Confessions of a lurker

Summer, it’s a great excuse for not blogging, because you know, it’s sunny outside and all that. But to me this break has been of significant value, for alas, I am a lurker.

Lurkers are the sad, shy bunch of web dwellers that are looked down upon by the rest of the Internet. They move alone, come out of the shadows to explore forums and social sites, and then vanish without leaving any trace they were there. To put it short, lurkers consume digital content like every other visitor, but they don’t contribute. It’s estimated that 10% of Internet users create all the content for the rest of us to enjoy. That makes every 9 out of 10 people lurkers, and I’m one of them.

But here I am, writing a blog and at least trying to contribute, so how could I be lurker?  For me blogging is self-medicating, I recognized the symptoms of lurking and thought that there must be a cure, and therefore started a blog. Earlier I tried to heal the affliction by tweeting but clearly more drastic measures were needed. And yes, here are the symptoms that I analyzed before the diagnosis:

  • My account on my favorite forum turned 5 years. Average post count for core users seems to be in the thousands, I’m just past 100.
  • I can proof read one single tweet for ten minutes. And then press delete.
  • Before I like/post/share or do anything on Facebook, I always sing the Finnish “what will others think of me” song first.
  • I laugh at upvote jokes on Reddit although I’ve ever upvoted about two posts.
  • Needless to mention how many posts I’ve made there.
  • And of course, I consume content made by others hours upon hours a day.

What’s mind boggling is that I do digital marketing and social media stuff for living, and consider myself to be quite good at it. So why can’t I function as a private person? Perhaps there’s some peculiar bipolar activity going on between the professional and the private me. The professional me has gotten the pursuit-quality and love-for-all-things-digital traits from the private me, but only shared analytics and brand management in return. Bum luck if your the private me.

Anyway I like to think that lurking can be cured by forcing good content, even if it takes a while to create. Although I don’t want to jump on the lolcat bandwagon, that’s where I draw the line, I have to admit I’m envious of people who can roam the web free of restraints. I guess I just need to accept that there are two kinds of people in the digital world: those who think too much and those who create.


Social spammers

There are many kinds of social spammers: drunken posters, transcripters, account linkers, attention whores and check-inners to name a few. I think you know what I’m talking about, my theory is that each of us follows enough of them to have our feeds ruined regularly. Block them you say? Unfollow them? You can’t, they self-replicate (the nerd in me would also love to write that “they have a plan”, but I really think they don’t), I’ve noticed that for everyone you block or unfollow, another one steps up.

It’s not too hard to ignore the music video posters every Friday, but the most corrupt ones have merged several social spammer personalities to create an intricate feeding system where each post they make spreads like a virus in the social sphere. The Foursquare disease is by far the worst:

LinkedIn – James: I’m at Kamppi shopping center
Twitter – James : I’m at Kamppi shopping center
Facebook – James: I’m at Kamppi shopping center

And it goes on and on and on and on…

James: I’m at Kamppi – I’m at tram 3T – I’m at MacDonalds – I’m at random bar – I’m at second hand market – I’m at bus 192 HSL – I’m at the office – I’m at I DON’T CAREEEEE!

And it doesn’t end, ever.

What’s really killing me is that some of these people are in the business. Their bio might read “social media entrepreneur” or similar, who the frak are you kidding? Seriously, geeeez.

I am an account linker myself, guilty as charged. But I only push my tweets to Facebook because I’ve all but stopped posting on FB. And we wouldn’t want any of you to miss my content would we.

What’s that, do I hear crying?

Social web setbacks

Recent hassle with the terms & conditions, privacy issues and general evilness of big Internet companies has now materialized into this post.

  • Pinterest states that the USERS have to pay any legal fees necessary in case of copyright infringement etc.
  • Google changed their terms & conditions in the beginning of March to better use all the data they’ve collected.
  • Twitter opened their whole tweet history to market research.
  • Facebook… well Facebook is just being Facebook, by for example failing to protect mister Z’s own private photos. You just can’t make this stuff up.

There are ways to battle for your privacy and digital rights of course, but the simplest thing to do is to share less. This is the great controversy. All the social media evangelists are hailing the coming of the all-sharing-era, but the relevant business players are soiling themselves regularly. To worsen the situation these companies are also trying to develop really cool stuff, like social buying and digital wallets. But ask yourself, would you give Google or Facebook access to your credit card data? Well for all we know they already have it, but let’s pretend they don’t. I wouldn’t.

Despite the somewhat questionable business move they just made, at the moment the one social media I kind of trust is Twitter. Facebook and Google simply know too much, and they have made weird choices regarding user privacy. Twitter has huge amounts of data too, but the sharing logic is different. Protecting 140 characters of witty remarks is not my main digital privacy concern.

So my point is that we need to keep in mind that these are companies in the business of making money. We are the products they sell (4$/user on Facebook, ad revenue divided by user count). From a user perspective this sucks. In a perfect world we would be customers and not products. In a perfect world we would have companies with integrity and slogans like “Don’t be evil” or something. Oh what’s that Google? Yes, I’ll bend right over.