Sunday, June 13, 2010
The Social Media Hierarchy
Note: I will be live-tweeting the writing of this blog post.
My friend Jason told me in late April that I was "kicking ass on the internet right now." This is quite a compliment. Why? Allow me to illustrate with some analogy:
That's like He-Man saying, "your biceps are kicking ass right now."
That's like LeBron James saying, "your crossover is kicking ass right now."
That's like Walt Whitman saying, "your seminal work, Leaves of Grass, is kicking ass right now."
That's like Henry Winkler saying, "your 'eyyyyyy', is kicking ass right now."
That's like Stephen Hawking saying "your conception of the Universe is kicking ass right now.
That's like TJ and Dave saying, "your two-man improv show is kicking ass right now."
That's like Optimus Prime saying, "the way you're leading the Autobots is kicking ass right now."
That's like Hitler saying, "your unprecedented genocide yet complete and utter failure at world domination is kicking ass right now."
That's like Sir Ian McKellen and Elton John both saying, "your Gay-British artistic career is kicking ass right now."
That's like God saying, "your omnipotence is fucking kick ass right now."
I hope at least one of those illuminates my point. My friend Jason rules the internet. He knows virtually all the cool websites, is all over social media, and essentially knows how the Web will continue to dominate the world in the coming decades. I look to him as the online oracle, a streaming prophet, if you will. I sometimes ask him how to Google things just so I can hear his answer.
I believe he gave me the aforementioned extreme-to-the-max compliment because of my recent embrace of social media in the last several months. Indeed, I have been utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and this blog incessantly, updating statuses, commenting on wall posts, and bloggin' like a blogger in heat.
And I love it! Keep in mind, folks, that this is a guy (me) who was off Facebook for almost two years; I thought Twitter was completely stupid and inane; I considered a blog an online self-administered handjob.
But after returning to Facebook late last year, opening up a Twitter account in February, and starting this blog soon after, I am indeed a social media whore. AND, DID I MENTION, LOVING IT?! I just think it's great. Why the hell not connect with people in an entirely different universe? Many would debate whether the online discourse holds more or less portent, and consequences, than real-world interaction. Jesus, I'm not sure what that last sentence meant, but my point is that we all think of the online world differently. What I think we do agree on, however, is that while the internet culture is different than our real-life one, the two been integrated into society and we cannot go back. This is a terrifying and exciting concept, and so I have decided to jump in Tweet first.
I do three things:
1. Blog 2. Facebook 3. Twitter
I am so glad I listed them in that order. This is because that enumeration leads me into the main focus of this post: hierarchy. Now, hierarchy could denote several things, but I am going to focus mainly on the vague concept of "importance."
If we define online communication "importance" as the stuff we and our peers care about, then I believe the order of Blog, then Facebook, and then Twitter is a fitting hierarchy. Allow me to explain the merits of these in reverse order of importance.
What a concept! Here's a social forum that is the online equivalent of millions of people standing under one roof, each with a megaphone, shouting phrases of less than 140 characters, to anyone who will listen! And if you'd like, you can put on special headphones that will only listen to those you want to listen to, and use a special microphone to only talk to the people you want. Brilliant. I say this in complete earnest.
A lot of people tell me that Twitter is worthless. Just blah, blah, blah, who cares, right? That's right! Who cares? Who cares is the point of Twitter. Honestly, I do not read most of the Tweets that are delivered to me. Most of the ones I read, I don't care about. But herein lies the beauty: every once in a while, I'll see a Tweet, and love it. I'll be interested. I'll laugh. Some examples of this:
I follow Snoop Dogg, and I recommend you all do too. The other morning I woke up and Snoop rolled out, "What it do my Twizzles?" I mean...that's just amazing.
I follow Levar Burton. The guy is really endearing. I don't really read most of his stuff, but he often will say shit like, "Helped an old lady cross the street, reaffirms the beauty of life and everybody pitching in." Wonderful, Lavar! I'm happy for him and his career, wherever that is.
Also, I believe the above picture of Levar was taken as he was actually composing and sending a Tweet, using that eyepiece apparatus.
LL Cool J inspires me on Twitter. He motivates me to be a better man and Emcee. The other day: "￼Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart." I re-tweet him often, and copy-paste his messages into my own personal diary where they'll stay forever. Mama said knock you out, with inspiration.
See what I mean? The beauty of Twitter is there are literally, no stakes. Sure, a lot of people will Tweet, "eating delicious sandwich. mmm" But honestly, if someone said that in real life, would you care, or would it even bother you that much? Not really. So you set that aside, and just live your life, waiting for the occasional diamond in the rough. Twitter is no pressure. No one cares unless they want to.
Everybody does it, and for good reason. It's a great way to just fucking connect with your friends. And it's a damn good thing it exists, because otherwise we'd have to see people so much more than we do now. I wasn't a big fan of the News Feed when it came out, but now, like Twitter, I've learned to ignore what I don't care for.
If you think about it, social media is like doing pushups for your ignoring muscles.
The thing about Facebook is that the stakes are higher. You are seen and heard only by people you care about, or at least know even in the most passing sense. A Facebook account has more class, is more personal, is more reflective of your actual personality. Status updates are, hopefully, far less frequent than Tweets. People seem to take Facebook communication more seriously, and that's why I'd rank it higher in "importance" than Twitter.
Your journal! Your diary! But public. Unless your blog is about stupid shit, it's really important, and the readers of your blog know that. You don't blog that you have an itch on your balls. If you did, no one would read your blog, and that means no one cares what you think. Notice how, in the case of Twitter, the point is that no one cares what you think. But when you're bloggin', you want the respect, you want the love. I feel like I blog stuff that I like and want you to like, and so I rate it highest in importance.
So. Isn't this all pretty interesting? Three different kinds of social media, each with totally different conventions, yet each with the same goal: connection. As I continue to be medially social, I am aware of this trichotomy and observe it as we move closer and closer towards a world where we exist only to type to each other and too see another human being in the flesh is far less common than seeing the Albino squirrel.
Thanks for reading today.
Foursquare is complete bullshit. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself. I did it for all of one day and quit immediately. I don't need to "check in" anywhere, and neither do you. It's creepy. And if I want to Tweet or Fbook, I'll just do that. Let's leave FourSquare to our memories of recess in 4th grade. (Which by the way I dominated, and forgot to include in my list of athletic accomplishments.
For the fourth time in about two weeks, somebody told me that my speaking voice is almost identical to John Mayer's. I've checked on it, and I think it might be true. Decide for yourself. Tomorrow I am calling up Jen Aniston for a late-night booty call, and we'll really find out what's what. I like my chances, considering I plan on mentioning that her body is, in fact, a wonderland.