Starting Over. Again.

I’ve had many blogs in some form or another over the course of the past few years, but one thing has stayed irritatingly constant… the stark white background that represents my canvas, and the blinking cursor sitting atop it that represents my not knowing what I want to say.

Are you ready? Here’s a peek into my thought process.

In the small, quiet hours I can think of so many things I want to say — things that I want to tell the entire world! — or at least things I think the world needs to hear. When the moment comes, and I’m sitting in front of that cold, vast void that I’ve declared my own to fill, I come up empty. During my daily life, I’ll think to myself about how I should write a blog post about egg noodles, or how I should write a blog post about not really understanding why any given thing is the way it is.

What can I say? The world and all it holds are mysteries to me.

I’ve often used a blog as a way to vent, too. I took a sick joy in spewing out flesh-eating diatribes against the everyone and everything that I decided in my own (closed and underused) mind was wrong. A little word of advice that I learned the hard way… just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. Morals are not binary. It took me more than 30 years to learn that simple lesson, mainly because I’ve been a very judgmental person in the past, which I’m going to blame with a nudge and a wink on being raised a Southern Baptist.

In reality? It was just that I am was scared to death of everything and everyone.
Humans fear what we don’t understand, because… well, we’re hardwired to. The hypothalamus gives us two options when faced with something we don’t get but are sure is going to kill us, and on present day Earth, everything is going to kill something. Take raisins. For us, they’re a great, moderately healthy snack. For dogs, though, they’re poison. For us, yummy dried grapes. For dogs? Yummy kidney failure. Eat this, not that! Oh wait, we’ve been wrong for the past 20 years and you should really be eating that, not this. In the 1940s cigarette ads used doctors to tell you how ridiculously smooth their product was, and that you’d be a damned fool not to smoke. Now we understand a bit more about the fact that cigarettes, much like the air in a heavily populated metropolitan area, will kill you until you are dead, and medical professionals no longer tell you that smoking is the coolest.

You know what this is? A literary leitmotif.

I’m not going to use this blog to complain. I’m not going to use it to talk about things that I don’t like. I am going to use it to talk about things that interest and/or confuse me, which should offer a deep enough well to last for years to come. For now, though, I really just want to thank you for reading. I probably don’t know who you are, but since you’re ready this, I’d certainly like to, especially since you made it this far.

Hi, my name’s Erik. What’s yours?

Why we love social media.

I’ve been thinking about Facebook’s popularity and the entire social media experience in general, trying to figure out what it is that causes us to become legitimately addicted to it. My own journey through the pitfalls of social media has been fraught with… indecision, to put it kindly. I’ve jumped from one thing to another and back again more times that I can count, and my poor wife — who has suffered through my indecision — can attest to it. Wherever it seemed that there might be more people I could connect with, that’s where I went. That, to me, is the essence of social media and why we’re so attached to it

In one way or another, we are all alone.

Social media outlets have made it extremely simple to connect with people from around the world that have similar interests. Maybe you live in a fairly remote area, or maybe you live in a place that doesn’t quite line up with your view of the world. No problem, there are thousands of people online that think exactly like you do, and all you have to do is find them. That’s the lure of it all. The hope for commonality, the promise that we’re not alone in how we feel; that there are others out there just like us. The prospect of finding a group of people who like the same stuff we do and that wants to talk about it. That’s what it’s about, really.

We just want someone to listen to us.

We want someone to read the comments we leave, read the mundane status updates we offer, look at the pictures we take, and watch the videos we record. We want someone to look at all of this stuff that we share, and we want them to appreciate it. We want them to interact with us, even if it’s nothing more than clicking a “like” button. We want these things so we’ll feel like we are in fact not alone, and that people really do notice us. We’re looking for approval. We’re reaching out to the internet in search of validation. We want someone, anyone, to tell us that we’re worth liking.

Well… at least that’s why I do it. 😉

I Officially Love Pinterest.

English: Red Pinterest logo

Sorry ladies, the secret is out!

 

I arrived a stranger in a strange land. Was I the only male, adrift in a sea of estrogen? Possibly. I knew, though… I knew there had to be more to this than pictures of shoes and manicures, and I was determined to find it.

About 15 minutes later, I was hooked.

Pinterest, if you’ve never heard of it, is a lot like Tumblr but without the stupid teenage hipster bullshit. (Sorry to be blunt, but… I mean, it is what it is.) I had never heard of it myself until I saw my wife using it, and I didn’t think much of it at first. It’s a site that functions as a virtual pin board… any picture you see online can be “pinned”, and in doing so you create a link back to the site you found the image at. At the very core of it all, Pinterest is really nothing more than visual social bookmarking, but that makes it sound like it’s a lot less fun than it really is.

If you’re a visual person like me, there’s a lot to like about Pinterest. Even just looking through other people’s pins can be a rewarding experience. Art, architecture, photography… if it can be presented in a visual format, you’ll find it there, often times neatly categorized and begging to be looked through. That’s right, folks… it’s not all hair braids and outfits. Ideas and inspiration flow freely, and while it’s true there’s a bit of an emphasis on cooking and crafts, the site certainly isn’t limited to just those things. Yes, the site is primarily used by women, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s not more universally accepted. There’s something there for everyone, and if you’re not finding material to suit you, all you have to do is pin your own images and see if anyone responds in kind. People can also repin your pins, which is the equivalent of Tumblr’s “reblog”. Want to see more pictures of torn down Dodge Charger engines? Pin ’em!

I keep comparing Pinterest to Tumblr, but it’s important to note that they’re not interchangeable. Unlike Tumblr, Pinterest is for visual media only, which means that pure text posts aren’t possible, and as such it can’t be used as a true blog. One thing that I find somewhat refreshing however is the fact that Pinterest doesn’t allow nudity. There are times when I’m at work or just sitting around killing time with Small Boy in my lap, and at those times I don’t feel that Tumblr is a place I can go. You never know what might show up there. Pinterest is pretty family friendly, and that’s cool to me.

At first, I didn’t “get” Pinterest. I didn’t see the point, and I wanted nothing to do with it. That’s changed, however, and I absolutely love it now. If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, please feel free. I don’t have much up as I just got started, but I’m sure once I get going it’ll be hard for me to stop! I’m thinking about abandoning my Tumblr in favor of this more mature and refined option. Do you or anyone you know use Pinterest? Do you like it, or do you just not see the point? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Maybe It’s Not a Numbers Game After All

WordPress

Well, this is awkward.

I’ve been gone for a bit. I’ve tried different things, and now I’m back. Can we just leave it at that?

I suppose we could, but that would make for a very short post indeed.

I ventured forth into the world of social media sure that there were adventures to be had. People to meet, connections to make, interests to share… you know the deal. I decided that I would check out what Facebook was all about, and I’d stake my ground at Google+ as well. Neither of those things were proving to be very effective at putting me in contact with like-minded people, and as I contemplated my Klout score (which is bullshit, and I’ll explain why momentarily) I came across the following Infographic:

Let’s look at that, because it’s good information. 82% of people who are friends on Facebook know one another in their real lives. 60% have a person in common. Those were some pretty staggering numbers in the face of my “stay anonymous but try to make some friends” idea.

So, I decided… fuck it.

I closed my Facebook account that I had amassed an army of three friends on, and I closed my Google+ account as well. I told you that Klout was bullshit before… let me explain why. Like I said before, I didn’t really do anything with either of those accounts; the just kind of were. Keep in mind that on Facebook, I had three friends. It’s not like I was at the center of a flurry of activity. Simply closing my Facebook account caused my Klout score to drop over ten points. Nevermind that I didn’t do anything with it. That leaves me with one thought… maybe I shouldn’t look at numbers. Maybe I shouldn’t look at Google Analytics on my Tumblr site, or how many followers I have on Twitter, or even how many pageviews I get here. Maybe I should just do what makes me happy, and take comfort in the fact that I’m doing this for myself.

So that’s it. A new year starts soon, and I’m sticking to WordPress (for lengthy shit like this), Tumblr (for funny and artsy shit), and Twitter (for pretty much everything… I’m pretty active on Twitter) for all of my “social life on the internet” needs. This is also the only blog post I’ll be doing about social networking, because that subject is tired. I’ve blogged about it enough. For now, I have to say… I’ve missed WordPress somewhat.

It’s nice to be back.

 

The Social Network(s)

I’ve created an account with almost every social media outlet I can think of, with the obvious exception of Facebook, in what seems to be a never-ending quest for friends. I’ve played around with a few of them, trying to find the ones that suited me the most.

I’ve had quite a love/hate relationship with Tumblr, as many of my earlier posts will show. I still love how easy it is to use, but a few things about it bother me… first, there’s no genuine interaction. Someone can like and reblog a post without any interaction at all with you, the poster. Someone reblogs it from them, someone reblogs it from them, and your content is now a few generations away from you without so much as a word being spoken. Lots of tumblogs are also notorious for stripping away any credentials attached to content and posting it as their own. I don’t much like that.

I’ve also dipped my toe into the water that is Google+ (thanks to an invite from Mr. David Spira) and haven’t really been impressed so far. Google+ is… well, I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s pretty much nothing. It’s a thing that I don’t know what to do with. It’s polished and very Google-looking, and there are all these circles, and… yeah, it’s pretty stupid. I mean, if that’s what’s supposed to take the place of Facebook when it inevitably dies a slow, painful death, then I’m pretty happy with the fact that I don’t feel like I’m missing much.

I briefly considered going with Blogger or Blogspot or whatever in the hell they call it (it seems to change based on where you read it) but ultimately decided to go with WordPress. Back in the day — can I say that without it being ironic? — Blogger/spot was the place to start a blog if you didn’t want to self-host. It’s still a remarkable open platform that gives you far more freedom than WordPress does, but the backend is painful to me. I prefer the WordPress way of setting things up. No code is really allowed, but none is really required, either. Still, many bloggers have been successful with it, so it must be doing something right.

Posterous also makes the list, but barely. I don’t know of a single blog that actually uses Posterous as a platform. Their main claim to fame is the fact that you can publish to Posterous and it will turn around and post everywhere else… Blogger, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, WordPress, Twitter, etc… pretty much any social media outlet you can think of. The problem with that is that while you’re getting your stuff out to a wider audience, it becomes harder to interact with and know that audience. You’d have to check multiple blogs multiple times a day to keep up with it, and to me that defeats the purpose of having Posterous auto-post to all of those various sites. I’d rather blog in one place and have that be home.

I decided earlier today that I would be abandoning all of these various endeavors and focusing solely on WordPress and Twitter. I think that with those two platforms I can do pretty much anything I have in mind to do as far as blogging and networking.

What services to you use to put yourself out there? What do you like or dislike about the ones you use? Tell me why I’m completely right about everything I’ve said or why I have no clue what I’m talking about!

Tumbling?

Image representing Tumblr as depicted in Crunc...

There's No Place Like...?

I’m starting to miss Tumblr. I know that I had some fairly harsh words for it before, but the more time I spend with WordPress the more I find myself missing the simplicity of it, along with the… well, just plain fun that I had with it. I’ve very torn about what to do. I definitely think that the two services cater to very different audiences, and I’m not sure which of those audiences I’m a member of. I’m older than what I perceive the majority of Tumblr users being, yet I’m drawn to it because of the level of creativity there. Also, I like funny pictures and memes. We mustn’t forget the funny pictures and memes. WordPress on the other hand seems geared more towards professional, serious users and content. Part of me is very much in tune with that. After all, I’m pretty sure that the average Tumblr user doesn’t care about the trials and triumphs of being a relatively new dad. What I find myself wondering, though, is whether or not the average WordPress user does, either. I find myself, much like in real life, not quite knowing where I fit.

I had in mind to only be in one place, but I’m starting to think that might not be the best idea. I’m starting to think that I should divide my interests between the two platforms… WordPress for the more serious stuff, and Tumblr for the silly, obscene and fun stuff. If anyone has any thoughts on using the two services simultaneously, I’d love to hear them. If you’re using both or have tried using both, let me know how well it’s working or why it didn’t!