall’ method for selecting stock art, or not. Trade secret.

14 Replies to “My love affair/hate on with blogs and Social Media.”

  1. Nice post!

    I have noticed that in the past 6 months I seem to get some of these “social media guru” types following me and I suspect that they expect me to follow back. Many of these power-tweeters do in fact brand themselves as experts and god love them however, some of their tweets are generic and obvious advice about social media. I’m starting to notice a new breed of pron bots adding me and as soon as I go to check them out, Twitter has deleted their account. I’m glad that twitter admins are on top of this activity because just as email gained popularity in the 90’s, it didn’t take long for viagara spam to hit our inboxes.

    I’m guessing that over time, Twitter spam will serve as a huge annoyance once some of these spammer organizations figure out a way to mass spam a million twitter users at once…let’s just hope that the AOL lesbians aren’t behind this plan.

    Re: Adding Facebook friends whom you have not been in contact with in 2 decades…I will add them upon request, however if i don’t hear from them within a week or so I usually trash them…in fact…i think i will clean my friend list tonight…thanks for the reminder!

  2. Chaf,

    Yeah, I imagine it’s only a matter of time ’til the twitter spam gets as bad as email. Then we’ll have to get spam filters for twitter. At least it’s job creation for someone.

    Thanks for reading.
    -b

  3. dead. f*cking. on.

    Shit, now I need to go twitter about how I am replying to your blog. Then blog about it. Then twitter about how i blogged a twitter to your blog…. i’m dizzy….

  4. Hee! You’re exactly where I was last year when I quit blogging. I had “blogged” since 1996 (before the word existed) and experienced its highs and lows. The increasingly strong feeling that I had to censor myself was suffocating me. Even my own long-term readers seemed to press me to conform.

    I began writing in an era when complaining that someone had ‘offended’ you with their opinion was considered absurd and abnormal. These angry lurkers had no influence and no power. They were largely ridiculed and dismissed. Today, that has drastically changed. These people are now the norm and they control everything.

    I made the mistake of closing my blog and joining Facebook on the rebound. I then found myself disgruntled with Facebook and quit in disgust. Looking back now, I realize I had unfairly transferred my disappointment over what happened to blogging (the loss of genuine human communication and contact) onto Facebook.

    Now I’ve returned to Facebook and I see that I expected too much from it and the people who use it. I don’t mind now when people add me as a friend and never say a word to me. It’s like the Matrix. Most of these people are part of the system, still floating in their goo pod and consenting to being controlled by the format itself. They’re not ready to experience freedom or enriching online communication. They’re scared and that’s ok.

    Twitter saved me. Though I watch it evolve with trepidation hoping no one ruins it. (Already the need to use TweetDeck to filter it all is troubling). But even if someone does ruin it, another venue will emerge and those who crave an evolving online experience will migrate to it. Blogs are too stationary. They’re part of the system now, a point of reference. They likely can only remain relevant if consciously self-subversive and and fully uncensored if anonymous.

  5. Dallas

    Thanks for checking in. When you blog, make sure and trackback to here and pingback as well. Also when you twitter, use hashtag #thebukitzone and perhaps get some of your peeps to ReTweet it.

    Got all that? 10-4. Adam12 out.

    -b

  6. Venison,

    All I can say to that is, “Yeah. Exactly”. Thanks for reading! (insert smiley and thumbs up here) Have a groovy, unoffensive day!

    Where’s this other venue so I can be uncensored again?

    -b

  7. Whew! ‘lot said!
    I have to admit that I have at times felt censoring was necessary but I tried to be objective about it! Ha! I’m concerned about the potential loss of all your creativity over the years – you can write darn good stuff! If you quit blogging, what happens to all that stuff on your site? Does it just sit there or does it disappear int cyberspace? If it’s gonna disappear, I want to figure out how to save it somewhere…
    When you are famous it might be worth a fortune!! lol!
    Seriously, you should keep a copy of your writtings somewhere your grandchildren will appreciate it!
    Love ya!

  8. Huh? I wonder if your compulsion to censor yourself is as strong as the one I feel when replying? It’s hard to know the intentions of each bloger. Are you, as you said once, just venting? Or are you inviting a response? By posting your thoughts in “public” are you then obligated to accept that people will reply with their opinion? 99.9 % of the time I bite my tongue when I read your blogs and again I am dancing around the subject, in fear of offending my bro. Deep breath… here it is…

    YOU ARE CONFUSING AS HELL!!! Some days you want total emersion in the world and love the idea that technology brings you access to things beyond “The Ranch”, and other days your irritated that a pressure to blog, which you bring on yourself by the way, pulls you out of your seclusion. I think, and I’m telling you cuz that’s what it’s about right, that you can change your mind every second and that is OK. Your right the $ fiends have entered the equation but as with the rest of life some times we deal with crap to get what we want.

    You are over thinking it, usually my job in the family. Sure you blog/blogged when you were/are mad and when you hated the world and when you thought some evil social injustice had been committed. Maybe even when you wanted to commit one yourself. You also told stories about your kids and your bikes and posted cool pictures and made us laugh and smile about everyday things. I still love the post about running over your dog and that was years ago when North was just a pup. I respect your intelligent if sometimes angry, opinions on the world partly because your true hopeful nature usually shines through, but more often I read your blog (THE ORIGINAL buKitzone is still on my bookmarks bar) to see what’s up in your world and hear about the little ones and Lyn. You mentioned that 5, or whatever years ago we did not have all of this and we were fine. True in a way, but even as your sister I rarely got a glimpse into your head and your world. I like my window thank you, even with the bitter snarky buKit we sometimes get. Of course the choice is yours and you should never do things you don’t want to if you get a choice. There are too many times in life when there is no option.

    Face it, your smart and funny and irritating and silly and people like to read what craziness comes out of your noggin.

    Do what you will but remember if you quit the blog I will just irritate you by calling more often, (Insert winking little smiley face) and surely we all know how much you love talking on the phone!

    Luv
    Sistor

  9. Mom – the blog posts are all saved, I have copies all over the place if I decided to stop.

    Sistor, I’m the first one to admit that I’m confusing. I’m confused. So there.

  10. Ditto most of what Keri said. I too like the little window we have on your world. Perhaps I can be condemned as somewhat of a voyeur as I don’t write myself too often, but I drop in every couple of weeks to see what is up with you and your family. Though I don’t always agree or understand, I am willing to take the rants with the raves just so I can feel like I know you and your family a little. It has been hard to stay connected through the years since you have never lived near so I would really miss it if you quit. I recenetly joined facebook as it seems like the rest of the family has too. If we all got into using that perhaps we could stay in touch that way though I think it is difficult to have meaningful conversation there. I get the feeling it isn’t made for anything but idle chatter, no real conversations and definately nothing as expressive as your blog . So much for my 2 cents….Looking forward to seeing all of you in May!!!!

  11. I have a theory that says that once something hits the mainstream it’s essentially dead (though it may not appear that way for a while). Mainstream meaning everybody on the planet is doing it, though they’re not sure why, and that brings in the marketers and corporations and the Pepsi “we’re changing the world because we just care so much” people.

    When this happens, it’s a signal to look for the new thing, because there’s always a new thing, because the previous thing has died. (I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s out there somewhere). It’s a kind of search for the ur-Web, the one that was fun and had people as opposed to brands.

    I’ve several blogs, though I’ve more or less trimmed it to two. I realized a while back that while traffic is nice, I don’t really care – I use to, not now. I keep my blogs simply because I’m a writer and I love to write. Even if I’m the only one who sees what I write. So my blogs are mainly for me.

    It’s odd that I came across this post. I have one unpublished post (a draft) on the topic of Facebook/Twitter shelf life. And other post I was going to write today (haven’t gotten to yet) on blogs and why I blog – a bit like this comment. In fact, I may use some of this comment.

    btw … in the days when dinosaurs roamed I also posted individual HTML pages online that were, for all intents and purposes, blog posts.

  12. I just had to reply and wonder if Dallas has ever posted a photo on the internet, let alone get busy with the interblogz. I have experienced everything you mention in your article more than once, along with all the decisions. I think that unlike the poster above, I don’t really like to write all that much actually. Unfortunate, because my web host is paid up until 2010 :-

  13. Baby…half way down this blog I got lost….there were just too many words and too many phrases on a topic I have no clue about. Apparently life is passing me by, i’ve got angst, I need to bitch…maybe I should blog. Maybe our 21 month old son, who’s trowing a fit rolling on the floor screaming his head off because I won’t let him play with the keyboard needs to blog. When you come home you set that up for us will ya? Thanks babe.

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