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day 196 of being facebook free

16 Jul

Passed the sixth month mark recently. Wow, those 93 days just went by fast.

I don’t feel the sudden, subconscious impulse anymore to type “facebook.com” into the url box. I’m doing my best not to think about the ever-so-popular social network, but now, it’s near to impossible to avoid. Websites are beginning to offer users to access their accounts via their FB accounts. Like Flickr and Tapastic. (ugh) And of course, the logos that appear in the corner of the advertisement. Those little cute squares to show how hip and connected the business is to the mingling and the socializing.

Somewhere there’s some theory that if you are able to maintain a habit up thirty days, you can wire yourself to a new habit. Maybe in some cases, like having used Facebook for few years, and how such instant gratification (the dopamine release you feel as you see the notification bar light up), it might require more than just a month’s time to adapt.

Please, if you’re an user who is thinking about using this option or a website developer who is wondering whether to allow people to log in with their Facebook account, just don’t. It feels like the equivalent of an old timer trying to catch up with the times by publishing a video of himself twerking and saying, “rockin’ it like a whippersnapper.” How that description is relevant to this discussion is irrelevant. I hope the image is disturbing enough to deter you from doing so.

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day 103 of being facebook free

13 Apr

So far, it has been three months, thirteen days, and ten hours since following through my new year’s resolution of being off Facebook.

The irony of abstaining from one of the most popular social networks is that I gravitated toward other networks like Instagram, Twitter, and even Deviantart. Don’t forget WordPress too. I believe that I was able to blog a good amount by using the energy used for writing status messages and feeling self-conscious of what my acquaintances think of me into writing what matters to me.

I have been experiencing the occasional Facebook withdrawals. I catch my fingers typing “fa” into the url text box that causes Facebook to pop up in the suggestion box. The occasional curiosity to look up on how so-and-so is doing. And I’ll admit, I recently joined Google+.

Before you harp on my rear about somehow breaking my resolution, it’s not the same. I started using Facebook since 2006, back when it was only for college students, back when it was, well, simple. When poking was deemed to be light-hearted and playful. Over the years, I have added a decent size of people I know on the list. Also, there are all the stuff on my wall and people has tagged me in their photos. Much as I don’t want to admit it, I do look forward to going back on Facebook. Maybe it’s the nostalgia and the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder sentiment talking. And also some people will stop thinking I just disappeared or something.

In contrast, I don’t have much invested in Google+. It doesn’t feel the same. I still feel disoriented understanding the concept of circles and other weird terms they used so the social network won’t be sued by Facebook.

I did clearly state in my resolution it’s Facebook, not social networks in general.

This is a choice I have made to uphold this resolution so I could learn and be confident in who I am rather than let Facebook define me who I’m supposed to be.

Make the status updates and do the liking, not the other way around.

along with that adventure time craze

3 Apr

Yesterday, my friend Donald and I browsed at a comic book store, f.y.e., and Target. I noticed a lot of Adventure Time items at all of these places: comic books, keychains, t-shirts, and DVDs. During our conversation, he told me about Regular Show, which is about animals living the post-grad life and working at a park. It airs along with Adventure Time.

I will get around to watching Adventure Time and Regular Show, but after seeing the images of that guy wearing a strange cap with little ears accompanied by a dog with glasses, I could imagine how the show would play out. There are some webcomics I had read in the past that share a similar vibe in case you have already bought every A.T. collectible and watched each episode fifty times, and God forbid, you got bored of going on magical adventures and began watching shenanigans that happens in bureaucracy, like Parks & Recreation.

(Note: Whenever viewing any webcomic, you will need some of that viewer’s-discretion-is-advised mindset since it is not censored by the Gods of Censorship or Something. Hence that is why many newspaper comics are, well, blah-bland, and rarely ever edgy and innovative.)

Three Word Phrase: I read the first comic issue of Brave Warriors, and the second story “Space Flu” is drawn by Ryan Pequin. While not directly related to Adventure Time though it shares similar drawing style and humor, you might be interested in his webcomic’s offbeat humor. It can get a bit at times, you know, offensive.

Time Trabble: Zany and colorful. Absurd? Indeed.

Beaver & Steve: While it has been a few years on the dreaded indefinite hiatus, this comic can still be viewed. Sorry, there’s no dog wearing glasses protagonist, but there’s a beaver and his lizard friend.

Nedroid: Another anthropormical animal duo. But this time, a bird and a small bear that resembles a potato.

Buttersafe: An amusing collection of comics, with each with its absurd internal logic.

instagram: my nicotine patch

16 Mar

So I’m still keeping my new years resolution: no Facebook for a year, at least.

A co-worker was nudging me to go back on the website so she can invite me to networking functions. I told her there’s email, but she had become accustomed to using the events and messages in Facebook. Her suggestion tempted me, but I became used to not logging on Facebook because my social life is not exciting to begin with.

If someone’s having an awesome milestone moment in his life, I rather hear it directly from him (even if it’s a decade later) than have Facebook shoving fifty poignant moments in my face.

In the linked post above, I noted Yelp as my nicotine patch. It did help at the time, but I quickly lost interest in it. I still check-in and will get around to writing reviews for the places I’ve been to.

*

As you may have already figured out from this entry’s title, I’ve decided to get back to Instagram. It wasn’t in my new year’s resolution, and so it’s good to go.

I actually had considered deleting the account as to avoid social networks much as possible. My finger hovered over the “Delete” button.

But I couldn’t. Maybe it was because it has the same name as my blog or it might be worth millions on some perverse auction bidding on people’s social accounts. Or I like to continue capturing snapshots in my life and see it unfold as a visual collage of who I am.

I will refrain from linking my Instagram with my WordPress. My reason: my blog is for thoughtful posts and the occasional comics and illustrations, and if the reader is interested, there’s my Instagram account.

the like button

6 Feb

The like button is often perceived as a virtual thumbs up to signal when one is delighted by a friend’s tongue-in-cheek status message or a college roommate’s wedding photos; however, it’s not wholesome as it seems.

If people can experience negative emotions when they discover someone “unfriended” them, then I’m sure the like button holds much influence, for better or worse. On one hand, this mechanism can be beneficial as it can affirm the contents of someone’s post; however, it can also cause one to feel lacking in approval and crave for more.

I do like being liked. And my, how insecure and honest does that read.

In the newsfeed, I read about people I know getting ahead in life (degrees, jobs, marriages, children) and felt happy for them at first, but I couldn’t shake off the aftertaste of jealousy, bitterness, and inadequacy.

Feeling embarrassed of harboring such feelings at the sight of the amount of likes I saw accumulated on their posts, I converted my feelings into self-loathing (it wasn’t my friends’ fault for having good fortune), which summed up this this thought: “I guess my life isn’t that great.” Easy to see that as foolish thinking in hindsight, but in the moment, it was like Walter Crokite had just said, “and that’s the way it is.” Also, I did have a bit of a “soapbox phase” last year, posting as if I escaped from Plato’s cave – raving under the overwhelming sunlight.

Sure, go ahead and post pictures with the quote along the lines of “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line”, but don’t try to demonstrate that in your posts if you want to appear stable and sane.

*

This device of liking someone’s post is not new. It has been present in blogs for a long time like Xanga (eprops) and Live Journal (memories). It is also evident in Youtube where it gives you the ability to “dislike” and view visual representation of the votes as a bar (green as good; red as bad). More websites and blogs are including a social media sharing bar, which allows you to share it on social networks such Facebook, Digg, and Twitter.

Of course, I’m aware that WordPress also does have a like button as well. Yet there is a difference between liking on Facebook and blogs.

Because Facebook is user-oriented (i.e. profile), to like someone’s status message on Facebook is attributed to the creator. Think of it as writing an online dating profile; it’s all about making yourself presentable to the potential date (and you can count the “winks” as likes if you please).

The blog is content-oriented while the user (i.e. the blogger) is secondary. To like on a blog entry is to express approval toward the content of the writing rather than directly to the person. Think of it as publishing a book. You are more focused on what’s the book about rather than on the back flap where you get to talk about yourself in third person.

I found writing this entry difficult as I felt self-conscious about how readers might respond something like: “Huh! He’s writing about the like button and there’s one for this entry. Is there some ulterior motive of him trying to achieve getting liked for writing about being liked because he wants to be liked?”

I’ll admit that it’s good to see the likes and occasional followers. There’s this natural yearning for human beings to express and to be heard. Everyone has their own aesthetics and reading preferences. What appeals to one may be appalling to another. I believe an artist has his certain audience that he deeply connects with.

If the receiving likes and followers becomes a beauty pageant contest (and the artist compromises his integrity for the sake of popularity), then that’s when his works become meaningless.

*

As mentioned in the no facebook resolution, I have deactivated my account for this year. Just the other night, I had a nightmare where I accidentally reactivated mine and felt guilty of breaking my resolve to be FB free since 2013.

Whether you deactivate yours and take a Facebook vacation or not, that’s up to you; however, if you do consider, keep in mind of the people you may want to keep in touch with.

on blogging

17 Jun

When I began this blog a few weeks ago, I was a bit skeptical. It’s not my first one; so why bother with another one? There’s probably a landfill of abandoned blogs somewhere on the Internet, and I pray that mine does not end up in that doomed slush pile.

Now that I’m not in my high school days on Xanga blogging unnecessary, irrational angst, you could say that I became more eloquent and thoughtful since then. Throughout my time in college and two years after getting my Bachelor’s in English, I have developed a sense of who I am and discovered what I’m interested in. So if you’re expecting this blog to be about lavish lifestyle, high-brow literary criticism, and tweed jackets, I’m sorry but I don’t believe in documenting pretension. Instead, I blog things that appeal to me.

When it comes to the topic of blogging, however, I could relate to how actor Simon Pegg feels about autobiographies: “You see them congesting the bookshop shelves at Christmas. Rows of needy smiles, sad clowns and serious eyes, proclaiming faux-modest life stories, with titles such as This Is Me, or Why, Me?, or Me, Me, Me.” And he adds quite sharply: “There’s something presumptuous in writing an autobiography, as if people’s interest in your life is a given.”

A weird way to for him to begin his autobiography by dismissing the genre, but then again, Simon Pegg is weird in that awesome, nerdy way of deconstructing things. He also does make a point that published personal writings, like autobiographies and blogs, can be perceived as heaps of borderline narcissism and deep-rooted insecurities; however, I believe if the blogger takes the time to understand himself and his interests before publishing his thoughts, he then can contribute something worthwhile and substantial for his readers.

*

Growing up, I have been always drawn to books written about Koreans and Korea. My parents bought me translated works of the classic authors like Kim Dong-in and Yi Sang. My cousin gave me two books about Korea, both of them written by Andrew C. Nahm. I purchased two short story collections, Korean Modern Fiction and Land of Exile, for my college Korean literature course. I found The Korean War by Bruce Cummings at Borders’ during its clearance sale. Of course, I haven’t read everything, and hope to read them soon. It’s difficult when there’s so many books out there to read, all vying for your attention. Don’t even mention blogs, Youtube, and webcomics.

Yet when I browse the biography/memoir shelf at Barnes & Noble, I do not find a contemporary book there written by a Korean American. Instead, I usually come across ones either about a soldier from the Korean War or a defector from North Korea. At home, there are two books, Still Life with Rice and Quiet Odyssey, but these two memoirs concern about the lives of Korean woman a few decades ago; not exactly what I’m looking for. Well, according to Amazon.com, there is The World is Bigger Now by Euna Lee, one of the two journalists who were imprisoned in North Korea back in 2009. Then there’s also The Bee Eater, which is about Michelle Rhee, a bold school reformer. I don’t know, I want to read something that isn’t attached to some celebrity, something about your KA-next-door. Is asking for a memoir written by some 2nd generation Korean-American guy so I could have somebody real to relate too much to ask? And no, don’t try to placate me with DVDs of Lost or a cup of Red Mango frozen yogurt. Now you’re just messing with me.

What I’m looking for is something in the likes of the website I Am Korean American. While not exactly a hard copy, it is a good place to visit where you can browse a collection of profiles about Korean Americans describing themselves and their thoughts on their ethnic identity. This is the closest I can find for now. I submitted my profile, since I find myself to be an interesting Korean American, I think.

*

Of course, I do have some self-doubt about blogging. What if I mess up on my verb tenses or get mixed up with spelling “Max” with “Mix” as seen in the previous post? I don’t want to be the guy at a party with broccoli between his teeth, and everyone avert their gaze elsewhere while maintaining their polite, veg-free smiles. Then I become the talk of the town among 8th grade grammar teachers. I don’t have a publisher, a literary agent, or a comfortable tweed jacket. Well, I still do have a cigar that someone gave to me during my first year in college, haven’t smoked it yet…maybe when I have a child.

Well, in spite of my doubts of whether I have to blog will interest anyone and my fears of the current tense and the imperfect future, it’s something that I would want to read. Strangely, this sounds like what I would want to write.

being unfriended on Facebook

13 Jun

While browsing a blog, I saw the recommended links below the entry and saw one titled “The Psychology of Being Unfriended on Facebook.” Now if you have read my previous posts, you might have noticed my wariness about social networking. Yes, I do have a Facebook account, but I’m self-aware of this big digital environment that I participate in as Jim Carrey’s character from The Truman Show is of his little televised world.

This article points out the emotional impact that “unfriendation” on Facebook could have. By unfriended, it means that an user deliberately removes someone from his virtual friends list. This action is done discreetly as it doesn’t notify the “unfriended user” that he had been unfriended, and it’s later that this one-less-friend user finds out when he reviews his list.

This action is more likely to hurt the unfriended user who is “spending more time on Facebook…[and has] more invested in the online friendships.”

On a personal note, I have unfriended certain people in the past. I wish I could approach them face-to-face and explain my reasons for doing so, but people don’t want those “we need to talk” conversations. There are some “friends” I still wish to unfriend, but until it’s considered normal to submit a “letter of unfriendation” or engage in an open dialogue, I will maintain them out of politeness and pity (in certain cases, I have no alternative but to unfriend outright). In turn, I encourage people on my Facebook account to unfriend me if they deem me to be “unsuitable” to their sensibility. I will be somewhat hurt at first, but will be more thankful shortly afterward.

Only a lunatic would treasure token digital friendships.

Even some bloggers express this discontent. Syra Darling writes, “human kind is kind of a jealous breed…we always want what we can’t have. And what we have already isn’t good enough.” There seems to be this obsession to get the attention on Facebook in order to feel validated, and on top of that, want more. Next, A Learner is aware of this desire to be acceptable as she wrestles with two identities: “‘what I think I should look like to society” and “What I Am.” Should we be more concerned with how we appear in photographs, or how we interact with others in person?

Only a lunatic would treasure Kodak moments more than human beings themselves.

Whether you have a blog or a Facebook account, it’s already a given that you want attention. It’s now a matter of what you seek is to be understood, or to be merely admired.