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07 September 2010 @ 11:04 am
The Loop: Maybe I'm looking for an ANTI-social network.  
Trying to grok microblogging and social networking just makes me feel old.

I feel the need to make the effort, though—in no small part because it does make me feel old. I look on in baffled incomprehension at a vast swath of online life, wholly Out Of the Loop, and I realize that I'm nearly as disconnected from the Bleeding Edge of the One-And-Twenty as someone with no Internet access at all.

The Unkind Curmudgeon, the part of me that tries to reduce the world into a series of Pithy Epigrams, keeps coming back to "these are ways for people to TALK when they don't have anything to SAY."

Of course, Pithy Epigrams are exactly what microblogging services like Twitter are all about; the Unkind Curmudgeon would thrive there.

I'm not sure I want the Unkind Curmudgeon to thrive.

Nevertheless, I can see the utility and appeal of the Twitters and Qaikus and Status.nets of the online world. Sometimes, you just want to say something quickly and efficiently, without wrapping a well-thought-out blog entry (or stream of consciousness blather) around it. The first sentence of this entry would have been an ideal Tweet, but here, on LJ, I feel I have to elaborate.1

I also appreciate the idea of an ongoing, persistent conversation that's faster than a newsgroup but slower than IRCs or MUCKs. IM conversations have that quality on a one-to-one level: you can say something to someone, and they can respond at their leisure. 2

It's the Facebooks and MySpaces that I don't get. I'm on LinkedIn, the most professionally-oriented of the social network services, and I don't get it. There's no content on LinkedIn. Nothing happens. It's static. Even if you recognize former co-workers floating around on the service, it's just "hey, I know you [LINK]". It's another place to post my resume to get ignored.3

As I understand it, Facebook and the more "social" social nets have Other Stuff: microblog-style "Status Updates"; tedious mind-numbing timesinks "games" like Farmville; the exchange of pointless tchotchkes virtual tokens like the llamas of DeviantArt and the weird little icons that LiveJournal has tacked on in imitation.

I still don't quite grasp what you do on these networks, though. I don't grok how you interact with them. LiveJournal has the eminently-useful (if unfortunately-named) "Friends" list, which is an entirely useful means of monitoring those individuals who provide interesting content; I peruse mine regularly, and it irks me that there's not an equally-elegant way of following the Blogspot blogs I read.

I'm clueless about the SpaceBooks and MyFaces, though. honestly, I don't even know what such sites look like, since most of them are, in my experience, inaccessible to those who don't already have an account.

Given the well-publicized privacy issues and the impossibility of deleting accounts, I am extremely leery of registering just to see if I want to register.

Some contracts, you just don't want to sign.4

Why, you might ask, am I concerned about this at all?

It's not just because "all my friends are doing it."

Any number of recent articles in the blogosphere suggest that my mortal alter-ego's nigh-complete absence from the virtual sphere has had a negative impact on my career aspirations.[citation needed] A Google search on my mundane name yields my 2003 capstone thesis, a few sparse credits in a handful of published RPGs, and a lengthy discourse in an etymology blog about the plural of "octopus".

It's bad enough that my professional experience is so sparse, but, as far as any potential employer can determine, I have no personal interests whatsoever.

Nevertheless, I'm hesitant to establish overt connections between my Mundane Alter-Ego, the Earnest Environmental Scientist and Cartographer, and Your Obedient Serpent, who may be an Eloquent Commentator of Comics and Popular Culture, but also has some ... eccentric ... search results attached to his most-used nom de guerre.

1 Endlessly.

2 I do miss ICQ, which would let you drop someone a note even if they weren't online at the time; I described that more than once as "leaving a Post-It on their monitor".

3 But I'm not bitter!

4 I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shall not wish to Answer, and shall commande more than you. —H.P. Lovecraft, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward".

Tombfyretombfyre on September 7th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
I too don't understand all the various flavours of social networking and whanot, especially the facebooks and myspaces of the world. I'll stick with things like LJ, journal entries on FA, and the occasional use of Twitter to see what some o' my friends are up to. :3
Helvetica 'Foofers' Boldfoofers on September 7th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
I had...or rather, Scabrous had...a MySpace account for a while. Not really because I was interested, but because someone said it would be funny if he had one. I (not Scabrous) also has an account on LinkedIn.

In a way, both seem to just be large and elaborate Tamagotchis - things that need to be fed and cared for but in the end are just a distraction and don't add much (if any) substance to real life. They get cluttered with "shouts" and "waves" and email spam from people I don't know, don't want to know, or apparently met in passing one time under a pseudonym and now they're upset that I haven't "added" them, and I periodically have to clean out my email or a similar inbox on the site in question. But I guess it gives people the impression like they're doing something important on the computer.

Killed the MySpace account. No regrets. I only kept LinkedIn because it was "professional" and "important" - but now that you mention it, yeah, it really does just seem to be the same thing with a more tactful design, but in all the years it hasn't netted a single lead of even marginal use, and I still have to clean up after the mess it makes in my inbox. Useless.
Your Obedient Serpent: coyote durp durp durpathelind on September 7th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
... mine doesn't even make a mess in my inbox.

BTW, you have a LinkedIn link request waiting for you now. La la la.
Paka: pied crowpaka on September 7th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah. That's the thing; Facebook and Twitter sound okay as concepts, and actually in concept I really like the idea of Twitter - hey, I rattle off Witty Sounding one-liners, or literally use it as the most brief sort of blog thing. "Dune is a real good film" rather than "Here's what I like about what David Lynch was probably trying to accomplish..."

But it just seems so corporate. You know? You're obligated to have this online identity. And it's not actually your identity so much as another work-appropriate mask, where you have interesting hobbies (but not too unusual), personal goals (but not too disconnected from work), a sprawling network of friends (partly as legitimization rather than an actual indicator of those important to you), stay in touch with your high school classmates and your relatives (because your high school and birth family are important to anyone normal, after all), and you're generally a happy and likeable guy.

A little like a dress code; you think of the internet as a place where you can slouch around in a t-shirt and jeans most of the time, even if some corners are nudist beaches or bondage gear territory, and others are clearly where you wear the suit and tie, but Facebook and Twitter seem to be places where you are required to wear Business Casual clothing you don't especially like, and all the time.

It doesn't help that one of the shorter jobs I had was working registration for a big marketing convention, which seemed to hold that Twitter and Facebook existed entirely for the purpose of buzz and demographics and so on. That really made me feel like who you are, who you actually are, is not something that's wanted on Twitter or Facebook.
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ArchTeryxarchteryx on September 7th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
Lay my head on the surgeon's table
Take me fingerprints if you are able
Pick my brains, pick my pockets
Steal my eyeballs and come back for the sockets
Run every kind of test from A to Z
And you'll still know nothing 'bout me

Run my name through your computer
Mention me in passing to your college tutor
Check my records, check my facts
Check if I paid my income tax
Pore over everything in my C.V.
But you'll still know nothing 'bout me
You'll still know nothing 'bout me

You don't need to read no books on my history
I'm a simple man, it's no big mystery
In the cold weather, a hand needs a glove
At times like this, a lonely man like me needs love

Search my house with a fine tooth comb
Turn over everything 'cause I won't be at home
Set up your microscope and tell me what you see
You'll still know nothing 'bout me!

-- Sting, 10 Summoner's Tales.

Done right around the time the WWW was born, but never more appropriate then now.
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Arcaton: jackassr_caton on September 7th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Go hunting under the name I usually use on the web - and have since AltFan Dragons in Nov 2001 - and you'll find an escort agency site, the sort where they fuzz out the ladies faces....
Yup, surprised me, but I'm not changing MY I/D.
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Wordslingerwordslinger on September 8th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Livejournal IS a social network.

So you have one. So there.

I do find the others useful for (somewhat) promoting my work in a small way, and for keeping up with my kids and my family and classmates. But there's a lot of noise and I don't read everything.

LJ is easier. You should use LJ instead of FB and if anyone asks, point them here.
Bobyourbob on September 8th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
as a non-twenty-something denizen of those other services, here's my take fwiw (not a whole lot, probably).

Twitter: yes. Short pithy statements. Some little marketing potential (little). More importantly a bunch of corporations and agencies have twitter accounts where they post news, notes, blog-links and job notices, and some people like people in our field can be found there, and if you're pithy and witty and wise, you can form some name recognition with them.

Facebook: slightly longer short pithy statements. Mostly I just use this to keep up with friends. There are some professional-type contacts I've made, but those are mostly secondary. Again, many organizations have facebook pages (a mini website for them) and making community contributions there can do some potential name-recognition good.

MySpace: Basically dead unless you're in the music industry and even then....

LinkedIn: yeah, pretty useless unless you're corporate as far as I can figure out.

Just don't hook your various accounts together to cross-pollinate your IDs if you want to keep them separate. Only allow tactful people (who won't go on about the skinny dipping beer bash last weekend) to connect with you on Facebook, and be careful who you follow on Twitter (and don't worry too much about who follows you, except for spammers/marketers.

Hope that helps. Or not. :)
scarfman on September 8th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)

I reluctantly signed up at LJ because Usenet was dying. I realized this week that I haven't touched Usenet for at least three months and don't really miss it.

I signed up at Twitter last October to use it as an LJ client and, except for some celebrities and one fictional character, on the whole I follow a slightly different subset there of the same people I signed up here to follow. I also now post almost every day, if in miniposts of 140-character-maximum increments.

I looked at the MySpace front page once or twice in the aughties but the GUI wasn't intuitive and it didn't take.

I was referred to LinkedIn when I was laid off twenty months ago. I think I gave it one look once.

FaceBook is more problematic to me. Most of the links for FaceBook entries that my friendlists offer me can't be viewed unless you have an account and log in, whereas I write [and draw] to be read. What FaceBook is supposed to be good for is reestablishing contact with lots of people you've lost contact with. My wife, mother, siblings, and stepchildren are all on it, but when I asked my mother whether she thought I should join up on that account her opinion was that I have online presence enough without it.

Lately I've been wondering whether Tumblr couldn't be for me exactly what FaceBook isn't. If or when LJ finally pisses off enough of my friends to kill my flist, I suspect for the moment that's where I'll end up.

Araquan Skytraceraraquan on September 8th, 2010 03:42 am (UTC)
I created a Facebook account in my real name, mostly just to keep anyone else from doing it. But like you, I've striven hard to dissociate this identity from my real one. Well, maybe not as hard as I could have, but... still. But I don't really see the point of getting into it myself either- nothing about it at all interests me, and half of what I've heard/seen actively disinterests me.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on September 8th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
Last October, my mother and sister dragged me kicking and screaming onto Facebook. Within weeks, I had hooked up with old friends I hadn't seen since high school.

I now can find out how my nephews are doing in their various sports.

I can see pictures of the trips my mother is taking.

I can find out that the Roller Derby team is hanging out downtown, and I could walk on down there and join them.

I can get links to interesting articles.
Like this one which is kinda appropriate to this discussion.

I can share my own pictures of interesting things I've seen, descriptions of weird food I ate, stories about places I just visited.

Can I do this without facebook? Sure. I have in several ways.
Can I live without facebook? Easily.

Do I like facebook? Yeah. it makes all this kinda easy for me.

As for Twitter? I have two twitter accounts actually. One for work which I use once in a blue moon, and one personal one that I never use. I just don't get twitter much. It seems to be designed for ADD people to continuously say "Look at me!"

The most asinine thing I ever saw on twitter was a multi-post rant against the anti-texting-while-driving laws. The guy claimed that his drive from work was 20 minutes on a straight road. How was he supposed to go without texting that long?

Anyway, I ramble. On LiveJournal. Which is, as stated above, another social network.
leonard_arlotte: GRRRR!leonard_arlotte on September 8th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC)
And it just occurred to me why i've been favoring Facebook of LJ of late.

People actually reply to my Facebook posts.
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on September 8th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC)
As far as I know, none of my family members are on Facebook.

quelonzia's family, however, is all over it.

My sister is on LinkedIn, and I just sent her a contact note today.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on September 8th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
The neat thing is that you can refuse friend requests if you don't want to talk to people, or don't want them looking at you.

You can friend-lock your posts too, like you do here.

In the end, you have complete control. The option is up to you whether or not you join. Or you could just keep telling kids to get off your lawn.
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ab3ndab3nd on September 26th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
I got here from Shatterstripes's LJ, and find your posts interesting and relevant to my interests, particularly this one, which is why I added you to my f-list. If that weirds you out, do let me know, I always find it a bit odd when people I don't know approach me online like this.
Your Obedient Serpent: Warning: No Helpathelind on September 26th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Greetings
Ah, thanks for the heads up! If I didn't want this stuff to be read, I wouldn't be posting it, but it's always good to have an answer to the question, "who is this? Do I know this person?"