TQE | That Queer Expatriate

Expatriate, not ex-patriot: I'm a progressive liberal and queer American in Berlin, Germany. My roots in include 18 years in Denver, 6 in Laramie, Wyoming, 6 in Bloomington, Indiana, and 6 in Weimar, Germany. Sense a pattern? Don't want to leave a comment on this blog? Email scintillatingme at gmail.com, username "elmadaeu"

An Update on Socializing Adam

No doubt some of you have noticed that I’ve expanded my online presence in the last week to include two new websites: Tumblr and Facebook.

Of the two, I expect Tumblr to be far more interesting and useful. Although I have not yet used it extensively, Tumblr, for me, is a place to stick things that I like and want to share and take up more than 140 characters (those things go to Twitter), but for whatever reason aren’t really blog material.

Facebook remains a mystery to me, but I decided it was probably worth establishing a beach-head and reserving my name on the site in case it actually becomes useful one day. I’m not really clear how it can become useful, but more on that later.

My current web/social media portfolio looks like this:

  • This blog, That Queer Expatriate, is my main output for long form thoughts—a public diary of what I’m thinking about, doing, or whatever. It’s not changing. My general rule is that I only post to it once a day. Occasionally I might post two things in one day to it—but I try to do that rarely. I also do not feel compelled to post every day. Sometimes I’m just too tired to think. I also have the archive sub-site with stuff from my past.
  • My Twitter, which I wasn’t certain about at first, is now important. I love the challenge of putting thoughts on Twitter in less than 140 characters. I especially love doing it without using abbreviations. Sometimes I can spend 10 minutes rearranging a sentence and thinking of other ways to express an idea before I post a Tweet. My general rule is that I try not to Tweet more than once every 20 minutes—if not less often. I’ve stopped following some people because they tweeted too much and made it difficult for me to keep track of the tweets from people who tweet less often. In summary: I <3 Twitter.
  • My Tumblr, as I’ve established here, occupies a space between TQE and Twitter, and I don’t just mean alphabetically. It’s going to host things that I want to share with people but that I don’t think quite fit onto the blog for whatever reason. For now, it is a minor player.
  • My Flickr, is where I dump photographs that I take. If you look hard enough there are a few things on there that I did not create myself. I don’t think I’ve posted anything like that in a couple years. The vast majority of photos published on my blog are hosted at Flickr, unless I have copyright concerns that prevent that from happening.

I have a couple other social media type places that I frequent, but those aren’t really in the main stream, so I’ll leave those out for now.

Now about Facebook: Given the company’s poor track record when it comes to both privacy and usurping copyright, for now I have only established a beachhead on the site. The very first thing I did was go into the privacy settings and make everything invisible to the world. I think you can find me, see my blog’s URL, see a messed up photo of me, and that’s it.

Since I’ve never used Facebook, I honestly don’t know what the Wall is, I don’t know how it works, I don’t know how news gets shared, and I don’t know specifically how copyright works, I am going to take baby steps on the site. I also don’t understand the “friend of a friend of a friend of a friend” stuff so until I do, don’t expect much from me.

Because I’m taking baby steps, I want to talk about friends first: With a few very rare exceptions, there is no way I will accept friendship requests from anybody who I have not personally met. And by personally met, I mean being in the same room and talking to each other. And on a tangential front, for now I won’t recognize family members as they have other ways to communicate with me (or not communicate with me, as the case may be).

Facebook is, as far as I can tell, about maintaining weak ties. I’ve never really been that good about maintaining weak ties. I have a few (right now the number is two) really good exceptionally close friends who I really trust with everything in my life.  I also have a dozen, or so, really good friends who I trust with most things in my life, and then I have a circle of about 20-30 people who I call loose friends: people I like talking to and hanging out with and would do so more often if they weren’t so far away from Berlin. After that… well, then I’m crap.

I’m not convinced that Facebook is the answer. I like calling friends, I like sending postcards, and I like emailing. I just don’t get what “facebooking” means.

13 comments to An Update on Socializing Adam

  • Jen

    It took me a long, long time to get on Twitter, but once I got on, now I’m hooked. :-) But Facebook is where I seriously draw the line. I’ve had people tell me since I wasn’t on Facebook they wouldn’t keep in touch with me (not even with plain old email), which is fine. I don’t need those people, then. LOL.

  • I deliberately stay off Facebook. Employers use everything at their disposal these days to find a reason NOT to hire you when you’re job hunting, and for some reason if they see a photo of you on Facebook with a cocktail or beer in your hand, you’re suddenly not trustworthy. Yes, it’s *that* bad. So I figure, nothing out there in social media land to find out about me, nothing bad they can use against me.

  • Yeah, I wonder if someday we’ll hear commercials saying “Bad Facebook reputation? No Facebook reputation? NO PROBLEM!”

  • You just have to be really strategic about what you post on Facebook. I edit most of what I say on there. And, I am only friends with three or four of my cousins — I will never friend my stepmother or my sisters. It’s too difficult to keep my different family spheres separated if I friended everyone on Flickr. For the record, I am also not friends with my boss and I never drink with students or anywhere near a camera.

    But then, I have tenure, so it’s not like I’m job hunting.

    • I have high friending (is that a word?) standards myself. I’ve noticed there are people out there that will friend anyone at the drop of a hat but I use that word in a meaningful way. If I friend a person on a site it means that I have some sort of connection beyond hello.

      The other issue is that if you have no online presence that can also be a problem in hiring these days. I think the problem with how employers review your online activities is that they think they have some sort of control over your private life, and in a right to work state, they largely do.

      My opinion is that so long as I come to work, do my job, do it well, and they get what they pay me for, what I do on my *own* time is none of the employers business.

  • And, for God’s sake. Avoid the silly games. (I’ll admit to playing one, but I don’t post about it like all those freaky Farmville people).

  • Reko

    Hello, Adamo. I am delighted that thee has decided to join Facebook. I would be honoured if thee would be my friend, but thee seems to have very “high standards,” so I will try not to get my hopes up.

  • Ted

    I can’t see the need to send a virtual hug or post on somebody’s wall or tell what I’m doing right now. I admit I was on facebook and may still be since it is near impossible to leave. When Jennifer Aniston asked to be my friend I realized many of the people are fake. Some are selling stuff and some are after information, be careful!

  • Jen – Other than maintaining weak ties, I’m not really seeing the point behind Facebook. I can’t even get Facebook’s own internal program to load my blog and I’m not about to “trust” some outside App with my personal information — not that there’s much on there, but still…

    Cynical Queer – I didn’t join facebook until after I got my job, for a reason–although in Germany it (will be/is) illegal for employers to look at the Facebook pages of potential employees.

    erik – that’s a scary prospect!

    MT – so far I’m not saying anything. I’m not sure what goes where and privacy settings seem to be scattered all over the facebook website, not centered in one spot. This is a headache.

    Cynical Queer – funny enough the word “friend” has been corrupted by Facebook. In my 1990s words, you’re a friend. MT is a friend. I have acquaintances, but on Facebook, everybody’s a friend. How do I distinguish between people I call friends and people I don’t?

    Reko – As I refuse to let Facebook mine my email account for email addresses, or mine my chat programs for screen names, you’ll have to find me. I find the Facebook friend advising thing to be stunninglly stupid. It seems to suggest people from all over the world at random.

    Ted – Who is Jennifer Aniston? You throw out her name like she’s somebody I should know… I seriously don’t know. I suppose I could google the name…

    • Oh! She’s an actress. I’ve only seen one thing that she’s been in — that I know of — Office Space. I’ve never seen anything else she’s been in.

      • Ted

        She played Rachel on Friends and her dad plays Victor on Days of Our Lives. Oh, and she was married to Brad Pitt.

        • I am a bad American. I’ve never watched Friends. I’ve never seen Days of Our Lives. The only thing I’m familiar with is Brad Pitt — but given what you say, they’re divorced.

  • I don’t do facebook either. I very nearly caved last year when two friends had new babies and only put photos on facebook. But I was really glad I didn’t after all the problems that have come up with it since. One sister has my stepmother as a ‘friend’ as well as, through the friend of friend thing, lots of other more distant step-family. Another sister and my brother won’t ‘friend’ that sister because they don’t want to be visible/in contact with step-family and it has been/is causing all sorts of arguments.

    I reckon that I’m already in touch with anyone I want to be in touch with and apart from that, although it might be nice to catch up with some few people from my past, there are a whole lot more people from my past that I don’t want to ever have to have contact with again. So I’m staying facebook-free. I did sign up for xing when I was planning to come to Germany as someone told me it was good for finding jobs but I just never really ‘got’ the whole social networking thing I think. I do know that if anyone here gets in a Bewerbung (especially if it happens to be one without a photo), almost the first thing they do is look the person up on xing.