Blog : Posts tagged with 'socialising' : Page 1

*

Monetising Friendship

In which FP wants to sell all his friends something they don’t really need


I’m inviting a few friends round one night. We’ll have a few drinks, a bit of a laugh, and I’ll show them a pile of stuff that I’m trying to sell. Hopefully, they’ll buy some, and I’ll make a tidy profit.

NB: the above paragraph is not actually true. I am not going to do this, and I don’t have anything to sell.* As a scenario, though, it’s a pretty common one. People all over the place are handing out Avon catalogues, Christmas hamper brochures, and organising parties for Foreverware storage; or cheap-looking expensively-priced nylon lingerie and sex toys. It makes me wonder: do some people really value money that much over friendship, that they see their friends as a source of income?

On the face of it, evidently so. I hope that maybe I’m just being pessimistic in my analysis. Maybe the people organising these events really do mostly believe that they’re doing their friends a favour, giving them the opportunity to buy Impressive Things at almost-bargain prices; and the money they make back for themselves doesn’t really make any difference to them. Certainly, in the true “multi-level marketing” organisations that are scarcely different to pyramid schemes, most of the bottom-rung salesforce are unlikely to come out of it in profit. On the other hand: I have known people, setting up these events, to excitedly say: “and it means that I can buy them for myself, cheap!” It makes me slightly uncomfortable, seeing people trying to use their friends in this way: it’s more than a little manipulative.

In one way, this is the root of the current fashionable trends in marketing: using the social network to save the marketeers the hard work. Viral marketing, for example, where you, J. Random Netuser, sends the latest cool advert you’ve seen on to all your friends: you receive a frisson of group-bonding pleasure in return for doing an ad agency’s work for free, just as if you’d invited them all round to your house to sell them the product. Facebook games are also similar: little money-churning devices that you, game player, spread awareness of among your social network. Maybe it’s going to become a long-term trend: I suspect the reason it’s so popular is that, after all, it’s cheap; or, at least, the costs are passed on to other people and other companies. It’s slightly different, too, to selling things directly to your friends through a catalogue or at a party: if you’re playing Farmville, your Facebook friends might have to put up with being told how your farm’s doing every few hours, but that’s as far as it goes. You’re not expected to buy things, yourself, until after you’ve been sucked in. You’re not expected to make your friends money, directly.

Maybe that’s the reason I feel so uncomfortable about this technique of monetising friendship: it is about directly turning your social relationships into monetary ones. It probably works best in social networks with a clear or semi-open hierarchy, because it’s potential very much about reinforcing that social hierarchy with money. I know such hierarchical social networks exist – I see them everywhere – but I do tend to feel that the world would be a nicer place if they didn’t.

* Although, if I was going to do that, I suppose we could always knock up some “I visited Symbolic Towers and all I could buy was this beautiful high-quality clothing product” t-shirts.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , ,

*

Good friends

In which we think suicide clusters are overhyped; and try not to be a drama llama


There’s been a lot in the news recently about young people killing themselves, allegedly to draw attention to themselves online. The whole story seems slightly odd, with little evidence for it, but it’s been raised by an MP so it got itself in the news. Most of the people in the alleged suicide cluster are young men, the highest-risk suicide group. I fully support raising suicide awareness and suicide prevention, but it seems rather like fear-mongering to try to place blame on social networking. There were teen suicides and “suicide clusters” years ago, long before social networking was invented.

I know from experience that suicidal feelings are something which people should always take seriously, and that internet messaging, by both its speed and lack of emotion, could easily make worse. But nevertheless – and because it is that serious – I don’t like the feel of people jumping on the exaggeration bandwagon without evidence, or trying to use the threat of others’ suicide to gallop off on their own over-dramatic high horse.* I’ve been on the internet for a while now,** I was a chatroom user quite a lot when I was a student, and I’ve seen people come into chatrooms and make darkly deniable threats like: “you shouldn’t be so nasty to X. If you keep being nasty to people in here and people end up dying, how would you feel?” Whether X is in the pits of depression, or just mildly irked, and whatever your intentions are, that’s a childish and nasty thing to do.

If you’re a friend to someone, and you think they’re being upset because of people on the internet, then the only thing to do is get them offline. Get them to put down the keyboard, go outside, and get some fresh air. Go and take away their network cable yourself if you really have to. But don’t just go around telling other people what they’re about to do. Don’t go around trying to amplify the drama, because people are only going to think that at heart you’re trying to make yourself the centre of attention. If you’re a real friend, go and help them, quietly and without fuss. Because help is what friends are for.

* or “drama llama”, as one internet friend memorably said.

** I can’t believe it’s over ten years since I first got online. The internet was in black and white back in those days – no, really: this was on a Macintosh Classic II, one of the last black and white only Apple models.

One comment. »

Keyword noise: , , , , ,

*

Tagged (part one)

In which we are descriptive


I’ve been tagged, by Dimitra. The idea being, I write eight things you don’t know about me. Which is hard. I mean, there are a few people reading this; and moreover there are different sets of people reading this. Some of you know things, some don’t. I’ll have to think of eight things you might know, might not. I never know who I’ve told what to.

Today, you get four things. The rest: to come. Maybe it will turn into a sort of manifesto.

One: there’s only one of me. Lots of you probably know that: I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I’ve always liked my own company, to an extent. Although I’m a social person, I have to be able to retreat somewhere, on my own, to get away from distraction and obligation. And it has to be on my own terms. Maybe it comes from being a solo person to start with. There’s only one of me, but I’m under no illusions that I’m unique in any one individual trait.

Two: I believe in second chances; but I don’t believe in third chances.

Three: I’m a heavily rational person. I believe in what I can touch, what can be proven, what other people can show from logic. I’m enquiring, and sceptical. But I’m not skeptical.* I believe in the third eye, in seeing things that aren’t yet there, that are going to happen. Or rather: I don’t believe in it, I know it can happen. When I was a teenager I used to dream things that hadn’t happened yet. Whether this means some things are unavoidable, I don’t know.

Four: I have an extremely bad memory. I can remember useless things with a worrying ease, but useful information never sticks in my head. I get by, by remembering how to find things out. Knowing where to find information can often be far more useful that knowing the information itself. Sometimes, though, it’s just a nuisance.

* yes, there is a difference.

2 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , ,

*

Start as you mean to go on

In which we plan for the year ahead


…because in a year’s time, so many more moments will have passed. And I don’t want to have wasted any of them.

This year, I am going to:

update this site every day (well, you never know)
meet new people
make friends with them
try not to lose any more friends from the ones I already have
do something about my career.

The first and fifth are practical, but the other three are the important ones.

One comment. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , ,

*

Memories of the year (part three)

In which we remember a social event


This one is from back in April. I’m sat in the back of a car, with some people I don’t really know that well, travelling off to somewhere I’ve never been before. I didn’t really know where we were going, either. I mean, I knew what it was – a Social Club – what it was called, and vaguely where it was, but not exactly where. I’ve always been closely attached to maps, and not knowing where I was going made me feel a little disconnected and wary.

I was very nervous, and the other people in the back of the car could tell: knuckles clenched, quietly staring out of the window. We galloped along the motorway, and I tried to enjoy the scenery, trying to overlook my nervousness. It only got worse when I spotted the signs for the exit I guessed we’d be taking: “Netherthong, Wooldale A648″.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , ,

*

Handle the falls

In which FP is wandering along the wrong path


Or, in other words, the semi-regular Tuesday “I’m feeling shit” post.

It isn’t a deliberate thing, but it’s a consequence of spending a lot of time away each weekend. Monday or Tuesday become the Big Comedown Day, almost as if I’d been on pills.

If I’m still around friends, then even if I’m suffering from a drop, I can cope. The problem that I have is that by Monday I’m back in the office again, with nothing to help me other than Big Dave asking: “why are you so fucking mardy?” in between singing fragments from 80s TV show themes. I’m left wondering if I really am following the right path, or if I’m just not the right sort of person for all this stuff I’ve been doing. People keep reassuring me that there’s a different path for everybody; everybody can find their own; and when I’m happy right now I’m the happiest I’ve been for a long time. When the drop comes, though, I still wonder if I’m doing the right thing.

2 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , ,

*

Had me over a barrel

In which we miss the Eurovision


The plan was to have a nice relaxing evening in, watch The Doctor defeat the Cybermen; and then sit down, watch the Eurovision, and blog about it, sarcastically. A good plan, I thought. For one thing, W and P are coming up to visit next weekend. As they’re both glued to the Eurovision every year,* it would be handy to be able to discuss it with them.

Things didn’t quite go to plan, though. Just as The Doctor was making the Cybermen go all emo, my messenger window went pling! “Are you going out tonight?”

“No,” I replied, “I’m staying in. Definitely. Staying in and watching the Eurovision. There’s no way you’re going to persuade me to go out even if it is to the N&W.”**

I’m a very stubborn, stick-to-my-guns kind of person. Which doesn’t really explain why, a couple of hours later, I was listening to the Eurovision on the radio, whilst zooming along the motorway counting down the numbers to the Wooldale exit. With immaculate timing, the songs themselves finished just as I pulled up in the club’s car park.

So, I had no idea how the scores went, or who won. Not until I got back into my car at the end of the evening, and realised I had a text message from my friend Owen. It said just one word: “ROCKTORY!” – which was all I needed to guess the result. Owen likes his hard rock.

* in fact, they first met at a Eurovision theme night in a bar just off the Strand. And now they’re married. All together now: awwwww.

** The Netherthong And Wooldale Theatrical And Social Club (Not Its Real Name), of course. I really hope the people there don’t mind me mentioning it like that.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , ,

*

Of, or pertaining to, priests

In which people are happy


It’s the end of the week again. It’s hot, and sunny, and I’ve just been zooming up and down the motorway to Another Part Of The Forest and back. Windows wound down, music on, it really does leave me feeling cheerful.*

Things seem to be changing all around me. I’ve always taken a vicarious interest in seeing other people become magically happy. There are a handful of people I know, and several people I don’t know whose blogs I read, whose lives and relationships are changing in wonderful ways. Some of them are completely positive they’re doing the right thing, some of them less so, but in general they do seem to be brimming with happiness.**

I arrived back at the office just now, planning this post, to sit down and write it during my lunch break. As soon as I sat back at my desk, one of the branch managers came through to say hello. “I’m leaving,” he said.

“Back off to your office?” I knew he’d been over at head office this morning.

“No, completely. I handed my notice in last night, and I’m leaving now.”

Which, really, fitted in with everything I’ve been thinking about. People all around me are all having their lives changed.

Another beautiful thing I’ve seen: driving home from York at about midnight Wednesday night, past the steelworks. Something was going on there, because the whole place was lit up in an orange flaming glow. Industrial beauty, almost as inspiring as seeing a happy person.

* but I try not to think about all those carbon emissions.

** I know blogs aren’t real life, of course. People withhold things. And if you’re worried I’m talking about you: I might be, but I’m not trying to make a comment about your own specific situation. This is about everyone in general.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , ,

*

Dark clouds

In which we are bad at socialising


Today, I should really be writing something topical, like the Chernobyl disaster, as Ms NB did so very eloquently a few days ago. Instead, you get a follow-up from Monday’s post: more angst and whining. A different type of dark, dangerous cloud, if you like.

On Saturday night, you see, I went out to somewhere I’d not been before. It was, though, somewhere I was looking forward to visiting a lot. Let’s call it the Netherthong And Wooldale Theatrical And Social Club.* Now, overall, I had a really good time there. I came home happy and bouncy, and stayed that way for several days afterwards. Now, though, I’ve dropped. Moreover, I’ve dropped back to the state I was in for most of Saturday night: the feeling that when I was there I was the only stranger in a crowd of friends, the only singleton in a crowd of couples, the only person who noone else wanted to talk to or engage with. No doubt this isn’t true, but that’s what keeps getting stuck in my head. It isn’t a nice drop.

I’d love to go back to the Netherthong And Wooldale Theatrical And Social Club,** but I’m worried that the same thing will happen again: I’ll just sit and feel down and lonely, which in turn will put people off wanting to talk to me. Moreover, the feeling that noone there knows me and noone there will have noticed me, leaves me wondering whether it would even be possible for me to go over there again – without knowing anybody over there, I can’t get anybody to invite me inside. It makes me think, firstly: do I really want to do this? Which leads to, secondly: unless I do, there’s no chance I’ll ever not be lonely. And, thirdly: don’t be silly, you’ve wanted to get to know this crowd for years! Don’t pull out now when you’ve brought yourself so far.

* Because that isn’t its name.

** Maybe I should have thought of a shorter disguise.

3 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , ,

*

Sociability

In which we don’t talk to strangers


I am my own worst enemy.

I’ve never been good at socialising, and I’ve never been good at meeting new people. This means that when I’m in a crowded place, with few people I know, lots that I don’t, I panic. I shut down. I sit in a corner on my own, feeling awful, assuming that everybody else there knows everybody else, that I’m the only lonely person there, that I may as well just go home because noone else would want to talk to me anyway. No doubt this is all nonsense, but it’s what I convince myself.

I should learn that none of it is true, that I could go up to strangers and talk to them, if I wanted. Because once I do start having conversations, interacting, doing stuff, I end up having a wonderful time. The only problem is that I’m rarely able to make that first step for myself. That’s what I need to learn to be able to do.

10 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , ,

*

Search this site

*

Contact

E: feedback [at] symbolicforest [dot] com

IM: Ask me if you'd like to know

*

Post Categories

Artistic (118)
Dear Diary (349)
Feeling Meh (48)
Geekery (109)
In With The Old (34)
Linkery (37)
Media Addict (164)
Meta (79)
Photobloggery (94)
Political (113)
Polling (7)
Sub category (19)
The Family (31)
The Office (70)
Unbelievable (53)