A Closet Misanthrope’s View of Online Social Networking

Up until recently, my experiences with online social networking were limited to the rare messenger conversation or occasional IRC chat.

Since the beginning of my Internet life, I’ve leaned more toward the post/reply model of online communications; such as boards, forums, USENET newsgroups, etc. When MySpace first came online, I thought it to be silly, juvenile narcissism. My feelings toward MySpace carried over to the Facebook and Twitter crowd, once those became the “in” thing online. I mean, c’mon… follow along with Ashton Kutcher‘s daily escapades? It was obvious to this middle-aged (damn…it’s weird calling myself “middle-aged”) semi-misanthropic biker that these newfangled online things were mainly for the young attention-deficit-disordered crowd.

Hmm… well. I may have to change my views on this now. I’m man enough to stand up and admit when I’m wrong. I just don’t get much opportunity to do that since I’m rarely wrong. That being said, online social networking may actually have value for all folks out there, not just the hormonal yutes of the world. I can see the potential of the technology. I can understand now that there is a whole new world out there for young folks, old folks, business, hobbyists, technologists, educators, journalists, alien invaders, hackers, spammers, data miners, and even you.

You may have read about my previous articles HERE and HERE regarding my recent foray into the realm of online social networking; specifically, Google+. Well, I’ve been at it now for about ten days. The first couple days’ worth of my time there was utilized mostly for feeling my way around the place and looking for folks to put into my “circles”. Once I got that all squared (or circled) away, it was on to the actual interacting part of the show. Social intercourse with other human beings from all over the world. Wow! What a concept! Beats the hell out of smoke signals or snail mail, huh?

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There is a trick to enhancing your enjoyment of social networking on sites like Google+ (G+ for short). You need to have communicative and intelligent people, with whom you share some common interests, in your circles. Why? Simply because you need them to provide you with that steady flow (the Stream) of data that becomes your focus on these social sites. What is this “stream”, you might be asking? Well, if you’re my age or older, you can think of it as that steady rat-tat-tat of the old RTTY (radio teletype) machines tapping out reams of incoming data onto that tractor-fed paper roll. Or if you don’t remember those days, you can think of the stream as the news ticker that runs along the bottom (or top) of some modern cable news channels. The stream is the heart of your online social network. It’s where the action is.

If you have fun, smart, prolific posters, like Chris Pirillo for instance, in your circles in G+, you’ll have a steady stream of interesting and entertaining (and often very useful) data to read. If all you have in your circles is old uncle Bob, the retired carnival barker who can only access the Internet for 1 hour every three days from his cell in prison, then you’ll probably be pretty starved for decent stream data. Find those interesting folks. That’s half the fun of social networking. Whether you’re looking for celebs or scientists, chances are they’re on G+ (or Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Oh, and don’t forget to share. In other words, be sociable. Post replies to other posters in the stream. Post your own stream posts. Post pictures, music, tales of your latest bar-hopping spree, whatever… Sharing. That’s what social networking is all about. You don’t just want to be one of the quiet crowd hiding in your dark computer room and laughing to yourself about Chris Pirillo’s latest animated .gif posting. You want to be out there with the rest of those folks having fun!

Don’t be shy now.;)

See you on Google+

~Eric


A Google+ Follow-up

I’ve been at it now for about 4 days. I must say… it’s surprisingly entertaining.

It’s also damned addictive, so watch out. I’ve spent more time online this past four days than I have in the past four weeks combined. I guess humans are social animals after all. And it’s ever so much more fun to socialize from the privacy of your own home while munching chips and sitting at your computer desk in your underwear; not that I’m doing that, you understand. Although, I’m sure that some of you do.

Yes, Google+ is in beta, but forgiving a few bugs and glitches here and there, it’s a remarkably stable and enjoyable experience. As stated in my previous posting about G+, I’m definitely not a social networking butterfly. I’ve never had any accounts that even resembled social networking, except maybe my old AIM, Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ messenger accounts. I still have them, actually, but haven’t logged into any of them in years.

The mechanics of G+ can be a bit overwhelming when you first login, but eventually, you begin to see how things work and how best to set up your own personal preferences. There are already oodles of blog posts and mini-tutorials online about how best to set up your G+ settings with regards to your circles (friends groups) and privacy, so I won’t go on about that here. Just do a search (using Google, what else?) for Google+ tips. You’ll get a crapper full of great hints and tips.

Come be sociable with me on Google+. You can find me HERE.

Have fun!

~Eric


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