Internet Communication Sucks

I created this site so I’d have a place to vent.  I’ve done a bit of it - mostly related to social media.  That still has me flumuxed.  I like to post here as way to cleanse myself of negative thoughts.  Consider it psychiatry for the internet world.

To clean my headtrash I thought I’d relate a couple of things that happened in the last few weeks.  Both of which left me wondering what to do. 

First - LinkedIn Groups

I posted an article on a blog.  MY purpose for writing the post was to get people thinking differently about a topic by introducing a similar but different area of thought.  In other words - I borrowed the logic from one place and applied it in another.  I thought it was a somewhat interesting “thought experiment.”

I put those words in quotes because I wasn’t offering facts.  I wasn’t offering a dissertation with research and footnotes.  It was simply and idea based on another idea.  I was offering a way to think about something that may have been different than what had been thought of before.  I posted a link to the article in LinkedIn - to a few of the groups I belong to related to the topic.  I got a few bites… nice comments… interesting points of view.  Some were pro “nice post” - some were con “never will work.”

I responded and tried to clarify that my post wasn’t really about proffering a solution to a problem but a new tangent on the thinking that currently exists.  I got a response - again it was..

"won’t work.  you’d be laughed at if you tried to do this in the real world."

I’m not offended.  I expect anything different and new to be looked at sideways.  It is always that way with a new idea.  But what is bugging me is that the responder is shutting down the avenue for conversation.  His responses are all about - no, no, no.  There isn’t one hint of…

"in the current line of thinking it won’t work but if you think this way it might."  Or… "won’t work that way - but you may need to take a different route like this to get to your end game."

It’s just -

"No.  Won’t work.  Stop."

So the question is —— How do you respond to that?

Do you continue to engage?  Try to get my point across.  Continue the conversation?  Or do a I just send a note back saying "Uncle.  You win.  I’m an idiot, you’re smart."

I want to "win" so to speak and convert this person (they seem smart) and see if they can offer some value to the discourse.  But I’m a bit put off by the tone and the veracity of their arguments (and I use the word argument in its most positive connotation.)  

Does it do me any good to continue the conversation?

Situation #2 - Email Chain

Working on a project with someone where they asked for input.  I offered mine.  They said great - add it to a document in google docs.  I tried.  Didn’t work.  I sent them a note and said I couldn’t add it to the doc.  They said… email updates to them.  I did.  They said "can you put them in an email to me."  I said I just did and thinking that the “way” I sent them didn’t work with their process, I offered another option on how I could get them my input.  They said “forget it…” (but not so nicely.)

So, there I was, sitting there in front of my computer on a Friday trying to get work done before my family comes in for the long weekend (and we all know what that means from a stress and anxiety standpoint) and trying to make someone else’s life easier by responding to their request, and because we’re trying to do everything on email, we’re not communicating effectively.

I’m pissed.  But I don’t want to be pissed.  I know they’re working hard.  I’m working hard.  We’re all trying to get something done.

In both cases I walk away from the computer in a pretty bad mood.  I’m trying real hard and not getting anywhere.

We Don’t Give Good Internet

My point in all of this rambling is that in two instances in the past few days I’ve been pissed off and full of unrequited rage.  And it is all do to the fact that we don’t/can’t communicate well via the written word.  

In one case the person is providing their “opinion” in a way that sounds condescending.  I only “hope” they really don’t want to sound that way.  If they so, they succeeded.  In the other case I think the person is trying to be funny (but wasn’t and therefore didn’t succeed.)

In both cases the overall communication effort was a bust.

I know the other person thinks it is my fault - that I’m a poor communicator.  I’m also sure it is their fault because I KNOW I’m not a poor communicator.

I find there is no easy way to extricate myself from either of these situations except to surrender.  I am not communicating - they are not communicating.  I am mad.  I’m sure they are mad.

We all lose.

We really, really need to find a way to do this better.  I —— really need to find a way to do this better.

I know - maybe we talk.

Nah… that’s so 1980s.

Old Man Problems and Social Networks

In July of 2011 I wrote a post here called “Tragedy of the Google+ Commons.

In that post I talked about all the ways Google+ could fail.  One of the ways was through the “automation” of push from other networks into G+.  And it’s happening.

I just noticed the other day that I was seeing “tweets” in my G+ stream.  

I don’t want that.  I have tweets in my tweet stream. I don’t need them in my G+ stream.  A friend started doing it an I hit him up on twitter and said I’d be uncircling him on G+ and he responded with - #oldmanproblems.

And he’s right.  These are old man problems.  Getting chocolate in my peanut butter. Getting tweets in my G+.

I’m not a luddite.  I’m not a purist.  I was an early adopter of many different tools on the internet. Heck - I was in chat rooms in AOL in the late 80s/early 90s.  I’m not new to this stuff. But I am having my own difficulties with the way this is evolving.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to stop the evolution.  I know that would be tilting at windmills.  But it makes me feel better to write about it here - where no one will hear me scream.  

But I really don’t believe I’ll be the only one screaming.  At some point the entire house of cards will have to come crashing down from the narcissistic weight of everyone posting everything to every platform.  Our brains won’t allow it.

We will ultimately rebel and we will start to ignore people.  And then the value is gone.  

We will be our own worst enemy.

We Are 3-D

Here’s how I see it.  Humans are 3-D by nature.  We like to see things in “places.”  It’s how we make connections.  Have you ever bumped into a “work” friend at a tattoo parlor?  Remember how that felt?  Weird huh.  It was a disconnect.

I’m sure you’ve also had the experience of running into a friend from high school that you spent a drunken debouched weekend in Vegas with at a client meeting.  Probably didn’t even recognize them at first because the context was off.

I think we see things based on context.  We need the context in order to turn on and off those parts of the brain that are important at that point in time.  Friends from the neighborhood - cool - they can see me in shorts.  CEO that I want to do business with - they don’t need to see the inappropriate Scooby-Do and Jessica Rabbit tattoo on my thigh.  Those streams should never cross.  Not at least until I get the business with a multi-year contract.

We need that context for us to feel safe.  I should say “I” need that context to feel safe.  There seem to be a ton of you out there that don’t, but hey - you’re profersonal, and I’m not.

All of our networks are morphing and connecting.  But instead of them connecting to form a sweet spot of interaction - they are connecting and pulling the worst things from each.  

We’re not getting better at this stuff.  We’re getting worse.

Facebook was about friends and family.  It was about pics of kids and weddings and reunions.  It was about bachelor parties and good times.  Now it’s about networked blogs, business speaking gigs, links to fan pages.  It’s not really personal any more.  It’s not professional either.  It found that spot between the two that has the least value. 

Twitter was about freedom, quick witty reportee, more personality driven. It could be both personal and professional - but it is primarily business with an edge.  Now twitter is about promotion, mass marketing and links to new posts and speaking gigs.  Hey -guilty as charged.  But I do try to make it about 3:1 fun versus biz.  But not all of you do.  It’s crowded.  It’s noisy.  It’s a bit random.  As someone said early on in twitter’s arc - it’s like a cocktail party.  And it is.  But it’s moved from the “club scene” to the “conference scene.”  Still a party… but without the Ecstasy and rave music.  

LinkedIn - well - that’s pretty obvious.  Not much has changed there.  That site is all about the Benjamins.   It was, is and will be about income.  Next.

And then there is google+.  The odd kid in the family.  The one that no one really gets yet.  There’s a glimmer of genius but then they trip over their own feet.  So you’re really not sure what to make of it.

I have old man problems.

I don’t want to mix my streams.  I don’t want the same information in 10 different places.  I want to be able to connect with friends as friends do.  I don’t want to connect to friends and then hear all about their presentation.  I want to hear about chinch bugs in their lawn and what kind of grill they’re going to buy next summer.  

I want to talk biz with biz people.  I want to know how your career is going and I want to help when I can.  

Sure there are times when those conversations overlap.  Sure, I’ve talked business at cookouts.  But only for a few minutes.  Not the entire freakin’ time.  

So… for all you “socially networked” people out there… I’m going on record and say this - all of this stuff will be falling apart soon.  It will be unmanageable.  It will become a hassle.  

I’m convince that all these networks will become less valuable the more we add to them and the more we use them as a fire hose.  They will only become valuable again when we inject context into the discussion.

I know I’m going to lose some great conversations on google + as I remove people from my circles.  I’m also going to miss some great photographs and some of your family updates as I unfriend you on Facebook.  I will truly miss that.

But what I gain is sanity.  Calm, cool, sanity.

At the end of the day all these networks are really about how "I" use them - not how "you" use them.  I know… sacrilege … it’s not about you.  

Sorry.  It just isn’t.  It is really about me.

Now… Pull up your pants, get off my lawn, get a job and quite mumbling.

Do you have a toilet in your living room?

It’s been a long time since I posted here.  Seems this is becoming my default location to bitch about everything social media.  Yup… that’s what’s ahead…

I just went through my Facebook page and it seems that everyone I am connected with is clueless about twitter or LinkedIn or RSS feeds.  My Facebook stream is clogged with updates on business crap.  Conferences, blog posts, updates on buyouts and mergers.  A quick count shows about 4-1 business to personal/fun.

Don’t get me wrong - each person I’ve allowed into my Facebook stream (and that’s what I do - allow you in… kinda like inviting you into my house) is someone I wanted to get to know on a personal level.  Mostly because I got to know them in some professional vein - in real life at a conference, via their blog, through their twitter stream - whatever.  

I got to know you most likely in a professional manner and thought …

"Hey - they were fun to talk to - I wonder what they’re like OUTSIDE OF WORK!

I guess I’ll never know.

I Don’t Have A Sink In My Living Room

I have a normal house.  Got a kitchen, a few bedrooms, living room, back porch.  Couple of bathrooms.  Nice little place - and I do specific things in each of those rooms.  When we entertain we usually have some folks in the kitchen - some in the living room.  Very few folks get to the bedrooms (unless it’s a particularly good party.)  Rarely do I sleep on the porch and I rarely sleep on the couch in the living room.

See - I have rooms in my house that are designed around the functions they serve.  Kitchen - food stuff - oven, sink, dishwasher, stove - designed for making stuff we eat, eating it and cleaning up the stuff we just ate.  

Living room - TV, stereo, some comfy chairs - designed for conversation and relaxation.

Home office - computer, desk chair, task light - designed for writing, getting work done.

Bathroom - well - I won’t go into details.

See - each environment is designed around a function.

Facebook Now Has A Toilet In It

Unfortunately, I now have to walk around all the extraneous elements in my Facebook feed - all of you guests decided I needed a toilet in my living room.  I didn’t want it.  You put it there after I invited you into the house. 

Facebook used to be a place I went to have casual, personal conversations about what up in people’s lives.  What’s up with the kids?  What’s with the extended fam?  New pics of the puppy doing something cute with the cat.  That’s what I wanted from you when we connected.  That’s what I wanted out of Facebook.

Now I feel like I’m sitting across from a mahogany desk… being interviewed.

I’d like to limit your business updates in Facebook - but I’d have to eliminate all your updates.  I can still mute services that automatically post to Facebook - but people are posting directly to their streams - and therefore I only have two choices… put up with their toilet in my living room… or kick them out of the house.

It’s getting real close to the latter.

Just Because You Can - Doesn’t Mean You Should

I could put a toilet in my living room.  But just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

Please - think about how these various social media streams were initially designed.  Just because they want to be the one - you don’t have to let them dictate how you use them.  Just because you can post to your “friends” about your newest blog post - doesn’t mean you should.  Why not put that in the business feed of LinkedIn - or at least use twitter where I can see it and then decide if I want to subscribe to your RSS or email updates.

And don’t tell me it’s profersonal - that’s crap.  While we CAN meld those two lines it doesn’t mean we should.  And - if I REALLY want to know you “profersonally”  I’ll subscribe to your professional and your personal feeds and do the mixing myself.

Don’t force me.  

Get off my lawn - and get your toilet out of my living room.