As a long time internet user, I have been wondering a lot lately; Do I really use the internet? I have been an internet, so-called, user since the days of AOL 1.0, CompuServ, and Prodigy. I probably haven’t gone more then a few days here and there without internet access since I was 12 years old. Now, I know I use the internet in the traditional sense: Searching for information, instant messaging, pay bills, play online games, and of course, creating web pages of my own. However, in the past few years so many trends have been developing that I just can’t seem to become a part of.
It would seem that by having a network of friends and family who do not really make use of the internet, I am relinquished to not being able to truly use it myself. For example, I have probably 10 email addresses, but I cannot recall the last time I actually sent an email to someone. All of my friends and family communicate using these things called phones…silly them. My email accounts are essentially a bucket for spam, or miscellaneous communications from my credit cards, or other things I am a member of.
This blog, is really my first attempt at actually entering in the new social web age, the blogosphere, web 2.0, or whatever else people have decided to call sites of this nature. Regardless, I still consider myself an internet “power-user” simply because I know exactly how to find what I need to find on the internet. I was browsing the web the other day for example and I found a site which is exactly what prompted me to write this.
The social web.
As you can see on Chris Pirillo’s site, he is apparently an active member of (by my count) 37 different social media outlets. Some of these consist of ones I am more curious about integrating into my life, but I just seem to find it impossible to do…Twitter, Facebook, the dreaded MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. I even find it difficult to use an RSS reader on a daily basis because if I open it every day, I’m not always in the mood to read everything, but if I only open it when I’m in the mood to read stuff, about 30 new things are listed…so I just find it easier to visit my favorite sites directly, when I’m in the mood to visit them. How can I use a site like twitter when no one I know uses it? Whose tweets do I read? Who would read mine? Why do I need 700 friends on Facebook who I don’t even know? I guess because no one I actually do know uses it.
I visit digg, religiously, in fact its probably my primary source of news. Do I ever leave comments? No. Do I ever click Digg? No. Why? I guess because I just don’t care. Its probably more that I am jealous of Kevin Rose for stealing my idea. Or maybe it’s just because I’m one of those people who is so introverted, Im even an internet introvert. I like my privacy, online and offline. Especially due to sites like these, which I was made aware of thanks to one of my favorite sites, Lifehacker: How to track down anyone online.
This is why I am not a huge part of the social web. If I put a bunch of pictures of me drunk at a party somewhere of if I send a tweet out to the world about what crazy thing I’m up to tonight, I’m always afraid my boss at work will see it, or my next potential employer.
I guess I just have to find some sort of balance between making use of some of these really neat new tools we have to play with online, and maintaining some of my privacy and anonymity. If you have any ideas, please let me know.