Friday, August 21, 2009

Grappling with e-Socialization

I am not the most internet savvy person in the world. My website is functional and basic, and since the host changed I have not been able to figure out how to upload changes (yes, must get onto that).

I am on Facebook, but am not even quite sure what Twitter is. I'm on a few email lists, but mainly as a lurker.

The main problem is time. As it stands I need to make a choice between spending the few precious hours either writing or reading. More often than not its the writing that wins - it has to. And that's balancing a laptop on the bus or squeezing in a few lunchtime hours at the cafe. Weekends are better, but still a tough compromise with family time and activities. I'm not alone here.

But for the few minutes I do manage to log onto Facebook, I find myself baffled by the loquacious multitude. I learn quickly about people's travels, about how they can't wait to see that band, about the coffee they had that morning, how they didn't get enough sleep. Meanwhile I sit staring at the little box for my comment wondering what to write. More often than not I don't end up writing anything. For a start I can't possibly think that anyone is going to be interested in the mundane trivia of my life. Then - when I do have something significant going on - I feel as though I can't share this with a bunch of cyberites, at least not without the expectation of some sort of meaningful response. I need a find a balance with that.

OK. This is just a naked plea for help. What the Hell are you supposed to write on Facebook?

And for those that have grappled with Twitter - is this worth the look?

In the mean time, here is something for those who enjoy Multicultural (and Catholic) humour. This one tickled my fancy . . .

Each Friday night after work, Santa Singh would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a tandoori chicken and some meat kebabs. But, all of his neighbors were strict Catholics...and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating chicken and meat on a Friday.
The delicious aroma from the grilled meats was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their Priest.
The Priest came to visit Santa, and suggested that he become a Catholic. After several classes and much study, Santa attended Mass... and as the priest sprinkled holy water over him, he said, “You were born a Sikh, and raised a Sikh, but now, you are a Catholic."
Santa’s neighbors were greatly relieved, until Friday night arrived.
The wonderful aroma of tandoori chicken and meat kebabs filled the neighborhood. The Priest was called immediately by the neighbors and, as he rushed into Santa's backyard, clutching a rosary and prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement.
There stood Santa, holding a small bottle of holy water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meats and chanted: "Oye, you waz born a chicken, and you waz born a lamb, you waz raised a chicken, and you waz raised a lamb but now yara, you are a potato and tomato"!


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

LOL. Chris. We had an Indian family living over the back from us and the smell of their cooking was to die for!

I must admit, I don't see how the mundane trivia of my life would be interesting to people. My daughter is on Facebook and she tells me she gets most of her gigs through Facebooks. It doesn't work like that for writers.

I think people find it annoying you writers/bookshops etc use Facebook or Myspace to bombard them with promotional stuff.

As for Twitter. I don't see that you can say anything significant in 140 characters, apart from 'I love you'. And I wouldn't be saying that on Twitter!

Anonymous said...

Funny, I was writing about my own frustration with twitter/Facebook just this morning.

A dirty, dishevelled old tramp, reeking of booze, slumps into the seat next to a priest on the subway, pulls out a paper he's obviously rescued from the trash and, with some difficulty, starts reading.

After a little while he paws at the priest's shoulder and asks him, "Pardon me, your honour, but what causes arthritis?"

The priest is almost knocked out by the whiskey fumes from the tramp, and is upset at being manhandled. "What causes arthritis," he says, "drinking cheap hooch, fooling around with low women, neglecting your prayers, and forgetting to take a bath once in a while."

The tramp is taken aback and goes back to his paper, muttering softly under his breath.

The priest feels guilty about his outburst. "I'm sorry, my son," he says. "How long have you had arthritis?"

"Oh, I don't, father, but I was just reading that his holiness the Pope is a sufferer."

KylieQ said...

Aah, tandoori chicken on the barbeque. It's a Saturday night ritual at our house. Nothing like sitting on the front deck with a glass of wine, smelling the tandoori cooking and watching our pups bark at people walking past.

Okay, somewhat off topic but you just mentioned one of my favourite things!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a social person. I avoid parties whenever possible, because i have nothing to say, and saying nothing give very much the wrong impression.

e bulletin boards and blogs are perfect for me. They usually address an interesting subject, and I have time to think, compose, edit and then post.

I'm horribly afraid we're getting back into party chit-chat and gossip and being required to say something, however empty brained. OK, I signed up for Facebook a few weeks ago. We must move with the times. Which means that someday I'll go back to the site and see what is going on there. Maybe I should check now . . .

ieeeee! What have I done!

Amanda Green said...

Chris, I look at my fb page and find myself shaking my head and wondering where all these folks find the time to post and play all the games and take all the quizzes, etc. If I manage to post something once a week, I'm doing good. Sure, this morning I posted about being awakened thinking the house had exploded and was on fire because of a horrible storm that was sitting on top of us -- not to mention the dog and cat trying to crawl under the covers with me. But usually I'm either promoting something an author I like is doing or something our library is up to, for ex: the writers workshop Sarah is going to be doing the end of next month.

To me, all of it -- FB, LJ, Myspace, and especially Twitter -- can be great big time sinks. There's a commercial right now for a phone company where the kids are begging their parents to quit posting on their FB walls and twittering, as the father tweets, "I'm sitting on the patio". I don't care if you're sitting on the patio unless it's my patio and I'm late getting home to let you in.

Mini-rant here -- Twitter and texting drive me nuts because folks don't care where they are when they do it. I was in the movies the other day and the couple ahead of me were tweeting throughout the movie. News flash, folks -- your cell phone screen can be seen and is distracting, just as your laughs and not so whispered comments back and forth. End mini-rant.

No jokes this morning, not enough coffee yet.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Very cute!

I don't have Facebook or Twitter...I can barely keep up with my LJ. And I'm with you. I can't imagine that anyone really cares about my personal life. I don't blog about it often. The other blogs I usually offer sf/f related photos that I buy from I consider it a service to my writer friends who enjoy sf/f art. It doesn't run much money-wise, and I enjoy perusing the photos for selection. I hope that my readers enjoy and possibly even look forward to my posts with them.

Do they care that I hate the taste of coffee but love the smell? That I have 6 pets (two dogs, three cats and a bunny for those of you who might care)? That I just received my umpteenth rejection on a story that I love? I doubt it. They have their own lives.

We unite on the internet in the quest of writing and writing related issues. Yes, we become "friends," and it's made real if we can ever meet in person (at cons, most likely). Rock on, us.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, that was me!

Linda Davis

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Rowena. Coming from a very strict Irish Catholic family, that joke really cracked me up.

I think its a real personality match isn't it. Facebook just seems to work for some people.

Your daughter get gigs from Facebook? Do you mean music gigs? That's pretty impressive.

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Anton. Nice one. Its nice to be reminded that we should not make judgements about people.

Be a nice twist if the guys was an angel in disguise who was waiting to cure the priest's arthitis if he expressed some compassion!

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Kylie. I love tandoori too - nice to see you're not cooking it on Friday thought -- :)

I'd have to say my favorite Indian is probably more in the beef line - beef Madras or the one they guys on the corner do with spinach. And those naan and paratha breads . . . makes me hungry just thinking about it!

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, matapam. You made me realise there are a whole host of options out there for connecting with other people over the internet. Facebook is just one of them. Maybe if it doesn't work for me, then there will be other things that do.

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Amanda. The whole texting during the movie thing is a personal bugbear of mine as well. Those screen flashes are do distracting.

I find myself torn at whether I should say anything or just ignore it. Usually I ignore it, mostly because they will continue to do it anyway and then I just get distracted by my annoyance rather than them.

I quite enjoy reading other people's entries on Facebook. Some people have a knack of making simple things into an enteraining narrative. I can't really do this, but I do enjoy reading the entries of people who can!

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Linda. Funny, I kind of guessed it was you even before I read the tag.

You and matapam have expanded my thinking on this. There are heaps of ways to use the internet. I just need to find the right one. Probably something along the same lines that has a joint focus and something to prompt the conversation. Good food for thought.

Kate said...


I'm someone whose entire social life is online, so I'm probably not the best person to be giving you advice :)

For me, if I want to talk with my friends, I use instant messaging. Facebook lets me splat stuff in the general direction of acquaintances without there being a real expectation of a response. Bulletin boards and blogs are for more thoughtful, longer postings and can generate quite animated discussions - and also inspire a sense of virtual community.

My first online community was a usenet forum, for the fans of an author I no longer read. I still lurk (and very occasionally post) on that group, but I have some good friends who I met there, plus it's where I met my husband.

I think in many cases its a matter of finding the forum and style that suits you, and settling in.

Promotion through facebook etc. is a fine line, I think. Author bouncing about their book and so forth isn't necessarily a bad thing when that author has been dropping in progress reports, snippets and such like from the start - at that point it becomes more of an "I think this is neat so I'm sharing it around."

Chris McMahon said...

Thanks, Kate. Doesn't that make you the ideal person to give me advice on using the internet? :)

You're right though. I think I have a good idea now how to grapple with this now. I just need to find the fit the at works with me with the various avenues available.

I like that turn of phrase there for using Facebook - ' to splat things in the general direction of friends'. Gives a good sesne of where this fits for you.

Mike said...

Let me tackle it from a slightly different direction? We're all involved in presentation of self -- expressions of who we are, in various venues to various audiences. For Facebook, blogs, mailing lists, etc. I suggest thinking about what you want to say, and how much time you want to spend doing it. Maybe it's posting one joke a week to Facebook (with reflections?). Good, do that! Frankly, we all get caught up in the "pile on" phenomenon -- there's so MUCH stuff, how can I respond to it all? You don't have to! Put in one piece on a reasonably regular basis, and people will be happy with that.

Pick your message, pick your media -- hum, that almost sounds like writing advice, doesn't it?

Dave Freer said...

I must admit I really battle with facebook. Never find the tabs or the time! I like LJ because it breaks writing. But my life tends to vere erratically from the ludicrous to the utterly boring. "What did you do today, Dave?" "Got up, answered post, read papers, walked for milk, had breakfast, and sat at my desk creating imaginary dialogues and actions between imaginary people. Got up for pee, took blind dog out. Wrote more. Had some tea. wrote more. Had some lunch, wrote more... made the fire in the lounge, cooked supper, checked post, and wrote more. Same as yesterday. Same as tomorrow." Wild ;-)