Sometimes we do what we’re doing because it’s the trench we’re in. It’s the needle on the record way that we accidentally live our lives, and that’s not always a bad thing. That’s why we say “into the groove.” But it’s not always cool, either. Because sometimes, we’re following a well-trod path to the edge of a cliff. Here are some thoughts.
What Do Social Networks DO for You?
Just stop and think about that. WHY do you log on? What do you get there? When you log in, remind Facebook who you are, say no thanks to biting chumps, to joining your friends’ fan groups, to adding some guy with a ? for a face, what do you do next? You answer messages that could’ve gone to email. You find people’s birthdays (Google Calendar, anyone?). You poke people. You record things. You play some Scrabble, er, Scrabulous.
You swing by LinkedIN, browse and answer some questions, maybe recommend a friend, and that takes about two minutes.
Maybe you swing by Seesmic, which is HOPPING, don’t get me wrong. You watch a few videos, record one or two, and then what? Utterz? You answer some stuff on Digg? Vote for a while. Stop by StumbleUpon.
What the hell are you doing? What are WE doing? What is this doing for us?
(Now, I have my answers. Do you? Have you thought about it? Are you just scurrying around?)
What Are Your Goals In General?
Before you go traipsing about, blogging and podcasting and twittering and uttering and making usernames all over the Internet, ask yourself what you’re hoping to get done. Most folks have one answer: meet like minded people. Or maybe you say things about how you want to talk about what matters to you (*.deity knows that’s what I do. I tell people I want to talk about things that I’m interested in talking about).
But if we’re all just out here building our user names and friending people, and adding people, and direct messaging and poking and super poking and recording and starting conversations, wouldn’t you hope we’ve got a point about it?
Breathe Deeply and Pause
Friends, the answers are there. These tools have saved us from one thing: proximity. I grew up in places where precious few people cared about what I cared about. When I’d visit my grandfather’s farm way up north, I’d pretend his tractor was a spaceship. The other kids, mostly cousins, would pretend along with me, but weren’t really DOWN with it. They just did what I was doing.
These tools do even more for us. They give us a way to express ourselves in multiple dimensions. Some of you might be old enough to remember when desktop publishing seemed AMAZING. We’d get these floppies loaded down with clip art and layouts and god awful font choices, and suddenly, we were all making magazines. Only, we didn’t print them out. Or we did, but we’d hand them to our friends and that was it.
I often tell people that the reason I love The 7 O’Clock News is that it’s probably what me and my friends would do if there was videoblogging when we were in high school. The fact that Jonathan Bloom and his friends can make shows in the basement (or wherever) and dream is so much better (or at least more accessible) than when my friends and I could only impress each other with our wit. It has reach.
The Internet solves proximity. We can share and align along tribal lines of LIKES instead of NEARBY.
With That In Mind
There’s still amazing value in turning these tools inwards on our locales. There’s never a dull episode of Beachwalks with Rox. She’s walking around fricken’ Hawaii! We can watch Wandering West Michigan and plenty of other great shows. We can read blogs about the heartland, about the places that matter to individuals. We can check in with Eric Rice at poolside and listen to Utterz from friends all over the place.
So what happened there? Oh. There’s something else about why we’re traipsing around biting chumps, I guess. It’s the people.
Whoops. It was the people all along.
But don’t let that be the reason you use all these tools and rush around to all the various platforms. Heck, Justin Kownacki hasn’t even bothered wandering into Facebook yet, and Michael Bailey walked out on it weeks ago. They’re still connected, connectors, and moving the ball forward. They’re just choosing not to use Facebook. Why? Because they took a step back, and looked around.
What Should You Do Next?
That’s not the point. I’m not going to tell you. My point was to shake your head a moment. To hold your shoulders and look into your eyes for a moment. My point was this: ask yourself why, what, what for. See what comes of it.
And then, once you have a feel for that, see what you do next. Can you make something interesting happen? Can you build interesting projects? Can you find people of like-mindedness to join with and create something bigger than your solo efforts?
What should YOU do next?
Photo credit, Absolut Wade