It’s only right that my first ever blog post should be about social networking. Its place in my life in the past 16 years is what has brought me to this pivotal point (the birth of SpiritedStrength’s Blog). So I thought I’d give you an insight into how it happened for me and take a look at its future in my life.
My first foray into online chat began in 1995 when I purchased my first pc and I decided to purchase an external modem to give this new ‘internet’ thing a try.
I wanted my computing experience to be more interactive and was not into gaming…my thing has always been connecting with people, so after finding out about online chat via a pc magazine, I tried MIRC, the Dos-based chat system that ran the show at that time. I was excited to learn I could go hold conversations with people form all over the world! Within months I had found out about other emerging chat web based chat communities, of which, Yahoo! chat and Yahoo! messenger became a favourite of mine. I began having daily conversations and building friendships with people from all walks of life.
In December 1996 I decided to go on an adventure to Atlanta in the USA, having met some friends online who had encouraged me to visit. At the time, the media was rife with stories about people who met up with people on the internet and got murdered/raped/tortured so you could imagine the strong advice I received from dissenting family and friends who hadn’t yet been any where near the internet as yet. My cheeky friends named my holiday ‘Misery’ after the 1990 hit thriller – joking I’d be the Black version of James Caan, imprisoned in an internet maniac’s house. Still, off I went, and I found it to be one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I had developed quite intimate and honest relationships – meeting my internet friends in person felt as thought we’d covered so much of the basic ground already! They hosted me like I was a long lost brother! A week into my holiday, I said goodbye to hotel life & spent the remaining fortnight with the guys I had met online. Those friends, and the network that I developed on that trip, are still of my closest friends today – in fact I’m scheduled to travel to Atlanta again this Christmas to see my dear friend Demarco & get another fix.
By 2003 I had become an internet stalewart – I continually looked for new experiences, hence my adventures expanded and my network of friends, both in person and online, rapidly expanded. I joined Facebook in that year and recall the conversations I had with my more dissenting friends and family, such as “I haven’t got time for that – I have a real life” and “I don’t want people to be all up in my business”. Since then Facebook has edged its way into many of our daily lives and I chuckle when I see Friends Requests from ex-naysayers – worse still when I see Farmville requests and other annoying application invites that I ignore. Please?! The ex-naysayers are like ex-smokers – they forget what they said many years ago and suddenly they are the prophets & fanatics of Facebook.
Twitter changed my life. I’m serious – it did! I set up my account on the 1st September 2009. I and was delighted to find how, unlike Facebook, I could shoot off 140 character, quick-fire statements and exclamations, and that there was a world of people out there who enjoyed the same style of staccato dialogue. To begin with, it was more challenging to get into because it has unique demographics and cultures (I will go more into that in other blog posts). It’s a good thing I pride myself on loving diversity – that’s all I’m saying (Black UK folks, roll up & try it anytime you’re ready…) *cough*.
Anyway I digress – how did Twitter change my life? Well As much as Protectors Of The Order OF Facebook (POTOOFs) proclaim that Facebook is live and real, Twitter provides an edge that cannot be met by any other social networking platform. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is not shiny & pretty. When you first join, you look at it and think: what the hell happens next? You’ve got to want real dialogue to be determined to get something out of it (there’s an idea for another Blog post). But when you do – Pow! Some of the most inward-thinking, narcissistic, egotistical bastards live on there AND I LOVE IT! It’s car-crash, mind-travel and I’ve found myself binding with many a ‘Twitteren’ (my name for Twitter brethrens) over our shared, candid, shoot-from-the-hip vents! As a man who likes to be real, I have allowed those connections to spill into real friendships, 121s and Tweetups (a social meeting of tweeters) of all kinds. Twitter is about bringing like-minds together; it’s a plethora of stream of introspective consciousnesses (well the Twitterens I choose to follow anyway). There’s such a profound difference and it’s more enriched, powerful mind-blowing experience than any other social networking application.
I started using Foursquare in the summer of 2011 – its an application that encourages you to build a network of friends and use your Smart-Phone check into places that you visit on your daily travels. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve checked in somewhere then received a text or tweet to say that a Twitteren is 5 mins away and would like to join me. Cute, when it’s a person I’d talking lots with online but not met in person until then.
Did I mention Runkeeper? Allow me to indulge. Runkeeper is an app that turns your iPhone into a GPS watch, capturing essential information about your run. Apart from the amazing stats and reports, it also allows you to develop Street Teams, which are networks of runners in your area who add you as a friend, invite you to share training runs, etc. See where this is going? Yup, I’ve met friends on Runkeeper who have become good running buddies and eventually good friends.
So what’s all this about ‘not having the time?’ I still give folk a *side eye* when they say that. They have a false-perception that you need to sit at home chained to home pc to participate in social networking. I tell them: your smart-phone does it simply as quickly as sending a text. Also most social networking apps have a multisite function e.g. when you update Foursquare it sends status updates to Facebook and Twitter – in one switch of the texting-thumb. The POTOOFs (especially those who reluctantly joined it so late – in the past couple of years) normally respond with,”well I like my Facebook and I’m not going anywhere”. Yes you, the one who used to tell me that you’re not putting your [personal] business online, you Farmville-playing, holiday pics-showing, kunu-munu! Twitter is the new black.
Seriously, to the folk who either try to hold on to what was left of the past and refuse to use Facebook, or who refuse to believe that there is any other social networking platform as remotely good out there, I say: keep your eyes open and experiment! The phenomenal growth of the internet is continuous – keep up with the changes!
I’m a social networker who gets a real buzz out of reflecting on my daily life with others. My ‘high’ intensifies when those connections move off-line and into real friendships (too many to mention). My social networking activity is developing at a phenomenal rate and it’s time for me to take it to the next level by streamlining and giving my online commentary a central hub – SpiritedStrength’s Blog. *beckons readers.* Come with me…
SpiritedStrength = daily life driven by: • heart • realness • liberation • purpose • learning • happiness