Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Social stuff

The first 'pitcher' of rum swizzles was a success! It was actually a measuring cup, but never mind. 1 oz dark rum, 2 oz of a mix of orange and pineapple juice, a dash of bitters, and a dash of lemon. Pretty good, and better over ice.

Very easy spin 30 minutes and then stretching my legs. Looking forward to a massage. Knee and heel still cranky, but maybe a bit better.

I've been thinking about social media a bunch lately, and this is one of the occasions where I need to write about it to understand what I actually think about it.

Once upon a time, back in my youth, the only practical way to get to know someone was to be close to them. You might work at the same place, go to the same gym or church, live in the same neighbourhood, or attend the same school. Once the relationship was formed it might or might not survive a separation. There are people that got to know each other through letters and phone calls, but that's tough sledding.

Now things are different. To the youth of today it seems natural, but I still marvel at being able to get to know people that don't live anywhere near me. Through blogging and other social media, I'm pretty confident that if I went to Southern California, or Boulder, or Nova Scotia, and probably other places that don't instantly come to mind, I could go to lunch or dinner with people I've never met in person and have a great time. It's allowed me to meet people at races or training camps already having some basis for a relationship. People have come up to me to ask if I'm who I am. (It's the mustache, I can never shave it.)

Linked In was the first social media site I joined, and it was pretty lame at first. Now I look at it almost every day. It's a valuable tool in the competitive world of holding a job, especially if you're like me, an independent contractor. You never know when someone you know tells you to contact someone they know to discuss a job. I've got at least two jobs that way. Now my rule for connecting to someone is that I have to have worked with them in some way. It's most often someone I've worked with, but it could be someone I've purchased services from. Some of my older contacts don't meet that criteria, but that's ok. If you look at my profile it's pretty much built around my work life. It needs updating to better reflect what I'm actually doing at Penn West these days, but that's life.

Blogging is my first social media love, and my most enduring. I like doing a blog. There seems to be a small, but fairly loyal audience that like what I have to say. Which is nice, considering I'm writing this for myself. I love getting comments. I remain amiably baffled by which posts get read more or less, and which collects comments. Every now and then I rip out a good rant, and people like those. Some are semi-rants, or bleats about some topic or another. I'm pretty sure that none of my readers are bored because I'm always talking about only one topic. They might be bored because there's a wall of text on a topic they aren't interested in, but that's another issue.

Facebook was next, and that was a bit of a struggle for me. I'm up to 141 "friends". I'm seriously contemplating exactly what I use Facebook for. I've loved getting caught up with cousins, and staying caught up with some people that don't blog much anymore. But as I noted in my linked blog post above, I've got some issues. Every now and then I go through my settings and make sure I've got things nailed down. Most of the time my rule about Facebook friends is that it's someone I'd go to lunch or coffee with, and that I don't mind them reading what I post, and I don't mind reading what they post. I know most of the people, or knew them at one point. But I am considering culling the list a bit, though rumors of changes to the newsfeed might make me change my mind.

In order, what I like to read on FB is what my friends post for themselves. News of what's happening in their lives. Photos of cute kids, or beaches, or race photos. Or even just a pretty sunset, I've been guilty of that. It might be banal to others, but that's ok.
Reposts are a mixed bag. One particular buddy is a treasure trove of good stuff, interesting photos and links that I often follow. Other reposts, like the stupid intelligence tests to pick a word meeting some criteria, or the math test, or the number of squares, I wish I could make them go away. Forever. Same for forward this if you love your mother, or put x in your status if you love dogs, and all that sort of crap. I'm getting crankier about that, and too much will lead to being unfriended.
I don't play any games on Facebook, and won't respond to invitations. I'm very, very suspicious of third party apps.

I've read about Facebook getting less popular. Kids are moving to other social media sites to do their thing, away from what they see as their parents thing. Many people are pissed about the changes to privacy settings, and the data ownership issues. Some want to get back to interacting with their real friends. Others are pissed at the advertising.

Twitter had me baffled for a long time. What could you say in 140 characters? I've come around now. It's such a great way of getting news I don't read the paper anymore, and don't listen to the news on the radio. My only criteria for following someone on Twitter is that they have tweets that interest me. That might be because it's news, or they are witty, or it's a notice they've blogged and I follow their blog. Just because you follow me is no guarantee I'll follow you. Most of my tweets are notice that I've blogged, short things I want to say on Facebook, or (semi-) witty responses to what other people say.

I flirted briefly with Google+, but I'm kind of pissed at Google these days, and besides, didn't like it. I do have a Flikr account, but it's mainly where I put images for my blog because the linked Picassa account for Blogger seems to be full. I haven't got around to any of the other zillion social media sites. I'm just not that social a guy, I guess.

There is a growing push to recognize that people legally own their own data, their personal information, their photographs, their text, whatever else they've created, and not the company that provided a social media site. The media sites will hate it, of course, but too bad. There is also a push to punish privacy breaches. It's one thing to have some new and diabolically clever attack succeed, but quite another to have some script kiddy assault get results. That should be punished.

Part of it is the prevention of identity theft, and part of it is simply good practice. Part of the onus is on people themselves, since most of us are very bad at choosing passwords. It's hard to create an endless series of passwords that are easy to remember, easy to type on a variety of devices, and yet are hard to guess. I can't help but think that eventually we will get DNA analyzers in all our devices. They work when we hold them, and don't when someone else holds them. Perhaps there needs to be a 'keep working for x seconds button' so we can let others look at photos, or make a phone call.

In most ways I like the social media world. We're still figuring out how it works, and lots of people have been burned by it, and that's too bad. There's a story I like to tell about a young woman I once worked with. She was photographed on the Red Mile screaming her lungs out during a Flames game. That photo was put up on an early social media site where people modified the images, and reposted them, sometimes with comments. I was looking at this one morning, wondering if it was her. I got the guy across the hall to come and look, and sent her an email with the link. We're looking, and can't decide, when we heard this scream from down the hall. It was her. She came running in to ask how to get it taken down, and was very disappointed to learn that it was essentially impossible, that once an image is on the internet it's effectively there forever. She got a really thoughtful look when told that many women had had the same experience, only they didn't have their shirts on. I am sure that some poor kid somewhere is going through hell because a NSFW photo was posted in Snapchat, and someone screen shotted it while it was still alive, then posted the screen shot. All these social media tools are just that, tools for interaction. Our other tools have various safety features, but lost of people lost limbs to power tools before the safety features were worked out. Play safe, my friends.


  1. Interesting thoughts on social media! Ah FB... I have way too many friends there thanks to blogging for a wedding planning blog. I believe I need to cull the list to bring some level of privacy in. That being said, I won't post anything on FB that I wouldn't want the world to see. My grandmother is a FB friend so that is always my measuring stick! Is it okay for grandma to see?? And as for FB I really only post photos on there to share with family.

    I really enjoy twitter and of course I love blogging! I'm surprised by how much I like twitter actually. Who knew there could be so much value in 140 characters?

  2. If you are ever in NS, I hope we do get a chance to have lunch, Keith! And expect a 'chat' when next I am in Calgary :)

    I've blogged about social media - blogging, yes; FB, not so much; Twitter, trying. I love Runner Leana's "Grandmother Measuring Stick" for FB!!! I am still amazed at what people post on Social Media sites!

    1. I will expect your call! And I know that I will visit the Le Have bakery again.


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