My Social Nightmare

I’ve been popular since the first memory I have available to me, somewhere around 5 years old.. or maybe 4, if I could actually pinpoint dates.

I’ve had crews since Kindergarten. I’ve always had my close set of friends that do stuff together and then a reputation that emanated from there.

If you had never heard of me in a school that I was in, you heard of something that I did, but you didn’t know I was the one that did it, or you didn’t know that I was the catalyst behind the action.

That doesn’t matter.. I know what I’ve done, and it’s my own personal resume of action, events and achievements. As funny as it seems, being that I’m usually the #3 Bill on Google, behind Gates & Clinton, I’m not actually interested in random people knowing what my name is or being able to spot me in a crowd. I’m DEFINITELY interested in my friends being able to find me and see what I’m doing. It’s basically, if we’ve shared part of our lives together, I want you to be able to get in touch with me if you feel like it.

Having said that, there’s a certain privilege that you get used to when your reputation has preceded you for your entire life. You have nothing to prove to anyone, because everyone who was there knows what happened. Your clients know the quality of the work you did for them. Your homeboys know the fun they had hanging out with you. The chicks you messed with know what you did to them. It’s like the saying goes… ” If you don’t know… You’d better ASK SOMEBODY! 😀 ”

Spheres of Influence

Social Media has afforded us all the opportunity to expand our spheres of influence. I have friends I talk to on a regular basis from Germany, England, Hawaii, Canada, Israel and coast to coast across the United States. That’s all lovely, but if you don’t manage your online relationships properly, you make yourself beholding to the sites that you use to interact with your friends scattered all over the planet. I’m thinking that that’s what led to my Social Nightmare the other night. 🙂

I’ve had a couple of minor scrapes with what I’ll call “loss of props”, but nothing like what many people have experienced *shudder*. I used to use this live streaming site, which all of a sudden fell off the face of the earth one day and wasn’t available again AT ALL for something like two months. The problem with that is that the videos that I had created on their site and crossposted to my blog completely disappeared. Not only did that erase the live show that I had done (and at that time, there were no backup options), but the community that I had built on that site was gone as well. None of the people that I knew from there were able to access my videos on that site OR my account on that site, so I took a short. Fortunately, I hadn’t created much media there before the site went down.

I had uploaded my videos redundantly to this other video hosting site which proceeded to allow certain videos of mine to be posted and rejected others, due to their ToS (Terms of Service) standards. This wasn’t acceptable to me, because there was no telling in the future when they were going to decide that a video of mine wasn’t suitable for their site, and it would screw a series I was doing. That was it for my involvement with that particular video host.

I uploaded a video to YouTube that I had been GIVEN by the CHOREOGRAPHER of the piece, and she had received the video FROM THE EVENT with the understanding that she would use it to publicize herself and her dance company. Someone not in the know, from the event staff, saw the video, which I edited myself and wasn’t like ANY video they could possibly have had available to them, being that I created the video from the raw feeds, contacted YouTube, complained and had the video taken down. I could very easily have had it reinstated, however, it wasn’t worth the time and energy it would have taken me to go through the process, so that’s the only video I’ve ever had taken off of YouTube. Meanhwhile, the spectre remains that any content I upload could be removed at any time. Not a good feeling.

I uploaded a video to Facebook that was removed because someone complained about it:
Bill Cammack - Facebook Copyright Infringement
Click for high-res version

Same deal here… You get the picture that you’re building houses on sand if you continue to utilize 3rd-party sites to maintain your internet presence and worldwide props.

Game-Changers

There have been web video hosts that have bailed out of the game ENTIRELY, sending the people that had hosted videos on their site scrambling to find a new host as well as download ALL. OF. THEIR. CONTENT. from that host and re-upload it all to a new site… AND re-link every single post they ever made so that the new videos show up in the old posts. Tragic.

Personally, I was removed from google for four days, which was an extremely interesting experience. 80% of my site traffic comes from Google, which I’ve been told is good. \o/ .. It was interesting, being virtually anonymous for the first time in three years (since 2006). It was fun and strange at the same time. Most importantly, it was a clear indication of how much we lean on these social networks that we build our internet presences on.

What happens if you get removed from Google?
What happens if Twitter gets shut down, like Pownce did?
What happens if YouTube stops serving videos, like Stage 6 did?
Where are you going to be if that happens?
WHO are you going to be if that happens?
Who will you still be in contact with if that happens?
Who will be able to find you online if that happens?

Another thing that’s bothered me to a slight degree as of late is how sites have been changing themselves to emulate other sites… Specifically, Facebook, FriendFeed & Twitter. They’re obviously all trending towards being the same service and focusing on real-time content delivery. Meanhile, Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect and who knows how many other “Connect”s are scheming on consolidating your internet experience, similar to how AOL used to have it locked up back in the day.

Because of this, these services are changing their functionalities right out from under their users’ noses. All of a sudden, there’s a change in the way Facebook’s home page works. All of a sudden, there’s a change in how the Facebook Fan Pages work. All of a sudden, there’s a change in how @replies work on Twitter. The problem with this is that depending on how you set up your interactions with these apps, these sudden changes could jack up your entire content delivery scheme and send you back to the drawing board.

Another problem is that sites that gained their fame from piracy are now trying to clean up their act so they can distribute their content on television and through other outlets, so now they’re ripping the music out of people’s videos that have literally been there for years and in some cases, “suspending” (read: deleting) people’s accounts for violations of the CURRENT ToS that weren’t violations of the ToS at the time that the videos were uploaded.

Creepy.

So, I believe this shell-game that all these sites are playing led to my Social Nightmare the other night…

The Horror

I went to one school between 4th grade and 8th grade. It was a specialized school that you couldn’t even get into without taking an IQ test. After a certain grade level, you couldn’t even get in AT ALL. As was my usual MO, I built my crew when I got there, and we shared life together for what seemed like forever at the time.

Was I at the top of the chain? Nowhere near it! 😀 My Friends were My Friends and that was that. We did what we did and enjoyed ourselves every single day. We weren’t the rich kids or the best dressers or the kids that threw the parties and raided their parents’ liquor cabinets, but we had our position in the school and held it down. Every day, we were writing a new page in our own history…

Due to my own fault, I got transferred to a more prestigious high school in 9th grade. This meant that the social cred I had built since 4th grade was now out the window and I had to build my rep from scratch amongst 3,000 kids that I didn’t know from Adam. That went well enough, and by the end of Junior year, I was involved with all the cliques I needed to be involved with. I was back in position. The people that needed to know who I was, KNEW, and the rest were out of the loop.

Going into senior year, I was rather comfortable with my “new” social status. This is where my recent nightmare came into play. I dreamt that I had been transferred back to my original school in the 12th grade. I remember the feeling of standing in a classroom where the kids had no idea who I was, because I had been gone for three years. Out of the kids that DID remember me, there was no telling who I was NOW, because I had been MIA since 8th grade. I had also missed out on three years of bonding experiences and history-writing, because I had written that history with kids that I was no longer going to school with. All my cred was displaced… useless to me at this point, and I basically had one year to start all over from scratch before leaving for college.

The Problem

Why was this a nightmare? hahaha You wouldn’t know unless you were naturally used to having “followers”. It’s like being a king without knights… What’s the point? You don’t have props BECAUSE you’re the king. You have props because OTHER PEOPLE recognize you as the king and treat you as such. It’s the same situation as when people get fired from a job they held for years. In a lot of cases, people’s ENTIRE social set is comprised of people that they work with and removing that bond of “we work together” is a traumatic and life-altering experience for them.

This is how you’re going to feel if Twitter disappears and your thousands of followers are in the wind. This is how you’re going to feel if Facebook bans you for activities they feel violate their ToS. This is how you’re going to feel if YouTube “suspends” your account, and all of your blog posts are now linked to nothing.

So, yes.. This nightmare was a double-tragedy or perhaps a double-travesty, because the years I spent in the new school were now useless and the years I DIDN’T spend in the old school weren’t going to help me with my senior year.

Did this matter to me very much in the dream? No. I always play it where it lays. Regardless of the situation, I move forward. My goal was to build what I could in one year and then start all over as a frosh in college. The real question is… What are YOU going to do if this happens to YOU?

What’s Your Plan?

What’s going to happen to your current social circle if any of the sites you depend on cease to exist? How are you going to rebuild your set of followers? How are you going to rebuild your social cred? What are you going to do when a site decides that videos you posted years ago are no longer acceptable and they delete them all, or even worse, delete YOU from their site, entirely?

Are you the type of person that can get displaced and hit the ground running? Are your social props based on who you are as a person or only the company or product you represent? Are people learning who YOU ARE, or what you’re selling? If you get laid off from your job, are any of your current coworkers going to want to hang out with you? Are any of your Twitter followers going to help you find a new job?

What happens if you lose your internet connection? What happens if you lose your cell phone? Can you get back in touch with the people you already had as contacts? Will they care? Will they even notice?

Strangely enough, I think the solution to this situation is a return to the lowest common denominator, which is email. I touched on this in Digital Internet Snobbery, but at the time, I was talking about not walking away from people that use archaic systems like MySpace. This time, I’m talking about walking TOWARDS the ancient, because that’s where most people are comfortable and still reside when it comes to the internet.

The issue is distribution, not technological advancement. It’s about making it easy for people to find you where they’re most likely to look, not attempting to force them into using all the great new sites and apps that you use, which they’ve never heard of and certainly don’t care about. It’s about being able to reach people and have them reach you if they feel like it.

Even if you have the ABILITY to start from scratch and rebuild your fan base, why should you? Why go through the trouble of reconnecting with hundreds of people when it’s better to not lose contact with them in the first place? What’s your backup plan in case Twitter or Facebook or YouTube lands in the dead pool? Do you have one? Do you NEED one?

~ Bill Cammack

Twitter: BillCammack
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Social Media Category: billcammack.com/category/social-media
 

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4 Comments

  1. Bill you still got it regardless of which social media sites go dark. That being said, your presence is not just you and your media that defines you within the social media sphere; it’s the interactions and posts other people make.

    Other people tagged on Flickr, recorded videos with you, written about you on their blog. Your ideas and personality have been de-centralized and shared across many web destinations.

    Because of your activity in the social media space, because other people (like myself) consider you a friend and have also made media with you. Should a site ban your personal profile / content, there is enough other media which would make due until you arrive again and claim your identity as you.

    But in all truth, the social media space is interesting and vapid. Our existence here online is mostly by our own doing, and will only be as bright and as focused as we stay attentive.

    1. Excellent points, Vergel 😀

      I believe the decentralization is key and that we all have a certain amount of time, and it may be a very long time that people remember us, favorably or otherwise, hahaha 😀

      I don’t post too much that doesn’t have some element of myself in it, so I feel like I’m amassing props the ‘right’ way to ensure some format of longevity. I have to think about people that I consider are doing things the ‘wrong’ way, however. To paraphrase something I heard while watching #barcampnyc4 this weekend, I feel like there are a lot of people showing their followers “the finger” by the way they act and/or interact with them.

      There are a lot of people whose brand is “the person that advertises this” or “the person that works for that company”. I tend to associate people that do this with goods or services I’m not interested in and never asked them about, so I believe that even if they amass followers on one site, they’re going to have a tough time recouping their contacts on another site if the original one goes dark.

      Ultimately, I think there are differing types and degrees of popularity, some of which are “sticky” and some of which are not. Hopefully, as you interact with people, they get an idea of your CHARACTER and not just whatever you supposedly ‘stand for’, which might be the equivalent of an encyclopedia salesman sticking his foot in the door to try to sell you something.

      So the goal. apparently is to amass as much character-based and sticky cred as possible so you can hit the ground running when the game inevitably changes.

      Thanks for the comment! 😀

  2. Hi Bill,

    I stumbled across your blog via someone’s BlogHer blog and found this entry particularly interesting. This has been a thought of mine for some time. I’ve often wondered if investing the amount of time into social media is even worthwhile? My closest friends are not fans of the virtual world and I usually only get a few comments on my site from complete strangers. I’m shocked when one of my real pals actually does leave their two cents. (I guess I’m not quite as popular despite my pretty awesome Google ranking.)

    Still, I’m uneasy about losing my six years of blog entries should WordPress say ‘sayonara.’ Not because I’m afraid someone in Estonia or Wales won’t be able to find one of my bizarre lomography photo entries, but because the trust will be gone. Where then would I turn to tuck my precious blogs, video or photo? The same goes with YouTube, Flickr, etc…

    Anyways, thanks for the great food for thought and sharing your own personal social nightmare. Good entry.

    Cheers,
    Adrienne

    1. Hey Adrienne. Thanks for the comment! 😀

      I think the amount of time we invest into Social Media is worthwhile if it’s “sticky”. If it’s something that comes along with us after the fact.

      For instance, I knew a lot of people through the Yahoo Videoblogging Group. When Twitter was released, our conversations went there, but I knew who to follow there because I knew what they had said and done over the time we were on Yahoo. If I go to a party and meet someone, I’m likely to add them on Facebook so that I’ll know if they’re going to be at another party in the future or if I just want to find out what’s going on “in their stream”. Vergel’s point is key, because even if you get booted off of a system, like Pownce, for instance, the impression you’ve already made with people will cause them to seek you out in other places… so long as they can actually FIND you.

      That’s the ‘problem’ I have with people who get involved in Social Media and then don’t use their own names. Nobody knows (or cares) who you are. Everything that you’re doing is being attributed to some ghost, “RacerX_1911” or some garbage, so that when you start a new account under your real name, nobody gives you the credit you rightfully deserve.

      So I think the usefulness of being involved in Social Media only becomes evident when you need to turn around and use it for something, whether that’s making business connections right now, finding people to date right now, or amassing fans who follow you to the next “latest and greatest” app so you can continue your ‘show’ from there.

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