Sorta Social Networks
It might come as a surprise to some of you, but I actually went to high school. I know that you all think I was sprung forth from some educational demi-god free from the fetters of our antiquated education system, but, no, much like the rest of you beautiful peons, I too suckled at the teat of the American education system. Now, mine was at a private school because my parents think all kids in public school are dirty, lice-infested heathens (I agree with them, but I’d never say it out loud…wait…).
Since my graduation, I’ve remained friends with a small handful of classmates, mostly people I’d known for many years prior to graduation. Like the rest of the normal world, I keep up with them via Facebook. However, many moons ago (that’s Native American for like 50 years I think), I signed up for the wretched Classmates.com. In fairness, I was really just looking to see how many people had gotten fatter than me (hint: all of them), what former hot chicks were on the rebound after their divorce and what percentage of them lived in a trailer with their “grand babies.”
At first, there weren’t really any people on there. A couple had added themselves, but this was only months after the internet overtook the abacus for computing power. Over time, I grew to ignore Classmates.com like pretty much everyone else. When Facebook came along, I pretty much forgot it existed. Then, I got this email saying that a bunch of people had posted to my guestbook.
First off, who calls it a “guestbook” anymore? What is this, 1997? Second, I was shocked I was even still ON that site.
Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked the provided link and I got this:
Let me try and point out the many sad problems with this screen capture.
Note not one but TWO ads for dating sites. Seriously? I guess some of you perverts get so jacked up from seeing a former girl you made out with and got a cursory under-the-shirt-but-over-the-bra boob grab after fifth period in the janitor’s closet that you need to go cruise the dating sites for some action. It’s sad, really, but no surprising for a weirdo like you. You’re so creepy. Ok, that’s it, you’re banned!
Besides the two dating ads, there are two ads for how to sign up for Classmates.com’s paid service. Much like Craigslist destroyed newspaper classified advertising, Classmates.com hanging onto paid subscriptions years after Facebook sent them to the internet graveyard with Geocities and that light saber wielding YouTube kid, is both sad and desperate. If you actually pay for this service, perhaps I can interest you in music from this hot new band Wang Chung or maybe we can get together sometime and watch Magnum PI.
The saddest part is the blurring of the names and the giant question mark over the photos. Wanna see? Subscribe! Um, no thank you. If my former classmates can’t find me at JeffBalke.com or facebook.com/jeffbalke or twitter.com/jeffbalke or myspace.com/jeffbalke or by doing a Google search for my name, then I’m pretty sure they were either hit on the head by a baseball bat rendering them to a vegetative state and unable to even read or they are still on dial-up and think internet searches are controlled by a secret world government that worships Satan and pushes a radical homosexual agenda on toddlers. Either way there is no hope for them and un-blurring their names would simply serve to deepen my sadness for their situation.
Thanks, Classmates.com, for reminding me that old, broken paradigms can still exist with lots of wasted venture capital and unsuspecting people who still don’t know their Google from their Outlook. I have to run now. The Rockford Files is on.
I Twitter a lot. This makes me either hilariously observant in less than 140 characters or an internet addict who won’t shut the hell up. I’m guessing it’s a bit of both. Truth is, Twitter is really no different from any other conversation you have in real life. It’s just broken up into convenient sound bites you can carry with you on your iPhone which, frankly, makes it more interesting than regular conversation.
Think about it. Some study said a few months ago that a huge percentage of Tweets are nonsense. Well, have you heard the average conversation out there lately? Try to make small talk with the lady behind you in the grocery store if you don’t believe me. I heard two people once discussing how hurricanes might be God’s way of killing people who drive our insurance rates up by living on the beach…and they were serious.
There was an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry said that something like 95 percent of the world was “UN-DATEABLE!” I think this is how it is with conversation. Most of it is just a waste of time – a way to get through the discomfort of telling someone you may or may not have impregnated their poodle with a turkey baster just to see if you could by yammering about something inane to distract them before saying, “Remember when I had that turkey baster and your poodle in the same room that one time and you wanted to know what I was doing?”
Think of all the “um’s” and “uh’s” and other such brilliant utterances we filter through our pie holes on a daily basis. Now, compare how much of that you see on Twitter. You might see some, but it’s completely for effect. For example, if someone posts, “Am I the only one on Twitter who likes to sacrifice babies to Satan?!? C’mon people!” You might respond with, “Um…er…wow” or, if you’re THAT way, “Uh, I kinda do…DM me!”
On Twitter, we get to the point, if by point you mean a continual barrage of jokes about Ryan Seacrest, deep discussion of who would make the hottest Baron Von Trapp in a modern day remake of Sound of Music and endless pictures of food, funny license plates, drunk people and that sort of awesomeness. And if the point of life isn’t me and Joey Guerra from the Chronicle making snarky comments during awards shows, I seriously don’t know what is (nerd shout out…HOLLA!). Look at a normal conversation I had recently:
Me: So, what’s up?
Friend: Nothing. You?
Me: Not much. Just hanging out.
Me: What have you been up to?
Friend: Nothing really. Work, the usual. What about you?
Me: Um, you know, sacrificing babies to Satan. Same ol’.
Friend: Yeah, I hear ya.
See how boring?
Now, check this back and forth on Twitter:
Twitter Friend: Nvr rlzd Georgia O’Keefe statue lked like a vag.
Me: Yeah, it totally does, but everybody knows that. And you don’t have to do text speak on Twitter.
Twitter Friend: It kinda freaks me out.
Me: I can’t stop staring at it, but I do love a nice vagina.
Twitter Friend: That is awful! What kind of a weirdo are you? God, I wish you were never born.
Me: Mom, that’s TOTALLY not a cool thing to say even on Twitter!
See how much more interesting life is in 140 characters? So, suck it, Twitter haters. You don’t know what you are missing! If you need me, I’ll be talking about vaginas and ninjas on Twitter because I am awesome like that.
Lately, I’ve read (yeah, I read!) a number of stories about how people hate Twitter or hate Facebook and how, clearly, this means they suck and people are abandoning them in droves. There was a story (you can look up the link if you want, but I’m lazy) written by a teenager about how no one his age uses Twitter.
If this were posted on someone’s blog, I would casually dismiss it as the rantings of some person who poo poo’s such things – and by poo poo’s I mean actually defecates on his computer.
But, these are respected media outlets we’re talking about. The latest is from the New York Times Magazine and it is hilarious not because of what it says but because of how it contradicts itself and still pontificates as if the very statistics it quoted mean nothing.
The exodus is not evident from the siteâ€™s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing â€” some of them ostentatiously.
I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK? Oh, sure, millions upon millions of people visit the site every day and millions more join every month. Yeah, I GUESS you could say that all those millions who post stuff on there constantly exemplify Facebook’s success, but I KNOW PEOPLE!!!
Seriously, NYT, are you kidding? I’m not in love with any form of social media (though Twitter and I lust for one another routinely and, oh, is she good…ahem), but the “I know people that hate it, so it must suck and be failing” is the dumbest argument on the planet. It’s the difference between statistical evidence and anecdotal and even a nimrod (that’s right, NIMROD!) can generally figure out the difference.
I have discussed sports online for many years because I’m a nerd for it and I often run across people who know very little about a given sport, so they talk about things they don’t understand but do it as if they do. “The problem is that they don’t run the pick and roll enough. I watched the game and I only saw it run once!!!” Look, Naismith, if you actually KNEW the game of basketball, you’d realize they probably ran a dozen or more different versions of the pick and roll in the FIRST HALF.
It’s that “my neighborhood is going to hell, so the whole world must be too.” This sense of over-exaggeration that seems to have proliferated with the birth of the internet that is so damn irritating. Everyone thinks they know more than everyone else just because they can point a mouse to a website and read a couple paragraphs of information.
I’ve got to imagine doctors must be PISSED about diagnosis sites. How many people you think fill up waiting rooms thinking they are dying when they really just have paranoid delusions? My bet is a lot.
We’re living in the era of the amateur and, as a result, people are skeptical of experts. They see conspiracy in complication and overload themselves with information that they probably can’t understand because they don’t have the experience or knowledge to fully grasp the concepts, but they think that because they can read some idiots lunatic scribblings on the internet, they have cornered the market on knowledge and common sense.
Leif Harmsen, once a Facebook user, now crusades against it. Having dismissed his motherâ€™s snap judgment of the site (â€œFacebook is the devilâ€), Harmsen now passionately agrees. He says, not entirely in jest, that he considers it a repressive regime akin to North Korea, and sells T-shirts with the words â€œShut Your Facebook.â€
Yeah, clearly LEIF is a source of reliable information when it comes to Facebook.
Nice job, NYT. Thanks for perpetuating the stupidity you once tried so valiantly to avoid. But, I guess if it’s on the web, it MUST be true, right?
When uploading something on Facebook today, I was confronted with this verify image:
Look, I think Elisha is as hot as anyone, but I’m not sure I’d make a religion out of her. Ok, maybe 5, 10 minutes tops.
What do you do on Christmas Eve when it is cold and snowing outside and your family has made its last post-dinner tech support request to fix their VCR (sigh)? I wouldn’t know because it didn’t snow on Christmas and I consider VCR’s the tools of the devil and won’t touch them for fear my hands will turn to ash. It’s in the Bible, look it up.
But, if you live in some God-forsaken cold place like Detroit or Canada, your last nerdy refuge over the holidays was apparently Facebook.
On December 24, social networking site Facebook saw its most traffic ever within the United States, according to new data from Hitwise. That tops Facebookâ€™s previous record, which was set in July.
Facebook set a similar record on Christmas Day in the United Kingdom, and MySpace had unusually high traffic too. In Hitwiseâ€™s blog post reporting the numbers, analyst Heather Hopkins offers three possible explanations â€” crummy weather, boredom, and the urge to send holiday greetings to your friends.
Twitter experienced the surge as well because, let’s face it, most of your friends are probably online anyway, and by friends, I mean porn sites, and by online, I mean imaginary.
I’m sure most of you guys were on Facebook Super Poking people (and not in the fun way) and sending people imaginary gifts to go under their virtual trees, which would be sweet if it weren’t so sad.
You may have BriteKited your location to Twitter as “North Pole” just to get a chuckle out of your friends who don’t care or hit on an 18-year-old MySpacer who is really 14 and told her you are 20 when you’re really 35, which, in reality, is probably normal behavior for you.
If you were old school, you probably IM’d some girl on Yahoo chat – by girl I mean, 37-year-old man who lives in his mom’s basement – to “hit you up if she is interested in a Ho Ho Ho filled Holiday” or flooded your IRC channel with “All Your Christmas, Are Belong to Me” messages.
Whatever your flava, the truth is that the internet allows nerds like us to escape the more depressing elements of the holidays like:
- Petty family squabbles like when Aunt Mildred took her teeth out at the table and put them in the mashed potatoes to keep them warm.
- Lonely nights like when you sat at home and watched A Christmas Story 10 times in a row while eating raw cookie dough and candy corn you had leftover from Halloween when not even kids would come to your door because you scare children.
- Being away from loved one’s like your blow up doll that you left at home when you came to visit relatives because you thought they’d find it “weird” and put you back in the hospital with the happy pills.
- Abject sadness like finding out your mom’s house doesn’t have wi-fi or even a broadband connection and you’re stuck “talking” to family and reading something people call “books” whatever the hell those are.
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and MySpace (assuming you are a band, a hooker or a pedophile), it was a holly jolly Christmas for all the nerds across the land. God tweet us, every one!
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