Social Media Pecking Order? Must We?

I believe I’ve put my foot in it, so I thought I might as well squish it around and make a real good mess. What the hell, right?

I’ve sort of smack-talked Vancouvers “social media” scene when I read the always-awesome Raul/Hummingbird604‘s blog post on same [Where is the Diversity…?] earlier today. First off, I should say I think that getting out to “tweet-ups” through Twitter, as a social tool, is one of the best choices I’ve made in years. I am making great new friends. I love what it’s doing for me.

But there’s a definitive class-system out there, and its obviousness at tweet-ups is GLARING. So I’m tackling my two cents from a different, more pointed perspective here.

I am a very anti-social person by nature, I’m a loner, but NOT when I’m in a crowd. I can, and will, probably meet every person in the room. I’m not effusive and bubbly and cuddly and shit, I just don’t go that way. I’m more the sly smile, twinkle-in-the-eye type. But I connect.

And there have been people at tweet-ups who are just unbelievably hard to connect with. You can, and do, hear about people who show up all excited to a tweet-up, then get snubbed entirely by those who are there because the rest of the people know each other. What? How rude.  Seriously, people, lighten up. You blog and you Twitter, so what?  Woo-woo. Any chimp can do this. Trust me.

I had 5,000 hits a day three years ago, okay? This blog’s* had over 1.5 million hits. I was in the top 6,000 blogs in the world for a while there. I made money, even. So what? It’s GONE now. Shit happens, man. Sure, it takes incredible with-it-ness to keep a blog going long-term, but the reality is, sometimes other things are just more important. Me, I walked away because I know where my priorities lie. Not with writing for a “public”, but rather, with writing.

Despite no “readers” compared to my OLD stats, I wrote for myself when I needed to, and, no, it wasn’t very good, because I didn’t care to edit it. And people rightfully continued to stop reading. So? Humility is always a lesson one needs to wring out for everything it’s worth. I think I’ve done so. I’ve managed also to remember that I made the write choice. And the right choice.

In the time I’ve been “gone”, I lost 70 pounds, rediscovered life, rediscovered myself, overcame debilitating injuries, kept myself afloat without anyone’s help when I’ve only been able to work full-time for maybe 20% of the last five years. Um… redecorated my home, took my cooking up a notch by learning to do it healthily and still kicking ass. Uh…  Fell in, and out, of love.  Boy, what else? Too much. I haven’t even touched on jobs. And through it all, I’ve written. Now I have this incredible reference of some amazing thought-processes I underwent while making some fucking awesome changes in my life, and THAT is kind of what blogging is about.

The point is, just because some of us don’t obsess over the social order, or don’t give a fuck about being seen with the “right” people (because there are so MANY to choose from, kind of like a friendship-buffet… why confine myself only to meat or potatoes or, god forbid, green things?), we shouldn’t have to feel like we’re some sort of extraneous part of the “social media” crowd.

Just because I’m not GEEKING about social media doesn’t make me irrelevant.

In FACT, I should be MORE relevant. Why? Because I care about social media for two reasons — it’s social, and it’s media. I’m reaching out. For me, being READ is more important than selling adspace, even when I’m killing myself trying to just get by, let alone pay down debt. I don’t CARE about ads or branding or any of that. I care about being read, period.

I want people to read what I have to say. I value my voice. I think you should, too. And you will, given the chance. I think I have an interesting perspective. I work hard to try to live the original examined life. I feel OBLIGATED to share my experiences in DEEPLY personal ways — because I’ve been through harsh versions of some pretty common themes in life, like survival, loss, and overcoming odds, and I think that if anyone can experience less intense turbulence as a result of maybe reading something I’ve written, then that’s powerful. Or, if I can make the hardships they’re enduring make sense, then that’s awesome too.

A woman once donated me a few hundred bucks (only time a BIG gift like that happened) for writing a posting about my mother’s death. After a couple years of her mother being dead, she could finally have a way to express to friends how it really felt — by paraphrasing me, or sending my link.

I made her pain easier to bear. Fuck “regular” advertising money! That’s awesome! That these new internet-driven social tools are allowing us to connect on deeper, less superficial planes like that, wow… this is some seriously powerful stuff.** This can change the way our world rolls. If we use it the right way.

Not if these tweetups continue being akin to high school at times, where little cliques cuddle and huddle. Don’t you get it yet? The intrawebs are for spanning the globe and shattering culture block. It’s about trying to see how we’re all the same, not amplifying how we’re different.

Blogging and social media have saved marriages, changed lives, prevented suicides, interceded in the same, revolutionized business, expedited news and information, eroded cultural divides, and, what else?

Then what’s with the whole cliquey deep-inside-it’s-grade-11-all-over-again thing? No, I don’t get it. I’m better than that. Judging by all these blogs and tweets, they’re all better than that. So let’s cut the shit and BE better than that. Let’s include people and expand experiences.

So, for a while, I’ll continue being cautious of who I align with. I’m trying to be like Switzerland, friends with everyone… and holding the really good chocolate. I’m the new kid on the block, remember? “Choose wisely, grasshopper,” I think I heard some old man on a corner whisper.

I honestly believe blogging and social media can change the world if we don’t let it all become the soulless hack of an entity that the corporate world has become. Social media isn’t just about money, it’s about shaping a new world for ourselves. It has to be kept real. Fight the power. Get past these social divides. Take the unity that we create on the web and transpose it to reality… anything less? We’ve failed.

These are pivotal times we live in.

Choose wisely, grasshopper. Live boldly.

*But this blog was called The Cunting Linguist at that time, and I do still own the URL. Thinking about making the big change back. :)

**And, let’s face it, it’s a much more appealing way to get sex & relationship advice, this internet thing. Let’s get that ball rolling again. Got any pressing questions I should try answering? Try dropping me a line. Smuttysteff (at) gmail [dot] com.