Sunday, July 26, 2009

Social networks vs. parties.

Yes, I'm old. I'm so old that the only reference my friends had when we went to parties was Animal House. So when I was in high school, we had toga parties with bathtubs filled with cans of beer and we got so drunk we threw the furniture in the pool.

And when I went to those parties, I didn't mingle with everyone and tell jokes and put a lampshade on my head. I found the 3 or 4 people I wanted to hang out with and headed straight for the beer.

So when I join a social network like MySpace or Facebook or Twitter or Friendfeed or Second Life, my party psychology works the same way as in high school. I just want to find a few people to hang out with. I don't really want to be the life of the party.

For example, if it takes following these 5 Rules to be successful at social networking , it ain't gonna happen for me:

5 Ways to Cultivate an Active Social Network

  1. BE HELPFUL - offer your network advice or suggest people that [who] can help.
  2. BE PRESENT - participate and contribute.
  3. BE SOCIAL - engage with as many people as possible... not to be confused with just pushing out messages to a list.
  4. SHARE THE LOVE - make it about them... talk about your network.
  5. PAY IT FORWARD - build equity by contributing to your network before asking for anything in return... and never take out more than you put in.

I won't argue the merits or deficiencies in this guide because the graphic is so purty (below).

But I will say that I fail at #3 daily. (And #5 only happens in movies. 'Never taking more than you put in' probably goes against evolutionary theory, meaning you would stagnate or become extinct... okay, so I couldn't keep my mouth shut.)

I know the virtual world is not real. But people are real. And real people occupy the social networks. So forgive me if I tend to treat your virtual self as your real self and the virtual party like a real party and not mingle or #3, BE SOCIAL.

So when someone asks why I'm not as social as I should be when he sends a friend request on Facebook, or why I don't follow him back when he follows me on Twitter, the only thing I can say is that I'm not really there to be social: I came for the beer.

"But this is the Internet; there is no beer here," he replies.

My mistake.