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Thursday, July 29, 2010

5 Things: To Love About Blogging & Social Networking

Hey all, The Mike here. I've been around this internet, in different ways, for a while now. In the beginning, there was email, the official websites of MonsterVision and the Halloween movies (I have fond memories of drooling over Halloween H20 production news), and sports scores. Then, message boards happened, and HTML was learned. My own awful personal site while I was in college? You bet it existed! But now, in the age of blogification and social networking sites, things have changed for the better....and I'm about to tell you why in (O)PP's first "5 Things" post.

5 Things: To Love About Blogging & Social Networking

1) Lots of Personal Recommendations and Help With Decisions - Remember when you had to pick movies based on box covers? It was fun, but it often came with heartache, because nothing's actually as cool as the VHS box for The Dead Pit (Seriously, it had a zombie coming out of it!). Not sure whether Did You Hear About the Morgans? or When in Rome is more up your alley? Someone out there probably has analyzed them side by side. (Both suck hard, BTW.) Unsure if Crackdown 2 or Red Dead Redemption are worth your $59.99? Gamers will break it down to the cutscene.

Say farewell to reviews by Amazon customers and IMDB users, too, because if you get in with the right bunch of intelligent folks who love what they're talking about and aren't just thinking it's cool to write a review and be hip, you'll never want again.
2) The Ability to Actually Compliment People - There's something in human nature that doesn't allow us to actually be nice to someone to their face. My masha is among the three coolest people I know, but when she says "love you" at the end of a conversation, I respond with "you should". I can't explain it, I just know that we, the people, don't feel comfortable telling someone they're important or excellent or totally tubular on a daily basis.

For some reason, the internet is to our reservations as tequila is to a sorority sister's inhibitions. When I read something I like, or someone is clearly rocking their love of something awesome, it's wicked easy to just type "Whoa, this is fantastic dude!" and be done with it. Some people think it's fake when people "stroke" each other's egos on the internet, but I believe it's the people we really wish we were in person shining through.

3) Checking to See if that Hot Girl from High School is Still Hot - Unless you supervise college age employees, you have to love the ease at which you can find people on the web these days. Heck, the kids don't even call it stalking anymore, they call it "creeping". And for whatever reason, creeping is acceptable to many, despite how demented that seems.

If you're like me, you didn't ever talk to that hot girl in high school, you just talked to your friends about how hot she was when no one was around. Now, since everyone in your high school class and the three classes above and below you wants to be your facebook friend, and because no one seems to get their facebook privacy settings right, it's pretty easy to find pictures.

Then: If she's not hot any more, you can laugh it off and believe you're more of a success for not fully buying in to her. If she's still hot, well...then she's still hot. Nothing's better than nostalgia, right?

(BTW, ladies, you have this one way easier than us. Dudes don't change their names when they get married, so you don't get stuck going "Am I sure this is the right Lisa from the class of '87?")
4) Following the Exploits of Random Celebrities IN THE REALZ - I am not a fan of reality TV, but I love reality Twitter. Free jokes from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost? You got it. Wanna find out if Aaron Rodgers is cool enough to take over your heart and your beloved football team? He's out there, and it's year three: MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Think that gal on ESPN's new show is pretty cute? They're probably forcing her to tweet just because of that.

And it's not just about waiting for accidentally tweeted topless pics or football players' "playbooks" either, because occasionally someone like Veronica Mars will do something super cute and give a picture to you all for free! (See above!) And it only takes 5 seconds out of your day, not 60 minutes like some reality show!

5) Getting Your Actual Opinions Out There - People generally need the ability to just speak their mind from time to time. Tired of holding in how much you love the new coffee at the corner shop? Let it out! Frustrated by political developments and the media's overreaction to them? Speak now! Just feel like saying you're having a great day? Be my guest.

It's completely healthy to just put things down on paper, or in this case a keyboard, and get them out of your head. And it's even better when an observer who respects what you've got to say gives you feedback. There is enough release in all of these forms of internet communication, when used properly, to slay the demons of the day with a few keystrokes. Don't be bashful or shy, just do it and feel the relief.

(Word of warning on that one: If you've granted people you work with access to this stuff, and you have to vent about work or political/religious/social beliefs that might not be shared by your employer, you might want to find a different way of venting or a good pseudonym. You do not want to spend the next month and a half going through meetings with supervisors, interviews with HR people, trainings, and possibly more. Believe me, you don't want it.)

The blogging and social networking worlds can, and often do, go bad pretty quickly. But if you find the right people, and don't let the negatives take you down, there's a lot to love about the wacky wide web.

Like pictures of cats with quotes.