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Archive | May, 2011

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Avatars and Photos

Good Avatar Bad Avatar - The Anti-Social MediaI want the world to be beautiful, so, I get upset when people have avatars that look like they don’t give a shit about their personal appearance and how they represent themselves.

I don’t expect everyone to have a professional headshot, but it’s 2011. Digital photography is the norm. Every cell phone has a camera built into it, and digital cameras have been used for the past decade. Surely, on some hard drive somewhere, there exists a nice photo of you somewhere you can use as your avatar and profile photo.

Find someone whose opinion you trust and who has a good sense of style. Someone who wants you to look as good as possible is usually best for this task, but anyone whose opinion you trust helps. Ask them if they like your avatar.

Don’t get pissed off if they don’t. Remember, you ask this person to do you a favor, and they probably just want you to look good. They aren’t judging your look, just a photo represents you. You can always ignore their opinion, or change your photo with a few clicks.

Also, if this person has an abnormal sense of fashion, such as they dress like pantaloons are still hip, take their opinion with a grain of salt. You don’t need your avatar to be an animated cartoon that flips the bird on everyone. Just a simple, nice representation of yourself.

And for the love of social networks, smile. There’s nothing more depressing than logging onto Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Whatever and having to look at a sea of frowning faces that look like they’d rather be anywhere but a society where they can spend the entire day on the internet watching cat videos. Online life is good people. At least pretend to enjoy it.

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F*&k You Friday! Targeted Advertising

Adventures in Facebook Dating AdsI get targeted Facebook ads that target me because I am gay. These ads have no sensitivity though and are extremely offensive.

I don’t want what someone else thinks is relevant to me. Other people do not know what is relevant to me based on my interests I list on Facebook. I am an eclectic, whimsical, and crazy human being who makes decisions based on more than interests listed in an online profile. That craziness is what makes me human.

When other people  imagine and reason and try and figure it out, but they never get it right, no matter how hard they try. This is how people think that because I am gay I have HIV and they should advertise to me that way. Thanks, marketers.

And any smart marketer knows that we cannot just display ads that are relevant to that person based on one profile. What if that person never updates her interests in 10 years? Are those ads still relevant to her? What if I have kids? If I’m only getting ads that target me, how will I ever know what to buy those useless brats on Christmas? Do I actually have to listen to them to figure out what they want? Do I need to look through their interests and their targeted advertising?

As much as marketers want me to believe that targeted ads are good for consumers, I don’t buy it. Maybe when I stop getting ads that suggest I have HIV I’ll believe it, but until then, F&*k you! to marketers who have no idea how to target.

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Who Still Cares About Quora?

I looked through my bookmarks and found Quora was still hanging out there. Does anyone use it? Anyone?

Is this a stupid question I should ask on Quora? Will the experts there have any answer that makes sense and will fill my head with knowledge. Or it just turn into a self-promotional fight of social media expert ninja gurus trying to prove to me that they are on Quora so I need to be on Quora or social media as we know it will become meaningless and useless.

Is Anyone Here - The Anti-Social Media

Screw it. I’m going to hang out of Twitter where the self-promotional bullshit doesn’t come in the form of an answer.

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Community Managers are Psychopaths

Community Managers - The Anti-Social MediaAnyone who wants to be a community manager has unresolved mental issues. Those issues will be worked out, or expanded upon, by the stupefying hordes roaming the forums and online communities that need to be managed.

The world is filled with all kinds of people. Some of us are sane, rational, and have better things to do than try to sway the opinions of the world through poorly written manifestos posted on websites we don’t own. Others of us will do anything we can to spread our message at the cost of our sanity and whatever emotional toll it takes on random strangers we don’t know beyond their cute avatar and screen name. And a rare breed of person who straddles the border between that compulsive drive and fragment of sanity ends up as a community manager.

Community managers have to deal with countless people who don’t have common sense. They have to wade through thousands of typos and grammar errors to decipher what someone really means as they contradict themselves with each continuing sentence. They have to try and make the internet a saner and cleaner place than it ever will be.

To be a successful community manager, you have to live a double life of empathy for others and a stone-cold heart that doesn’t give a shit. You have to put the psychos in their place while raising the few sane people who choose to stick around above the masses. You have to be extremely personable, and able to bring the ban hammer of justice down upon the masses.

Sure, you get paid to deal with all this madness, but it takes more than a paycheck to want to do this kind of work. You need to have the heart, the nerves of steel, and a be able to take sick pleasure in your control of a tiny corner of the internet that is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And to do so for months and years on end is a special kind of madness that only a true psychopath has. The kind of person who can be completely normal and personable in one second, and then ready to bathe in the blood of a fool the next.

Are you willing to give up your sanity to be a community manager? Will you give up the last linger threads of your humanity for years of thankless work in exchange for a cool sounding job title that has no practical application off of the internet besides the customer service desk of Target? Are you willing to act as a blood-thristy and bi-polar tyrant over an insignificant fiefdom of the internet?

Once you can answer “Yes” to all three of those questions, only then will you be able to to truly call yourself a community manager.

And when you can do that, tell me so I can stay as far away as possible.

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How not to look like an Idiot in the Comments

Smart Readers and Comments - The Anti-Social MediaThere’s nothing that I hate more on any blog than comments that were written by human beings that make no sense. Comments filled with typos. Comments that are unrelated to the discussion. Comments that are intended to make people look stupid.

These are blogs people, not Yahoo! News. We don’t want our descendants to look through all this crap hundreds of years from now and think “Wow. How stupid were they? How did we last this long? And did people really take the rapture that seriously?”

Ask yourself there three questions before you push that “Add Comment” button:

  • Does it add to the discussion? – Has someone else said what you want to say? Can you make a valid counterpoint? Does it bring new insight that people haven’t seen before? Think of what you can add before you type  a five page manifesto.
  • Does it have context? – Are you just posting a link to your own crappy blog with out any text? Are you talking about something completely unrelated? The easiest way to get banned from a blog or chewed out by an author is by posting something that comes out of the blue.
  • Does it make sense? – The author of the blog took time to write something that other people can read and will make sense when other people come along and read it. Do the same with your comment. Check for typos and grammar errors. Read it out loud to make sure it reads correctly.

It’s not that hard to make yourself look somewhat intelligent. You did this to get through school, and  you can do this on blogs too.

And if you can’t, don’t comment. Stop filling up the internet with mindless dribble and crazy conspiracy theories. My cat can share better things than that nonsense.

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Don’t Link Crap to your LinkedIn Account

Don't Link Things to LinkedIn - The Anti-Social MediaSometimes I love LinkedIn. It’s everything I want in a social network. I’m connected to smart people. I only show of my best parts (and I don’t mean my behind). I actually know 98% of the people I’m connected with. It’s almost perfect.

Then I remember I am connected to other people and other people are less perfect than I am.

People on the internet, stop linking things to your LinkedIn account that you do stupid things with.

An example:

It’s Sunday morning. I check LinkedIn because LinkedIn is slow on Sundays, and I don’t have the time to invest into it like I do with my blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Dailybooth, and the other social networks I use on a daily basis. So, I see the stuff my friends are sharing, and the first headline is:

Nothing like a strong mimosa to start Sunday http://lookatacrappypicofmymimosa.com

This user had his Twitter account synced to his LinkedIn updates. So what may have been an entirely personal tweet was now being shared with his rather large business network. Nothing makes me trust a business partner more than knowing he or she needs a strong drink to start off their Sunday morning.

The sad thing is how much of this mindless linking I still see. You think users would learn that separate networks are for separate things. Like Facebook is for all my whiny crap, Twitter is for my short but concise sarcasm, and YouTube is for videos of my cat. It’s not that hard people.

LinkedIn is for business, not pictures of your cat and your favorite liquor (unless you sell photos of liquor and cats, but that’s another story). If you think you might share something that is not business related on another network, then do not connect that account with LinkedIn.

Protect yourself. Don’t get fired or lose a potential job just because you had to retweet your favorite porn star one morning and you let all of LinkedIn see that too. Only connect profiles and networks to your LinkedIn profile that make sense with your business presence. It’s just that simple.

And for all that’s holy cut down on the mimosas. Or at least the tweets about them. You’re better than that.

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Facebook, Politics, and Advertising

Facebook Political Ads - The Anti-Social MediaPolitics ruin social networks. Social networks make fun and exciting things more fun because everyone can have a word, but politics get worse and worse because any idiot with half a sense of how to use a keyboard can argue their half-baked conspiracy theory. Friends turn against friends as one person bashes another’s favored candidate, and any real political decisions that are made are bogged down by the weight of thousands of comments that are nothing more than mindless, backwashed rhetoric.

This has been going on since Al Gore started the internet and will continue until we are all dead or under the control of Big Brother. Just like your Uncle Bob will watch Fox News and enrage your hippy cousin, people will continue to argue about how to run the country as long as there still is a country. That’s how politics work.

So, with the rumbling of the 2012 American presidential race starting over here, I was surprised to get a Facebook ad for the group American’s For Prosperity. I don’t list my political views on Facebook because I already deal with enough crap. I don’t need my friends telling me I’m already even more in the wrong. So, I guess this group may think I’m independent and easily swayed by the crap I see on Facebook.

Now, before I click the ad, I can already tell that I’m going to hate American’s For Prosperity. What American would be against prosperity? That name itself is so loaded my monitor began to fold over.

So, I click the ad because I know if I click that ad, my click will cost that group money. It’s my own way of bleeding the beast.

Unfortunately, American’s for Prosperity want me to “like” them. So, I cut through their bullshit landing page and go to their wall. Their wall just wants me to go get angry about THINGS and then go to events to show my anger about THINGS. I try to figure out who is funding them, but of course, they don’t have to say any of that madness on Facebook.

So I have to ask Google and Wikipedia, the keepers of information on the internet, who tell me all about Americans for Prosperity and what they stand for and who lines their pockets so they can advertise to everyone on Facebook. For my international readers, in America, political ads on radio have to have a line that says “Paid for by whatever group paid for the ad.” This is so you can attempt to figure out what group is trying to advertise enough so you’ll believe what they say.

Where was the disclosure that this was a political ad? How is the average Facebook user, who has no attention span, supposed to know this isn’t just someone else trying to get them away from Farmville? They won’t care to do all the research.

Facebook, as you become a bigger and more important advertiser and base camp for political movements, you need to have something called ethics. You may have heard of these before your CEO dropped out of college. People need to be able to clearly know when an organization with a blatant political agenda is advertising to them (Because, let’s be honest, any organization has a political agenda. Some just hide it much better).

Facebook, you need to implement this system now before the American government does this. If you don’t do this now, it will be imposed upon you, and it will be uglier, stupider, and more horrifying than any of us can imagine. No one will “like” that.

And politicians – stay off of Facebook. I just want to share pictures of my cat, and I already have my crazy uncle to deal with. Don’t make a bad thing even worse.

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F*%k You Friday! QR Codes

QR CodesIf you read last week’s F*%k You Friday, you may have gotten a taste about how much I hate QR codes.

I’ve yet to see a use of QR codes that isn’t forced and is actually helpful to the user.

QR codes drive me nuts because they take me out of my current experience. QR codes make it easy to avoid creating a unique and creative experience using the materials the code is printed on.

When I see a QR code, this is what happens. I have to whip out my smart phone, download a QR code reader (because I don’t have one built in), and then scan the code. At this point, I’m more likely to be playing Angry Birds on my phone because I’m easily distracted by shiny things and I’ve forgotten the reason I started downloading this QR app in the first place.

So, are QR codes a fad on their way out? How much longer will I have to put up with these ugly little squares? Has anyone made them pretty, or useful?

Maybe one day, I can wake up in a world without ugly, square barcodes that serve no useful purpose. I call that day 1999.