Social Networking might be killing my social network

unlikeI never seem to learn from my mistakes, so learning from others is clearly out of the question.

My plunge into social media is a good example.  I should have left it alone, knowing what others were posting for the world to see, but I guess in today’s highly electronic, ubber-connected, instant update world, social networking is a lot like food.  You need to have it (arguably), but if you do too many rounds of the McDonald’s drive-thru, it might just kill you…metaphorically speaking.

Finding old friends online has been fun and a heck of a lot safer than showing up at a 30th High School reunion with more gut and less hair.  On the web, they only see what you want them to see.  Some folks should close the curtains a bit more than they do, if you know what I mean.

My problem with being on Facebook is keeping my big yap shut.  It’s like poker in a way.  I’m one big ‘tell’. ‘Eww!  Two aces!’…everyone folds.  My lips flap away uncontrollably and everyone else leaves the table – usually with my money.

Social media outlets like Facebook are an all-you-can-eat buffet of opinion, idealism, voyeurism, fear, stupidity and anger, and it’s too tempting for me to step away from.  All those topics your mother told you polite people don’t discuss – religion, politics, selfies, are open season on the internet.

Well, this social buffet is filling me with nasty cholesterol and gas, and it’s making everyone else yell ‘Cheque please!’.  But I can’t help it – too many tasty tidbits to nibble on and not enough self control.

Opinions are like….well, you know the saying.  Everyone’s got one.  They’re also a double-edged sword.  We share them, thinking everyone will climb on board, cheering and supporting us.  If we’re really lucky, we’ll get an obscure retort from someone that our friends will attack like a fat kid on a Smartie.  All we get mostly is a couple of ‘likes’ and that’s it.

That’s my problem.  Someone posts an article about how processed cheese is a secret plot by the government to make us fat and lazy so we’re easy to control, and BAM!’  I’m diving in like it’s free crab-leg night at my favourite buffet.  Strap on the bib and keep the melted butter coming!  I’m writing in a flurry of quips, commentaries and rebuttals that are driving huge chasms between me and my online friends.

I know I should leave it alone – just shut it off, but it’s not that simple.  My social networking ‘work’ is very important you know…analyzing the latest ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ fail videos, or watching cats falling off of furniture.  Very intellectual stuff.  It’s no different than eating a healthy salad, then someone putting out a platter of bacon sliders.  What’s a guy to do?

When I over-eat, it’s only me and my belt that suffers.  But when I can’t resist challenging every opinion on the internet, I pull back another sour layer of the onion that I am, and no one wants to see the layers of my onion….and it’s making my ‘friend’ list smaller.

‘Like’ if you agree.

Kittens, Justin Bieber and Walmart – from cute to annoying

cute kittenSince I’ve joined the Facebook community, I’ve noticed just how many sickeningly cute pictures and videos there are of cats.  I’m pretty sure the people who were the brain thrust of the internet didn’t have snoring kittens in mind.

If you know me, you know I’ve never been much of a cat lover, but I do admit that kittens have their charm.  Those doey eyes, fluffy fur and curious nature are hard to resist…until they’re not cute anymore.  Then they just pee on your stuff and shred the corners of your favourite furniture.

Puppies, with their over-sized paws clumsily bound around the house, knocking over kids and plants, and they constantly fall down the stairs – adorable!  Then they get big, and they become a smelly, hairy pain in the tush.  Then, when they knock stuff over, it’s ‘outdoors, Rover!’

Even Canada’s You Tube export, Justin Bieber was cute at one point.  With his wispy hair-do and sickeningly sweet tones.  Not any more!  Now there’s a petition to have him extradited back to Canada.  Somewhere along the line, his irresistible charm tarnished badly.

It’s funny how we view things – there was an ad a while ago, I think for a car company, where they compared a squirrel to a rat.  Basically, visually speaking, they look the same, except that the squirrel has a nice big bushy tail.  Everyone loves squirrels but hates rats…presumably because of the tail.  The fact that rats live in the sewers, spread plague and eat garbage doesn’t help, either.

I don’t remember the car or what they were trying to explain.

I’ve been doing a bit of ‘entrepreneurial’ work lately (that’s a secret code word for ‘a couple hours of work on the internet followed by grass cutting, chatting with neighbours, wandering the aisles of Costco, and napping through home improvement shows’).

Everyone loves to hear about small business success stories.  Little Davids out there, taking on the giant, ugly Goliath’s of the business world.  ‘”Go get em’!”  I’d hear.  “What a great idea.  I’m sure you’ll make a killing at that”, and so on.

All very rah-rah, and good for the emotional soul.  I guess what I keep wondering though, is when does the rah-rah stop, and the web-bashing begin?  I mean, it’s not likely that I’ll be an overnight success and suddenly be subject to scrutiny over my hiring or wage practices, but still…

What got me wondering about this, is that recently I heard an argument that although we all love to hate Walmart despite the ironic fact that almost all of us hand over our cash to them every week, they too were a success story.  Somewhere back in little Bentonville, Arkansas, at a 5 and Dime store known as ‘Walton’s’, and founded by that kindly-looking country bumkin ‘soon-to-be billionaire’, Sam Walton was a small business owner who had his share of ‘rah-rah’ admirers.

But, like kittens and Justin, something changed.  Once they became big, or self-realized, or smug, or whatever, we decided they resembled the rat more than the squirrel.  I guess we all like a success story until it’s, well…successful.  Huh.

I read a book…well read most of a book called ‘The Tipping Point’.  Basically, it was trying to explain that at some point, a trickle becomes a deluge based on a slight change in the fulcrum of the balance of things.  I never did get through it, but I think it applies here.

There is a tipping point where children aren’t adorable any more.  We still love them and care for them, but they tend to drive us nuts a little more.  They tipped.

Maybe that’s what happened to Justin Bieber and Walmart.  They were cute and adorable, but the invisible pendulum swung a bit too far the other way, and suddenly weren’t lovable any more.  They abused or outgrew their cuteness and suddenly became annoying and ugly.

The success story that got them where they are was also their undoing in the eyes of public opinion.  The squirrel’s tail turned into an ugly, skin coloured whip, and we turned away in disgust.

Cute keeps you alive when you’re young – heck, even I was ‘cute-ish’ when I was little, in a freckle faced Ginger sort of way, but when my legs grew longer than my body, and my voice changed, little bits of that rat tail emerged.  You can’t count on your adorableness for too long, so you have to adapt.

I guess it means always looking like the squirrel, and not letting your rat tail show.  Maybe that’s what all those spin doctors are there for – to try to convince the public that your favourite celebrity or business success story still has a bushy tail.

For me, my self-employment venture is a very long way from ever looking like a rat, but if I’m lucky, a long way down the road, someone will point out that my tail is showing.  I’m sure my loving friends and family will ensure I stay ever so humble.

 

Here’s my shameless plug (while I’m still cute):

http://magicmats.net/

magicmats video image

 

 

The Faceplant

facebook logoThey must be handing out parkas in Purgatory.  This week, I joined Facebook.  Yes, welcome me to 2004.

Social networking has been one of necessity rather than desire for the most part.  Joining the awesome and exposed world of Facebook was a frightening thought for a guy like me, who uses this blog site as a semi-anonymous way to share deep thoughts and feelings (okay, sometimes not-so-deep thoughts) without losing control.  This can make for a pretty lonely existence – no disrespect to my current group of followers, of course.

Baring one’s soul to the cyberworld is an intimidating venture when you can’t just take it back, so I’ve put it off with lame excuses and procrastination.

The trouble is, when you’re used to 2 soup cans with a string between them (the kids will have to look that reference up), eventually there isn’t anyone holding up the other can, and you just look foolish talking to yourself.

But hey, I’m a modern, tech-savvy kind of guy.  Just because there’s a little snow on the old roof, doesn’t mean there’s not a hip party happening in the living room, right?  I know how to set up a printer and scan for viruses on my computer. I can link multiple e-mail addresses to my iPhone.  I’m in touch with how my kids talk and act – I just don’t understand them.  Facebook should be a breeze, right?

I’m 2 days in with my new profile, and I think I’ve already broken a bunch of covenant rules – at least that’s the impression I get from my 2 teens.  Lessons on an open-forum interchange like this will probably all be learned the hard way.  I didn’t even know there were rules.  I guess etiquette is a better word than rules, really.

Like a new golfer, it’ll be others who ‘shush’ you while someone is teeing off that you’ll learn from, unfortunately.

Here’s some that I’ve already broken:

  • Don’t ever tag photos of people who don’t want to be tagged
  • Don’t ever reply to a post that’s more than a week old
  • Don’t fill out your ‘timeline’ unless you know what you’re doing – I have a highlight about leaving a job a year ago….not intentionally
  • Don’t ‘friend’ your kids’ friends – you’ll see things you just can’t take back
  • Always think through responses or comments on posts before you hit ‘enter’

I’m up to 50-something friends already – whoo hoo!  Trouble is, I don’t know what to say to anyone.  Do I start sharing ‘selfies’ and posting photos of my dog sleeping with her tongue hanging out?  Does anyone else really care about this stuff?

Do I need to ‘like’ every inspirational message?  Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

Is there an addictive component to Facebook that I should be aware of?  I find myself checking it every few minutes.  This can’t be healthy.

It’s a pretty steep learning curve I’m on, but as long as I don’t get ‘unfriended’ by everyone before I figure how to navigate this new world correctly, I’ll consider this deep dive into modern communication a successful experiment.  It can’t last that long anyway, right?

‘Like’ this post, or I’ll start sending pictures of me hitting the ‘refresh’ button over and over again…

 

 

 

The cruelest “ism” of all

They roll their sarcastic little eyes while they try to explain to you for the 10th time what ‘tweeting’ is.  That look is deliberately designed to make you feel stupid.  And the kids are very good at it.   Don’t you just want to smack them?

I get this treatment a lot lately – not so much from my kids, although I did get some attitude last week during a family card game.  Good thing too, since I didn’t have a topic to blog about this week…Thanks ‘C’.

It seems that the most unchecked ‘ism’ out there is ageism.  That’s right – being treated unfairly, rudely, rejected, or outright ignored because of ones age.

The big problem here is that the age stereotype just gets worse with each passing day.  Let’s face it; you’re not going to get any more black, short, sexed (well, maybe a little), ethnic, or whatever, but you are definitely going to get older.

One friend always points out that getting older is better than the alternative…funny guy!  I want to smack him too.

I have a particular issue with other people who are already at this age, or are close enough that they should know better.  I thought we were supposed to support each other.

And we should stick together, right?  We should run out and get a great car insurance discount then brag about to a bunch of 20 somethings.

I was at an interview recently, and as it was winding down, I asked the gentleman across from me if there was anything in my application that was a problem for him.  He said the only potential issue was that I was ‘over qualified’.  Over qualified?  I thought being more qualified for a job was a good thing, but we all know what that really means, don’t we? It means we’re too old and can’t learn new things.  That we’re hard-coded to an old way of doing things and are too inflexible to learn a new job.

The kicker is, this guy was roughly my age. Way to stick up for your fellow discriminatee, dude!

That’s something else that is a complete ‘no-no’ for our generation.  We’re not allowed to say certain things, are we?

‘Yo! What up!’ is completely unacceptable when addressing your neighbour while putting out the garbage in your housecoat and slippers.

You can never say ‘That’s badass’ when describing a friends new golf club or riding lawn mower.

If someone is planning a long road trip to the coast with their kids and dog, you’re not allowed to say ‘That’s Cray Cray’.

You’ll never see anyone ‘Twerking’ at a curling club dance.  Okay, that one is probably a good thing…no one wants to see that.  Besides, there might be hip injuries.

But we should be free to do it if we like, right?  No discrimination.

I tried to do a ‘selfie’ but it just came out creepy…and I don’t know who I’d send it to anyway, but I should be allowed as long as all those teens are doing it, right?

Maybe that’s the key to this whole ‘ism’ problem.  We need to normalize behavior that might not fit our social norms.  Not because we really want to share photos of our lunch on Facebook, or ‘hashtag’ the Air Supply concert we’re at, but because we deserve the right to do those things that suppress us.

I could be the Rosa Parks of middle-aged men!  Who’s with me???

Oh wait – there’s a patio furniture sale on at Lee Valley this week.  Maybe we can fight for injustice next weekend…