Monday, May 6, 2013

Connectivity. Making it Social.

If you are reading this you probably also read my post on Socially Awkward at Media. If not….well…you missed some serious blogging blather.  My Hollywood elevator pitch about it would be, it’s a blog post about a boy who doesn’t like Facebook and is bad at Tweets. Fade to black. Actually it is about trying to help myself understand what is lacking for me in Social Media. 
What is it we are looking for when someone says they want to connect?
It’s a question that to date I had not answered but one that would pop up fairly often on the minds big wheel of stupid questions. 
As with most things of relevance in modern life Forrest Gump seems to have had the answer. I will not give Forest all the credit, some will have to go to American Beauty and some will  go to authors, directors, priests and poets that were able to express what being truly connected feels like.  That feeling has a name and it seems to me that such an illusive emotion could not be labeled with such a modern sounding name as Connectivity.  We experience it in different ways but the symptoms are usually a rising joy in the chest, a lump in the throat, smiling and crying at the same time, and an expanding sensation of joy, peace and euphoria. 
I told you. That is a lot of good stuff for a name that is also used regularly by your cable guy.
Making people sad is like telling a narcoleptic to take a nap. Sadness and discontent is easy to convey and I do not respond to it very often in movies. 
Dead dog: Tragic.
Ten year olds mother has terminal cancer: Horrible.
Lovers torn apart by war: So sad, could you please pass the Twizzlers.
But conveying the sensation of connectivity is a challenge and a triumph. Show me a feather floating above a pensive looking Tom Hanks, and Dear Lord please help me keep the weeping to a respectable few drops.  If we are watching Shawshank Redemption and I step out of the room to get a drink every time Morgan Freeman starts a monologue its because I respect you and do not want you to see me cry. 
The term connect is a verbal crutch for social media but in truth it does not connect with all that much.  Snickering at snide comments on Twitter, Stalking old flames on Facebook and “CONNECTING” to the guy who sold me insurance on LInkedin actually feels more like getting to choose who you get stuck in a elevator with.  It can connect people but for the most part it only grazes them in passing because Social Media is designed for people to only have a one sided conversation.
This is all the stuff about me. Have some pictures of me. Look at what I just ate. Look at who I just met. Talking about ourselves feels good for a bit and having a constant platform to immediately express our feelings is comforting I guess but this self based model does little to actually improve a person or the world in general.  
If you want to grab my attention then connect me to something or someone on a huge level or a very intimate one. If you think you deserve to profit from me, market to me and have the privilege of knowing my search history then I think it fair that you actually connect me to more than just my ego.  Make me passionate about something and make me feel a part of it and I will be your biggest disciple. 
Sounds like a great business plan nobody has put into action yet. I don’t blame them, its hard to accomplish.
Truly connecting people to an idea, person, or thing takes more than most have the capacity for or others have the diligence for. It requires empathy, and clarity. It requires truth,  and who has the means to offer that up on a consistent basis?
 But make my chest expand with possibilities. Make my heart rise in my throat with realization and I will be your connection. I will be your customer. I will sell your product.  Tell me something significant and I will be your friend online and off.  Show me how I fit into something bigger than just my life and I will fill whatever role you need.
Feeling truly connected to something or someone is what most of us live for. Is anybody working on actually connecting us? Or is everyone fine with their single serving friend.  “Single serving friend.” Chuck Palahniuk gave us that gem in Fight Club. Chuck’s gift is making us feel that void in the gut when everything we are connected to is smaller than us. The effect is no less powerful in its opposition to the lifting joy of being a part of something bigger and the conclusion should be the same.
We all need to be connected and most of us will take anything we can get but we are all looking for so much more.  To the daring Start Ups who are looking to break open that next threshold to connect Man to Media to Man,  or the grass roots organizer who is looking to start a movement. Instead of rehashing the single serving friend model, I would implore you.  Give us a medium to be ourselves. Then show us how ourselves reaching out to others expands everything.
Falling feathers framed perfectly can show us the world. 


  1. I think you're missing some key components of social networks that can make them more than just egotistic soap boxes: sharing and discovery.

    In a perfect world, I would have friends who share with me what they are reading, listening to, watching, etc. and then giving me their opinions on what they liked and disliked. This happens a little bit in the real world when we have the chance to meet up, but a lot of things fall through the cracks since we all lead such busy lives (and some of us have horrible memories, so forget to mention them when we're in another person's company).

    I am much more interested in what my pool of friends think about something (and that SOMETHING could be ANYTHING) than random people on the internet. Unfortunately, no one I know really has gotten into sharing the things they've been into (or things they hated) in a consistent way via the internet. I am mostly relying on the opinions of people I have come to respect from reading their works online (or offline via a book or whatever).

    Take Goodreads for example. I'm now following a decent amount of people whose taste in books is mostly the same as mine, and whose opinion I respect. The most active posters are not my friends, and my other real life acquaintances on there don't really post that often. Most of the books I have read in the past year have been because several people in my "group" raved about them via Goodreads.

    It's very similar to real world interaction. When you and I get together in person, we always try to catch up on what we've been into lately. Do these words sound familiar: Have you seen this tv show? Did you watch that movie? Oh, man, this book I'm reading is great. Have you heard this song? And yet, I know a bunch of things are falling through the cracks because we're distracted in the moment, or both of our brains leak. Having places online that make it easy to share things among friends (and made easier via mobile apps) is a pretty cool thing.

    Before these online outlets, we had to scour the internet in search for new things or opinions on things that we're interested in. Now, we get to have that data amalgamated and brought TO US (and easily filterable).

    Sure, you and I may not be interested in what our family and friends are eating or the random events they are doing (like millions of others on Facebook), but for the topics we ARE interested in, social networks can be a pretty glorious nervous system for discovery.

  2. I need to get better at learning how to filter out the white noise that comes through. For me the overload of information discourages me even if it is all good information. It kind of reminds me of bing in Florence Italy. After two days of seeing SO MUCH AMAZING, even the great works of an age blend together and get kind of mehhh.
    I think for me it gets back to properly framing something. I need my options narrowed to a few that are defined and framed in a way that will make me actually want to find out more about it.

  3. And yes, your image is awesome. :-)