Saturday, February 10, 2018

HEY! Notice Me! - NOVA this week

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

Have you ever heard someone contrast “real life” with “online”?

Such as a social media post that says something like, “A real-life friend of mine experienced something funny the other day. Blah, blah, blah…”

As if their online friends are somehow – not real?

I want to say – I want to yell – the online social network IS REAL LIFE!

Semantics? Perhaps. So why do I care? I’m glad you asked.

This is just The Wanderers theory, but I think we’ve tossed around words like: online persona, or cyberspace, or virtual world, etc. and it has led us to subconsciously think of online as something separate from real life. But it is not.

Social network friends are not fake people; they are not virtual people – they are REAL people.

Side note: There are activities in cyberspace that ARE virtual or imaginary: online gaming, virtual worlds, etc. They’re fun, they’re fake, they’re fantasy – real world rules may or may not apply.

But social networks are made up of real people and in my humble opinion the rules of human decency, etiquette, and courtesy still apply.

But people think of social networks as NOT real life and therefore behave in ways they wouldn’t in a face-to-face setting.

I want to avoid a messy lawsuit, so I’m going to refer to an imaginary social network as VisageTome or VT (get it? *wink* I’m kinda proud of that.)

One of your VT friends makes their status:  “I want to see who my real friends are. If you are truly my friend make this your status for an hour…and then, you’ll also get to find out who your true friends are

Y’ever get those? For me, it’s usually someone who asked ME to join THEIR network back when, and now, I have to prove my devotion.

Would anyone ever do this offline? Maybe I’ll have a bunch of buttons made up that read “I am Joe’s friend.” And then I’ll take them to my friends and suggest they wear them for an hour to prove they are my friend.

If I have too many friends it might be a good idea – otherwise, not so much.

Or this one:

Friend’s VT status:  Yoda once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” If you love Yoda, copy this and make it your VisageTome status for the next hour. Don’t try; just do. If you are ashamed of Yoda…do NOT.

You’ve probably never seen one exactly like that. I intend to keep a certain Holy name out of this discussion.

Am I the only one who finds these incredibly annoying? Now for the record – I do love Yoda, but I don’t like other people dictating how I must prove it, and what it means if I decline to follow their suggestion. In fact, the one way to be certain I will not repost any pithy little meme is to assert what it means if I fail to do so.

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I don’t know who will bother to read this. If you are reading this – thank you. Bloggers love readers (more on that later). But if you are reading this, and thinking: “D’oh, I’ve done posts like that; The Wanderer hates me.”

Not at all.

Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking: “eh, the guys a nut. I’ve done those posts and I think they’re perfectly appropriate.”

That’s fine too. I don’t make the rules.

I’m just venting; feel free to ignore my opinion. Because I’ll admit – it’s a pretty opinionated opinion. But, if you’re reading this and thinking: “YES, oh my goodness YES! Thanks Wanderer, I feel the same way; I’m glad someone finally said it.” Well that’s cool, cuz we all like validation, (of course, I won’t know I’ve been validated unless you respond, just sayin).

But while I’m on the subject of social media, let me ask a question. Do you consider blogs a form of social media?

Well, they are – specifically blogging is considered social publishing which is a subcategory of social media. Other subcategories are:  social networks, photo sharing, live-casting, gaming, virtual worlds, and many more.

The following is by Gary Larson, the retired creator of the The Far Side.

I have come to the conclusion that humans on social networks are a lot like the dogs in this cartoon. Most of us are just shouting “Hey!”

Or, to be a more precise, “Hey, notice me!”

Not all of us, not all of the time – but most of us, most of the time.

It’s not a bad thing; wanting attention is a pretty normal human itch. Social media has created a whole new venue to scratch that itch.

My blog, I’ll admit it, I like attention. I like page views, I like followers, I love comments, but I’d hate to come across as needy.

So please, Please, PLEASE respond and tell me you don’t think I’m needy.

That’s a joke.

Do you remember when you first started blogging? Remember that first page view? Your first follower? The first comment someone left on your blog?

For me, comments are the payoff. I like page views; I like followers, but I love comments.

I’ve always been comfortable that my own somewhat infrequent social network status updates are often just pleas for attention. As I said, that’s pretty normal. It causes me no embarrassment to admit it.

However, in some strange way, my attitude about my blog is different. If I’m completely honest, my blog entries are sometimes just another form of saying “Hey, notice me!”

Again, not really a problem; I’m OK with that, but at some point it starts feeling rather narcissistic, more like “Hey, KEEP ON noticing me!” That does make me uncomfortable. Here’s what it looks like.

I post my thoughts on a book
--You respond that:  you liked the review, you read the book, you had similar or different feelings, you haven’t read the book but now you want to, etc.
----I thank you for the feedback, and perhaps respond to some of your points
------You thank me for my response
--------I acknowledge your thanks
----------You affirm my acknowledgement
------------And so ad infinitum

As I said before, I love comments and I want to express my appreciation with a response. However, flat words on a monitor lack some of the verbal, and all of the non-verbal clues that a conversation has run its course.

And yet, almost every time I decide to end a discussion, I feel a little trepidation that maybe I should respond one more time. I don’t want to seem unappreciative to the commenter.

Yeah, I’m a bit fastidious. It’s me – it isn’t you.

Please don’t misunderstand. I would be happy to have a discussion that goes on for 5, 12, or 30 responses, as long as we are truly discussing some point or points and not just being polite.

Am I the only one who worries about this? At what point in the comment – response – reply – response to the reply – thanks for your response – ad infinitum chain do you decide the conversation is done?

And more importantly – the reason I’m writing this – if I’ve ever stopped that chain, and it seemed abrupt to you – I wasn’t trying to ignore you. I was trying not to be narcissistic.

 ~ The Once Lost – but very REAL – Wanderer.


  1. Blogging is definitely a form of social media. I agree with almost everything you wrote…I don’t like facebook much at all as a platform and yes, the neediness of some posters is annoying and weird.

    And totally, on-line conversations, including comments on blogs can be awkward. There is just no substitution for the ability to see a person’s facial cues and hear their inflection when have a conversation in person. That’s way emojis were invented. :)

    I have no problem, however, with making the distinction of people I know “in real life” as people I have physically met versus people I know only through an on-line relationship. Using IRL is just an easy shorthand way to make the distinction.

  2. Haha! I have this tendency to categorize all my friends, like "blogging friend," "church friend," "college friend," "childhood friend," and so on. If I just say "friend," that means you're so special to me, I don't feel like qualifying our friendship.

    And I do say things about "real life" vs. my blogging life. In real life, I'm less excitable, use fewer exclamation points, don't actually own a swooning couch, and rarely fangirl aloud unless I'm with friends.

    However, I'm also irked by those "if you... then post this" things on social networks. I basically never post them. I'm also weirded out by people who seem to just want validation for every decision they make. Like posting photos of what they make for supper every night to prove how healthy they are. Hmm. Maybe it's good social media exists so they don't stalk people IRL with plates of food going, "Isn't this yummy?"

    You make a good point, though, about people thinking of the internet as not "real life" and thus not using good manners and so on there. This is a problem.

  3. I like to think of blogging as a two way street & I enjoy people responding to what I write but I also understand there’s sometimes a good reason why there is no reapons. I often read blog posts and appreciate what the blogger has written but I feel my response is really lame or the comment disappears etc. And I found out to my surprise that others have the same dilemma. I also always try to respond to a comment, even if it’s just with a smiley face. I didn’t always do this when I first started out because it felt awkward but I feel it’s just good manners now even if I do think my comment is lame. Keep writing!


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