Why you can’t really know people just from the internet

I read this article by Johnny B. Truant about how you can know someone through their postings on the Internet, and I thought, “No, no, this is all wrong.”

While I am known here for my wit and humor, you might be surprised I’m actually not a horribly bitter and angry person.  I smile!  I laugh!  I’m even dorkier than I let on!

The window internet lets us only see so much of a personality.  Sure, we can learn about what a person thinks through his/her writing, or their speech mannerisms through video and audio, but there’s only so much you can learn about them in these ways.  You cannot get the sense of what they are like when they put their guard down, when they know the whole world isn’t watching.  Some of it will be the same, but some of it will be completely different.

We don’t always have to be “on.”  It’s draining, it’s false, and no one benefits.  Social media is great to communicate so many things instantly, but at the end of the day when you have to sell yourself, you have to make sure you’re the polished version that attracts people to you.

Jay Dolan the person is different from Jay Dolan the Anti-Social Media writer. I’m OK with that.  I can’t be a hateful, humorous internet troll all the time.  You can’t always be whatever makes up your online persona either.

We are more than what we put on the internet.  We are more than any blog article, podcast, or Youtube video.  At the end of the day, when you’ve shut off the computer and smartphone, you have yourself and your soul.  Those are how people really come to know you.


I hate liking.

I hate the “like” button on Facebook.  It is an unnecessary feature that adds no real value to what you post online.  You like something?  Great.  But what value does that add?  What does it tell me?

The absolute worst part is when I see something like this:

Jane: Oh No! My dog Buster died last night!”

  • Bob likes this.

What’s there to like about a dead dog?  What type of sick person are you that you revel in someone’s pain like that?  Can’t you be bothered to type any type of condolence message?

It’s not hard to type “I’m so sorry.”  It’s not awful to pick up the phone and call someone.  But it’s so easy to “like” something on Facebook.  You click, and BAM! it’s there.

The easy accessibility of the like button is part of what makes it so awkward.  Also, there’s no way of keeping track of what you liked.  The button screams I cared enough to burn a quarter of a calorie for you.

God help us if they ever make a dislike button.  For now though, I’ll campaign to get rid of the like button in favor of making real social connections.


Personal Branding and Girl Scouts

I was listening to a piece on NPR about how the Girl Scouts are using online methods of marketing to sell their cookies.  The scouts are told the following helpful tidbits to protect themselves online:

“Um, don’t show your picture, don’t tell your last name — you don’t want anyone to come find you, which is really bad,” she says. “Don’t tell them your phone number. If they say, like, ‘It’s safe, I’m OK, I’m a doctor’ or something, they might be lying.”

Let’s compare that with what Twitter says to use for your profile.

  • A real picture of yourself is encouraged. It adds personableness to your tweets.
  • Because the images are usually seen in a small version, a crop of your face works best.

Twitter wants you to show who you are. They have geolocation for tweets to show where you are.  Keep in mind, there is nothing about Twitter that makes it so anyone needs to know exactly who you are or where you are.  It’s not like it’s Foursquare or Gowalla, which shares where you are with your friends.

And this is just Twitter.

Think about the implications for Myspace, or Facebook, or LinkedIn.  With each of these networks, your face, your personality, your name, and your work are what draw people into you. At the end of the day, you’re yourself, and it’s available for EVERYONE on the planet to find and corrupt.

Keep in mind, a truly malicious person can go ahead and create a fake profile or blog under your name and start publishing crap in mere seconds.  Once that happens, then you’ll just have to tell everyone it was the OTHER Jane Smith that wrote that blog post.

It’s amazing this type of theft or information smearing does not happen more often, or if it does, we just don’t hear much about it. What we’re teaching girl scouts to do online is better than what we do with ourselves and our insane concept of personal brands.  The Girl Scouts protect themselves not only from psychopaths, but also angry customers.  It’s a win-win situation for them.  For the rest of us, we might just be waiting until our identity becomes stolen or mutilated.

And who knows, maybe I could be wrong.  Those girl scouts might not make it because they don’t have a cool personal brand to sell themselves with.


Ignite Raleigh 2

I spoke to 701 people about The Anti-Social Media Wednesday night at Ignite Raleigh and none of them wanted to kill me afterward.

My nerdy little mind is blown.

I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to speak to such a diverse and thoughtful crowd of human beings. I’m lucky to be in a community where not only can I share my ideas, but I am supported by a wide variety of friends and people from all different backgrounds. Mostly, I’m flattered that you all, the voting internet public, chose me to speak to them about how to use social media bit better, and get a few laughs.  You can watch the madness here.  I jump in around the 18:00 minute mark.

These are my slides.  I drew each one by hand, then scanned them all.  I’m old school that way. I really couldn’t make them look decent using MS Paint, or any other decent image editor. I hope to include more artwork of this nature into The Anti-Social Media, if only because the visuals lead to a great jumping off point for me, and it’s easy to draw stick figures.

My tips, to those of you who wish to speak at Ignite Raleigh 3, or any other Ignite Event.

  1. Energy. The best presenters all had insane amounts of energy. You have to hold the attention of several hundred people who have all had a drink for 5 minutes.  By keeping your energy high and focused on your topic, you captivate the audience.  You don’t need to be bouncing off the walls.  One presentation I loved about Triangle Modernist Houses by George Smart had George sitting the entire presentation, However, his passion, knowledge, and focus pulled the audience in.
  2. Interesting Slides. Again, you have to hold the attention of the drunken crowd.  Use captivating images.  The stranger they are, the more memorable they will be.  The audience wants to hear you, but they also come to see what visuals you can show them.
  3. Practice.  It can’t be said enough.  Practicing will enable you to nail your timing.  You need to know your content, and you need to time it with the slides otherwise you will go to fast or slow and you’ll kill your presentation.
  4. Have fun.  If you’re having fun, the audience will have fun with you.  Enjoy the moment, it may never come again.

Thank you’s go to the team at #OurHastag, who put together this awesome event.  Another thank you goes to Zach Ward, the host and person to give me the most awkward and amazing hug I’ve ever received, RIGHT BEFORE I WENT ONSTAGE.  I have also have to thank my fellow presenters, who each inspired me in one way or another, whether through their interactions, both online and off, or their prestations, and all of my friends who pushed me and believed that I could not only publish this website, but also make a damn good presentation all while trying to maintain a normal work/life balance.

I promise to stop being sappy tomorrow, and go back to making fun of the internet.  There’s still a lot of social media to tear apart, and we all better be laughing while we do it.


"The Power of Social Media"

If there is one phrase hate to read, it is “The Power of Social Media.”  Just say it out loud.

Did you hear yourself? You sound like a cartoon super-villain.  “The Power of Social Media” just sounds awful, like it’s being read from a script. Look at some of these example phrases:

  • With the power of social media, we can make more sales.
  • Once I harness the power of social media, I will get a great job.
  • I will get rich once I master the power of social media.
  • The power of social media will enable me to rule the galaxy.

You can also get specific, and substitute any social network in place of social-media.  The principle is still the same; you sound like you jumped out of the pages of Superman.

However you cut it, there is no way to use that phrase without sounding like a power-hungry maniac. Get out a thesaurus and think about what you want to say before you start putting on your tights and trying to rob a bank.


This is one of my finalized slides for my Ignite Raleigh…

This is one of my finalized slides for my Ignite Raleigh presentation tonight.  It will all make sense when the whole thing is shared.  Until then, I will leave you all to gaze in wonder and confusion.


Why I’m a Social Media Expert (And You Can Be Too)

I’m a Social Media Expert.  I say this not because I am in any way vain or conceited, but rather because my knowledge has spewed forth so freely, that people cannot help but worship my social media opinions. This title should come as no surprise, as I read and write about social media every day. I’ve been using some of the social media sites for a long time, so my wisdom comes from experience.

Here are some steps you can do to be a social media expert like me.

  1. Write about social media. Social media people love reading about social media, even when it’s making fun of them and they don’t realize it because they are skimming because they are overloaded with information. By writing about social media, you establish your authority.
  2. Dress sharply. We know there’s a uniform.  Wear it.  Show up in pictures with it. If you look official, people will buy into it.
  3. Get Listed. If you’re listed on Twitter by someone else as a Social Media Expert, then it’s really official. Solicit being listed, even though the vast majority of users don’t use  lists or care about them, because every list you appear on makes you look that more awesome.
  4. Retweet Mashable. This seems too easy, but clients think it’s amazing. Your clients will think you find clever articles, and you’ll rake in the cash.

It’s not hard to be a social media expert.  Make it a priority, and you can do it in a day.


Learn How to Schedule

So, I’m looking at the Social Carolina Calendar, which is calendar that lists and promotes social media and technological events in the Raleigh-Durham area I’m based out of, and I noted something crazy.

In the next two weeks, there is only ONE day, a Sunday, with no events going on in the Triangle.

I have several theories as to why this is:

  • The amount of events is to weed out the feeble and weak, those who aren’t truly dedicated to give up their real social and family life in favor of meeting a bunch of people from the internet.
  • The social media crowd is trying to build up endurance for when they all go down to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive.  By stretching themselves thin in preparation, they’ll be able to tweet mindlessly and nod easily in agreement in the name of networking.
  • They know I’m super busy the next two weeks and did this to persoanlly spite me.

I’m not seeing the point of having the calendar though, if the event planners just start taking every free day to shove their event on.  I realize you have more potential for people to come to events when you put them on an open day, but at the same time, your going to lose people to burn out.  We want to see our loved ones, not just text them and call them as we shuffle between work and one more event.

The internet waits for no one, but the human body can only be sentient in one location at a time.

Thanks to Ellen Lynch for the idea that started the genesis this post.  If you haven’t seen her portfolio, check it out here.