Let's get the disclaimers out of the way right here at the beginning. I am on Twitter - I check it about twice a week or if something important is going on in the world and I Tweet about once a month. I am on Facebook - I only check it when someone contacts me direct which is rare and I never post anything but the odd birthday greetings. I spend a great deal of time on Flickr - it is so much more than a place to park your pics! And my latest time-waster is Pinterest.
This post is not intended to be an advertisement for Pinterest, I will just say it is addictive as well as functional. However a recent experience on Pinterest is what brought me here, so I will give a brief idea of how it functions for the uninitiated. One can pull photos from almost anywhere on the web and post them on your own 'bulletin boards' (such as recipes, craft patterns, color schemes, travel ideas). The brilliant part is that when you - or anyone else - click on that photo, it takes you to the original website. In short, it does away with the massive list of 'favorites' that are pretty much wasted by those who surf a great deal.
In addition to finding treasures on the web, there is an enormous amount of pinned material to sift through should you so choose. The challenge is to find people and boards with similar tastes and interests and follow their boards - thus ensuring a steady supply of treasures mined by other like minds. And now to the story...
Last night I was scrolling through Pinterest and found a pin of a work by Beryl Taylor, an extremely talented mixed media artist I have been tracking for at least five years. As I traced back through the pinnings, I came to the artist herself. She was on Pinterest and it goes without saying that I loved practically all of her pinnings and was pleased to find that she had pinned some of the same things I had. Of course, I opted to follow all of her boards.
The next day, when I glanced through the regular email I receive from Pinterest showing repinnings of your items, I found this sentence..."Beryl Taylor started following all of your pinboards". I was so excited I called my daughter to tell her that THE Beryl Taylor was following ME!
And that is why people have hundreds of Facebook friends that they haven't spoken to in real life for twenty years or more, why Stephen Fry has 3,821,365 Twitter followers, and why there is a Flickr group called 'Dogs on Roofs' that has 1,540 members who have posted a total of 821 pictures of - you guessed it - dogs on roofs.
For every sad, lonely person who has locked themselves away in a room and lurks around the edges of forums and special interest sites, there is someone who is making a connection with someone else that was simply not possible before the internet. I am happy to say, that sometimes that person is me. Last week, someone on Pinterest pinned one of my Flickr photos onto her board for miniatures. Foolish though it may seem, I was thrilled.
I think a case could be made that ebay was the first of the mega-successful social media. I remember when ebay first took off, I shopped early and often. Payments were usually made by check through the mails, which necessitated a personal interaction of sorts and your feedback was an important element. One day, after a hard and personally depressing day at work, I logged onto ebay and read through my feedback. There I discovered I was "an A++++ buyer", a "valued buyer", I was "friendly and great to deal with". Ha! Take that Michelle! (All these years later, I still remember what a bitch she was - I'm sure Beryl Taylor wouldn't follow her anywhere!)