sharing is caring

OK, I’m going to go ahead and throw my hat into the ring of the millions of people discussing Google+. I think I may see it a bit differently than others.

I get the sense that a larger percentage of people look at G+ as the new Facebook. Maybe they’re sick of Facebook, maybe they’re mad about some of the ways Facebook does things, or maybe they just want to tinker with a new toy. Either way, I think this is a short sighted view of things.

Much in the way Google Buzz was treated, I think a lot of people say “So this is just like Facebook, right?” and then treat it that way. And, much to my chagrin, despite having made a different animal, Google goes along with it, in hopes to get more users. Buzz, while having some obvious personal info flaws in the beginning, was a pretty neat idea. I won’t go into why, since it’s pretty much dead anyways, but it’s important to my point.

In the same way, I think Google is making a new kind of social network. One that’s not based of conquering the internet, but much more on amplifying real life socialization. It’s not about broadcasting to the world (thought they allow that), it’s more about sharing and communicating with the people you already know.

A couple years ago Facebook turned it’s Status Update from a location notice, to a twitter clone. What was originally designed to be a way for people to find their friends, turned into a place to spout of random thoughts, spread religious or political propaganda, or just show pictures of your food. What it did was create an environment where people would cast their thoughts out to the masses, and then hope some people bit with a comment or a like. I myself would share videos of bands that I knew most of my friends wouldn’t actually like, but I knew some would. I would share things under the idea that SOME people would probably like it. And in turn, you’d get shared links and ideas from your “friends.” Some you’d like and agree with. Some you’d argue with, some you’d just hide.

I think Google+ takes a step back from the public internet and encourages you to not share with everyone and hope some will like, but share with those you know will like. It’s a small detail, but I think it makes big difference in what could come of the service. I imagine the most “successful” G+ circles being less than 10 people. You may have a lot of them, but instead of including your mom in your link to Mega64, you only send it to those that might actually enjoy it.

Now you may be thinking, “but who knows, my mom might enjoy Mega64″ and that could be true. But I think the ultimate success of this would come from people sharing for niche things. Instead of only posting the funny pictures of cats you know everyone will like, you may have a buddy or two who loves amazing space photography, and you two may trade things back and forth on a much deeper, finer-toothed-comb level than you would have through Facebook. Perhaps I’m being a little too utopian.

I’ll try and end this rambling…

My plans are these: I may give up Facebook altogether. My hesitation to this lies solely in the fact that I would lose a large “audience” that I enjoy pretending loves all my status updates and links to the same comic over and over again. However, I have a venue for that. This very blog. Granted, my blog doesn’t get the same amount of daily views my status updates probably do, but that may be a sacrifice I have to make. It may be something I should do just to help my own sanity.

Second, I DO have a public venue for all my stupid little thoughts. It’s Twitter. I just heard half of you scoff through the internet. I find it funny that so many people look down on Twitter, when 80% of what they do on Facebook is look at other people’s short blurbs about what they ate that night. Like I said earlier, Facebook stole Twitter a while ago. I still think Twitter is fatally flawed when it comes to conversations, but honestly, I rarely had a conversation on Facebook spurred from one of my status updates.

And then third, is using Google+ of course. My blog is for my public sharing. Twitter is for my public ranting. Google+ is for sharing with my friends. I look at Google+ kinda like “Would I email this to these people?” Just thinking that REALLY cuts down on the amount of fluff you’d put up. I find myself keep thinking, “Well, I don’t want to SEND this to these people, but I wouldn’t mind them happening upon it. In that case, it’s perfect for my blog. But for things that I know are focused, that would appeal to specific people…G+ is perfect.

All this could backfire completely though. Simple fact is, I don’t get to decide what Google+ becomes. It’s up to how the masses use it. I already have people I never met following me on G+. They’ll be pretty disappointed when I never post anything publicly. But oh well.

If nothing else, it’ll be a new toy to play with.

which song is about who now?

Yesterday Juan Baez III (He makes us call him that…we have to pronounce it “eye eye eye.”) did a guest post about my current Facebook / social networking diet.

I had feared that my posts talking about this issue weren’t very clear (Who would have thought my incessant rambling would not be easily understood?) as to exactly why I was doing it. So, here goes attempt number four.

I originally touched on how Facebook consists of a lot of posturing. A good bit of preening happens before you post something on Facebook. Sometimes it’s as simple as only uploading the pictures of you that make you look good. Other times it’s spending a couple minutes figuring out the best way to say something in a short, concise manor so you look more smarter. As I said before, this creates an idealized image. And heck, anyone who doesn’t do this and whines about being unhappy all the time, those people are ‘hidden’ from view, furthering the pristine aesthetic. So that’s Facebook.

Another portion of the net I’ve stepped away from is my RSS feeds. This is something that I myself have preened to perfection. I’ve found all the sites I like, and I’ve assembled them together in Google Reader to make some sort of Tony Entertainment Nexus. A portion of this is idealized visions of other people (their blogs). Other portions are made up of funny videos, good music, pretty pictures. What it ends up creating is this world view perfectly tailored to my ideal life. It’s all good, and no bad. If any bad gets through, I skip past it, or I’ll eventually remove that RSS feed.

So here’s the basis of my problem: A very large portion of the “good” in my life, is coming from a glowing screen I sit at all day. When I’m NOT looking at this constant flow of good stuff, I’m in my car, or on the bus, or at home raising my kids. Much of that time I can’t do anything to create my own good stuff. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but right now we’re in a tough spot of having a newborn and a temperamental 3 year old. That means a lot of my time at home is spent managing Noah, and once he’s in bed, Teresa and I are so tired we can barely manage to do more than fall asleep on the couch watching TV. So externally, the world is great, my friends are having fun, creative people are being wonderfully creative, and life is good. Internally, I have the stress of a job and life, a self loathing at my own failure to be creative, and a sense that I have no free time to do anything I want to do. THIS is the essence of my problem. Right now I feel like I don’t have control over making my own happiness, and while it may not be true, the Tony Entertainment Nexus is telling me that everyone else has a great handle on theirs.

All that aside, here’s the truth of this situation. I do have control over my own happiness. While it may be difficult sometimes, it’s my job to remind myself that, despite their Facebook pages, other people don’t have perfect lives either. I have no plans to permanently disconnect myself from the social web, and it’s not going to change itself to my liking, so it’s on me to figure out how to deal with this external/internal dilemma. But if learning to deal with that includes cutting myself off for a while, or maybe every once in a while, then so be it. When I “come back” on Thursday, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to dive back right back in and go back to where I was. Perhaps I’ll try to trim down that enormous RSS list (which will be very long after not looking at it for a week). Maybe I’ll limit my Facebook use to certain times. Who knows. All in all, I’m glad I’ve done this so far, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can. I never claimed to be addicted to Facebook, but anybody can say “I’m not addicted. I’ll stop right after this.”

i bet that song is about me

I have have my very first ever guest post! Juan Baez III, my former class mate, former roommate, audio engineering, band fronting friend has written up his opinion on my current hiatus from Facebook, Twitter et al.

I Bet that Song is about Me:
Why quitting social media doesn’t work

Constantly connected, telling our “friends” our every move, repeatedly shouting at the internet masses with hopes of saying something witty enough to be RT’d, wondering what we could’ve said to get more likes, pageviews, @’s and medals; the world is a bit different now. Social media has changed the way we interact with one another, is it bad? No. It’s the future. It’s the Now…ture.

The economy sucks. People are breeding. You work harder to achieve things you want, and skip events because the cost is too high. You don’t go to that movie, you skip out on that bar outing, you say “maybe next time,” but you know the truth. Your actual friends strewn about the highway that is your busy life. But you’re still there, living, and so are your friends, just not together. We all crave attention, it’s why we’re driven to meet people in the first place, you listen to their stories in hopes that they’ll listen to yours. We are a vain species and we can’t all be monks. So instead of going outside, we hang out with people all day every day on them internets. Now we can have conversations that last days with people miles away, without spending our overpriced cell minutes and texts, by msg’ing on facebook. These close friends have your email address, do they use it? No. They msg you. From their bathroom.

“I thought this was supposed to convince me being on the net was a good thing.” Nope, this is supposed to convince you that being off the net is a bad thing. Now you’re out of the loop. Now you lose touch with people you care about. Now funny things throughout your day are replaced by boredom and snacking(?). And your need to be heard, to one-up another with witty one-liners, is still there. You just blurt it at whoever is near you, who will most likely have no idea what you’re talking about. But your friends would know, and they’d probably LTAO. Combine that with the fact that we no longer trust or give a damn about local media and you could be facing actual disaster. I don’t want to watch my local news team to know what’s going on, F*/! THOSE DUDES, THEY DON’T KNOW! The internet is a joyous place and we’re getting tied in more every day.

Do I need to know what all my friends are doing every moment? Do I need to have what used to be in print magazines shoved in my rss addled face? Do I really need to see a cat play a keyboard or a three wolf moon? Probably not, but your friends will do it all anyways, and if you ever actually physically hang out with them they’ll be dropping internet knowledge briquettes and you’ll be left standing there like an ignored spouse at a company party.

“So wait, what?” Exactly.

oops forgot to put a title here

This morning, on the train, I a guy sat down across from me. I looked up at his face, and instantly saw the Facebook page, and thought “Holy crap, Ben Kingsley’s body double is on MARTA.”

So I guess I haven’t washed the thought externalization out of my head completely yet.

Then again, it has quieted down up there a bit. In a good way. Not in the “man there’s a lot of fumes at this gas station” way.

It’s funny, this week has also probably been the most social I’ve had in a while. On Saturday Tree and the boys and I (still testing out how to say that kinda stuff) went to Grant Park for some art fair thing, and we met up with a former band mate of mine, Andrew Asher (of JATO fame) while he visiting from Tampa. Although if it weren’t for Teresa reading Andrew’s post on my Facebook wall, we wouldn’t have known he was in town. So it’s good to know I have a curator while I’m away.

Then last night I went to Kennesaw to practice with UVM for an upcoming show that I’m subbing in bass guitar for. Twas nice to see my friends again. Moreover, it was great to play live music with people again. It was awesome. I don’t know if any of the other guys picked up on it, but I was trying to hide a giddy smile the whole time. There’s nothing that beats the energy of individuals coming together to make a synchronous racket together. I could gush about it for 3 more paragraphs, but I’ll spare you.

I also found another way to avoid looking at my phone every 30 seconds. Just leave it at home. That’s VERY effective.