Does Social Media Create Agoraphobics?

As some of you know, my grandmother passed away in August. Before she went to the hospital in May, then subsequently to the nursing home, she lived with my mother for many years. Now that she’s gone my mother has pretty much adopted the mode of not really wanting to leave the house except when she absolutely needs something, or if I visit. Basically her life has devolved into a 10-mile radius.

The thing is that my life isn’t all that much different than my mother’s, but for a different reason. In the early part of the decade most of my income came from my traveling at least 4 hours or more from home on a very consistent basis. Now, most of my income is generated from being at home, with the occasional foray out of the area. And most of my life is within 10 miles of my home in every direction.

Social media basically says that you can communicate with people via the computer. You don’t have to go down to the club or to the bowling alley or the bar to meet people. Sure, if you want to have dinner or a drink with others you do, but truthfully you can eat and drink at home and talk to more people in 10 minutes than you would in an entire day if you left home.

For some people that also involves games of all types. How many thousands of games are there on Facebook? I hear that Google+ even has games now. And there are plenty of game sites where people can play against each other and have conversations as well; I do that on two separate chess sites.

Is social media creating agoraphobic people, or has it just enhanced what was already there for a lot of us? Sure, many people still have to go to work every day, but more people are spending time online in the evenings instead of watching TV. They’re talking with friends and family on Facebook or Twitter. More people are starting to stay home on the weekends as well. It was really big when online poker was still allowed in the U.S., and when it comes back (yeah, it’s coming back at some point) those people who haven’t known what to do with themselves will be right back at their computers playing for hours.

Have any of you started feeling like you want to be home more often because of social media? Will you own up to it if you have? lol

Why Don’t People Read?

A common lament I see when it comes to bloggers looking at comments is that the responder seems to not have read any of the post. Many comments seem to be geared towards the title, which is fine in and of itself, but when the content goes a different way than the title then many comments look, well, idiotic, definitely spam-like.

by Rachel Sian via Flickr

I’ve noticed this as well, but not only in commenting. I’ve talked about my finance blog, Top Finance Blog. It’s the only blog I have that actually makes any money.

Anyway, on that blog I have a written guest posting policy; it’s the only blog I have one of those on. I created it because I get lots of requests to write posts for that sucker, mainly from the UK, which I find really interesting since it’s obviously an American blog, but as long as they fulfill the qualifications as listed in the policy then it’s all good.

However, at least half the requests I get don’t fit the policy at all. I don’t mean articles; I mean how to contact me. See, I put one very specific thing in that guest posting policy to help me weed out people who could care less and people who might have something on the ball. It’s very simple; all the writer has to do is use my name, Mitch, in the email. That’s it; don’t call me “webmaster”, don’t just say “Hey”, but use my name.

Those that don’t use my name also ask me if I accept guest posts. Don’t ask me if I accept guest posts because the policy says I do. And something weird is happening lately. I’m not only getting requests to guest post on my blog, but there’s the line that says if I have content I’d like to post on their blog to let them know. Actually, that sounds kind of good on the surface, so let me post you the quote, which is coming from a lot of people word for word:

If you happen to have some good articles or blogs posted elsewhere, provide a few links so the site owner can get a good feel for your writing style. Ask upfront if there are any requirements the blog owner is looking for such as specific word counts (500-1000 words) or post deadline dates.”

I mean, what is that? You’ve just visited my blog, supposedly, are asking if you can post on my blog, then you add this? Am I supposed to be flattered, encouraged, what, other than kind of irritated?

Anyway, I’d like your opinion on whether you feel very few people actually read what you have to say based on what you’re seeing on your blog. I know it’s not universal, but try to guess how many posts I’ve had to eliminate over the past few weeks that aren’t adhering to the very clearly written comment line just above the comment box regarding keywords.

Empire Avenue – Social Media Or A Game?

After kind of being cajoled into taking a look at this thing, I finally decided to join Empire Avenue so I could get a sense of what it was all about.

What I was told was that it was a system that would help you measure your social media status because it would allow people to buy “stock” in your online performance. What it’s turned out to be is more along the lines of BlogShares, something I signed up for years ago, where people would buy stock on the progress of your blogs, with the intention of helping you get people to visit your blog and thus increase your visits and, ergo, your blog’s worth.

BlogShares seems to have fallen on hard times somewhat. I say that because it says I’m worth $146 billion (yup, you read that right) and I really haven’t done much over the years, and somehow when I went there a couple of months ago I didn’t even own any stock, including in my own blogs. It may or may not still be viable, and thus it’s probably how something like Empire Avenue jumped in and has taken off… to an extent.

Why do I say that? Well, I’ll say this; there are some fairly active people on the site. However, there aren’t as many people there that I thought I’d know. As a matter of fact, overwhelming people are buying stock into my site that I have no idea who they are. And when I try to find out more about them, I notice that many of them don’t even have websites, let alone blogs. That’s kind of freaky, but it’s not needed.

That’s because as long as a person has an account on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, they’re good. They can also have an account on YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr and a couple other sites and still be considered as legitimately taking part in social media.

I’ve been a part of it for two weeks now, and I’ll say this; it could probably be addicting for many people, and I know by reading some of the messages in the Facebook group for EA, as some of the folks call it (that makes me think of Electronic Arts so I probably won’t use it again) that some folks are taking it way too seriously. See, you buy shares in people whose stock price seems to be rising, just like the real stock market. But the other side of it is that some people will sell stocks if someone seems to be falling, and some of those folks are losing their minds thinking other people aren’t being, well, loyal. Y’all know how I am about loyalty, but it’s a game. And let’s face this fact; if you don’t know those people, then when was loyalty ever built?

To this end my stock price has risen pretty quickly, and it says I have a pretty good net worth. I think where I’m benefiting is that it lets you list up to 5 blogs and I have 5 blogs, 4 of which I write something fairly regularly. You earn a certain amount of points for every blog post; rather, they call them “eaves”, though truthfully I have no idea what this means.

For that part there’s a lot of things said on the site that I have no idea what they mean. And I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you this much. The site will give you a chance to get backlinks to your sites, including your blogs. You can check people’s About page to see if they have blogs, as some people will check yours, and if you’re lucky they’ll endorse your blog. If they actually visit your blog after that, it’s all good; I don’t endorse any blog I don’t look at first.

The site has what it calls “community pages”, which is more like lots of forum pages where you can join one for things that interest you. I’ve only joined two, one for Syracuse and one for books, and for now that’s all I’m joining because it’s hard following conversations; I don’t like that part, and wish it was more like a true forum where, if you click on the link that tells you someone responded to you or wrote on a topic you wrote on that it took you directly to that topic; nope.

I’ve also found that it’s hard to engage a person on the site. They have kind of an email system but I don’t want to use their email since I have my own. They also have what they call the “shareholder’s email”, which I think you have to pay for in either real money or eaves; I’m not really sure what that’s all about either but I turned that off.

In any case I’m hoping it might turn into something that actually becomes more social as much as a game, but I’m doubting it. I can tell you this; the site hasn’t cracked the top 25 for any of my blogs as far as referral traffic coming my way, which tells me that many people are endorsing my blogs but not visiting them. Hey, whatever floats their boat, right? If you go to the site think of it as a stock market game and nothing else, at least for now; then you might enjoy it for awhile.

Blog Action Day – Food

Today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is food, or lack thereof. To preface this, it’s kind of a worldwide event where there will be lots of bloggers talking about this particular subject. I don’t quite remember how it all works, but I think there will be a central place where everyone that writes on the topic will be listed so they can connect with each other in some fashion. You’d think I would remember since I’ve done this in the past, but I skipped last year for some reason. No matter; I’m back now.

As the price of food has gone up pretty much everywhere around the world, we find that not only are most of us not getting out of our dollars the amount of food and consumables we’ve gotten before, but places such as the Food Bank, which helps feed those who need meals, along with many other charities, are suffering. The strange thing is that even now, the United States produces enough food to feed the world many times over, yet we don’t do it. Why?

I think a major part of it, at least in this country, is regulation. Restaurants really aren’t allowed to donate food unless they cook it fresh. Probably almost every restaurant in the country has food it has to throw away instead of donating it to a shelter that could use it the next day. I know that food court restaurants throw out a lot of food. Many years ago, when I worked a part time job at a gas station that had a retail store, at a certain time of the night we had to throw away food. Sometimes I’d eat a couple of things, but that was rare; however, it was a free meal, and I’m thinking it was still pretty good and thus could have been donated in some fashion.

When it comes to the world… well, that’s a different thing entirely. We have tariffs to deal with that help some countries compete when they’d probably lose out to richer nations, and we have some countries with high tariffs just “because”. Then we have countries like Somalia where, if we try to get them food, the powers that be, with their corrupt selves, keep it for the leadership, and won’t allow help to come into the country to make sure the food gets to those who really need it.

Goodness, countries like India, which is fairly industrialized, have problems getting food to many of its people, and when you have a billion people hanging around, that’s not good. I hear that there are parts of China and North Korea where the same things occur. I guess it would make sense since even in the United States we find people all over who can’t get a meal. Sure, some aren’t looking to help themselves, but I’m thinking that’s not the most compassionate way of looking at things.

On this Blog Action Day I use my blog to highlight the issue, whether I fully know all the implications or not. People are starving, and if all you can do is the same thing I do, that being to ask the people at the counter of our local grocery store to swipe the little ticket that’s next to the cash register so I can donate a tiny bit of cash that will feed someone, then at least do that. It all helps.

The New Laptop – Toshiba!

Although you may not care all that much, I thought I’d talk about the new laptop I just purchased earlier today. Why? Hey, it’s a blog post, but I have some thoughts on the general process as well. That and I figure I talked about the new computer when I bought it, so I have to give equal time.

As you can see, I didn’t buy a Mac; even if I were considering it, I wasn’t starting at $1,300 for any laptop. lol I purchased a Toshiba instead, officially the Satellite P755 from Best Buy. Yeah, I know, not always my favorite store because normally their customer service stinks. But they have laptops, many of them to choose from, and let’s face it, there’s no other store in the area that has so many you can actually touch in person anymore, at least in the Syracuse area.

The general specs are 640GB hard drive, Intel® Core™ i3 Processor. 15.6″ Display and 6GB Memory. It comes with the webcam and ethernet card built in. The battery supposedly can last up to 6 hours, it has a blu-ray player, I can burn videos and CDs and it has 4 USB ports, with one of them being a USB 3.0; I hadn’t even realized those were out yet.

So, why this one and what other considerations were there? Well first, I had a budget I wanted to stay within, and almost went outside of that budget by looking at its big brother, the 17.3″ monster with the 750 GB hard drive and the i7 Pentium chip. I felt that paying $850 for that was just a bit too much in the long run, and my friend Scott had another one of those talks with me in saying that a large laptop was just a bit ridiculous since I was already used to the 15.6″ which, when I bought that particular laptop back in 2004, was actually one of the larger screens on the market.

Second, I bought Toshiba because my first laptop is a Toshiba, since I still have it. You want to know the two reasons I bought the first one? It had the large display and it was blue; yup, I bought a laptop because it was blue, as there were almost no laptops with colors in the past. The new one is black, which is a bit distressing because it looks like every other laptop out there except for the Macs (and there’s no way I’d have a white laptop; please, it’s me!). Now, I had always wanted to buy the Superman laptop some time ago when it was still Alienware, but since Dell bought them & ruined them not so much now; yeah, I said it. Anyway, you know I tend to be loyal until a brand messes with me, and the ol’ Toshiba has held up really well for me. Truthfully, if I wasn’t having some problems with the power I might not have even considered buying a new laptop.

It was time to buy a new one though. Things have changed over the years and the old laptop has problems dealing with some of the latest software. I added an extra RAM chip a few years ago to give it a boost, but it still falls short of my needs these days, especially when I’m on the road. It wouldn’t handle Office 2007 and that’s problematic when I want to give presentations and create files using that program, then have to try to remember to convert them to the old office format; messed up last year in New Jersey because I forgot to do that and almost messed up again earlier this year when I went out of town. This renders all of that worry moot.

And this sucker just went on sale, which was lucky for the store because I had stopped by last night just to take a quick look and it was $80 more than it was online; luckily the price changed overnight and the guy in the store said they’d have matched the online price since it was still their company. However, even though I went in, knew what I wanted, and paid for it in cash, a transaction that should have taken 2 minutes took about 7 because the guy needed someone to come and recount the cash I gave him. We waited 4 minutes, then he said he’d just count it again and count that as the second person as long as I watched him count, which I did. It was good to see that even employees have to wait for people to wait on them; then again, I had to wait 5 minutes before anyone noticed me standing by the laptops. Customer service is still an issue at Best Buy; oh well…

I feel like I’ve rejoined the new world again. Sure, everyone else was at the Apple store today buying the new iPhone, and even in Syracuse there was a long line of people, so I shouldn’t overly complain about my wait. At least I have something new and shiny; and some time today I’m even going to open the box to look at it. 😉