Social Networking technology and why it is cool/totally sucks

So you want to share some pics with friends on Facebook(FB) of your wild weekend in Vegas. Except after you put them on Facebook, you realize some of the people in your Facebook Friend list are the parents of the kids you teach every day. You want to make a comment on your blog about how much something sucks about this person, or your job, or your family or the state of affairs on your school board. But you realize that they’ll see your tweet, or check out your blog, or see just how much time you’re spending on Facebook or MySpace.

So why bother? Sometimes I don’t really know. I have friends on Facebook that I work with. My parents are on Facebook. Hell, my boss reads this blog every once in a while. I was reading a post put out there by Mike at Unraveling Mysteries on Why We Blog, and he brings up some good points

One of the main reasons I blog is because when I have a head full, I tend to sort it all out better when I write, rather than just sitting there, talking about it. I sometimes tend to beat a dead horse because I don’t feel like I’ve gotten my point across and keep taking and talking. For me, blogging is therapy of a sort, and I liked being able to write anything I wanted about just about everything.

Now, both my parents are on Facebook (which is updated by a plug-in from WordPress telling Twitter I made a new post), and my boss reads my blog. And I actually have people who read this blog, goodness knows why.:)

That initial freedom that I felt is kind of gone, and no Matt, I don’t want you to stop reading. I’m just bringing up a point I’ve been kicking around in my head. We join Facebook and blog, and tweet, and other things – never got into myspace, too freakin busy lookin – to hook up with people that we don’t see all the time and reconnect with people we knew long ago. It helps us reconnect with old friends, helps us stay more easily in touch with friends and relatives, and generally makes communication easier for us.

My favorite thing of all is Twitter. The funny thing is, it started as a social thing where I would update with everything from ‘I’m eating a cookie’ to ‘I am going to the hospital because I just sliced open my damn finger and I’m taking the time to tweet about it on my blackberry one handed’. That sense of fun tweeting occassionally turned into a VERY good tool for me to use in my development work and the tech administration that I do every day at my job. I get crap from FB people all the time because my Twitter account updates my FB status automatically. And I have gotten into the habit of Tweeting tech related questions that to the normal joe, looks like a cross between hieroglyphs and stick figures. The wonderful thing about Twitter is I can usually get a solution or advice in 5-50 minutes with several different and viable suggestions. The offshoot of that is people on FB giving me crap about speaking in Klingon πŸ™‚

The interesting offshoot of that teasing on FB is I’ve gotten several websites of work from people who tell me “Well, I don’t know what 1/4 of your FB status updates mean, but you seem UberTechie – can you design a website for me?” AWESOME! I’ll take that any day of the week. Tease away, I’m getting business.

So, why is it cool? It allows you to reconnect with people from your past, keep tighter with people you know, and allows a constant stream of communication back and forth.
Why does it suck? Lets face it, how much time did you spend on Facebook playing all of those games and doing all of those “If you were a dictator, which one would you be” quizzes? I’ll raise my hand and say, A LOT! It was cool and fun to catch up with people, and it still is for the most part, but I don’t spend all that much time on Facebook now a days. I do get quite a lot of comments about my FB Updates, which I should really see if I want to disconnect the Twitter account updating FB Status.

So, in conclusion, I think I’ll stick with what is out there, talk about things on my blog that won’t jeopardize my relationships or my job, Tweet till I turn into a freakin birdie, and use them for what they are there for – to communicate. Putting yourself on the internet- and yes Mom and Dad you are now part of the internet- allows people to get in touch with you easier, but it does put quite a bit of you out there. So before you start a blog, or Tweet, or join Facebook, take a serious look at how ‘out there’ you want to be. And if you do decide that you do want to get involved in it all, be careful what you say and to whom you say it. Dooce.com is a site of a woman from LA who lost her job because of stuff she was blogging about. Granted, she was blogging about what an a-hole the DBA in her company was, but still πŸ˜‰ You can now find ‘Dooced’ in the urban dictionary online somewhere which means ‘to be fired for content on your blog’.

I know plenty of people out there who blog and tweet and do other social networking, totally anonymously. Take a hard moment and see if that might be a better road for you. I’ve thought many times of starting another blog so that I didn’t have to worry about people finding my blog and getting upset with what I am writing. It’d be nice to be able to say anything that I want, but to tell the truth, I’m not a fan of Anonymous online rantings, because truthfully, people hide behind these personas and make other people’s lives miserable. And more importantly there are some things that shouldn’t be out there because all it takes is one person, knowing that Anon9901 is Matt Cushing and he said….. πŸ˜‰

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