So, I've been back on Buzznet now for a little over a week now, and I have made a few observations:
- More than half of all of the friends that I had on here have abandoned their posts and have raised the white flag when it comes to making this place part of their daily routines. This was a much different place two years ago, and even a much more different place four years ago. Wow, I feel a little aged.
- I am alarmingly surprised by how gossip-y the pop culture page seems to be. I always thought that pop culture was more than just current events that have less to do with cultural relevancy and more to do with shallow insights. Now, I mean no intentional diss to any current contributor, just trying to think about ways to open this place up in a more appealing way.
- The age of strong, creative contributors has been traded in for a considerable amount of minor bloggers that aren't talking about how things in the world relate to their lives; there is no firm community to be found in loose summations about a person (unless that person is either Jesus or Harry Potter). I think that a relatable sense of community helps to inspire friendly competition among people when it comes to posting clever material, and it is great to get to relate to people through content that you feel passionate about! Again, I'm not trying to draw fire from any one person in mentioning this - I see a large community of users, not people.
With these thoughts out of my brain and onto your screen, I now have decided to put together a few habits that I've learned to follow before I criticize the styles of other people. I'd like to take the time now to point out that there is a difference in how we criticize; there are many ways that a criticism could take, from a simple evaluation of an artist's worth in comparison to their work to unnecessarily harping on the styles of other people. I have gone through roughly 50+ posts in the last few hours trying to make sense of how fashion and trends on Buzznet are discussed, highlighted, ripped apart, dismissed, and exploited. The criticisms that I read through have a fair amount of information, but I don't get a sense of personal style, flavor, or personality informing how I interpret the information.
I remember this place having that. I don't see it much these days. And while some of you might appreciate the endless, two-second 'wow, that's kewl' comments, I do not like them (not on here or on Facebook) and would rather have a little more depth put into feedback.
This place (having a history of being in full support of original, user-generated content) is one where we can all learn from each other in ways that you don't get to on other websites. I'd like to keep a taste of that, and let people know a little bit better on what I'm talking about.
1. Do your research!
If that means that you google a designer, I take the time to do it. If that means going to an artists tweets and making sense of what their thoughts are, I take the time to do it. If that means that you go onto YouTube to watch interview after interview to make sure that their facts match up in their entirety, I take the bloody time to do it. There are so many ways to research, and if you ever find yourself stuck, send me a message and I can try my best to help. If you're also going to take the time to research what you're looking into, be sure to cite your stuff! That doesn't necessarily mean that I like to go all APA or MLA or Chicago-style with it - I usually just provide links so that people can see where I get my information from. I think that knowing what you're talking about lends to anyone's credibility as a person that writes about other people and music and pop culture and whatever the hell else people decide to talk about.
2. Bring your experiences into the mix!
Using 'I' statements and attempting to speak as true as you can from your own experiences is a great way to bring more of yourself into your posts. No one can invalidate how I feel or how I think; as long as I am being honest about it, I can sleep with ease. It is empowering to better understand how your personal experiences can be applied to a multitude of mediums. Speaking from your own actions also helps to better personalize who you are to the rest of the world - your experiences can be used to help better paint a clearer picture of who the person on the other side of the screen is.
3. If you're going to gossip, be sure that it is something that you feel comfortable gossipping about!
If you're doing your own research and bringing in personal experiences when you decide to post something that may be considered gossip, readers gain a better perspective of who you are and how you stand in relation to what you are writing about. It's easy for a person to combat what you're talking about when it seems like you don't have your thoughts collected or are writing about it in a way that doesn't speak fluidly (and there are many kinds of fights that happen over formatting issues over the internet - bleh). There are many ways to convey comfort with what you are talking about, but the most essential part of talking about something is knowing about the elements that surround your claims. I love talking to people that know what they are talking about. From the extreme fans that can describe every emotional twist that Patrick Stump has ever made them feel to the folks that match up nuiannces and gestures of models to every other facet of popular culture while making grand social commentary, each of these characters has a way of understanding the world for themselves and explain it in a way that each of us can learn from.
Turning gossip into something that we can learn from? I can hear all of my College of Communication's proffessors sharing their support for this idea in my head (and that's a taste of what I'm talking about.)
4. Do your own thing?!
This one is the hardest to articulate without heading to the whole 'just be yourself' conversation, so I'll just say that I have the most fun with my posts when I am getting stuff across that directly relates to my life (e.g. I've recently re-watched the every episode of King of the Hill, and I now find myself thinking in a more simplistic and practical way when it comes to developing work and relating to my small town; my thoughts about how the a television show can affect perception comes to mind and I will probably write a blog for the internet asking if anyone else feels this way in conjunction with anything else). And I enjoy trying to find those connections! This doesn't mean that I want everyone to watch King of the Hill; I'm just trying to say that when I relate things to myself, I get so much more out of what I am working on. A side effect of this mentality used to score me with a group of online friends that could tell you how I thought without ever having physically met me (until much later with the most stellar results, of course).
5. Have fun with what you're writing about!
I know that it might seem like you want to do something about an artist because you think that it is a good idea to feature. I've traded topics of blog posts over the last few years; the brainstorming can sometimes be the only exciting part of what you remember with the final version. It's easy to think of a particular topic (e.g. Jack White), attempt to think of how you can write about it in a current fashion (e.g. 2011 Wants Jack White Back), and focus on certain specifics that you feel are necessary to tell (e.g. must bring up his current artistic endeavors). I like to focus on keeping my posts talking about the present - it makes me feel like I am actually contributing to a meaningful piece of information that stems from the current age. I love to write about the present; that is where my words read most relevant to me. That's where I decide to write from, and I have fun with how I am characterizing my critique. That's my essential about whatever it is that I am writing: enjoy the hell out of it. It can be quite a fulfilling hobby.
I'm a little concerned that this journal may be read in a way that it isn't intended to be read, so I'll just remind the reader: these are what I do when I socialize on Buzznet, and these aren't directed to anyone in particular. I'm trying to encapsulate a few characteristics that I feel are valuable in getting the most out of your experience on Buzznet.
Why did I decide to make a post like this? Well, I have a few reasons:
- I've met some great people through Buzznet, and I just don't know that there are actual people behind the new crew of 2011 (and by crew, I am not implicating the staff in any way, shape, form, etc.). I don't doubt that you are all human beings, but if all that you have to offer is the same stuff that I've worked hard to avoid on the grocery store check-out counters (relevant), then the future is going to get gray very quickly.
- As nice as it may seem to have all of your celebrity news in one place, that doesn't mean that this place has been exclusively catering that kind of material - and that gossip is the only thing that should gain recognition on here. There are still some of the most interesting amateur photographers on this website that make so many professionals look like their work was done by infants. I want to find the spirit of creative inspiration that used to be found everywhere on Buzznet. It isn't going to happen overnight, but I'm quite patient.
- I don't really have a third reason. I really only wanted to put one in because I wanted to end with three reasons.
I don't think that it hurts to be thinking about your blog as a way to communicate with other people. It's just too depressing to go through profile after profile where all some folks seem to know how to do is talk about a celebrity acted or looked or barely paid attention to them at their meet-and-greet session.
I WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHERS THAT LIKE TO MEET OTHER PEOPLE.
What was great about Buzznet was that it was never one of it's many partners that I don't want anything to do with, and I am not ready to let it all turn into yesterday's glitter and spa talk.