Ask Ty...August 5

It must be Tuesday, Middlespacers, because I'm answering your questions

Q: Ty, sez here, on your blog that you'd, "...never, ever (in a million years) do MySpace or FaceBook." That's a direct quotation from your blog [clicky]. Seems that you have made your presence known in both as well as LinkedIn. What gives, flip-flop?

- Sue, Massachusetts

Ty: Good question and an even better observation, Sue. Oh, please hold my knuckles to the fire over something I wrote on a dumb ass blog. I am in contempt of the court of Massachusetts Sue. You know, I've written a whole lot of correct, incorrect, offensive, and insightful things on my "blogs" but I'm not going to swear on the accuracy or commitment to any of that shit. The entire premise of the internet is that it is virtual. That is, the internet is in effect or essence, if not in fact or reality.

And you have to admit it too, MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn and all the other "social networking" sites are, when it comes right down to it, really, really stupid (in fact, not essence). You know it. No, you really do. These "connections," "friends," and "networks" are all virtual bullshit.

The conventional wisdom--or greeting of sorts--from members of these sites--once you finally join--seems to go something like this, "I knew you would cave in and join." There seems to be a certain schadenfreude when someone thought to be resistant or onery "caves in and joins." The delight and pity is clear. People are happy, on one hand, that you have finally stepped off of your ivory tower high horse soap box and become at one with the people. You are now no better than them. But, on the other hand, they also realize that, yup, this shit is pretty lame. Fritz Heider's balance theory comes into effect here (P (+) > O and P < (+) O). Here're two greetings I received:
Wasted Time: "I figured since you wasted an hour creating a Facebook page the least I could do was leave you a message. For the record Facebook is about as square and sterile of an environment as is possible...but "you're networking, dude!" is what they tell you.... ALL the people on Facebook are just as broke as I am...all the rich bastards have better things to do then fuck around on The Net."

And This is Now How We Communicate: "Virtual, viral, video...with vim and vigor."
Schadenfreude. Or, maybe my friends are just as cynical, pragmatic, and elitist as I. Or maybe they're just glued to this stuff.

I'm nowhere close to being convinced either. It's not like I'm any happier, more productive, or any more "connected" when I peek into these social environments. On the contrary, suddenly there are more distractions to ruin any focus or concentration that I may have mustered. Sure there are names that I recognize and post one-liners to and about, but it's not like I'm really interacting with them. I only get more demands on my time with emailings and friend-approving and connecting and networking. And for what? So these sites can pump ads in your direction? I went to Facebook and all I got was a lousy inbox.

So, Sue, since you wanted to know "what gives?" here are my reasons why I'm socially networked:
Shameless self-promotion: These are public places I can put my URLs so I can drive more traffic my way. I have stuff to sell and this exposure gives me an opportunity to sell more of my shit to people. It's all about me.

"You can't be a web-lebrity if nobody can find you." - Rick @ Forward/Slash Management

Keeping up with the kids: If you want to know what the/your kids are doing on the internets, you need to do the stuff the/your kids are doing on the internets. You don't have to get all proficient and addicted, but knowledge is power. Granted, the kids will always be at least one step ahead, but there is no reason us old people (parents) shouldn't try to stay close. Damn if some punk kids are going to run away with this world.

Curiosity: I can't bash something I don't understand. It's way too easy to harsh on something you don't know about. That's the foundation for prejudice; preconceived notions and perceptions. What's that old saying? Don't knock it until you try it. Now I can knock it. Lame as hell, brah.

So, yeah, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn are pretty dumb. Well they are pretty dumb if you can only play it with a straight face. I prefer to use 'em as tools in the arsenal; more toys to play with. I give all three four years and they'll be irrelevant, passe, and yesterday's news. Nor will virtual networking replace real networking [clicky].

Blogs are dumb too, including (and maybe especially) this one. In fact, about 97% of the internet is dumb.

What's in that golden 3% of the non-dumb internet? This: [clicky]

Just a guess,