One Week No Social Networking: What Have I Learned

It’s been over one week since I last looked at my Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ feeds.  I haven’t looked at any of my friends’ feeds either.  I don’t know what’s trending, I don’t know if there has been any in-fighting within the freethought community, and I really don’t know if there has been anything super cool and new.  I’m very disconnected. 

Social networking was how I connected to a lot of skeptics, and now that’s gone.  I haven’t been good on emailing people or leaving comments.  I need to get better on that.  I haven’t instant messaged enough people.  I need to get better on that.  I haven’t tried to setup any hangouts, but I’ve been pretty busy, not sure I can get better on that. I’ve definitely learned that social networking was a key way I got involved in the skeptic movement. 

Perhaps the biggest, most important thing that I have learned is that a lot of skeptic content and commentary is now hidden behind the walls of Facebook and Twitter.  Both those services do not lend themselves well to be searched by Google, and neither service has its own decent search to begin with.  When I presumably rejoin the world of social networking, it will be nigh impossible to go back and look at what happened.  I find this distressing.   

There does need to be a way to better keep track of skeptic history on social networking, or anyone’s history really.  This is so far, the biggest take away from my admittedly small sample size of time away from social networking.

Would love to hear people’s feed back either on Google Hangouts Instant Message and/or email.  Just look for shane [dot] p [dot] brady [at] gmail [dot] com.  Thanks for reading!

So I Gave the Skeptic Elevator Pitch to Jay and Silent Bob

Last night, I was at a movie premier for Jay and Silent Bob’s Groovy Movie.  I can’t say that I’d recommend the movie.  While there were some pretty funny scenes, a lot of it seemed like it was going for parody but ended up being juvenile.  After the movie, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes came out and did their podcast Jay & Silent Bob Get Old, which I have to say was pretty good.  Honest, funny stories, and constant affirmation of Jason Mewes’ sobriety. 

After the show, I got to go backstage.  Kelly, my wife, won this contest and it included a VIP pass.  Right after the show, a huge crowd gathered by the backstage door, and I wondered if I would even get a chance for my picture and a quick hello.  Suddenly the music stopped, and someone told everyone without a VIP pass to beat it.  A few big Kevin Smith fans stuck around claiming they were told they could come backstage, and I thought there would be a fight honestly, when they were told to go home.

So about ten of us shuffled back stage, and waited in line.  The tour manager came buy asking for address and tee-shirt sizes for some additional stuff, and I chatted with the guys in line.  They were all geeks, into comics books, movies, etc, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  We’d all done podcasting and such, so we talked about that. 

Finally it was my turn, and I go up to Jay and Silent Bob, I mean, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith.  I shake hands and introduce myself.  The first thing out of Jason Mewes’ mouth is “Skeptunes? What’s that?”.  I was wearing my tee-shirt and both Kevin and Jason zeroed in on that.  So I ended up explaining skepticism to Jay and Silent Bob for ten minutes.  Kevin said he’d have to remember the URL, so I joked hey, I could give you one of my business cards, and he said he’d love it.  So, I then handed our Skeptunes business cards to Jay and Silent Bob.  I then outlined the difference between a skeptic and truther, I summed it up well (Kevin said I was being very generous in trying to explain it to them), and I even mentioned that I supported the legalization of marijuana because of what I had learn through the skeptical process.  They honestly seemed interested, even asking me about Loch Ness.  I then got my quick photos (we were being pushed out a little by the theatre manager) and I went on my way.  At the last minute, I forgot that I hadn’t even said I was a fan of their movies, I then blurted that out as quickly as possible before I left.

It was a lot of fun, and I’m positive that I didn’t turn Jay and Silent Bob into members of the skeptic community.  But it was fun, I got two pictures (shown below) and will always have the memory of handing out my business card to Jay and Silent Bob.


I Got to See the “Real” Minnesota Ice Man

In a nice coincidence, I happen to be visiting the same city that now holds the infamous “Minnesota Ice Man”.  A little place called the “Museum of the Wierd” is now the home of what purports to be some sort of relic hominid encased in a block of ice.   The Museum is small, hot, humid shop on 6th Street in Austin, which happens to be a few blocks from where I’m staying.

The tour guide took myself and two other guys back into Iceman Room.  Upon entering, I could see the display case, but it was covered with a red blanket.  The guide asked us if we knew anything about it, and I said that I had.  The other two were only vaguely familiar with it.  The guide took us through a story explaining the origins and circumstances surrounding the Iceman, and I can only guess the guide himself is very new to the story.  Lots of details were left out, mysterious “Smithsonian” scientists were mention, and a learned of a story of intrigue between the US and Canada over the body crossing the border.  

We were told, before the reveal, that no pictures were allowed so you’ll have to forgive me for not having anything to show you.  At first glance, there isn’t much to see.  In the hot climate of Austin, it’s clearly been a struggle to keep the ice from melting.  The tell tale signs of defrosting were evident, meaning the ice wasn’t very clear and details were hard to make out.

The left hand was up over the head, with the right hand protecting where the genitalia would be. The “fur” looked very worn to me.  Earlier pictures seemed to have more hair.  The opaqueness of the ice preventing me from seeing the eyeball that is allegedly popping out of the socket.  The feet and teeth looked oh-so rubbery.  Very fake looking to me.

When the show was over the three of us walked out, and as soon as the door closed, one guy asked me “So do you think it’s real or a gaffe?”  I said total gaffe.  I told them about the history, gave them some more details, and I think I left there having shown them that it was almost certainly fake.  We all had a mildly amusing time and for me it was a little bit of “history” in something I follow quite a lot.  

And so there it is, how I got to see the “Real” Minnesota Ice Man!

Day 2 of No Social Networking, and Hello Austin!

OK, so a few people have dinged me because my posts show up on social networks.  I know this sounds like a violation, but the spirit of what I’m trying to do, is not to read social networks, or respond on social networks.  In fact, I would like people to subscribe to my blog by going to my Feedburner url.   I would love to get more traffic on that.

So how is it going?  Well I feel strangely disconnected, like I’m being left out of the conversation that I’m sure my friends are having.  Are they doing cool stuff I’m not seeing?   Am I losing contacts?  Are people forgetting I’m even there?  All this from only two days!  Clearly, something is broken for me, in how I use social networks.  I’m not going to blame social networking, it’s just me.

As I said, I’m currently in Austin for a quick 2 day trip.  Not enamored with my hotel or the wifi connection, but if all goes well tomorrow night, I should have some pretty cool pictures to share.  And with that, I am off to bed!

First Day of No Social Networking, a Clarification, and a Moth

So here I end my first full day in a thirty day experiment in no social networking.  Instead of looking at G+, Twitter, and sometimes Facebook, I looked for blogs, I commented, and I sent some email.  I felt slightly disconnected and perhaps a little out of touch.  My old habits of relying on social media for breaking news were habits I hadn’t realized I had.  I definitely read a lot more long form information today.  The first day was relatively easy, but I imagine twenty-nine more days will be more difficult.   In fact, I’m slightly paranoid that I will in fact fall out of touch with all the great skeptic friends I have because I’m no longer “in the loop”.

Three people asked me today why I was still posting to social networks if I wasn’t doing social networking.  Well, the simple reason is, while I can cut out watching social networking feeds myself, I can’t get by the fact that social networks are now the main structure by which news and posts are transmitted.  They have killed RSS.  Truth is, no one subscribes to my blog, they just go there after I tweet something.  So my posts are still auto-posting to the big three, but since I won’t be responding or even monitoring what happens on there, I don’t think it violates the spirit of the challenge.  I will also be on Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, since they are simply instant message clients.

Time for what everyone has been waiting for, a big moth:

My Next 30 Days of No Social Networking

So, I have decided to try an experiment.  For the next 30 days, starting July 23, I will not be interacting on Google Plus, Twitter, or Facebook.  I have deleted these apps from Chrome, my phone, and tablet, or in the case of Google+, disabled notifications.  The only forms of communications I will be using are email, instant messengers, and Google Hangouts.  

I loaded up Feedly with a bunch of news sources and friends’ blogs, and I will only comment on their own blogs.  If they use Facebook Comments, however, I consider that a violate of the spirit.  I will not hesitate to email people when I would normally have just left a comment. 

The one small caveat is that posts to this blog will auto-post to social networks.  The simple reason is that in today’s world, social networks can act as a broadcast medium, but I will not be responding at all via the social networks.  If anyone wants to contact me, please feel free to email me or look at my Contact Me page.

This is an experiment to see if social networking is, you know, actually social, or just a large waste of time.  If it’s somewhere in between, I want to figure out how to get more out of it.  It’s possible that in thirty days, my habits go right back to how they were, or I never come back.

See you in 30….maybe!