Just Passing Through (adventures in social networking)
At around 9am UK time on June 19th 2014 Facebook was not available for around thirty minutes. Shock, horror! I didn't even notice the outage, but if I had seen the on-screen display of "Sorry, something went wrong" that would have apology enough for me. I appreciate it for the technological marvel that it is. I have some friends that shun Facebook to varying degrees. Some of them have fake accounts (which is ideal for the paranoid of those amongst them). Others do not have Facebook accounts at all. How do they know what their friends are having for dinner? Or more importantly how do they find out about interesting events that are taking place out there in the real world? The finding out about and publicising events and messaging friends makes Facebook invaluable for me. Now that I have AdBlock installed I don't even have to suffer the targeted ads that they serve up using all the information they hold on me.
Facebook due to its massive user base is indispensible and, at the moment, there is no real alternative. But that doesn't stop me looking...
My first experience of social networking was with FriendsUnited, you could connect with old school friends (paying for the privilege). I didn't make many connections, but I did find out that my best friend from school was a gay. Then it was Myspace, with its editing facility to make your page as garish as you like. I don't remember making any friends as a result of being on Myspace, but I did set up a band page and published up one song on it https://myspace.com/emptyflat/music/songs (Empty Flat being wordplay on Crowded House, the popular New Zealand band).
Here in Poland I would have shrivelled away and died as a hermit without social networking. First there was GoldenLine. Through that I found out about regular English meetings, which I soon began to run and through those regular Thursday meetings gained plenty of new friends. CouchSurfing isn't particularly active in Kielce, but even through that I met some new people even though some of them, such as the French couple cycling round the world via Kielce) were just "passing through". I even joined VK.com (the Russian equivalent of Facebook). Even though I haven't a single friend on VK, I still use it as a music player to play songs that other users have uploaded (Russia isn't particularly hot on copyright enforcement).
Now that I'm in Kraków social networking is still proving useful. A while back I joined Meetup. Through that I went to a doodling event. Unfortunately there was only one meeting (possibly because there were only two people at that meeting and one of them was the organiser). Where Meetup fails is that you have to have to pay to be an organiser of an event. If that wasn't the case I probably would have taken over the running of the doodling event.
Apart from that one meeting Meetup did lead me in the direction of Yelp. This is the new flavour of the month with me at the moment. Yelp is a hugely popular review website which is just beginning to make inroads into Poland. Kraków is lucky to have a so-called Community Manager (a lovely girl by the name of Kasia) whose job it is to click "like" on people's post and create a sense of community. Well, she does a lot more than that. Our Kasia is particularly active and arranges group outings to various restaurants and other events. She typifies the typical Yelp user who flits between cafes and restaurants, giving the impression that they never do any real work or eat at home (or even go home for that matter). I, too, am now an avid Yelper. My Facebook timeline is now free of restaurant and cafe check-ins (apart from the occasional one). Now, if you want to find out what I had for dinner, you're just going to have to ask me... or join Yelp...