Tag Archives: social media

Let’s try this again, pa rum pum pum pum

holiday-engagement-pew-pewAs you do for the holidays, you go home. With your tail between your legs, your heart in your hands, or your ego on blast, you and your Oxford commas go home. And, in the spirit of the season, this prodigal blogging daughter is coming home … to her blog.

O, come let us adore her.

Not that you’ve been gnawing your nails in anticipation of this moment, mind you. I’m not arrogant enough to assume that. (Well, yes, yes, I am, but only a little.) But just like my actual hometown, I’ve turned my nose up at this blog for no good reason, and I know my day of reckoning is nigh.

Maybe you remember a time when I used to call myself “a writer” — I vaguely do. But I wouldn’t adorn myself with such a lofty label anymore. Sure, I journal (with pen and paper, thank you very much), but that’s not creation; it’s confusion. I tweet with the fury of a thousand scorned whores and fool myself into believing that that’s a pithy substitute for authorship. But the 1,001 of us have something in common: in the wake of primal failures, we’ve found something better to do that demands less effort and more immediate satiation.

(I hope that analogy made any sense at all. ‘Cause I’m not actually comparing myself to whores, per se, like, not in the sense of sexual promiscuity, but like, how I used to be a blogger and now I just tweet a lot and I … you know, forget it. Use your imagination.)

And really, how many times have I come here making excuses for my lack of writing, anyway? God, who wants to read that? But I do that. Every so often, I have this inexplicable compulsion to justify my blogging dearth to some invisible panel that cares why another girl with another blog isn’t writing. I don’t always act on it, but it’s like a faint hiss in my ear: “Wriiiiiiite in your bloooooog.” (It sounds like Voldemort.)

And my Internet-inflated ego (duh, I so have one of those, duh twice) tells me that someone — anyone (maybe the good people learning English in Peru?) — wants to read my drivel. To relate to that. To sympathize with that. To use that as a preeminent educational resource. To judge that. To roll their eyes at that.

Oh c’mon, I do it, too, so don’t skewer me for reading your mind. I hate some of your blogs and so it’s definitely possible that some of you hate mine. Unlikely, but possible.

Any attempt at an explanation is going to seem self-important (which it is) and trite (which it also is). But you know, God, I’ll skip that so I can be real with you for a hot minute: the look-at-me age is grating. Not to get all hipster on you, but I’ve been blogging since 1999 (LiveJournal, what what), and informally experimenting with social media (as opposed to formally experimenting, which is what I do now) since at least 2003 … and aren’t you tired of looking at me? Of looking at everyone else? I know I am. (Change your avatar.)

But also ugh. This is not a manifesto. I’m simply trying to coherently string words together that exceed 140 characters at a clip.

(Refreshing, right? I’ll continue.)

I’m not bashing social media on the whole. Really. I mean, I am bashing Facebook, because man, I’m always bashing Facebook, and I’m really looking forward to the social network that’ll replace it. If you’ve spent any time around me in the past year, you’re probably annoyed with my anti-Facebook rhetoric already. I would say I’m sorry, but, like, I’m not. But I’m sure I will make you sorry that you ever got me on the subject of Facebook, so let’s just not.

But it’s not social media itself that’s the problem, though. Not exactly. It’s how we’ve bastardized it and made it more loathsome than its proponents probably ever intended. It’s the behavior and expectations that accompany it. Like, maybe I’m over making you look at me all the time. Maybe I’m over looking at you all the time. Maybe I’m over living under the critical gaze of technology. Selfies steal my soul, yo. (Also, don’t get me started on selfies.)

But am I really “over it”? I want you to read what I write, don’t I? I want you to read this post or I would just write it in my stupid journal (it’s pretty) with my stupid Sharpie pens (they’re perfect) for my stupid cat (he’s actually just an asshole) to read while I’m work, right? I want you to believe that what I have to say is important … or I wouldn’t put it out there. Right? I mean, right?

So, what is it then? Look away, click elsewhere — or subscribe, follow, like, retweet, share?

You don’t have to answer that. Well, I mean, you could, but I don’t know that we’re going to reach a definitive conclusion here. So, don’t worry, no pressure.

(Seriously, could this post sound any more like the last post I wrote a year and a half ago?)

(Also, what’s with me and parentheses? This is new. Punctuation of choice? De-emphasis in 2014? Anyway. Let’s focus.)

So yeah. I wrote a post. And if there’s a next time, I’ll come more prepared and more coherent. Swear it, I will. And hopefully it won’t have anything to do with my own existential crisis about the insignificance of Internet significance.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some comment spam to eradicate. To the choppa!

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Dear Fayza: Should I “unfollow” and “unfriend” my annoying ex on Twitter and Facebook?

(Column originally published here.)

If the past week in the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that social media can really elevate an offline relationship.

But what if romance is involved and that carnal longing has been squelched? What happens to the cyber remains of the relationship?

Let’s give digital dumpings a whirl.

Dear Fayza,

Several months ago, I met a person via Twitter. We started keeping up with each other — first retweets, then @replies and finally moved on to DMs.  She connected with me on LinkedIn and then friended me on Facebook. We made casual contact — liking statuses and photos. We then took the next step to meet up in real life (IRL) for a casual drink, which turned into a dinner date.

After the first date we decided to meet up again, and the second date was a bust. I immediately lost interest. The physical chemistry was lacking. There was mild follow-up to confirm that I was not interested in meeting up again. We have not seen each other since the awkward second date with the awkward physical encounter. 

I now find her tweets very irritating. They were not so irritating before but now they just seem so self-promoting, all about her work and boring. I do not follow many people and so her flood of boring/bullshit tweets are annoying.

What should I do? Just unfollow her? Is that mean?

I hate to hit it and quit it — or hit it and unfollow. The relationship started with social media. Should I end it there too? Is there a way to keep following people so they don’t know you deleted them but mute them somehow. Help!

- My Finger’s Hovering Over Unfollow

 
Dear Finger,

Friend, I think that mass of gray matter atop your neck is already telling you what to do. But I can’t blame you for wanting to hear it from another beating heart.

We’d be foolish if we didn’t admit that dating has become so damn complicated with the introduction of digital elements to the mix.  We are connected in more ways than we’ve ever desired to people we barely know — or are just getting to know. Nowadays, you’re well-versed on your lover’s favorite pastimes and her odd penchant for liking shark photos on Facebook — all before you even plan your first date. How’s that for overly inflating a budding interest?

Or deflating one, as the case may be.

But why does the fact that you’re following her on Twitter or have befriended her on Facebook change the way you dump a dame?

Dating is dating, whether you’ve sexted or courted. No matter whether it started offline or online, what was once endearing and intriguing now makes you want to relocate and change your name. And you don’t have to put up with it.

You never want to see this person again. You have no use for this discarded diva in your life. You tried on the goods, left the tags on, and brought them back for a full refund. So why would you treat this breakup any differently than one that hadn’t started online?

The steadfast principles of dating are tried and true for a reason — across any medium, across any space-time continuum. Apply them.

How do you do that? Unfollow and unfriend her. Look, following or friending someone is a commitment, more or less — one which you’ve clearly decided you’re not interested in undertaking with her. Move forward free and clear of your past errors in judgment.

You aren’t obligated to take part in her life in perpetuity simply because you once found her captivating in 140 characters. Your level of interest has sunk to zero in real life. With the click of a mouse, it can — and should — do the same online. Especially if her commentary only serves to remind you of what you can no longer stand.

Is it mean? Perhaps. Was it mean when Billy didn’t ring Suzy after getting to second base at the drive-in during the prehistoric age of courtship? Probably. Was it mean to pretend Joey didn’t exist when Sally walked into the Peach Pit on the arm of the high school quarterback? I’m guessing so.

But was it necessary? Absolutely. Billy had to sever the ties with Suzy somehow. Joey had to get the hint that Sally wasn’t into him eventually. Ripping off the Band-Aid might not be the most humane response in the short run, but it’s the quickest and it’s the most effective. And it simply has to be done.

The beauty of social media is that the beginning and end are so finite — as opposed to the days when you sat around, hoping and hoping (and hoping) that your paramour would call or post an owl to show that he or she cared (and never did).

Use it to your advantage. Pull the plug — or, rather, push the button — once and for all, and clean your screen of that which you don’t want to have seen.

 

I don’t care if you follow or unfollow me. I won’t date you anyway. But I will give you good advice if you send a message to advice@culturemap.com, or get at me on Facebook or Twitter. Or put your tweets where your mouth is, and leave a question in the comments instead. I can’t promise I won’t dump you, but I will be impressed.

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Take a bite outta social media’s neck & enjoy the fresh blood!

Although I’ve been no better than mute here as of late, I promise you I haven’t fallen into the depths of contented and disengaged nothingness (otherwise known as this American life?) just yet. Rather, I’ve simply halfheartedly moved on to more convenient, lazier channels of communication for demonstrating my social media prowess (and after I use the word “prowess,” I do believe it’s required that I growl.  Rowr.).

Behold, the recorded webinar!

Check it out – the following are two webinars I’ve done – one pertaining to social media in general, one focusing on Twitter in particular – to assist your average maverick Joe the Plumber from Main Street in dipping a toe into the social media bailout waters.

Man, actually, scratch that. Enough of the overused phraseology already!  I’ve grown unbelievably weary of the saying “dipping a toe” into anything. What do you get out of just sticking a toe in?  A shiver up your spine?  A saltwater-flavored phalange?  A wet toe?  I scoff at that!  I want the contemporary Everyman to thrust a gleaming knife through the heart of social media, and then draw it out again triumphantly, dripping with social media blood!

Oh yeah. Now that’s more like it.  And lick it clean, too, why dontcha.  For good measure.  And because it’s not polite to waste.

I swear I’m only this macabre when it comes to social media.

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So, um, yeah, how ’bout them Cardinals?

I'm bashful.Why, hello.  HELLO HI!

Okay, we have to talk about it.

Being the bashful blogger that I am, I awoke early with the specific intent that I was going to write a blogpost.  You know, seeing that I haven’t done that since December (I’m ducking your gunfire as we speak).  Err.  Okay, okay, you caught me; that’s a total lie.  I was rudely shaken from peaceful slumber by my feline companion’s mewing, which, when unanswered, graduated to howling, which devolved into sucking on my hair and kneading his claws into my head (yes, this behavior is quite regular for him). I decided to jostle myself into the real world by hoisting my laptop onto the bed, and almost immediately, he fell asleep next to me.  He’s been completely silent for about, oh, let’s say, an hour?  That’s about as long as I’ve been up, anyway.

Sucker.

So instead of dwelling on the fact that my waking hours are likely to completely suck based upon the fact that I haven’t had a restful night of sleep for about a week, I decided to turn lemons into lemonade (yum, lemonade sounds great right now!) and write (wouldn’t it be great if the expression was “turning milk into cheese”?  I think I like that one better; I’m going to use it from here on out).

Ahem.  Except, like, I can’t.

You see, my brain is broken.  I’m blaming Twitter.  ‘Cause there has to be something to blame, and it’s pretty much required to be some sort of social media that psychologists will argue is changing my traditional social behaviors for the worse.  I mean, I only think in brief, bite-sized, followable quips anymore!  Everything else worth saying is either retweetable, overheard, or a link to a website!  And it’s amazing that the limits on what I have to say are 140 characters or less!  I know, it’s a Christmas miracle!

Woof.

I’ll be the first to admit that I pretty much suck at this blogging thing.  I didn’t always suck, but now, I do suck.  Sure, I have topics to write about.  I mean, I returned from the fun-and-learning-filled time warp that was SXSWi on…um, was it yesterday?  No, no, never mind, it doesn’t matter.  The point is, I have plenty to say about that, but perhaps not the time to gather my thoughts.  Or perspective?  Errr, perhaps not the motivation to gather my thoughts.  Oh, oh, and I know, there’s always time for me to further litter the blogosphere with my ideas on social media!  Because there’s not enough out there already!

Why am I lying so much this morning?  Any constructive thoughts that need to be written about have been completely overtaken by thoughts of boys.  Particular boys, theoretical boys, unspecific boys, but there you have it – boys, boys, boys.  Hey 30, is that you a-knockin’ or what?

Crap.  This is going downhill fast.  And my boss is going to read this.  And he’s going to shake his head, and maybe his cheeks will turn a little red.  O HAI BOSSMAN!

The truth is, the tunnels leading in and out of my head are pointing in a million, cajillion, bazillion different directions right now (why does this feel like a cop-out email that I’ve written to my friends back in Ohio when I can’t make it to their baby showers?).  So, think of this as a placeholder.  No, no, actually, think of me as the cute, wholesome, strangely attentive frat boy that diligently kept supplying you beers at that kegger (you know the one), who graciously got you wasted and encouraged and supported your idea of dancing on the couches topless while making out with your sorority sister,  who offered his bed to you when you were too drunk to make it back to the dorms (with sheets that hadn’t been washed since his freshman year, and was he a fifth-year senior already?), and who left the house for “class” before you could even roll over to ask him where your socks and underwear landed.  You’ll tell everyone it was love.

Moral of the story?  I’m using you, dear readers.  I’m using you and this blogpost to get my blogging groove back.

Was it as good for you as it was for me?

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The Definitive, Absolute, Best, 100% Accurate Rules for Being a Social Media Expert (Or Not).

We all know what happened to Icarus.Social media this, social media that.  Are you tired of hearing about “social media” yet?  Well, if you are, my heart aches for you in advance.  With the financial chasms in this country deepening and marketing budgets being the first to get slashed, expect social media to go the route of Icarus until it reaches its tragic meeting with the sun.

These days, it seems like everyone – theoretically speaking, at least – is doing social media.  As a result, there are dime-a-dozen self-anointed social media “experts” everywhereEverywhere, I tell you!  Overindulged “social media gurus”  (the less faint of heart despise the word “guru,” yet don’t hesitate to describe themselves with it) navigate the sinewy entrails of the interwebs, flaunting and strutting their proverbial feathers for anyone who’ll pay at least a backwards glance.  “Look at me, I’m a social media expert!  I know everything there is to know about social media!  I have the answers!  I set the tone!”

There are gobs and gobs of ambitious and savvy Internet users out there – cutting-edge marketers, calculated enterpreneurs,  impatient get-rich-quicks, critical executives, curious public relations personnel, bushy-tailed college graduates, tentative self-employeds, and so on – confidently asserting that they know social media.  Hell, I’m pretty much one of them!  We’re all out there claiming to be the definitive voice on social media.  Asserting our opinions like the deciphering Rosetta Stone to those social media hieroglyphics.  We’ve articulated how-tos, promulgated guidelines, set the acceptable standards.  We’ve engaged each other in the “echo chamber” via self-serving, back-patting discussions.  But by and large, social media “experts” really love to create copious – which, translated, means often indigestible and inconceivable – amounts of rules, rules, rules, rules.  Because, well, you know.  We social media folk know what social media is and we know what social media expertise is all about.

But c’mon – who’s really an “expert” at this, anyway?  An “expert” is defined at the core as someone “with a high degree of skill in or knowledge of a certain subject.”  Fair enough.  So those of us that “specialize” in “social media strategy” or “social media consulting” are then de facto “experts,” right? 

Really? For a subject that’s been around for such a short period of time that’s ever-evolving (as in hourly and daily – this is hyper-time, baby), just what out there can we possibly be “experts” on, exactly?  What’s the subject matter?  Okay, what’s the subject matter now? Even the ever-influential Malcolm Gladwell claims that we need at least 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to really master a subject area or skill – that’s 20 hours a week for 10 years, folks.  Has there even been enough time to become an “expert” on these tools, in these conversations, in these interactions that are always, always, always changing, and never, ever, ever constant?

So I ask again: Are we the experts?  I’ll speak for myself; I’m certainly no social media “expert.”  I didn’t go to social media school and my Juris Doctor specialization certainly wasn’t in social media.  I’ve learned everything I know through an insatiable enthusiasm for the trends, ascent, and usage diversification of social media, becoming a heavy user of the social media tools,  and through trial and error.  So is it still acceptable, although I’ve had no formal education on “social media,” that I hold myself out as a social media “expert”?

What do we – we, the self-proclaimed social media strategists, the social media consultants, the social media advisors, the social media evangelists – what do we really know, anyway?

Frankly, we know as much as anyone.  And that “anyone” is any of you.

Dearest random Facebook user, darling random Twitterer, querido random Flickr user – you specialize in social media just as much as I do, just as much as he does, just as much as we do.  You’re out there in Social Media Land, just like me, experiencing and experimenting with these tools and platforms daily, letting them transform your careers, your relationships, your leisure time, your hobbies, your social calendars – your very lives, at their most fundamental.  You’re in it, just like me, in the thick of it, having the conversations of Jane Everywoman and Joe Everyman, fueling the engines of social media.  You have no desire to analyze behaviors or value or ROI.  You don’t care how to participate in and massage conversations for marketing purposes.  You don’t care about tracking your brand.  And yet, you are what makes this whole thing go.  You are social media!

So then how can there be rules for this when the very nature of social media depends upon the spontaneity and unpredictability of human interactions, human conversations, and human experiences?  Are there rules for that?  Well?

Let’s extrapolate for a second here.  What rules govern your offline interactions with people?  For instance, do you consult a handbook before you lean over your cubicle wall to greet your co-worker?  Do you conduct extensive online research before going to the bar for drinks and idle banter with your friends?  Chances are, you probably don’t, because hard and fast rules don’t permeate your everyday relationships.  Not with flesh and blood, anyway.  Unless, that is, you’ve deemed the generally held notions of common decency “rules” by which you conduct your daily activities.  Normally, you’ll find such nonsecular edicts buried deep within the foundation of many holy institutions.  But for those of us that aren’t particularly religious, these mere proposals for human conduct are not transcribed nor housed in some public repository for all to see and admire, nor are they universally honored.  Besides, it’s a matter of course that these sorts of behaviors are subject to wild variations in interpretation from individual to individual.

Social media, my friends, is a study in sociology, at best.  It’s merely “an effort to use systematic methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human societies and human social activity.”  And it is chaos, at worst.  This is the humanity, and its actions cannot be prescribed, dictated, or controlled.  Social media, at all times, is a snapshot of the human condition.

Why?  Because there are no rules in social media.  There are norms.  There are customary behaviors.  There are habitual behaviors.  There are recommendations and suggested guidelines.  But there aren’t rules.

We “social media” folk study you.  We study your interactions, we study how you relate to each other in the sphere that geeks have most aptly dubbed “social media.”  We want to know what you do before you do it, so that we can say, “Yeah, we knew you were going to do that!  Because we know you!  We know what you did, why you did it, and we know what you’ll do next!  It’s social media!”  It’s amazing we social media folk have any breath left after proclamations such as those.

But fellow social media “experts,” we’re not the teachers here.  We’re the students.  Do you realize how much the public at large is educating us about our very own craft?  About our area of “expertise”?  We are learning our jobs from them!

Those people out there, blogging and using Facebook and YouTube and Flickr and Twitter?  They don’t call this stuff “social media,” kids.  When I tell people what I do, I usually have to say, “I help companies and organizations use Facebook and Twitter to market their businesses and interact with their clients.”  Because if I go into any additional details, I run the risk of alienating anyone that isn’t in the industry.  You know, those people for whom we created this term, “social media,” remember?  Yes, them.  The meat and potatoes of “social media.”

Yes, we social media “experts” are heavy users and early adopters of the social media applications about which we preach and gush.  Yes, we take part in the conversations swirling around us.  Yes, we push out well-written, meaningful content (which probably isn’t of interest to anyone else but us, but that’s outside the scope of this post).

But who creates this?  Who makes it so?  Who makes it “wrong,” for example, to follow someone on Twitter and then, after you follow them back, you’re unfollowed immediately?  Who makes a social pariah out of the users that are constantly intruding with invitations to Vampire Wars and Lil’ Green Patch applications on Facebook?  Who makes it “wrong” to fail to credit the usage of another Flickr user’s picture in a blog post?  Who makes those practices “norms”?  Who ushers them into “custom”?

Not me.  Not Chris Brogan.  Not Shannon Paul.  Not Jeremiah Owyang.  Not Laura Fitton.  Not David Meerman Scott.

You do.

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Twitter me this.

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. Man, do I ever hate to be judgmental, especially of you who has enhanced my social life in unprecedented ways. You who has made me feel connected in a world full of busy, independent people. You who has helped me turn acquaintances into friends, and cities into homes. Alas, as much as it pains me, I must play the critic today. Because how many clucks do I have left on my tongue for you, Twitter?

Your faithful disciples – me especially included – have endured so much while you have floundered your way through your fledgling endeavors. You’re new, you’re remarkable, and your cow is as purple as any for which Seth Godin could hope. You’re everything a social networking site should be. But face it, Twitter – you ain’t no spring chicken any longer. You’ve been around for a little over two years now, and – gasp! – we actually have standards for you, Twitter. Expectations, if you will.

Truth be told, they’re not all that high. No, Twitter, we, your loyal devotees, merely expect you to function. Consistently. Not intermittently, but on a regular basis. When we login, we want to see tweets from the people we follow. When we have something to say, we want it to post so that our followers can read it. If others have engaged us in a conversation, we want to see those replies. Sure, we understand outages and maintenance periods. Of course we do. All of that behind-the-scenes mumbo jumbo is stuff we get. And yet, more often than not, you’ve been unable to deliver solutions to these simple requests.

But we managed to make lemonade out of your service-issue lemons! We have lovingly adopted the Fail Whale as the unofficial Twitter mascot, shaking our heads knowingly (and affectionately) at its appearance, when we formerly regarded it with frustration and rue. We turned a new leaf on your shortcomings, Twitter! We know that you woke up one day, and suddenly, the jeans that fit you perfectly the day before were three inches too short. We sympathized! We worked with you! And when the wheels began a-turnin’ much more smoothly on your end, we even lamented that the Fail Whale hadn’t made an appearance in recent memory. Silly twitterers! But yes, we are silly. Silly us, we missed your failures, Twitter. However, we were also quite proud of your successes. After all, Twitter, we love you. Despite the advent of Pownce, Plurk, Identi.ca, et. al., we still prefer you. Anime sea dwellers disguised as error messages and all.

I, however, have lost my ability to cutesify your mistakes any longer.

Yesterday – Wednesday – you completely dropped the ball, Twitter. Your inability to stabilize whatever new operations you were performing cost us the communities we’ve built over months and even years, and that is no laughing matter, by any means. Speculation on-site has narrowed the affected follower/following relationships to those made in the past three weeks. For me, that’s particularly lovely. Two weeks ago, for example, I was out and about in Houston, meeting a gaggle of new people, attempting to reconnect with my old-turned-new place of residence. And as any female blogger can attest, last weekend at BlogHer, one of the single most important networking events for female writers, numerous new relationships were made and countless existing relationships were grown. So, thanks, Twitter. Thanks a bundle. You’ve managed to suck some of the newest members of my Twitter community into your drain of failures. From 418 to 320 followers. From 258 to 182 twitterers that I’m following. You won’t see me enshrining that epic disaster on a t-shirt.

As it continues and drags on unabated, as Wednesday turns into Thursday without noticeable progress on the issue, the less sympathy you’ll be finding from the community-at-large. It’s incredibly frustrating when Twitter doesn’t operate as expected, but to actually erase information and data from those of us who cultivated and rely upon these networks of people around the world? We trusted you, Twitter. To hold these relationships for us and keep them safe. Imagine if this had happened with MySpace or Facebook in their infancies. You log in one day, and 30%-50% of your contacts have mysteriously gone missing. A data dump of that magnitude would’ve been largely unacceptable. And you know it.

I realize that you’re having some major growing pains, Twitter. I think we all do. You probably had no idea that your little status-update start-up would become the next viable candidate for the Internet-Service-Turned-Verbiage List, a la Google. As a pseudo-techie, that I can understand. But as a mere user, you can’t make your troubles mine time and time again. All I truly care about, in the end, is that you make your service usable closer to 100% of the time than not, and that you fix the problems that you’ve created.

Expeditiously.

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