Social Not-working

I’m working on my thesis full-time these days, and so I don’t really have time for a long post, but this has been bothering me more and more in recent weeks. Everybody needs to just shut up about everything. Sometimes, things change. Other times, things don’t change. This will continue to happen forever. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ don’t care if you like what they are doing. They are trying to appeal to everyone. And surprise (to people who don’t use Twitter or Google+), they are useful tools for communicating with people. Facebook, so far, has been incredible at connecting us with people we’ve already met, or people who are friends with ours and would, in all likelihood, eventually meet anyhow. But it has been just horrible at connecting us with people who are 6 degrees away from us but with whom we would love to share things. These are the spaces that Twitter and Google+ are slowly taking over, much to Facebook’s chagrin. These recent changes though, while being awesome and a big step, still don’t address that issue. And it’s possible it’s not meant to. Perhaps Facebook is happy just being about you and the people you are close to, and if so then it is exactly where it needs to be. But I think it should be more. It should connect you with people who share your interests. You don’t have to be “friends”, but you should be able to connect with people who live 20 minutes away from you, sit on the bus with you on the way to work or school, and share some of your taste in music or a couple of your hobbies. Right now there is no way for you to connect with these people, because in the digital world we have too much interaction with the people we already know that we don’t have time to connect with people we see on a regular basis but have never interacted with. Maybe this is wishful thinking, and I’m sure people would be in an uproar over privacy concerns if algorithms started matching them with people they think would be cool. Anyhow, this started as a rant and I really feel like finishing with one. People need to stop complaining about new social networks (or new technology, or new ANYTHING) or comparing them to what used to exist or what else is already available. The only important thing is, do you have a need for it? If yes, do you use it in the way you expected you would? If yes, shut up. Just stop talking about it. Facebook is only going to continue to improve, and other social networks will continue to try to allow people to network better in an effort to fix all of our broken, disconnected, digital social lives. I, for one, applaud them for even trying. We’re pretty screwed up.

Just Friends

Dear all of my acquaintances who I have on Facebook,

Yay, now that Facebook does one way following (aka subscribing) I don’t have to feel bad about unfriending people. In other words, if you suddenly find I am not your friend anymore and are sad about the lack of posts, you can subscribe to me as a human. We don’t have to be friends, isn’t that great?! My profile and everything is already all public, so hopefully this will actually encourage more sharing between all of us. I am happy about this, and you should be happy too, not offended. Don’t be offended. If you say interesting things I will subscribe to you as well. If we haven’t spoken in years, either we clearly weren’t that good of friends or else it means we need to catch up. Not mentioning any names here, you know who you are. This is a step in the right direction Facebook, and I’m sad it wasn’t around a little bit sooner. Additionally, if I unfriend you on Facebook, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like you as a person, it just means that I don’t feel like friend is the right word to describe our relationship. Acquaintance is more well-suited to the types of interactions we have, and I will view our relationship as such. If you want to be more than acquaintances, that is absolutely great and we should talk more. I’m not a sociopath (I don’t think), although feeling like I have to say it does make me wonder :). I am also not going to feel bad about this, I’m just being honest about how I feel. If I would not describe us as friends, but still feel like you have interesting things to say, I will totally subscribe to you, even if you don’t subscribe to me. And I have left messaging on Facebook completely public, so drop me a line anytime.

Again, and I cannot make this any more clear, being friends on Facebook is not the real meaning of friendship to me, it just allows us to show the world that we are friends and lets us stalk one another unabashedly. And I have been of this opinion with no alternative for far too long. The subscription model will absolutely change my life forever, and I can live free of guilt not being YOUR Facebook friend. Real friendship is what matters most to me.

Thanks to everyone for reading this, and for some of you, this will very likely be one of the last posts of mine you read. For those of you who wish to stick around for some fun times even though we’re not that close, I’m game if you are…

Subscribedly yours,
Rob

Ps. Another thing I just realized…Facebook chat is the only thing which would keep a friend who I never see but still want to be friends with, so you have that going for you!

Pps. If we’re already connected on Google+, you will get bonus awesome human points and I will feel less bad not having you on Facebook 🙂 You know who you are…

Becoming a Controvert

Hey again, I’ve been lacking a little bit of late, though I do have several topics I’d like to broach, things I don’t really feel are always accepted topics of conversation but which I really would like to get out in the open and discuss. These topics really aren’t anything too extreme, just controversial for everyday conversation. My good friends know that I have fairly strong opinions, and ones which tend to be adamant but not always along politically correct lines. In that light, I would really like to choose this platform to voice these opinions, not in the interest of being judged for holding them, but hopefully to open up a discussion about the things I think about every day. I find that most values people hold aren’t so much “correct ways of thinking” but more like Christian or religious values which are blindly followed without putting too much thought into the motivations behind them. On the face of this, it seems like an idea which is just going to be damaging to peoples opinions of me, but I have never taken great stock in people’s negative thoughts of me so long as they don’t affect me directly. I also considered starting a second anonymous blog through which I could vent these ideas without any personal social repercussions, but I wanted people I know to know me better, so I thought it made more sense to keep all of my thoughts together. I am also not at all ashamed of the convictions I have, and so sharing them publicly in the interest of creating meaningful discussion doesn’t concern me in the least. I hope to spread these types of posts throughout my more “typical” technology or life related posts, and though at some point I may denote these types of entries as being separate from the more traditional posts, I will just refer to them normally for the time being. I would love to hear any feedback on these issues, and I do believe it is simple to post anonymously in reply to these posts, so I wouldn’t worry about political correctness (just basic human decency). Please feel inclined to let me know if you think this is either a wonderful or horrible idea, I would really appreciate pre-feedback if anyone can think of any very obvious downsides to doing this which I am simply not seeing right now.

Expect the first of these kinds of posts in the next week or so depending on my schedule and wrist cramping.