Why are you on-line, really?
I pose this based on a variety of statuses I’ve seen as it pertains to Internet presence (particularly on Facebook).
Compared to the exposure kids get to the Internet and social networking, I can honestly say I’m a dinosaur.
I didn’t get exposed to the Internet or computers much until my last couple of years of high school, but primary in college. I found the whole experience fascinating. I thought it was cool how you could interact with so many people you have never seen, whether it was through being in the same state, same culture, or same interests.
In the beginning, my favorite spots were Yahoo (especially Yahoo 360), College Club (not sure how many people remember it), Black Planet, and My Space.
In addition, since I was very passionate about poetry, I did stumble upon a site entitled Fireseek. It encompassed a lot of wonderful talents in all types of poetry (prose, haiku, senryu), short stories, and even spoken word. It was one of those places I had fun in and I really felt like I belonged, like I was with my own. I interacted with some wonderful people, some I still keep in contact with until this day.
However, I am no longer there, not because I stopped enjoying the poetry or the writings, but because certain people went through extreme measures to get rid of me.
When this occurred, the reality hit—just because it was on the Internet doesn’t mean that childish, unfair things do not take place. It’s not necessarily the Internet’s fault, either, but the people who are involved.
My theory is whether the Internet is in the equation or not, whatever negative attributes a person has doesn’t just go away because the person is online. Sometimes, the negative traits are further amplified due to the person being online.
It all boils down to presentation.
Do you want to truly be yourself or do you want to be a persona?
Do you have different aspects of your personality and create different accounts to display them?
Do you want your online person to be a complete 180 of who you are in real life?
I found in my years of being on Fireseek, which later became Urban Poetic (now I don’t know where it is now), that there were a lot of personas. Those who acted like they were larger than life celebrities.
In the beginning, I didn’t catch on to it. I was just happy to be able to share and read works from people who were like me.
However, as I got deeper involved in the club, becoming a moderator (a very popular moderator at that) and later an administrator, I began to pick up on certain behaviors. I started getting treated a bit differently by certain administrators.
I’m the type of person if I don’t like your or feel uneasy with you, I don’t put on this big farce. Not saying that I’ll act nasty towards you. I will act civil but it isn't a love fest.
A couple of the higher ones were not fans of me, and it could have been a number of reasons—from a lot of the membership being able to relate to my pieces, popularity, cause someone she was liking was digging me…whatever the case, I ended up being on her “take out” list.
The higher two got others to help in the effort, including a few people I thought I could trust but ended up betraying me in the end.
Since then, one I was able to forgive and resumed communication with because I realized she got caught up.
The other individual, however, doesn’t get that courtesy, for he knew me, not just in passing, but I believed he and I really had a deep friendship. He knew what the two were doing was wrong, but because they promised him further advancement on his separate goals, he sold me out to achieve this power.
However, it was those same two that had him banned from the membership a few years prior. That betrayal tore at me the most, and although he has tried to reach out to me, I have no interest in inviting him any closer to my life.
Since that experience with Fireseek/Urban Poetic, I haven’t become overly invested in being a part of online clubs. If they are in alignment with things I like, then I will check them out or if one of my close friends tells me it’s a club she feels it is cool, then I will check it out. As far as my seeking them out, that aspect I don’t do anymore.
Then, more people started being a part of Facebook instead of My Space.
Black Planet started being view more as a spot where people just wanted to do MGF’s (meet, greet, f**k) instead of Networking.
College Club didn’t seem to make sense for people who had gotten out of college, and Yahoo lost its’ mojo once they got rid of how Yahoo 360 was originally set up.
So I stopped visiting MySpace, Black Planet, and College Club.
I said goodbye to Yahoo 360, which was heartbreaking because I loved blogging at that spot.
Now my primary spot is Facebook. I can connect with my relatives, high school alumni, college alumni, people I use to connect with on Yahoo 360, so it definitely serves its’ role. I wasn’t quick to jump on the bandwagon of being a part of the clubs; heck, I wasn’t even aware there were clubs at first until I started getting invited and added to some.
At first, I didn't mind people getting so excited that they wanted to invite and add me to everything, but after a while, I saw myself being put in over fifteen clubs, and practically none of them had anything to do with what I was interested in or what I was about. Some of these people just wanted pretty faces or to boost numbers.
So I started deleting myself from those clubs.
Then, you have clubs that started being fun or exciting, but start doing things which take the fun and excitement out of them. I have fallen victim to one of these—this particular spot seems to put new rules in place every week. Some of the rules I understood—apparently this person wants the club to be G/PG during the daytime hours and a soft R during the evening hours. I even understood wanting people to actively participate because it sucks to have a lot of people in a club but only have a handful of people talking or just the same people talking.
A new rule came out that I had issue with. If there is a rule I have issue with, rather than put someone on blast, I like to go to someone one-on-one to address the topic.
That is what I did, and the interaction with this particular person reminded me of someone who claims he is open to discussion, but when you bring the discussion and it’s a viewpoint he doesn’t like, gets ticked off and becomes closed minded.
Or worse, when the person brought things into the conversation that has nothing to do with the initial issue.
So when I saw the response, I shook my head and was like, “How did we get here?”
But it all dates back to presentation and persona; how seriously someone takes their presence online?
I’m finding a lot of people take it very seriously; some, a bit too seriously for comfort.
There are going to be kinks in perfect participation from club memberships, drama free interactions, and inappropriate conversations because as long as you are dealing with humans, you have to accept there are possibilities there will be resistance to the type of things you are trying to uphold.
The only thing you can do is try to be a selective as possible in who you include.
You also have to decide which is more important: quality or quantity of members. Contrary to popular belief, just because you have more people doesn’t necessarily mean more participation. In a lot of situations, there can be more lurkers (folks who just want to see what the club is about) than bonafide participants.
You also have to decide if the rules you are putting in place are good ones. It may be the very rules that may cause the club growth to become stunted or even worse, cause people who would have stayed to just leave.
On this one, I’m not going to debate. I’ve stated my case. I’m just going to do a Snagglepuss on this one.