Online living 2014


 

So I've been online socially for a few years now and on the whole it has been a pretty positive experience. G Plus is my preferred network of choice while Facebook is somewhere I hang around occasionally and everyone ignores me.  Much like my family (joke if you are reading!).  I've tried a few other places but its odd being the new boy and the amount of time you have to spend to get any traction and meet people that aren't on the freaks and weirdos watch list is significant.  I looked at creating a Twitter account for a while, but that just means I’m following people and reading about what they are doing rather than doing things myself.  I find Twitter an odd beast but clearly I am in the minority. I’m pretty certain no one wants to know I've eaten a burrito and now have farts that are so wet my body is attempting to grow gills (132 chars with spaces.  It would fit in a tweet.  Maybe I should let the world know about my bowel movements)

I've met some cracking people online that have also become friends in real life and satellite friends that I can rely on and they me. I've a friend in Germany that I’m pretty certain I could turn up on his doorstep, stay for a week or so without prior notification and he would be all 'smiles and Tortillas' about it. A Baker in Texas that would feed me cake at the drop of a hat on an F1 weekend and various ladies in Germany/UK and US that would mother me and make a fuss of T (There are in fact far too many people to mention and I am a very lucky individual with regards to online friends). 

 I've also met and sparred with people online that I’m certain that if they ever met me in real life would try and butcher and feed me to either their family, their pet gimp or the water melon with a hat on that they call their partner in their mums basement.  And joking aside, these people are real.  They have jobs, wives, husbands, blow up dolls, etc.  And yet contrary to the raging maniacs they are online they function in day to day life.  It’s yet another one of the odd things about online living.  Sometimes, things get lost in translation. People’s online persona being at odds with how they act in real life.  I know a guy who is just a bit sedate and dry in real life, yet comes off like a raging, southern drawling narcissist online.  I’m not sure whether he thinks that his curt replies are somehow charged by the word, but it doesn't do him any favours to not throw the odd emoticon into the sparsely used jumble of words he uses for comments to let people know he isn't the pompous oaf most people think he is.  


I've met IRL another person who is on G plus just to promote themselves.  Nothing wrong with that.  We can all do with a little boost, but this was outright and shamefully looking to get money out of the people that had circled them. That was the only reason they are on G Plus.  The more I talked about it with them the more I realised I liked them less and less.  The idea was to get as big a following on G plus as  +Mike Shaw  and then sell them self help books on digital marketing, etc (which I pointed out to them they hadn't yet done successfully them self so they are not really practicing what they are trying to sell. It went down like a lead balloon).  I didn't bother to go into what it is that makes Mike Shaw so popular.  He has something to say, clearly has empathy and is not afraid to show who he is.  It also happens that he is a great shooter. They aren't a bad photographer in my opinion but all I saw in their eyes was pound signs and greed and looking through their stream the lack of engagement spoke volumes to me. I told them it was shamefully overt and manipulative.  We agreed to disagree on their methods and aims and I was relieved when they uncircled me. 

I've been friends with defenders of the truth, unless it contradicts an untruth that is a known and accepted untruth in their world of batshit madness that no one is allowed to point out to them. As well as people who’s morals and ethics are so alien to me that they bypass cultural differences into a spectrum of understanding that I have no I/O to handle. And then the Rule 11 types.  People’s divine right to say what they want behind a keyboard and leave any niceties they may possess behind the user side of the monitor.  Why?  ‘Because I can’. That most excellent of rational that helps the world wobble just that bit more while spinning on its AXIS.


So of my experiences so far,  these are the constants that stick out the most to me.


‘small deaths’  where someone you really like just drops off the social media cliff for reasons you are not privy too and you haven’t got their email. This really saddens me.


‘Pulling the earth down over your head’  You suffer from a slightly less dramatic existentialist melee than the Vampire Lestat. When bored with his existence he dug into the ground and buried himself until hearing Rock Music through the earth gave him the impetus to surface again and engage with the world.  You just don't log into your social media for a while until you're ready. No digging involved.

‘That guy’ For some reason someone calls you into a post every time there is a cat in it, or a misshapen vegetable genitalia meme in the vain hope you can rekindle that one post from six months ago where you replied four times.

And lastly my trying to stop being an online junkie.


‘Me, me, me’


So there comes a point where you realise the first thing you are doing when you wake up is checking your social media account to see who has said what, why and when.  As you have the capacity and devices to go from PC to Mobile the transition is seamless, as is the amount of time it is sucking up of your life. You are watching TV with the family, and it’s something that you wanted to watch but you’re on your phone just checking G plus.  You’re about to go out but you just need to check the PC... Sound familiar? It’s only when you’re in a place with no signal that you realise what a selfish, self involved, rude, knob you've been to the people around you.  You feel a bit like a smoker with nothing to keep your hands busy when you go 'signal down'. So upon realising this I took the decision to scale back my attendance on social media. Just enough for a more balanced life.  Most of the people I call online friends are still around, but I’m a bit less than one of the gang now.  I don’t get called into posts , I don’t have to organise people’s birthday posts (the last one I did ended acrimoniously.  I ended up £50 lighter and a friend less!) and y’know, I’m okay with that. When your online life becomes a chore it needs to change.


I’ll get sucked into spending more time on social media again.  It’s inevitable given some of my online friends who are a really good laugh are only reachable there, but I’m going to spend my time a little more evenly between the real world and the noughts and ones.

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Andrew Clifton-Brown