Take Them On?

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with plastics or environmentalism.   This is actually a post about social media.    You may recall that I created Mr. Everything and Ms. Efficiency in order to share my real feelings about some real people whom I know and deal with in social media.    While I suppose it could be argued that fictionalizing them and trying to write only about my own feelings may be less honorable than engaging them and attempting to resolve our real differences,  I frankly believe that at the very least,  the fictional characters route was the best course for me.

But I was very struck by something that Saul Fleishman posted in a group I belong to for connect.me  Trust Anchors.    Saul wrote:

So, anyone with enough charm and interest in exhibiting prominence on yet another network, needs only connive three of us for a T.A. vouch, and then, the spammiest, most unworthy of the social media “be everywhere” clan become one of us? I see it already.

To which I immediately replied:

yep. they’re already here 🙂

What followed was an interesting discussion,  which made clear to me that the folks behind connect.me  do understand the problem with what I have taken to calling  “social media rock stars”.   But it brought home to me the inadequacy of my ‘turn them into fictional characters and only write about my own feelings’ approach.    Mr. Everything,  it turns out,  invited a friend of mine to stand in for me at his social media conference that is coming up real soon now.     That he did not discuss this with me before asking someone else to speak for me troubles me,  but frankly doesn’t surprise me.   (That my friend thought to notify me right away and discuss with me how I’d prefer she handle the situation,  speaks a great deal to the integrity of my friend;  that Mr. Everything still hasn’t mentioned a thing about it to me speaks volumes about him as well.)

I definitely don’t claim to be an expert in social media.   But I am more convinced than ever that no one can be everywhere online.   And that choosing your friends and taking care whom you trust is about the most important thing you do.


49 comments on “Take Them On?

  1. I always feel better when I talk to that someone in cases such as you described. It may or may not resolve the issue but you will feel better about it afterwards.

  2. I will say, as an early adopter, I try to be as many places as possible, at least early on, and if it is compelling, sticking around a little bit. I like connect.me a lot, partly because I’ve gotten to know people involved in it in many different contexts over the years.

    Yes, choosing friends and whom you trust carefully is important; so is context. To me, I like to connect with everyone and then determine which in which contexts I trust them and how much I trust them in each context.

    • I don’t really consider myself an “early adopter”. Though come to think of it, Aldon, I believe you and I first chatted on blogs associated with Entrecard back in the day that was a hot new site. On FB, I accept friend requests from most everyone who sends them, though I rarely send any out myself. (I’ve also discovered that if I find someone tiresome, it’s quite easy on FB to just ‘unsubscribe’ from them without unfriending. No one has ever seemed to notice and my stream remains relevant and mostly drama free.

  3. Any such measure are subjective unless it has a stricter vetting process. I don’t believe anyone just because he/she has an ‘official’ title. I only judge people by their content. Period.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Craig. To me the fact that no one could possibly be on every social networking site there is, is so self-evident. It frustrates me immensely that I have not been able to get Mr. E to see this very basic truth.

      • There is an old saying ” some people, if they don’t know, you can’t tell them” I tell myself this over and over when I am frustrated with another who seems hell bent on not seeing what is right in front of them. It helps me immensely with non-attachment.

        A Zen teacher once told me that detachment presupposes that there is something real to detach from, but non-attachment recognizes it is we who are creating the swirling hot mess in our minds. Thanks for sharing your fictional situation…:)

    • I have given out exactly One trust anchor vouch so far, to a writer I like and respect, whom I have know for some time on EAv and FB and who is much more focused on her (wonderful, excellent btw) writing than on social media. It seems to me that most of my contacts, both true friends and everywhere people are already TA’s and it sometimes seems to me that that TA group on FB is all to often just another place for the e folks to spam.

  4. I think it is important to remember that social media is a performance art. Everyone, including surly people, are presenting (consciously or not) a certain image to the world that they hope other people will take as reality. It’s not that they are being phony, we all select certain parts of our personality to share with strangers, even the “intimate strangers” that we talk to every day on social networks.

    A while back, I was depressed and happened to mention it online. The response I got back was “But you’re always happy!” Huh? Where did they get that idea? It was because I said “Good morning!” in the morning and used winky faces (; ) ). That translated to them that I was a peppy, optimistic person. People see what they want to see and fill in the blanks themselves.

    I have no consoling words for you being overlooked by Mr. Everything. All I can say is that by going to a lot of events in NYC over the past 4 years, I have come across a lot of Mr. Everythings and, to tell you the truth, most people, even active users of social media, don’t know who they are. Even Lady Gaga & Justin Bieber, with their millions of followers, are followed by a small fraction of Twitter users. People seem to love numbers so much that they should get their Klout score tattooed on their body but, you know, Klout is still in Beta…none of these numbers are a good indication of influence, intelligence or value. And people who tie their self-worth with their social media numbers are going to one day realize how hollow and shallow it all is.

    • Liz, thank you so much for a most excellent comment. I find myself wanting very much not to be mis-understood. I do not crave approval nor much of anything else from Mr. E. Sometimes, it seems to me as though this fictional character may be suffering from the very same bi-polar disorder that afflicts me. Much of the time he is manically energetic and so willfully POSITIVE that it can be difficult to listen to, although the other times when he seems morose and self-pitying are for me at any rate even more exasperating. I feel a bit sorry for him actually. I’ve tried as politely and directly as I know how to point out some of his more obviously egregious errors, though I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten through to him. Part of me feels more than a little weird openly talking about this fictional character, yet I am fairly certain that he rarely if ever reads my blog. And I really have tried so hard to limit myself to talking about my own feelings and perceptions.

    • Liz- I hope you post this independently as well. Social Media as a performance art. Such a nice way of saying it, and of looking at the presentations people make of their work. And all of this time, I’ve been calling it the Sybil effect. 🙂

    • David, I too like the idea behind what connect.me is attempting to do. But it does appear to me that some of the (as my friend Sue Ellen Hepner might say) “spammish” crowd are giving out their 50 vouches rather willy nilly, which does seem to greatly undermine the utility. I will be very interested to see how connect.me works out, as the guys behind it work to complete and refine their site.

      • Indeed. Perhaps Empire Avenue (and Klout) have devalued peer reputation systems by being so game/goal oriented, i.e. Like bombing Facebook pages.

        I prefer not to be much more circumspect. For example I never “favorite” a Flickr photo when asked. I may look at it, and may like it or not like it, but my opinion is worth something and not to be taken for granted.

      • I like what David said Alan: “For example I never “favorite” a Flickr photo when asked. I may look at it, and may like it or not like it, but my opinion is worth something and not to be taken for granted.”

  5. Connect and fear not with ostentation and delight
    Stay hewed to the mark
    and let the chips fall
    where they might!

    When that fails, humility is always quietly waiting in the wings.

  6. Wow – sorry about what happened with the speaking engagement. I don’t know that we can have expectations about anyone on the web – they are who they are from day to day. We can hope…and over time we get an idea of who they are from their actions. But giving TA’s, recommendations on Linked-In and even points on Klout can backfire. It takes time to know if, at your recommendation, someone deserves someone else’s trust, professional interest, or brand sponsorship.

  7. Certainly many great perspectives shared on your blog post. Best gage for me on social media influence is the content which is shared. It speaks volumes and in my opinion, over-rides subjective SM ratings. A large volume of followers on any platform does not impress me — what does is consistent clean content of good rapport. I’ve received vouches and did so today. But people who vouch for me know who I am, and I appreciate and value the people who know me that take the time to write someting nice about me. I steer away from erratic behavior whether offline or online and seek to surround myself with people of balanced approaches to life. It is proven that Social Media interaction can and does reduce depression by 25%; but even that figure is subjected to variables such as who you surround yourself with. If one surrounds themselves with negativity or morose behavior 25% percent means nothing. Selecting friends online is a slow process for me and will continue to be as trust is not a SM rating but an attribute built over time.

  8. I deleted my Connect.me account. No thank you! But I do agree with Aldon that it can be a great practice to try out many new networks and see what sticks.

    Trust based on mutual intensive use of social media? Meh.

  9. Hi, this is awesome, on so many levels. I, too, have a Mr. Everything. He probably is not the same fictionalized person as yours, as there are lots of Mr. E’s in the I-world. As for connect.me, I agree and worry about the same thing. That is why I did my little video urging people to take it seriously and not turn it into another Klout. The last thing on my mind is that I keep looking at your background while typing and now I am hungry. For everything else, thank you. For my near-hysterical pizza craving, thank you very much. 🙂
    PS I reblogged too

    • Kim, I strongly suspect you’re right that there are actually a lot of Mr. E’s out there. I’m not sure that a user community can ever prevent trust from turning into Klout. (I’m thinking that this is something the site’s owners have to figure out and provide for.) Glad you like the pizza– I change the background picture almost every day, so stop back again to see what else I have to be eaten. 🙂

  10. I think Aldon Hynes has pretty much said how I feel about the topic.

    Then some of the other comments provide a great perspective also. I like Liz;s point “I think it is important to remember that social media is a performance art. Everyone, including surly people, are presenting (consciously or not) a certain image to the world that they hope other people will take as reality.” I saw a video lecture recently that we have to acknowledge that our web activities are as much a part of our real life as our physical existence is… and I subscribe to that view totally.

    I only used about 5 of my trust anchor specials as I only knew a few people ‘well’! I guess its like real life where people you think you know turn out to be less than you expect (or hope for) in certain situations.

    “Such is life” I suppose.

    Excellent discussion thank you!

    • Richard, I long, long ago stopped making any distinction whatsoever between “online friends” an any other friends. Over the years I’ve met face to face so many people whom I first chatted with online. People are people imho.

  11. Hi Alan,

    Interesting read again, thank you.

    I am still having trouble understanding CM & TA’s Alan, although I do appreciate everybody who vouched for me and made me a TA. I certainly never asked anybody to vouch for me for that though. Actually I wasn’t even aware it happened until somebody told me. Add to that I haven’t even worked out it’s usefulness. Now that I read that anybody can just drum 3 votes, well, surely that makes the whole thing meaningless. It does to me anyway .. if in fact I read that correctly.

    Re Mr E, all I will say is this, I really feel for you Alan.


    • I really dislike Disqus. What appeals to me about the WP.com platform is that everything is already built in. I want to focus my time and effort on writing, rather than on blog management. So I’m not going to install a custom comment system.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today, Paul.

  12. This is a great post. I hardly visited connect.me but I experienced kind of same thing in LinkedIn. I got lots of request of recommendations from people I never met online or otherwise. I re-blogged this.

  13. I hate social media. Whoops, did I say that out loud? Maybe I don’t hate all social media, but at times I hate what it has become. I think what I really hate is HAVING to do social media. I always looked at social sites as a place to – well – socialize. I like to check in with my friends… I don’t like feeling that I have a quota of activity to fulfill. But that’s not what social media is about anymore.

    My Facebook page is all me. I never put on a persona, or tried to present some sort of a specific type of vibe to get people to like me. I was lucky, I guess – I never had to. I am my own boss, don’t have to worry about having a potential employer decide whether or not to hire me based on my stance on political issues or my occasional use of the F word. My friends on Facebook are mostly my friends, not ‘social media contacts’.

    I’m told this is a huge issue, that my business will suffer if potential clients find out that I’m bi, or atheist, or think that a mashup of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” with clips from old Start Trek episodes is the funniest YouTube video ever. (Actually, one of my best clients ever hired me BECAUSE of that video posted on one of my blogs – he said I had exactly the twisted type of humour he was looking for. Go figure.)

    Of course, Facebook was created by a couple of college guys who thought it was funny to rank girls they knew on a hotness scale by comparing them to barnyard animals. Yay. The Facebook of today is somewhat different – it’s always being “leveraged” for some purpose or another (although entire pages devoted to rape jokes are still common). LinkedIn was trying to be the “more professional networking site”. Klout is… grossly inaccurate, and extremely liable to manipulation. Twitter is annoying.

    The list goes on. My partner is much better at playing the ‘game’ of social media than I am. People apparently love cat pictures and quotes from famous people, so she digs around and finds and posts them for our online business persona. I don’t have the patience. Thank goodness she does!

    The falseness of social media is what I think bothers me the most. How do you know that people online are who they say they are? I’m me online, but I understand that most people aren’t. I even have trouble on EA endorsing blogs without going to look at them first, even though I am assured no-one will ever associate me with a blog I endorse. I now avoid missions that ask for Klout unless I have seen firsthand that the person asking for it really seems to have experience on the topic.

    How do we play the social media game without being hypocritical? I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ll never be a social media rock star. At the same time, IO know ignoring the power of social media can spell disaster.

    Thanks for this post, Libdrone, and sorry for the lengthy comment. I’d be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on how to separate the phony from the real in the world of SM.

    • Grace,

      First of all thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment. I genuinely appreciate hearing your point of view and apologize that I am tardy in replying. I agree with you that there are far too many cat pictures and quotations fouling up the social media pool these days. However, like you I have found that my biggest successes in life (both online and offline) have come when I am able to really just be myself and let people like me (or not like me sometimes) because of who I am rather than because I post yummy-looking pie pictures.

      I think you are definitely fortunate that your partner has a knack for the social media game. (My huzband and I are kind of the opposite– I spend hours and hours doing social media every day; Ron is a moderator on a community forum site for a niche topic area. He utterly refuses to even look at Facebook or Twitter and is emphatic that he will never have an account on either of those sites.) My best advice about social media– be yourself and try to connect with people who like you for who you are. And don’t feel obligated to post pictures of somebody else’s cats. Trust that the people you actually want to connect with will like you for who you are, even if you don’t like cats or quotations from big shots.

      (My name is Alan, btw. Nice to meet you!)

      • Alan,

        Thank you! I really enjoy your blog, and am glad my post didn’t offend 🙂 (I have been known to drool over yummy pie pictures, however…)

        I hesitated for the longest about connecting my main Facebook to EA, because I was worried that people would be offended by it, but ultimately decided if someone doesn’t like it, they can always choose not to look at it, right? And if they want to sell out of me in a game, I shan’t worry my head over it 🙂

        Nice to meet you, too!


    • imho, everything that isn’t dead is still evolving. I’ve been hanging out and talking with people online for more than 20 years now. I see the current social media sites and tools we use as the offspring of the tools and service that came before them. (I take a long view 🙂

  14. Perfect post for me this morning. I made the painful decision to give up on EA my biggest love and focus on what the people there gave me which was my authentic voice back. I was a money player and could not adjust to being a free player. I had a friend who was going to monetize my account but EA never responded to my requests to restore me to the proper index and I just could not recover and reciprocate which is what I like to do. Makes me one of the spammy ones in TA (was returning vouches) until Nance really talked about the importance of building the network.

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