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So much noise

Do you remember BBS's and Fidonet? Do you remember having to use a Modem to connect to the Internet through your phone line using either Compuserv, AOL or Prodigy? At one point or the other I used all three of them. I remember running Cross Connection BBS on all sorts of IBM compatible hardware. One of the computers had two 20 mb MFM hard drives that were so hot that you could heat up our apartment in the winter time. I remember how much I loved to learn about DOS and software back in those days. I remember staying up all hours of the night doing backups and waiting for people to dial our BBS phone number and connect to our computer.

One of the services that I provided for my users was the ability to download feeware software files, and to read and respond to message forums. I registered my BBS with , and subscribed to certain message feeds. Every night my computer would connect with its uplink provider and send up messages from my BBS and download more messages for my BBS users to read. That is how flame wars got started. Someone on a BBS that was subscribed to a particular Fidonet message base would start a conversation about some topic and then the flaming would begin.

Considering that I ran a faith based BBS it was not hard to attract those folks who were opposed to what are BBS stood for. After a while all of the messages going back and forth just became so much white noise. Before I knew it I got tired of the back and forth bickering and got burned out on it all. One day I remember a BBS in Houston Texas that offered its users a subscription option to use their BBS to get on this thing called the world wide web. You could dial into their BBS and then click on a link that would allow you to use your Netscape Navigator Browser to browse the Internet. I remember what a big deal that was. I also remember that with the slower modem speeds that browsing web pages was slow. Then again, most web pages consisted of nothing but a white background and links to other web pages with more links.

I remember how I loved to have the ability to make real connections with people from other cities and countries in the world. I remember how I would stay up all hours of the night and chat on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and chat about all sorts of stuff. In years gone by people would go to the local barber shop or beauty salon to make personal connections. Now we can sit in the privacy of our own homes and use social media connections to make those connections.

Now at the blink of an eye, we have all sorts of web based portals at our disposal. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIN, Foursquare, Twitter and Google Plus are just some of the major social media connections. MySpace is still online but I think that most folks have switched over to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus for their social media needs. What drives us to be connected to one another and how meaningful are those connections? Do these connections add quality or quantity to our lives? I guess you get out of social media what you put into it. If you take the time to put yourself out there and make the connections with others you will find a lot of quality folks out there that you have things in common with. How much time are we willing to give up in order to make these connections? How consumed have we gotten by these social media portals?

Just the other day I watched a MSNBC special that was titled “The Facebook Obsession”. It is amazing how we will get online and share information with the world over social media. We feel safe and secure in our social media security bubbles and we throw caution to the wind. Social Media portals have become a source of information for both criminals and law enforcement agencies all over the world. If you want to track someone down all you have to do is find them on a social media portal and follow them to see what they are up to.

When does social media stop being a way to connect with our neighbors online and becomes an irritating white noise that starts to suck the life out of us? Are we obsessed with this connectivity to the point that we do not know how to step back from it all and take a deep breath? Are we able to dial back on our social media consumption or step away from it for a spell? When we start to feel like all of the connectivity is becoming white noise maybe it is time to evaluate why we are connecting and what we expect to get out of it. Social media usage can be very entertaining and it also can be a useful tool if used properly within the proper boundaries. Maybe I am not the only one with these thoughts or that struggles with all of this. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.


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Twitter Meetup in Charleston

Katy and I had a good time this evening as we met up with some folks that are part of the social media group here in Charleston.  I knew everyone in the group except for one person so it was nice to meet someone new.  We met at Zia Taqueria in Charleston and then we went to the Terrace Theater to watch the Social Network movie.

As always the food was excellent and  we all had a great time chatting it up about all sorts of topics which included the Wikipedia Sex Toy link that was on Andra’s blog this morning and the knit sibs culture and the knitting foot fetish sub culture that Vhanna was speaking about.  We met Robin from Mt Pleasant and had a fun time getting to know her a little bit.

The Social Network was not at all what I was expecting.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “It SUCKED” to 10 being “It rocked my socks off”  I would have to give the movie a 5.  I had the expectation that the Social Network movie which is about Facebook was going to speak to how the Social Media of our day and age has affected how we relate to one another both online and offline.  For those of you who have not seen the movie yet I will not spoil it for you by saying anything else.  It was NOT a bad movie, I was just expecting it to be something else.

On our way home I decided that I needed to plug my Blackberry Smart Phone into the charger and let it charge. We were sitting at the corner of Maybank Hwy and Folly Rd at the red light and I decided to kill the car and unlock the glove box.  When I went to start the car again it was dead.  Luckily for us some nice people who were in two separate  vehicles stopped to help us almost as soon as we broke down.  One man used his truck to park behind us and put on his emergency flashers so someone would not plow into our vehicle.  Another man pulled in front of us with his truck and attempted to use jumper cables to jump our car.  When that did not work her pulled his battery out of his truck and put it in our car and our car started right up.  I am very thankful for the assistance and I believe that they went above and beyond the call of duty.  Their random act of kindness helps to renew my faith in man kind.

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