Pinterest: I think I love you!

Pinterest

I was hesitant to answer the invite to join yet another social network. But I’m so glad I did.

Pinterest isn’t like other social networks in my eyes. In fact, it  may very well be the first social network I actually enjoy …The first social network that doesn’t make me  angsty, angry or annoyed.

When I log onto Pinterest, it’s as if I am on a journey of discovery and enlightenment, a search for do-it-yourself projects (projects I never even knew I wanted to do myself).

Since joining, I’ve made a portable sewing kit out of a mason jar, a cork candle holder and a bedside table cover. I’ve even been inspired to decorate my garden.

Pinterest appeals to the OCD part of my brain that feels compelled to organize things. It also appeals to the visual part of my brain, which likes things to be organized in a clean and attractive fashion.

On Facebook and twitter I often feel like a spectator of other people’s “exciting” lives. Not so with Pinterest. Here there are no Farmville requests, no random status updates, no over sharing. I’m not cluttered by people’s private conversations made public. It’s all about what I find interesting. I can click on the posts that appeal to me and easily filter out those which don’t.

Ultimately, what I love best about Pinterest is how it sparks positive ideas that occupy my mind long after I’ve logged off. Instead of logging off Facebook or twitter with an ugly feeling, I am filled with a desire to beautify my life.

Are you a follower? Time to lead the purge charge

Illustration by Scott Hampson. Borrowed from http://laurelpapworth.com

Last week I noticed something very interesting about my personal twitter account: There is absolutely nothing interesting about my personal twitter account.

I was on auto-follow for a good portion of my early twitterings, and I ended up following a bunch of random people, bots, and businesses that mean about as much to me as  the unemployed mean to Herman Cain.

So here I am following more than 1,000 tweeps, and my eye-rolling rate increases significantly with each visit to twitter.

Time for a major purge.

Up until now I never really made a point to “unfollow” anyone. I guess I felt like “unfollowing” was a bit of a dirty word. Sort of like the infamous act of “unfriending” someone on Facebook. I didn’t want to hurt any feelings. I also worried about hurting my bottom line … my number of twitter followers.

This week I began slowly weeding through the people I follow, and “unfollowing” like a mad woman. I still have a ways to go, but I’ve made progress. This is the criteria by which I am choosing whom to keep:

  1.  We share similar values and interests.
  2. You inspire, entertain or amuse me.
  3.  I know you in real life, and you don’t entirely make me want to throw up in my mouth.
  4. You don’t claim to be a social media or marketing expert who can increase my followers and my income.
  5. You’re not a web cam porn star.

So far I’ve unfollowed about 200 people and I’ve lost about 75 followers. I am not taking it personally. I want my followers to find just as much value in following me, as I want to find value in following them. I would rather have a smaller, more attentive following, then a large following where I’m tweeting into a vacuum. Besides, I am pretty sure a lot of the people I have unfollowed so far are not even people at all as they unfollowed me back almost instantaneously.

Slowly, but surely, I am noticing that my twitter stream is becoming more relevant to my life, and I am more interested in logging in.

And so the purge continues …

What about you? What’s your feeling on following and unfollowing?

This is your brain, this is your brain on Facebook

According to a recent study, my brain likes being on Facebook. Brain

The study, published in latest edition of The Proceedings of the Royal Society, posits that the size of the social parts of our brains — the right superior temporal sulcus, left middle temporal gyrus and entorhinal cortex — correlates to the size of our social network on Facebook. That is, if we have a lot of Facebook friends, we have a big social brain.

So I can conclude from this that as my network on Facebook grows so too does my brain. This is a good thing because as I have noted before, I feel I suffer from a growing affliction of Social Media Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, SMADHD. And, here I sit, at a nameless coffee shop, hours on end, trying to get some work done when all I can do is post on Twitter and Facebook. I do hope my attention span can last for the length of this blog post.

Mashable synthesized the study’s findings quite nicely, saying:

“Those with higher Facebook friend counts had more grey matter density in the amygdala, an area the study says was already known to be linked to real world social network size.”

What this says to me is that if one is socially engaged in real life it will be reflected in her Facebook network, and probably in her other social networks as well.

But, am I more likely to update my Facebook status or send out a new tweet than I am to sitting down to coffee with an old friend or getting on the telephone and making a real social connection? Probably. And, we have to admit, there is a problem in that.

Basket case: Blogger seeks streamlined social media

I tend to be very OCD when it comes to neatness and organization. I recently decided to forgo elegant stainless steel appliances for shiny black because I knew the high likelihood of fingerprints on the stainless steel would most certainly push me over the edge.

Courtesy theludlowgroupblog.com

My house decor also incorporates quite a few decorative baskets in every room. I use them for the inevitable extraneous objects that seem to crop up: keys, shoes, bills, Mr. Potato Head ears … Unfortunately, these baskets seem to fill up faster than I can file things away. So I end up adding more baskets (This unintentionally sends a signal to the family to create more clutter. It’s a tangled web).

Yet somehow it works. I think I just feel better knowing that the potential energy said clutter is contained within some sort of system.

So what does this have to do with social media? For the purposes of this blog, let’s think of each of these clutter containing baskets as social media/networking-related sites: Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc.

Back in the day, I had just one social media basket, Myspace. I was content and satisfied. My photos were posted there. My blogs were written there. My friends were added there. Heck, I announced the arrival of my first born son there. Life was good.

Then it seemed the world defected to Facebook and I was lured there as well. Suddenly I wasn’t able to put all my eggs in one basket anymore. Photos were posted in two places. My networks were growing like weeds. Commenting became a challenge … and my MySpace Top 10 Friends List long neglected. Eventually, like most people, I let go of my Myspace account. Life was balanced again.

Then came Twitter. And Tumblr. And for half a second, Google Buzz. G+. Linked In. CafeMom. Hub Pages. WordPress. Blogger. Loopt. Blogged. Networked Blogs. Technorati. The list goes on and on. Perhaps these aren’t all traditional social networking sites, but each requires a certain level of social interaction, content posting, and engagement from its user. Meanwhile, even those companies and websites which aren’t social media driven are finding ways to integrate social media into their interface.

For a time, I could just unplug. Put the computer away.

Enter smartphone. Now it’s easy to be engaged 24 hours a day, on the go, in bed, and dare I say, at work…

Too many baskets. Too many eggs. I’m pretty sure we’re all about to crack.

As for me, I think it’s time to do a major social media streamlining. Get rid of the extra clutter. Maybe take up a new hobby. Maybe basket weaving.

Google+ vs. Facebook: The love triangle begins

It’s not what it looks like, Facebook. I swear we’re just friends!

@theBTWWTF
Oh, so NOW Google+ wants us? Well, as Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

#denial would be the appropriate hash tag here. I knew as soon as I sent that tweet, I was totally gunna fall hard. From that moment on, I couldn’t stop thinking about Google+, which opened up to everyone today. Within 10 minutes I had my own personal Google+ Account.

Ever since those little +1’s first starting popping up all over the place, I’ve been more than a little curious about this wondrous and elusive new social media platform called Google+. Alas, I wasn’t one of the fortunate elite who was grandfathered into the whole VIP, invite-only, passed hors d’oeuvres, limited trial.

So far my first impressions of G+ are more of a + than a -. I wouldn’t necessarily call it love at first sight. Let’s just say, I’m intrigued …

+: The interface is pretty spiffy. You can drag and drop stuff. It’s got all sorts of fun circles and bright colors. I love how you can personalize your profile with all your external links. Google+ makes Facebook look a bit dinosaur-ish. Maybe that’s why, as Mashable reports, Facebook is launching a major profile redesign with f8.

+: You can edit your posts, even after they’re posted. That’s like a dream come true (I often fantasize about a world without grammatical errors).

+: Notifications are integrated right into your gmail dashboard, which is awesome. I guess Google learned from their mistakes with Buzz and Wave on this one.

+: The mobile app is super cool and easy to use and explore. So far it ranks high on my Short-Attention-Span Button Pushing Meter (SASBPM). I wasted at least a good 15 minutes of undisturbed time fiddling around with it.

: Not a lot of my friends are on G+ yet, so I got bored fairly quickly. Even though Wired has challenged a widely-circulated theory by PBS MediaShift that G+ is “worse than a ghost town,” I’m pretty sure I saw a tumbleweed roll by.

: It felt a teensy bit like I was cheating on Facebook. I think it’s because I’ve been so intimately involved with Facebook for so many years. G+ is the shiny, the new, the unknown. Sort of exciting. Right now I’m in the honeymoon phase. But only time will tell if G+ and I can make it last.

Grazing the Social Networks and Coming Up (Mostly) Empty

One of my friends once likened Facebook to a refrigerator before grocery day. You keep opening it over and over again hoping to find something good, but usually just walk away hungry, disgusted or with a stomach ache. I find that to be a pretty accurate description of my Facebook feed. I check that stupid thing to an almost OCD-like degree, and never quite find what I’m looking for. And now Facebook has launched the new Subscribe Button, allowing users to follow the updates of any public user. Do you think this will lead to even more spoiled leftovers, condiments, and half-full pickle jars?

My personal Twitter is much the same. I’m not exactly sure how or why I ended up with so many followers other than the little known fact that I pretty much follow everyone back. Except spammers. That includes the Hormel Food Corporation. I tried SPAM once. It tasted fine, but I was sick to my stomach all night.

I barely tweet. Not much of what happens within my trajectory really seems tweet worthy. Like the time I was stuck driving behind that horse’s ass. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who found that even slightly amusing.

Still, I  feel such a strange sense of loyalty to my personal social networking accounts, especially Facebook and Twitter. It’s sort of like the loyalty a dog feels to his master with lots of slobbering, panting, and an occasional poop in the shoe. They feed and stroke me just enough that I can’t bring myself to break through the fence and run free.

Social media tells story of friend’s terrifying ordeal, racially profiled on 9/11

From Facebook.com

It all started around 1 p.m. with a simultaneous tweet and Facebook post:

Stuck on a plane at Detroit airport…cops everywhere

The day was Sept. 11, 2011, the 10 year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the post was by my friend and BTW, WTF?!?! blogging partner Shoshana Hebshi. I saw it in my “Top News” feed on Facebook. Worried for Shoshana’s safety and a bit curious, I clicked to her profile page, where I found four more updates, freshly posted:

A little concerned about this situation. Plane moved away from terminal surrounded by cops. Crew is mum. Passengers can’t get up.

Cops in uniform and plainclothes in a huddle in rear of plane.

I see stairs coming our way…yay!

Majorly armed cops coming aboard

And that’s where the posts stopped. Quickly scrambling the Internet, I found a developing news story stating that there were reports of “suspicious” behavior on a plane that had landed at Detroit Metro and passengers were being removed. So at 2:55 p.m. I commented on Shoshana’s page:

hoping you are among them

But I had this sinking feeling she wasn’t.  Perhaps it was because she hadn’t updated her status in quite some time. Perhaps it was because she hadn’t responded to the hundreds of concerned comments pouring in from her friends on her Facebook page. It was a  social media cliffhanger …

Soshana’s husband posted an update on Facebook around 7 p.m.:

Dudes, Shosh was racially profiled and arrested. Dragged off the plane in handcuffs and taken to a cell. Her crime? The color of her skin. 

And that’s how I learned through social media that one of the most peaceful, friendly people I know — a mother, wife, friend, journalist and American citizen — was stripped of her personal liberties and freedoms, simply because her half-Arab (half-Jewish) skin color lumped her among the “suspicious.”

Today Shoshana described her ordeal on her personal blog. She explained how she and two Indian passengers were handcuffed by heavily armed officers, dragged from Frontier Airlines Flight 623, then spent the next few hours locked up, strip searched, and questioned by Homeland Security.

The link (Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit) quickly spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, through IM, and onto other blogs, with friends, family, friends of friends, and strangers posting and reposting it. And around 6p.m. tonight, an editor at The Las Vegas Sun texted me that an AP story on the incident, (which Shoshana links to in her blog), was the No. 2 Top Read Story on their website, behind a story on Ellen DeGeneres.

With the help of social media, Shoshana’s story went viral!

So after a day-and-a-half engrossed in each step of my pal’s ordeal through the world of social media, I did something totally uncanny. I logged out of Facebook, turned off my computer, took a break from texting, and picked up the telephone.

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