Tag Archives: Twitter

Couchsurfing Social

So my friend Brooke Allen, the “pizza interview dude,” as I keep referring to him, recommended that I join Couchsurfing. I may seem mobile, but I don’t really travel all that much. And when I do, I usually have somewhere to stay. So I don’t necessarily need to couchsurf. And when I’m “home,” as in my “own” apartment, there isn’t much space. I’m happy to share what little space I have with friends but I don’t quite know how I feel about opening up my home to strangers. That said, I’m not totally opposed to the idea, either. But Brooke thinks it’s a great site, a great way to meet interesting new people and a great way to network — all wonderful things. So I signed up.

It is, yes, one more social networking site in that it requires upkeep: put up a photo, fill out a profile, link to people you know and…keep doing that shit over and over, just like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Etsy and…oh! This BLOG! Sigh. Where’s the log cabin that’s off the motherfucking grid? Anyway!

So I signed up for the site and then joined a few of their groups: New York City, Writers, Burning Man, etc. They each send out group posts and I chose to receive the weekly digest. I used to be on the weekly digest for the NYC Burning Man email list and wound up switching the individual emails. It means dozens of emails a day, sometimes, but it’s better than missing out on stuff!

It came to my attention pretty quickly that the New York City Couchsurfers meet up once a week and I thought I should check out one of those meet-ups. It took me a few weeks but I ventured out last night. I started at a pre-“Revival Meeting” dinner, where the people I met explained that that’s what the meet-ups are called. Revival was the venue the meet-ups were held in the past; now they’re somewhere different every week. Hmm, makes sense… The group at the Thai restaurant was very international and a mix of New York residents and visitors: French, Ukrainian, Brazilian, Thai. It was an interesting collection! And they were trading stories of nightmarish or hilarious Couchsurfing experiences: Bed bugs! Dog shit! Toilets that don’t flush! Nude men you have to share a bed with! Mandatory ménage a trois!

After everyone finished their dinners, we strolled across town to Affair on Eighth. I ordered a pint of Stella that only cost $4, so I was instantly enamored of the establishment! The group seemed somehow more homogenous, perhaps because I didn’t speak with everyone. The age range was also homogenous, primarily 20- to 30-somethings. I wasn’t feeling especially gregarious or even all that motivated to meet people so I mostly observed, except for the guy who I overheard describing Spa Castle. I told him I’d been there and that it was awesome. But that was the extent of our interaction. Then a musician started singing and strumming his guitar; live music is not all that conducive to conversation.

One young man asked someone something about Burning Man, so I chatted him up a bit. He said he was a recent resident and not even yet official, that he was waiting to take an apartment until he got a job. Even though he’s fresh out of college, he seemed to be the only person I related to much…

I left after only two beers and those two brief conversations, not quite sure that Couchsurfing is for me. But we’ll see. Maybe next time I write about it, it’ll be after I’ve hosted the world’s most interesting house guest!

F*ck Facebook

Today I reached a benchmark, of sorts. I just “connected” with my 1000th friend on Facebook. It’s sort of like that double rainbow: WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I’m not in tears, however. But what does it mean? Am I popular? Like, ya know, really popular? Do “they” like me. I mean really like me?

I recall back in the early days of social networking, when we were all on Friendster. (Yes, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we weren’t all at the mercy of Mark Zuckerberg.) The press was amused by the online phenomenon and dubbed those with scads of contacts “hubs.” I had — and have — many spokes. (Though that’s probably something that can be said of most “burners,” since we all know hundreds of people scattered around the globe.) Hubs have a lot of friends, meet people easily and are skilled at networking, all very good things in this interconnected age.  It has not, however, helped me find a job, sublet my apartment or get me laid.

Yes, there are others who have far more “friends” than I do. But I’ve made a point of only “friending” people I’ve actually met. Still, it doesn’t mean much. It’s a random number in a meaningless medium. These “friends” are an odd bunch, I think to myself as their lives scroll by. People I’ve been close with for years are jumbled in with people I met yesterday; elementary school pals I haven’t seen in decades are little squares side by side with far-flung family members I never see at all. Their news is almost as meaningless as our friendships: links to YouTube or music videos; what they’re eating, buy, wearing; photos of offspring, pets, sunsets and drunken nights on the town.

Facebook also encourages strange, stalker-like behavior. I’ve been accused of “lurking” on someone’s profile when, in fact, my being aware of this person’s movements online was a result of Facebook’s incessant updating, informing me that “Sally just commented on Suzie’s post,” simply because I had commented on Suzie’s post earlier. Like it fucking matters.

Probably the worst thing about Facebook is now that everyone is on it (your mom! your boss! every ex you’ve ever dumped or been dumped by!) there’s no way to not be on it. There are people who only communicate via the site, having seemingly forgotten about plain ol’ email. Party invitations are now mass-Facebook’ed affairs that scroll by the same way peoples’ snacking habits and stupid jokes do: so quickly they’re barely digestible. Sigh.

What to do? Move to a cabin in the mountains and unplug completely? Alas, as appealing as that sounds, no… Instead, I plod away, posting and updating, Tweeting and blogging, “following” and “friending,” shoving the virtual shit against the tsunami-like tide of zeros and ones and who-the-hell-are you?s. Now, won’t you “like” my post? Reddit my article? Up-arrow my very existence, so I can truly feel validated? Er, popular? Ooh! Make that 1,001!