Hiding behind the curtain

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A topic that I find myself thinking about when considering what to write about here has to do with the ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain‘ line that I’ve had on this blog since I started it. See, I’ve talked with plenty of people about online privacy and blogging and how much of yourself you choose to show in general.

Since this isn’t an academic exercise and I needn’t support my ideas with credited sources, it means that most of what I write here is anecdotal. I tell stories without bothering to look up where I originally read or heard the kernel of knowledge that began me thinking about whatever topic I fancy.

Facebook seems to be a constant privacy concern for some Germans, partially because it seems like every other month there’s an article in the media here about how someone’s personal business has been displayed for everyone to see because of the big bad social media giant. I dealt with this a bit when I wrote Why do people take the wrong things about Facebook so seriously?

My position on all of this privacy stuff, though, is that you can determine how much of yourself you show online. If there’s something embarrassing out there about me, I tend to want to be the one to talk about it.

That’s probably why I share so little of my personal life here or on other forms of social media. I reshare ridiculous things and see most of social media as a place to curate the best things I find on the web. If I’m creating content with my name on it, I tend to be cautious. Probably too much so.

So, that’s where my thoughts are this Easter season. I see this blog as a kind of calling card for my personal writing and my hope is that my personality comes out in the writing even if I’m a bit reserved. The criticism I often hear is that I could show more of myself here and on social media in general.

If I were to do so, it seems like I’d have to come out from behind the curtain. Might even have to take that line down off the front of the blog. Hiding behind the curtain has had its advantages, so don’t expect too much right off. Many things still belong in one’s private sphere.

As with so many things, it’s simply a matter of balance.

Why do people take the wrong things about Facebook so seriously?

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Getting some things off my chest

 

Ok, the first thing I want to say is that when it comes to Feckbook, people just need to settle down. It’s a platform that has changed not just the landscape of the Internet, but has altered the way many people live their lives. It’s not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, so either learn to deal with it or simply delete your account and move on with your life. Why do people take the wrong things about Facebook so seriously?

If you’re one of the seemingly limitless people still using the above-mentioned service, then you’ve no doubt recently seen the status updates that people have copied and pasted to defend themselves from content theft and privacy violations. It’s nothing new – these cookie cutter blurbs of non substance are not only a huge waste of your time, but they sadly show how gullible people continue to be. Take a quick gander at this if you’ve not already seen it:

Facebook Privacy Notice brought to you by the good people over at Snopes.

However, that’s not what made me want to write this post. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m doing more and more with social media and I’m looking at it from the perspective of my growing client base, rather than just as an individual writer amplifying his work.

Although I continue to build Macbeth Knowles Consulting for small and medium sized businesses here in Germany who want to better use social media to reach international markets, I’ve resolved to keep this lahikmajoe blog for the more informal stuff.

I’m offering  some behind the scenes material and some quick and dirty tips about how anybody can improve their social media with common sense approaches. My loyal readers have always appreciated my more whimsical side, and I have no intention of giving that up. Hiding my light under a bushel, as it were.

So, as I continue to take on new clients and cultivate the ones I’ve already got, I’m focused on what I see happening on the social media landscape. Much more important than those laughable status updates above is what Feckbook has done elsewhere. Let me link to it first, and then I’ll sum it up:

New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs

Here’s a bit of that text if you couldn’t be bothered to follow the link:

But small-business owners…will soon get less benefit from the unpaid marketing pitches they post on Facebook. That’s because, as of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates.

The change will make it more difficult for entrepreneurs…to reach fans of their Facebook pages with marketing posts that aren’t paid advertising.

Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer “a significant decrease in distribution,” Facebook warned in a post earlier this month announcing the coming change.

Look, it’s their site. That small businesses have had the opportunity to use this platform for so long at little or no cost could definitely be seen as a kind of generosity on the part of the behemoth that is Feckbook. That’s not exactly how I see it, but I can certainly appreciate their perspective.

And on some level, I like that Facebook’s motives are becoming more transparent. That can only be a good thing, as most people are still a bit foggy on who the customer is in this business scenario. That’s the bit of wisdom I’ll leave you with as I head back to what’s left of the weekend:

If you’re not paying for the service, then you’re not the customer. A more accurate, albeit crass, assessment of this entire setup is that Feckbook’s true customers are the advertisers and marketers who specifically add to the company’s coffers. I don’t care how accustomed you are to using the platform and how convenient it is to connect with friends and family from far and wide: if you’re not paying for it or being paid, then you’re a glorified content provider.

If it’ll make you feel better, though, to post a status update putting the Man in his place, then by all means, go ahead and do so.

To each his own, as the kids are saying.

beeps and burps

The video above starts with the woman asking her father how he’s getting along with the new iPad he was given recently. He answers that it’s just fine while he finishes cutting vegetables on it, rinses it off, and then loads it into the dishwasher.

Have been hearing a lot of noise from luddites lately. It’s understandable. Technology isn’t always easy to get accustomed to.

And rather than admit that it’s difficult or frustrating, it’s easier to say, ‘Why do I even need that newfangled gadget?’

The iPad? You don’t need one. You really don’t. It’s just a lot of unnecessary hype.

Unless you’ve actually used one. Then it’s an entirely different story.

I’m curious why I take to certain social media so easily (and so whole-heartedly) and not others. Nothing about MySpace attracted me. I had a lot of friends who did it, and it was certainly a place where musicians could display their work. But it looked somehow childish to me. Not childlike – childish. Definitely not in a good way.

Facebook? It was exciting at first. There were so many people with whom I thought I’d never be in contact again. For the first while, I was there all the damned time. Now? Not so much.

I really enjoyed StumbleUpon at first, and always think to myself, ‘You found such interesting sites with that one – you should go check it out again…’, but then I never do. And tumblr is something I heard people rave about for so long. I set mine up, and then couldn’t figure it out. So it lay dormant for half a year or so. I’ve since decided to put photos of my dogs Ella and Louis there. I suppose I’m using it a bit like flickr was intended.

Oh, I have flickr, too. And audioboo. And have just started using Storify. I really like it. There are times when I’ve had wonderfully bizarre conversations on one of the above-mentioned sites, and I’ve wondered how I could even begin to explain to an innocent bystander how that online conversation got to the ridiculous conclusion it did.

What led someone to suggest making a whole week of Sneaky Fucker posts? All the Twitter mentions of Sneaky Fucker Week? Where could those be assembled? Well…that’s what Storify appears to be for. Little did the creators of Storify know that they could’ve potentially be such an important part of the history of the internet. If only I’d known how to use that sight when all the Sneaky Fuckery was going on.

But I find myself pondering all of this and those luddites I mentioned at the beginning of all this. They have a point, you know. When I try explaining some conversation I’ve had, and setting up the scenario takes half an hour, because I have to explain who HazelBlackberry in Perth, Australia is or why ‘You don’t know my life‘ can send me into hysterics…when that happens and they cock their head and look at me like I’m a madman, they have a point.

Another thing I didn’t get into was Second Life. It seemed so ridiculous to me. Wait, you set up an avatar and could play a character and buy things with money that only existed there? When folk don’t understand social media, I try to remember how both MySpace and Second Life were incomprehensible to me.

There are all sorts of little beeps and burps that some sites use to tell you about what a friend just said about you on Facebook. Or Echofon whirs when there’s a mention on Twitter. Don’t even get me started on Tweetdeck and/or HootSuite. The idea might be great, but the constant cacophony whenever I have either of them open nearly makes me murderous (before you tell me you can mute all of those things, I’m well aware of that – I’m trying to make a point).

Recently heard someone ponder what sort of endorphins might be released when we get such audible signals. That someone out there in the universe that is the web has gone out of there way to tag me in his quest to conquer Farmville. Someone else has written a new blog that a few months ago I’d have written in an RSS feed at some point in the next few days, but today? Today, I get an alert on my phone. My phone buzzes, I salivate, my hands go digging in my bag or under the pile of newspapers that I’m neglecting because I’m reading the latest about someone buying Mashable for some astronomical amount of money. That vibrating phone means someone out there wants my attention.

And I, by God, am going to give it to them.

drunk trains in the night

interior of an earlier S-Bahn

Roughly two thousand people showed up Saturday night to protest Munich’s new law that you can’t drink on the S-Bahn (Schnell-Bahn directly translated as fast trains, but I like to say suburban trains). The term *people* I use very loosely.

As the night wore on, ten trains had to be taken out of commission. Lights had been destroyed, windows broken or covered in unspecified nontransparent material, and seat cushions ripped into pieces. After the evening’s festivities, it was discovered that nearly fifty trains had been damaged.

At least ten people are being held responsible (based on closed-circuit camera evidence) for the worst of the damage.

Since 2009, it’s been against the law to drink on the U-Bahn (underground trains), or in the trams and busses. It was only a matter of time before the S-Bahn, which is owned by the formerly state-owned Deutsche Bahn, followed suit.

The protesters were informed about the event and given regular updates on Facebook (very little good comes from that website anymore, does it?) and what started as a relatively relaxed evening turned rowdy between ten-thirty and midnight. The new law went into effect as the clock struck twelve.

Tell me, does this surprise anyone? People protesting not being allowed to drink on public transportation by getting their drink on in that very venue? (exactly the same sort of protests happened in London and Hamburg when they instituted such new policies). What started out peacefully gets quickly and increasingly out of hand?

This is a dog bites man story. The real news would’ve been if the increasingly inebriated people had become reasonable and actually considered the other people in their general vicinity.

‘All in all, the trains were more than six thousand minutes late. That’s over a hundred hours, according to the head of the S-Bahn. The damages add up to more than €100,000. Despite all of that: there wasn’t a single injury.’ (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung Monday 12 December 2011 my translation!)

Do any of you understand the gravity of this? Trains should not be delayed. Not here. This is the beginning of the end of society. Or the end of the beginning.

That same head of the S-Bahn even indicated he had nothing against a goodbye party for drinking on the trains. Can you believe that? The person in charge of this organisation actually sounds reasonable. He insisted that he drew the line at aggressiveness and property damage.

Oh, and some train employees were spit on.

This isn’t mock outrage on my part. This is me trying to tone down what jerks I think these protesters were (and are).

Fine. You think the new law is inappropriate and repressive and whatever, but do you really spit on the people working overtime to make sure your blotto self and your friends don’t fall onto the tracks and get hit by a train?

Can you fathom how indignant these people would be if they were treated in the same manner? If they were spit on for being morons? If their right to protest were infringed upon in any way they’d be up in arms.

You know, there’s probably a better way to tie this up. A funnier approach to the whole account. A perspective that shows either the protesters or the story itself in a different light. But I’m not going to do that.

A group of people show their disgust that they could no longer, in a civilised way, drink alcohol on the trains in Munich by being thoroughly and indisputably disgusting. They really made their point, didn’t they?

I’m not opposed to drinking and more importantly, I like a bit of debauchery. Actually, I’m quite the fan of a lot of debauchery. But these folk are on my opposing team. They really are.