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?


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+


Google+ First Impressions

A disclaimer is in order here: I’m not a social networking butterfly.

I was never into chatting online or messengers, etc. Having started out in old style BBS and USENET mediums, I never did transition too well to the “real time” comm stuff. Maybe I’m just shy. 😉 So, anyway… friend Securitybreach from Scot’s Newsletter Forums managed to sneak an invite out to me for Google+ today.

I just spent about 15 minutes setting it up. I have numerous Google accounts, but I figured I’d limit Google+ to just one to make it simple. It’s bad enough that I’ll have to keep track of my millions of followers each day, but to have to do it with multiple accounts would be just too much. I’m V. T. Eric Layton on Google+, in case you were interested. 🙂

OK, so what is this Google+ stuff, anyway. Well, it’s like Facebook with some actual thought put into its design and options. HA! That’s really not a fair statement coming from me because I have never been on Facebook, so whaddo I know? I’ve never had a MySpace account either. I tell you, I’m just not that sociable.

What can you do with your Google+ account. Well, you can chat. It seems that they REALLY want you to do that, too. That damned box keeps popping up every time I log into my account asking me if I want to enable chat. NO, I don’t. Thank you. To be fair, Google+ is in beta at the moment, so there will be strange and annoying things occurring from time to time.

Hey! Isn’t it cool to think that trivial comments you make on Google+ will be stored on their massive GoogleNet servers till the end of time. That’s gonna’ come back and bite some folks in their asses when they run for President in a few years. And, of course, there’s also the issue with GoogleNet becoming self-aware in a few years. Whaddya’ gonna’ do then, huh? No place to run. Nowhere to hide from the Googlenator.

Cute-lookin’ fellow, eh? Oh, I’m supposed to be reviewing Google+ here, aren’t I? Umm… OK, back to business then.

Setting up your Profile within Google+ was pretty straightforward. It starts out with your public profile from your email account that you signed up with in the first place. You can change some privacy settings and email delivery options from within there. Don’t forget to add* your phone number, address, and a pic of you car so that everyone from Russian Prime Minister Putin to Paris Hilton can drop in unexpectedly for tea.

*WARNING: I’m just kidding. I don’t recommend you add ANY traceable personal information to your Google+ account. They have enough of your personal info already.

Then there are those “circle” things. Circles are separate groups that you can use to sort all those millions of Google+ chums you’re going to be gaining shortly (as soon as the Facebook and Twitter servers succumb to that massive DOS attack in a few weeks – see Googlenator above).

All in all, Google+ looks like another fine way to waste away your life using minimal characters, poor grammar, and no punctuation of any kind.

fun 4 all w00t i m pwnd by google 😉



Image credits: Googlenator – hell, who knows? I’m sure the original is licensed to Orion Pictures Corporation, but I really have no idea who shop’d this pic.