Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Every Tool Has A Use

To my son Tommy,

I have somehow managed to categorize and compartmentalize my social presence.  With the amount of competing social medias online, I suppose it was only a matter of time.  It is the same theory as owning a bunch of cordless phones and their bases.  We have four.  You wouldn't line them all up in the same room.  Instead you spread them out, one in the kitchen, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and (with our family and your mom's crohn's disease) one in the john.  Each phone can do the same thing but we have spread their duties to cover more area in our house and make life easier for us.  Somehow your mom can end up with three or four phones in one place, but for the most part each one has a specific location for a specific purpose.

This is similar to what my online life has become.  I use Blogger, of course, to write you these letters.  I use Facebook to follow family and friends.  I use LinkedIn for work updates and professional stuff.  I use Google+ profile but I haven't found it's niche use yet.  I kind of think of it like a backup quarterback for Facebook.  There are other tools out there that I use (like Yelp to look up restaurants when I can find an honest review and we have spare money to go out) or have used (Is myspace still around?) for various things and to various degrees and there are yet others I haven't started using but the most interesting tool as of late is Twitter.

I find myself using Twitter for news and increasingly to follow along with local issues and follow along with local news.  They recently had an award ceremony for local tweeters and bloggers and such called the Mobbies.  When the results were posted, I ended up with a treasure trove of people to follow on Twitter.  I never thought an online tool would increase how connected I can feel to my city, yet here I am hanging on tweets of bearded local reporters and watchdog agitators.  It feels good to be at least informed if not enlightened even if it is a bit of escapism from current struggles.

I wonder, when you read this, if these names of the sites and tools will have lasted or if you will have to go looking for them in a history book or wiki or whatever the tool du jour is.  I also wonder how many people are compartmentalizing their online life like me or if this is just some sort of geekly OCD.  If you find yourself with lots of social media tools (or lots of cordless phones in the house for that matter) remember to diversify and not throw all your eggs in one basket.  It may actually seem counter intuitive that you can simplify your life using multiple tools for specific purposes when each and any of the tools could probably handle and satisfy all areas.  Logic would normally suggest, if that is the case, to simplify by only picking one tool.  But in this ever changing age, where tools come and go and depend on the success of their IPO, being well versed in all your options gives you some peace of mind.  It also spreads the burden and allows you to choose which online area of your life you want to spend time.  One of the best things about spreading out your activities among sites, you feel less guilty about taking a break from one or all and you feel less overwhelmed when you decide to resume.  And always remember, it goes without saying too often, that these are just tools to life and the majority of your time should be spent outside of these tools, living real life with real people in real interactions.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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