Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Tagged social media

The promise and limitations of online life are niche, detached, and fascinating

The Digital Ruins of a Forgotten Future by Leslie Jamison profiles the last big thing that never was, namely Second Life, which went from millions of users at its peak a decade ago to a stagnated 600,000 a month today. These were my favorite excerpts from the remarkable long-form report:

  • [Second Life] crystallizes the simultaneous siren call and shame of wanting an alternate life. It raises questions about where unfettered fantasy leads, as well as about how we navigate the boundary between the virtual and the real.
  • My aversion to Second Life—as well as my embrace of flaw and imperfection in the physical world—testified to my own good fortune as much as anything. When I move through the real world, I am buffered by my (relative) youth, my (relative) health, and my (relative) freedom. Who am I to begrudge those who have found in the reaches of Second Life what they couldn’t find offline?
  • It’s like a digital Norman Rockwell painting, an ideal of upper-middle-class American domesticity—an utterly unremarkable fantasy.
  • Last year, Alicia and Al adopted two more children, but found it problematic that the new kids wanted “so much, so fast.” Rather than wanting to weave in and out of role-play, they constantly did things that demanded attention, like losing their shoes, jumping off the roof, climbing trees they couldn’t get down from, and starting projects they couldn’t finish. Basically, they behaved more like actual kids than like adults pretending to be kids.

In fairness, obscure Second Life users are no different than staged selfies or “real life” divisions such as watching a baseball game, daydreaming, or escaping into the bottomless ether of our smartphones, Jamison argues. But many committed Second Life holdouts seemingly live a perplexing (if not delusional) double life.

See also: Ready Player One

What would you say to one million listeners?

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The problem with social media is that most of what is said falls on deaf ears. You need celebrity, novelty, or credibility, to be heard.

Furthermore, we tend to congregate with like-minded individuals, making it difficult to be exposed to truly new ideas and perspectives.

All of which makes Listserve an interesting social experiment. It’ll probably end up just being spam or generalized thoughts. But if not, I’ll stay subscribed as long as it keeps on giving.

How staying informed makes us stupid

This is a great piece by Neal Gabler on how original thought has taken a back seat to being informed. Teaser quote to make you click:

It may seem counterintuitive that at a time when we know more than we have ever known, we think about it less… While (Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, etc) may change the way we live, they rarely transform the way we think. They are material, not ideational. It is thinkers who are in short supply, and the situation probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.

It will if we decide to reflect more on our surroundings, noting what we don’t like about them and how we might fix them. To do that, however, we have to regularly remove ourselves from the information trough.

It’s difficult for the brain to think if it’s always capturing data.

This guy’s argument would hold more water if it weren’t written on a website

doesn't hold waterThis is cute: “Do we still need websites?” asks some guy writing on a website.

Next time write it on Facebook, mister, and see how that works for you.

DISCLOSURE: I regularly design and publish websites.

Unfriending inappropriate Facebook relationships

funny-facebook-you're doing it wrong

If there’s one thing this world isn’t short on, it’s attractive women. Seriously, mature females are the most aesthetically pleasing things to look at. Heck, even girls can’t keep their eyes of each other.

But there’s a big difference between appreciating beauty and lusting after it. Which is why some dudes are unfriending attractive females on Facebook, in an effort to stay Marriedbook (crash cymbal please).

“I deleted an old high-school girlfriend,” a colleague told me recently. “She was posting some pretty racy photos of hereself, and I realized I didn’t need to be seeing that as a married man.”

In similar shoes, I felt empowered upon hearing this. Indeed, before quitting Facebook, I had to remove a couple of contacts from my account for similar reasons. But it’s encouraging to hear other married men fighting to stay happily married. It gives me hope.

On that note, do you have any electronic relationships that need deleting?