Category Archives: social media

Just Like That River: My Online Friend Joel.

Hear them shout across the land

I think I have been trying to collect my thoughts since last night, when I heard that a fellow fan named Joel David had suddenly passed away. We knew one another online, but had never met in person. I suppose I’m still shocked this morning.

We had been in the middle of dinner – we’d started late because of that dreaded Daylight Savings Time nonsense (if you’re on Twitter, you know how much I detest it!). Sure, my clock might say 8pm, but my body says it’s 7pm, and that’s that. Walt and I were still sitting at our counter, watching American Idol (yes, I’ve succumbed) and talking over our half-finished glasses of Cabernet. I saw my phone light up and decided to inspect it. My older kids are far enough away now to where I tend to worry more.(I know I shouldn’t, but I’m a mom. Plain and simple.) I picked it up and drew a huge breath, loud enough for Walt to hear.

Durandy’s news that Joel David had died was bright and easily read – right there on my screen. I re-read his short note over, and over again, because out of everyone I knew of in Duranland – I couldn’t quite believe it was Joel that we’d lost. I would hear from that guy nearly every day. Whether it was a comment on Facebook about something I’d written on the blog, Twitter, or connecting on one of DDHQ’s own status updates – Joel was a mainstay in the community. I appreciated his usually sunny-outlook, and his support.

I’ve seen you on TV

I spend a lot of time online. (Although my phone tells me that my screen time was down 25% last week!) I spend a lot of time talking to people on Twitter, among many other things. It is how I choose to remain connected to the world. Most days – I don’t mind that I don’t necessarily know my neighbors or have friends nearby. I am able to open my phone, get to Twitter, and chat away with people whenever I feel the urge, and I like that. Between my trusty laptop and my phone, I’m pretty set. I’m not someone who thrives by having lunches with friends, or shopping dates – although they’re nice – they’re not a necessity for me. Social media though? Yes, it’s a thing.

I’ve had friends – and yes, Amanda is one of them – say to me that they don’t have time to be online. They’ve got careers and real things to do. They want time with actual people, and I don’t fault anyone for needing that. It is important to have people you’re able to call at 3am that can be there. Online friendships aren’t always the same. They’re not necessarily as deep or meaningful. In some ways, I get it.

It’s true that a lot of my friendships might be superficial. I mean, we chat about a band, so sure, it doesn’t seem like we get into the nitty gritty of politics, or childrearing, or personal convictions (but often times, we do). And no, I wouldn’t call my online friends at 3am. But then again, I wouldn’t call anyone at 3am, except for maybe my mom, my sister, and my kids. From my own experience, good phone calls don’t come at that hour…unless maybe you’re very confused about the time difference. (Listen, my math isn’t that great so….)

Regardless, I get the point. Then again, you’re reading a blog from someone who hates using the phone for it’s originally intended purpose. Just saying.

I know what you’re thinking

It’s true. I don’t have a job, much less a career. I have some spare time (although not nearly as much as one might think) on my hands. While I indeed have some personal thoughts about careers and life-choices that I won’t bore you all with here, I think the main point I want to make is that we all choose how to connect with people.

My path is likely different from most anybody else reading this. Different does not mean “less than”. If you’re looking down your nose at me, or the other people who like being on Facebook or Twitter for the pure social aspect, you should probably rethink your own intentions. I’m happy that I’m online. I don’t look at it as a waste of time at all. It is how I choose to interact with people other than my immediate family. For me, various types of social media have been how I have made, and maintained, 90% of the friendships I’ve had as an adult, believe it or not.

When I first really got involved in the Duran fan community, it was through message boards. I met Amanda as a result of one of those boards. When Twitter and Facebook gained in popularity, I made the jump to those platforms. Then the blog and website came along, and we even still have a message board. (albeit I am hard pressed finding time and remembering to go over there a lot – but I try!) I am on and off of Twitter all day. I can scroll through, respond to things in a fraction of a second, and be off again; even while I’m working with my youngest on her math. You’d think I wouldn’t have to stand over her to get work done, but you’d be wrong. Kids are great.

Two, of a billion stars

Joel is one of those people that I would often see a note, or see a new Instagram post from. He was, from what I knew, a happy guy. He would reach out when he had something to say, and he even checked in with me when I admitted being very depressed last year. I loved seeing his pictures, and enjoyed knowing he was a part of this community. Had I not been involved on social media, I would have never connected with him. For that matter, the same can be said for many of you reading this, or tweeting to me or Daily Duranie on Twitter.

I guess my feelings today can best be summed up like this: I’m sad that I won’t see Joel online anymore. He was a friend, and I felt like he cared. I feel terrible for his friends and family. His loss will certainly be felt by a lot of people. Knowing Joel, I am betting he had absolutely no idea that so many of us would respond as we have.

When she shines, she really shows you all she can

By the same token, I am no longer going to feel less important or impactful because I have time to be online, or because I have made friends this way. No, I am not a big career-person, and that’s hard for me to admit. I wanted a career of my own, but it just never quite worked out. I am probably not changing the world in a huge, noticeable way. However, I have done things to make a part of this world – my teeny-tiny little speck on it, anyway – a little better. More importantly, we ALL have, in ways that are both big and small. We don’t always see the impact we have on others, but I can promise it’s there. Have faith in that, as I try to do the same each day.

I don’t go through life assigning importance to people based on some sort of arbitrary sort of list, pondering over whether or not they’ve contributed to society, or causes, at an appropriate level. However, even if I had, Joel never failed to make me smile. In a world and on platforms that are filled with people so angry they can’t even see the good that is out there – Joel spread happiness. There’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

Her name is Rio, and she dances on the sand

It isn’t lost on me that our Duranie world is the teeniest bit smaller today. Many of us are sad or are struggling. (Shout out to my buddy Alana – I’m thinking of you!! You too Heather – keep on healing, my friend!) Those are healthy and normal feelings to have and share with others. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. We’re not ALWAYS dancing on the sand…but aren’t we lucky to have found a community of people who understand when we do?

There’s always something to be thankful for.

-R


Are we still a Networker Nation?

In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned the power of social media. Although I don’t have Sirius XM radio, within moments of the interview John Taylor did with Richard Blade on Monday, I knew what had been discussed. I felt triumphant.

Say whatever you like about the evils of Twitter and Facebook. They can definitely be a cesspool of humanity. I agree that Twitter can seem like an echo chamber. I don’t believe that Twitter changes anyone’s mind, and I don’t think it is necessarily the best place to chat about politics. In all honesty, I stay off of it as much as possible anymore because it isn’t enjoyable. The population of people that once posted has changed.  I think even the very function of Twitter has changed since its inception.

However, if I need information quickly, Twitter is my failsafe. I can put a question out there, and get an accurate answer in an incredibly  impressive amount of time. Twitter is reactive, sometimes explosively so. Facebook seems to be more of a warm, fuzzy place…most of the time. It is where I connect with extended family, and it is where I have learned things about family members that I really didn’t ever need to know. It is also where I get good and bad news from childhood friends, and find out that my former high school crushes have gained several chins and collected wives along the way in the same spirit as I have Duran Duran ticket stubs. Even so, I don’t tend to loiter on social media as I once did.

I do miss sitting around and tweeting with friends. It was like a giant chat room, and no, we didn’t always agree. That didn’t matter, though. It was about the gathering, the communication, even the immediacy and yes, even the friendship. Something happened though, and for all of the good that could be found, Twitter turned angry. It isn’t very enjoyable much of the time. I don’t see many fans on Twitter these days, at least not that are there for the pure enjoyment of being a fan. I suppose we take our cues from the band to some extent, who themselves seem to have left social media – at least as recognizable people using their own names (Not that I know otherwise. I’m just saying that if they wanted to participate under a blanket of anonymity, they probably could.)  I can’t really lay blame in any one direction. Even so, when I need information, it does have its place.

I don’t think we can ignore the fact that within moments of news breaking, whether that is a devastating earthquake, or a tour being announced, it is being discussed on Twitter. The same holds true for Facebook, although the reaction time is longer. Social media has its place, but where do we go to really enjoy being fans without the trappings that “real” life on social media has to offer? Is it that we’re all just too busy now? It wasn’t that many years ago when the message board and/or forum of DDM was a bustling place. Post counts jumped by the dozens within seconds. Does anyone still talk about the band anywhere?

Oddly, we have a message board that is largely ignored, and I need to shoulder at least half of that responsibility. I find that I spend very little time “online” these days. It isn’t because I have that much less time, it is because the last thing I want to see or do is talk politics, or read about more horrors taking place within my country. I don’t need five hundred friends sharing the same comments, memes, and complaints. I’m sick of it.  Rest assured, I feel the same as many of you, although likely not with the same intensity as some. I’m just tired of talking about it all, or reading about it. So, I stay offline as much as possible. I can’t imagine I’m alone. I check out Instagram, I smile at pictures. I love cats and dogs. I need the good things more than I need to read the bad things five hundred times.

So while there is certainly power within social media, and our fingers flying across the keys does far more to “spread the word” than it used to, I have to wonder where the fun has really gone. Is it time to fire up the message boards again? Sometimes, I wonder. I miss our online fun.

-R

Running Against the Tide – Daily Duranie and Social Engagement

If they could see me now…

“They” in this case is all of you, and thank goodness none of you can. I’m sitting here, at 10:15 am on a Wednesday (it IS Wednesday, right?) at my computer. I have coffee in front of me, and I’m typing this while in snowflake print flannel jammies, a pink hoodie, socks, and my hair…well…it’s a mess. Tissues litter my lap (and floor if we’re being really honest. I see no point in sugar-coating now), my nose is red and raw, my lips are chapped, and apparently cracked, as I just found out (ouch). To top it all off,  I’m sweating because I am pretty sure I’m breaking my fever. Or…I’m having an amazingly bad hot flash. I really can’t even tell the difference anymore. YAY!

What does that have to do with Duran Duran?

NOTHING!!  Except that even while sick, I’m idiotic (shall we go for driven??) enough to blog. I also don’t mind sharing my far less than glamorous moments (spoiler: there are MANY) in excruciating detail. Think of it this way, however bad you might have felt this morning, I have somehow made it not seem so terrible.

So, what’s shaking today? I don’t even know. I’ve been in bed since about 7pm last night. I had my phone with me, but I gave in to the chills around 8:30 or so and finally put my phone down and curled up into a ball under my comforter and afghan. My worst writing days are those when I feel like I’ve been out of contact, and lately—well, for a while now really, I’ve removed myself from just that!

When Daily Duranie first started, I was all about the social media. I loved social engagement! I was practically a social butterfly…ONLINE. I liked flitting in and out, around and about, checking Twitter and Facebook and talking with other fans. I knew what was going on in the community, I heard the rumors, the hyperbole, and the flat-out gossip. Trouble was, some of those things nagged at me. I’d read things, and then not be able to let them go.

A common scenario would be that I’d get our Daily Duranie email and there’d be an unkind comment in there. I’d bring it up online—venting, basically—and then someone would call me out for doing so. Saying that I should expect as much, and so on. It ticked me off that I couldn’t even vent my own feelings without judgment. So, I’d swear off saying anything about the blog online, and I’d be good for a period. I’d keep my thoughts to myself, and then something would happen and I’d unleash it, only to have another Duranie play smack down. It wasn’t fun, and I started having massive writers block. I can’t necessarily attribute that to any one thing, but I can tell you that at a certain point, I started worrying about what I was writing. Would someone get mad? Did the band care? Would I get more hate mail? I wouldn’t say I obsessed about those things, but I’d hit “publish” each day, those thoughts swirled in my head.

A couple of years ago, there was a larger-than-normal blow-up. I am not going to get into details, but it taught me a lesson. First, when you make jokes – someone out there is always going to be offended. It doesn’t matter what is said, what the joke is about, someone will be offended, and reacting is the very last thing I should have done. Hindsight is an amazing thing.  Anyway…   Secondly, there are one hell of a lot of people out there in the online world that take on the role of being holier than thou. I’m not going to elaborate, but there you have it. Lastly, when someone tries to take your bliss away, don’t let them. Friends do not do that to one another. After that incident, I took some time off, and realized that I needed to change the way I handled myself and social media.

Some might remember back when Amanda and I would interact on Twitter. We’d “talk” on Daily Duranie,  which got very confusing because it seemed as though our Twitter was talking to itself (it was), but it was fun! We don’t do that these days. It is a very rare thing when I respond as Daily Duranie, and while I sometimes all of the social engagement, I enjoy the peace of mind.

I let my thoughts fly as I blog, hit “publish”, and then I am done with it.  I think it was Simon that explained that for the band, they own the album until it’s released, and then it becomes the property of the listener, of the fans, of the public. I tried very hard to understand what he meant, but for a long time his words would circle in my head and while I’d pretend to “get it”, I really didn’t. Well, I do now, 100%.  Once I hit publish, I don’t look back. The hardest days are when we get comments, and I have to read through them. Sometimes I’ll want to debate or argue, but I’ve trained myself to just hit “approve” and move on and stop thinking about it. The exercise is difficult, sometimes painful, but I have to do it. Anything else just gets me into trouble.

I typically won’t even respond on Facebook when readers discuss the topic, because when I do—invariably it gets me into muddy waters. At some point I learned that my “job”, so to speak, is simply to begin the conversation. The rest of it is up to you guys, and I let you have at it. There are times when readers completely miss my point or disagree with me, and in the past I would try to explain. I’ve realized that most of the time, it’s pointless. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means that I need to let you, dear reader, decide what my words mean to YOU, whether I like it or not. It has been one hell of a rough road and learning curve, but I think I’ve finally managed to learn my lesson.  Maybe. Sometimes I’ll still respond on Facebook depending upon what is said and, most importantly, who is saying it, but mostly I try not to even look.

Particularly in the case of Twitter, it is far too easy to let 140 characters get the best of you. Or me. I think most of us have had our fair number of Twitter “exchanges”, and while some don’t care what anyone else says to them, I do. The bad things tend to really stick with me. In fact, I can still relate, word for word, one of the last truly bad Twitter exchanges I had on the Daily Duranie account, and if you ask Amanda, she’ll tell you that I still bring it up from time to time. The experience spoke volumes to me, and weighed heavily. Overall, it got to the point where the negative things outweighed the positive, and it was then that I made the conscious decision to stop feeding the monster.  I couldn’t continue social engagement in the same ways without really hurting myself and the blog. Coincidentally, this is was almost about the time that Amanda and I began writing with a firm deadline, and I had to focus on writing.  In September I took a job, and now I’m not even at home as often anyway.  I suppose my priorities have changed.

So, if you were ever wondering why Amanda and I stopped participating in social engagement…there you go. My guess is that we’re not alone.

-R