Born to share useless facts with the world – a brief history of my “social” life

September 4th 2008: I just re-read this and felt it important to note the following: I wrote this, originally, with the intention of posting it on the corporate blog of the company I work for. As I wrote, I realized it has no relevance whatsoever to that blog (although, naturally, I do work for a Web 2.0-focused company), but I finished it up anyways and made it my introductory post here. This also explains the excess use of links. I felt I needed to say this to explain what I consider to be a weird, confused tone in my writing. I promise to be more chillaxed from here on in.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve felt compelled to let a larger audience in on the most random tidbits going on in my brain. When I was 7, I typed up a series of lists on my precious new Epson Typewriter and placed them proudly around my house – once such list being my Top 10 favorite foods. Numero uno was Kraft Dinner of course (a.k.a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for you Yankees). I also distinctly remember including pomegranates somewhere in the top 5 in an effort to be seen as “varied” and “cultured,” even at that young age.

The careful thought given to preparing these lists was a clear early indicator that I was very interested in being directly and knowingly involved in shaping how others perceived me. As I’ve progressed in age and had audiences larger than my mom, dad and two older brothers to answer to, I’ve had to find different ways to keep people up-to-date on useless facts about me.

In my early teens, I developed weekly newsletters on our Apple IIe (using Print Shop of course… have you figured out my age yet?) detailing dentist appointments, trips to summer camp, and more. High school turned into higher-profile forms of self-expression, in the form of abstract poetry featured in my yearbook and through a variety of public speaking competitions (my speech about meeting Michael J. Fox awarded me a 2nd place finish!).

All this lead up to the mid-nineties… the dawn of the internet age, and the humble beginnings of what we now call Social Networking. As soon as I had a modem, I was hooked. In a sort of premonition to the online profiles featured on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, my first online project was a webpage hosted by Geocities with my picture on the top left, and a blurb or two about myself. I used this as a rudimentary profile to send to all my forum/newsgroup/discussion board “cyberfriends” (and yes, I’ve dug around for it at the Wayback Machine, to no avail).

Eventually, I was invited to join my first established social network, Orkut.com. I became addicted to the concept of finding like-minded people through groups and keywords. However, as orkut began be inundated by Portuguese-speaking Brazilian members, I began to look elsewhere to satiate my social needs.

Enter MySpace. MySpace was my first experience with being able to not only network with like-minded people around the globe, but with my actual “real life” friends and family, as they progressively started establishing profiles of their own. Myspace was also a key catalyst in the new era of people as individual brands. MySpace gives users the ability to endlessly brand their individual profiles, and gives the same ease of use to a 14-year old girl in the midwest as it does to a celebrity or multi-million dollar organization. That kind of equal opportunity platform really appealed to me.

Around the same time as I became addicted to MySpace, I established my profile on LinkedIn.com. Now, social networking was not only keeping me connected to friends and family and introducing me to new people, but it was also allowing me to network with peers and make business contacts. Social networking was touching every part of my social life.

As we move towards todays date of August 28, 2008, Facebook takes center stage. Towards the end of 2006, there was a mass exodus in my circle from MySpace over to Facebook. I still can’t quite figure out why,,, perhaps it was due to our age and lifestyle requirements; MySpace meets the needs of a younger generation looking for a less-structured approach to self-expression, and Facebook keeps things a little neater, more compartmentalized. Facebook also allows for a hybrid approach to social networking – I’ve used Facebook for friends and family, but have also used it to network with contacts.

Finally, we’ve arrived to today. My latest social venture has been twitter. I can’t get enough. I am meeting fascinating people and exposing myself to amazing ideas and finds, all from people I admire on the digital world. It’s incredible how twitter has allowed me to reach out and touch them so easily – and, meet amazing new people along the way.

I wonder what’s next?

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4 responses to “Born to share useless facts with the world – a brief history of my “social” life

  1. Retaggr has a pretty comprehensive list of the main social sites, I’m still working my way through them to get a feel. Recently I was introduced to Brightkite but I’m still getting used to the whole checking in at different locations concept.

  2. You may have heard of the technological singularity (a point in time where humans become obsolete because technology becomes so advanced that it designs and replicates itself)… perhaps there will be a social networking singularity where the rate of reporting on things will equal the rate at which things happen, leading to the obsolescence of subjective experience and the emergence of a hive mind. One could imagine tiered consciousness where some less fortunate people are left out of this hive mind entity and remain in the muddled world of individual perception and subjective experience.

  3. Oh JC, you’re so right.

  4. Oh man…Print Shop! How I used to love it!

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