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Social (Media) Butterflies, and the importance of going "hey!"

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Embassy of Time


(I technically wrote my last entry the late evening of April 7., so this is still a blog-a-day thing. No, really! Hey, stop chuckling!)

In my first blog post on GameDev, there is a comment from the creator of GameDev, which mentions how common it is for people to read and not comment. I thought little of it at the time. Very few people comment on most blogs I see, so there was nothing unusual about that. I even felt lucky that I got half a dozen comments right from the start of blogging! Then I looked at my number of readers. I average over 900 views, after only aa few days!! My jaw dropped.

See, this is not my first run around the old blogging track. Until about one and a half year ago, I was trying to sharpen my virtual pens with different social media. I grew up with "chatting" meaning to actually talk to someone, face to face, "tweeting" being for birds, and "facebooking" being for, well, really creepy people (imagine a book full of faces, and try not to think of serial killers, I dare you!). But social media is the new thing, and I thought I needed to get my hands dirty if I wanted to do anything beyond fiddling with a hobby. Then life hit, and some things went bad, and I only recently came back into the fray.

The thing is, I never had anything get over 500 views every single time. This is mindblowing to me. I am honestly giddy as a schoolboy about the idea that this many people care to even glance at my ramblings! But it does make me wonder..... why the silence? Half a dozen comments is amazing for a newbie, but newbies tend to get maybe 20-50 views. I don't feel cheated out of comments, I still feel overwhelmed by the attention. But I cannot help but wonder why people are so silent. They may only glance and leave, like modern window shoppers looking for something cool to read (I will do my best to provide it, I promise). They may not really get much from what I write, which is perfectly normal, since I am weird, and ramble, and use odd and disturbing words (I also wear weird clothes, but you don't know that). But it might also be because people just don't feel comfortable sticking their heads out too far.

We live in a world that has never before existed. Talking to someone on the other side of the globe is more common than getting local vegetables. It takes adapting. Right now, on my private Facebook, I am dealing with a bunch of kids who mock me for not seeing that a weird skull on a stick in a field near me was a small deer, not a big dog (the skull turned out to be a bird, actually, just with a deer jawbone on the ground. Yeah, I posted those pictures there for a GODDAMN REASON. I live in a weird place!). They have nothing better to do, and their personal pages are nothing but selfies. We can talk to anyone... but we apparently have little to say. And I think that's a shame.

My dad has been having some financial issues lately, so last birthday, I used it as a reason to ask him for something I've long wanted from him, but never had an excuse to ask for: I wanted to know about his childhood. He never talks about himself, is a bit shy, and thinks he is not interesting. We talked a whole day about all kinds of things he had experienced, and he now is all giddy for when it's warm enough to go visit his birth town to see places he remembers. I talk to people on trains or around my home area about their lives, and they all start out thinking they have nothing to say, and then they turn out to have had crazy artist parents, know about hidden bank vaults in town, or my favorite, an older woman whose dad had been a veterinarian during WWII (I live in Europe) and who knew that if someone called about a pig with a broken leg, a British paratrooper had landed and needed to be smuggled to safety in his trunk. That's stuff from people like those who walk around you every day!!! But everyone thinks they are not interesting. Because, hell, no TV channel has come to interview them, nobody is asking to publish their memoirs, nobody is trailling them on social media wanting to know what they ate this morning or if they had more than one bowel movements today (I kid you not, there are people discussing those things. And no, I never visited this page, and neither should you, I just shiver to know it exists....). And yet, we think we have nothing to add to the conversations around us. And in the worst cases, others make sure to keep that illusion alive, because otherwise we may steal attention from them.

This is a website for people who want to develop games (or else I completely misunderstood the name of the site!). But game development is much, much more than coding, or someone would have made a clever program that produced games nonstop. In one of their freaking awesome videos, Extra Credits suggest game designers to-be should go out and experience the world, because you need to have something other than code and math inside of you to create something stunning. Never watched their stuff? Go do it right now. I am not worthy of your time if you have yet to spend it on them. But the point is, if we want to do more than fiddle with code (which, granted, is damned awesome and makes us totally cool), we need to see stories around us. We need to see stories worth telling and hearing in things, people, places and more that we see every day. Why is that building not in use, when it's placed so nicely and looks so big? Why does that woman sit on the bench every afternoon, reading in a notebook? Why does that coworker always take an inefficient way to the cafeteria, when the building is designed to make it easier for him? But most of all, we need to look for the stories in ourselves.

In my entry yesterday, I asked people to write some silly little story in the comments. It didn't have to be true or interesting, just something, to think about what a story contains. It's my only entry that has absolutely no comments. Do stories intimidate us? Are we afraid of being viewed as boring if our stories cannot rival blockbuster movies? Well, did you like the example stories about pig-leg paratroopers and such that I mentioned? If so, then you most likely have dozens of stories worth telling! But we are trained, these days from birth, to see ourselves as lesser stories, compared to the commercially boosted stories which, seriously, are mostly rehashed and overhyped. We are stories. That includes you. Yes, you. You are stories. Want a true and banal, seemingly uninteresting story? When I was a kid, I once tried the "spin around and try to run straight" thing in a big sandbox at my school, the kind with high wooden walls (modern ones probably have rubber padding and warning lights, but dammit, we were wild kids!). I, of course, ran like a drunk, and smashed right into the wooden wall. I was okay, but I got a little round scar on my elbow. Funny thing was, it healed quick, but it left a round mark for over two years! Then one day, it just disappeared, for no clear reason. Did that hold your interest? Because that was what counts as tedious, banal and unimportant. It's a nothing story. You can top that.

But we keep quiet. Maybe to not look dumb, in a world that loooves judging people. I am trying to get back into social media. I hate the limelight (my random-stuff website is actually named "Limedark"), but I need to get over myself and start interacting, if I want to do more than fiddle with code in the corner. I need to talk about raw ideas and weird little issues. I need to think that I'm worth listening to, even if less than 1 of 100 react. Even if I get next to no views. As a kid, I needed to learn to talk to people, too (I'm technically an Asberger's Autist, only nobody told me as a kid, so I never developed like autists are 'meant to', quite the opposite in many ways). I ended up forcing myself to make smalltalk (the "I have no idea what I'm doing with my words but hey you mind if we swap inane mumblings for a second" of conversation). I said "hi" and smiled to people, for no reason. Freaked a few out, true, but most found it adorable (I think?). I asked dog-walkers their dog's names. I asked people where they got some thing they had, or how to get to some place I knew perfectly well how to get to. It was hard, but it made me break out of my corner. I still do it now. It's how I manage to write this without wetting myself in an existential implosion. I have a whole list of social media that I need to figure out (again) how to make use of, even if it hurts my brain to have to talk to people in this weird, one-sided way. But that's me. What about you?

To round this rant off, I'll take a first step. I'll show you mine, in hopes that you will show me yours. I already had two people nervously (okay, I embellish, they didn't break down crying or anything) show me their blogs on GameDev, blogs they worried were not good enough, in one way or another. And they were perfectly fine blogs, several posts even grabbing me for more than a little while. So I hope that by showing you all my sad, failed attempts at doing social media, you will feel superior enough to show me something that you would like to make interesting (or that already is) in the comments. Like my last entry, I may fail. I may fall flat splat on my stupid ugly crooked-nose face in the mud and have everyone laugh at me. But dammit, nobody is going to care about something they never see! So I'll show you mine. By playground rules, you have to show me yours, or buy me a lollipop (and I expect you to pay for shipping it to me).

Tumblr Facebook Twitter Youtube Vimeo Flickr Instagram Soundcloud Reddit MySpace (stop laughing!) Pinterest DeviantArt (<- my most active, oddly enough) Tapastic Wattpad CGSociety ArtStation

Yeah, it's a mixed bag. The project I'm working on is... complicated.

Your turn. Please don't make me look stupid....? Please?

PS: If anyone wants to, I'd love to start a conversation / mutual help program for getting more attention to the things you post, whatever they may be (except the site that shall not be named!)

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