Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Thursday, 19 July 2012
When I started using Twitter I had only one purpose in mind and that was to follow the few dignitaries, celebrities and politicians that I found interesting. One afternoon a comment was made by a person of interest to me and I decided to return with some sort of witty retort. I was surprised when he responded in kind. At that moment, I was hooked. If I could reach this one individual with only 140 characters and a few moments of my time, imagine the possibilities.
I was on the twitter network for just over one year and had around 500 people following my account while I had been following around 250. Now, some people would suggest that these numbers are far from impressive and at first glance I would agree. I regularly saw accounts with over 1 million followers. Once again, impressive at first glance.
Evolutionary scientists have shown that the maximum number of meaningful relationships a person is capable of maintaining with any degree of detail is 150. I might argue that, depending on your definition of what a "meaningful relationship" is. For the sake of argument we'll say that the study is correct. Even if this number is off by a few percentage points, I guarantee that even your modest 20 thousand plus network is as useless as a tit on a horses arse as a whole.
If you're going to buy into the notion of social networking for either business or for personal gain, unless your a famous rockstar that could care less, quality is far more important than quantity. You need to refine your connections to suit what ever you intend to gain out of spending time (In my case far too much of it) connecting with random strangers.
So, here are a few pointers.
1: Be genuine. If you are out to meet people (for whatever reason) never present yourself as something you're not. Sooner or later, someone is going to smell the bullshit and call you on it. At that point you can sit back and watch all your time spent crumble like a house of cards.
2: Seek out those who share your same personality. When you follow someone, don't just jump right into a conversation with them. Read what they're saying. Understand what they're saying. Be a listener not a talker. Remember a conversation is always two sided with a tendency towards more listening that talking.
3: Don't waste time following people that are doing nothing more than talking. They will serve no purpose to you, unless of course you're following someone who's wit, intelligence, and/or sense of humour is enough to carry the one sided conversation.
4: If your interested in someone of stature; be it an actor/actress, politician or dignitary, be patient with establishing any sort of conversation with them. They are likely being approached by thousands of people in a day and your comments are likely to get lost in the static. A trick is to pay attention to their habits. What time do they network? Are they heavily involved in networking? How often do they respond? The best results can come from attempting to open a conversation with them when most people are doing what you should probably be doing instead of obsessing over a brief conversation. Sleeping.
5: Be engaging and polite. Don't simply assume that they enjoy copious "f" bombs and endless blither over something they've already responded to a thousand times. Refer to suggestion #2.
6: Spelling. If you're not certain how to spell something, for the love of God, look it up. Yes, it matters. Occasional spelling mistakes are expected, repeated spelling mistakes are a strong indication of your personality and attention to detail. Unless of course the people you're conversing with are on the same level, in which case it doesn't matter. Having typed that, I realize that those people likely aren't reading this.
7: Never point out someones spelling error. It makes an awkward moment all the more awkward.
8: The numbers game matters to a point. If your account shows that you are following significantly more people than are following you in return or the sheer numbers on both sides of the fence exceed more than a few hundred, it says that you simply don't care and are using social networking simply for entertainment value. Not the way I did things, but hey, if it works for you, run with it. Having significantly more followers than who you are following shows that you are either famous, or you you take a great deal of time and care establishing relationships with other genuine people. Word to the wise, this is where I screwed things up in part. The people you see, are far more important than the people you don't. Ignore this and you'll likely end up agoraphobic and surrounded with hundreds of cats. It's all about balance.
9: Don't automatically follow someone simply because you think it's the polite thing to do. I used to send out a bit of text to them and engage in a conversation before deciding whether I was going to follow them or not. Quite often they either ignore what you've said or are running some software to help gain followers. Don't block them unless they've done something lewd or represent something you don't like. Refer to suggestion #8. Also, be mindful of the company you keep. A connection with one person, may cost you a connection with another. Who you interact with can either help build or destroy your network
10: Have fun with it. If you're having fun, people will pick up on it and want to share in your good spirit. Don't use social media to go on at length about how miserable your life is. Some folks will care, but only enough to send some two dimensional pity in the form of "I'm sorry to hear that" or "I hope things get better". As the saying goes, laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone. Having a crappy day? That's what the people you see are for.
I'm sure I've left out algorithms or some sort of important statistical data regarding how to make social media work for you, but hey, I'm no expert.
I hope you're all doing well.
aka: Canuck Plumber
Thursday, 21 June 2012
A coworker and I were chatting about life yesterday. It's purpose and the grand scheme of things. He recited a story he'd heard and it summarized what many of us are missing in our struggle with the world around us and inevitably, with ourselves.
A fisherman was walking up the beach to his home one day when he passed a vacationer lounging in the sand. "Did you catch anything?" asked the vacationer.
"Just a couple from the shore" he replied.
"You should buy a boat" quipped the man in the bright floral shirt.
"Why should I do that?"asked the fisherman, pausing for a moment.
"So that you can catch more fish and sell them." he said, looking at the fishermans worn attire.
"...and why would I do that?"
He took a sip from his glass of rum, "So that you can buy a fleet of boats and become wealthy."
"...and why do I need wealth?"
The vacationer huffed and laughed. "So that you can retire and live on the beach, of course!"
The fisherman simply smiled and continued walking down the beach to his home.
Sometimes the best solution is the simplest.
If you know who originally told this story, I'd appreciate hearing from you so that I can give credit where it's due.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
It was one hell of a run. Thousands upon thousands of textual interactions for just over one year. I've met and exchanged laughs with people from far and wide. The world is truly a remarkable place full of amazing individuals. I feel very fortunate to have crossed paths with each and every one, but the time has come for me to move on.
The price of maintaining these relationships is a hefty one. The time I spent neck deep in virtual interactions is time less spent with the most important people I know. My family. While the gap between strangers narrows, the distance between my wife and son grows. I'm fortunate enough to have an understanding wife who's insight helped lead me to this point.
You are not worth the price. Nothing personal.
Twitter is, and always will be an incredibly powerful tool capable of connecting like minded people while negating the problems of geography. Politicians, teachers, artists, social activists, actors, models, and even common tradesfolk all find ourselves standing on a level playing field. Our sense of selves is united based on our intellectual properties and (for the most part) blind to the visual assumptions.
If you're anything like me; and I suspect many of you are. Be mindful of yourself. Self-awareness is becoming a commodity in short supply these days. It's easy to lose sight of your feet when so much is happening in front of you.
I'll still be around. Taking pictures and making video shorts for my amusement, but the conversation on Twitter has ended. New horizons await. Besides, I'm really digging reality.
Jaeson T Cardiff.