Somebody Else Is Doing This . . . Sort Of

I’ve had a lot of people e-mailing me, retweeting and mentioning the following video:

I have mixed feelings about this.  A part of me gets scared that I’ll look like a copycat, even though our experiment happened first.  After all, his video is well-produced and it’s gone viral.  Can’t say the same thing about this blog by any means. (A simple glimpse at the few hundred visitors and small handful of subscribers will prove that)

I can’t claim to be “the first” to do this, either.  Although it felt original at the time, I’m sure it’s been done in the past.  My hope is that people will see the difference between that video and this project.  I’m hoping they’ll see it as complimentary rather than competitive.

It’s the difference between a poem and a novel.

His video begins with the presupposition that Facebook is all about friending strangers and then invading their personal space.  The result is a somewhat awkward Jackass-style series of interactions.  Our presupposition is that an in-person Facebook should reflect the way we interact on Facebook.  So, we friend strangers, but they are the aquintances we meet in the real world – the cashier at Target who we’ve never left a positive comment for or the barista at Starbucks whose name we never knew.

Thus, instead of seeing how awkward and artificial social media can be, we’re often coming to the opposite conclusion that we will live more authentically in the “real world” if we live a more Facebook-like experience – sharing pictures, asking about books, enjoying live music, handing out positive notes.

Social media did not come about out of a need to be more socially awkward.  Instead, it met a very real need for identity, community and belonging in a postmodern, lonely planet.  The extent to which it works online is debatable.  The extent to which it can work in real-life has been mind-blowing to me.

This blog is also different in the fact that we try and doing everything people do on Facebook for an extended time.  Instead of attempting to do it all at once in a day, we want to take our time and reflect on the process.  Again, it’s a novel and we’re trying to make sense out of the setting and how it is reshaping the characters.


3 thoughts on “Somebody Else Is Doing This . . . Sort Of

  1. When I saw the video come my way today and I had this feeling kind of like: oh no, the movie that might ruin the book! But I am okay now! 🙂 Wondered if others thought it was you!

    I will stay tune to the mindful, reflective approach that you have been taking with project, John. I guess I am just intrigued by observations about human behaviour and interaction….online, off-line, and in the gray lines between the two…and the blurry ones! Appreciate that you are trying to understand the aspects of it all better and willing to write about it. Must be a different journey compared to just capturing it on film.

    If you are enjoying your process, then just enjoy and let it take you where you feel like taking it.


  2. I have to admit I’m curious about the show he is promoting, and I think in some contexts the online interactions are as awkward as his video demonstrates they should be. I have had people, who I don’t really know or interact with, ask to join my closed networks (Facebook, LinkedIn). It’s awkward, and I wonder what they see as the beneficial to our having an online connection.

    At the same time, Facebook (& Twitter) has allowed me to make connections that have helped me grow personally and professionally. In many instances, strangers have become friends. Connections have become friendships. Just last night my family and I had dinner with an educator who I met via social media. She stopped in Memphis on her way to Little Rock specifically to meet my family. We didn’t just share and comment on pictures; we broke bread. We shared our learning and our lives. There was nothing awkward about it. In fact, it was easy and natural. I guess what I’m saying is that this social media thing is a paradox. (Did I steal that from you?) It makes us more human – more connected, and maybe it also, at times, makes us creepy voyeurs and insecure self-promoters.

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