The New Tribe

I was talking to XO not too long ago, I admire the dude tons because when most of his generation is soiling their panties about the current demographic changes in America, he embraces them. Our conversations are all over the place but we started to talk about community. It gave me a couple of ideas for topics to discuss and here is one of them.

I have been lucky enough to be a part of various online communities. The blogsphere, ChicagolandSportbikes, Lanparty groups both in Chicago and Michigan, and ultimately our WoW Guild. From each one of them I have made lasting friendships and countless life experiences. Not only do I have relationships that blossomed online, they also translated to very solid real life ones. Then I started to think about other places where I had made friends and was floored when I realized that I don’t talk to anyone from any of the churches I have been a member in the past, I also don’t have any people that I talk to from highschool here in the US (alas that was only two years jumping from bilingual classes to honor classes). The outlier is probably the people I meet at work (and mostly because you spend so much time at work during your life) and those compose the first half of my closest friends. In the end most of the people in my social circles I have started relationships with online. From my wife, to half of my closest best friends, they were all relationships that in one way or another started online and became real life.

My wife and Daniel I met when I first started blogging are are probably my two longest relationships that started online. I eventually met them both personally and in a couple of weeks we are going to once again spend some time together. Interestingly enough, Bea and her best online friend are going to meet for the first time face to face that week. I know Bab’s husband a little better than I know her, but it will be awesome to make those relationships solid.

We are constantly thought by the media to be affraid of our neighbors. I am lucky that I know most of my neighbors now, but living in condos makes that a little easier to do. I have lived plently of places where I don’t know many of my neighbors. I know what car they drive, if the have a riding lawn mower or not, but about them probably zero. When you meet people online, specially because of a shared interest you get to know them in a much deeper level than you even do with the people that you go to church with. Sure you both are supposed to believe the same thing, but in reality do you really form a community with the people that have your “belief” system?

Part of it is that Catholics here in the U.S. are very, get to church and get out without much mingling. Even when you stay there for the special events, most of the communication is small talk. But I have also been part of many Christian churches with a deeper sense of community and lots of hanging out. What happens there is that when you move, or decided that rapture is just not something for you to have in the forefront of your mind, the friendships are instantly gone. There is a lot of exclusion in those communities. So the old sense of religion building communities is being eroded because in a large way most religions are preaching separatism instead of unity and tolerance.

Moving back to Chicago has been an amazing experience. Living in the far north side is very cool, tons of stuff to do plus downtown is not too far away. Most of my friends are all the say in the far west suburbs or even south heading towards Joliet. Hanging out is more for the weekends than just a quick lunch or a beer after work (which was pretty easy to set up back in KC.) I do however stay connected with my friends online or over the phone, and relationships seem to be a lot more meaningful that way. Online communities are forming new tribes and that to me is pretty amazing.

You start with a shared common interest and end up really getting to know people. I love this phenomenon. Most people that have met me IRL can tell you that I can probably make a friend anywhere, but knowing that a lot more people can use the internet as an intrument to connect makes me happy. People that might not have the human interaction because they are shy, or have an impediment can connect using the internet and form strong communities where geography is not an obstacle anymore.

The conversation with XO only created many, many, many more questions in my head…

So what about you? Have you started a relationship online first yet? Is the internet helping you keep in touch and reconnect? Are online relationships just a meaningful for you than the real life ones?

Famibook!

I managed to live online all by myself (or so I though) for many, many years. My interwebs were a world far, far way from the eyes of only but a select few millions that made up the blogsphere and I thought it would stay that way forever. Everyone knows the joke some of us have been in for a long time now, “OMG MY MOM GOT E-MAIL NOW, How long until she tells me Bill Gates is going to make me rich if I forward this e-mail?”

Enter facebook, it made “social networking” accessible to many. Twitter can also be blamed, but it seems like my family has gravitated to facebook more than twitter. Now all of a sudden it seems everyone is online and posting about their lives out there… what’s worse, they can read about my online world now.

I doubt any of them will go back and read through my archive, and this has never been mi diary but there is a sense of exposure for sure. I am not going to change the way I write at all, or modify or delete a post to make someone happy… its my blog and reading it is a choice. I think the Facebook Spying is over because darn it, I am not beyond unfriending a family member on facebook if I smell drama.

There are other questions though. Through my family other extended family has found me and I have had a real hard time accepting them as friends. I have rule that I don’t add people there if I don’t care what they have to say because well, 300 people are just way, way too many. I was even called about accepting one of them… its like wow, how did my facebook all of a sudden become my famibook.

I find it very interesting already when people that barely know me not just want to friend me, but they go the step further of “friending” my friends. I have never used the interwebs to make friends, my blog, online forum postings, etc, always served another purpose… the added side-effect was that I did end up making some great friends.

I love when Spyder retells some of the joke her Mom tells her, and I thought about that when my Mom calls me to talk about the internet. She had just finished watching a show on Spanish TV about the “DANGERS!!!” of the internet, and how people have encountered horrible faiths after meeting people online. It was an amusing conversation to me, but she seemed almost nervous like, according to this program you are an statistical anomaly because you should have already met some psycho that would kill you.

My best friends has also had some interesting family interactions with facebook but he would have to post those on his own some day. I would love to hear if facebook is somewhat merging your online world with your real life one. I think its an interesting topic and cannot wait for the day when XO happens to leave me a message on my facebook and my religious family sounds the alarm and stages an intervention to save me from “the atheist white devil.”

Online Coward

I have friends that blog Anonymously to protect their jobs, their family, their privacy. I censor myself constantly because I am professional enough to know where to draw the line that I try to use to protect my job. Protects, not guarantee, because I am sure that saying things online can have repercussions beyond.

When I lived back in Michigan nerdrage ensued in one of the forums I used to frequent. One of the people started making very serious threats and it just so happens that most of the people in that forum were highly competent with computers. Finding that person’s personal information was pretty simple and cops were knocking on a door I believe that same day. Sure, the threats and insults were empty, and the guy was not man enough to say them face to face in the next big meet up (which btw he never attended.) Anonymity in that case was just in the dude’s brain.

Nuke always says that alcohol removes inhibition but does not make anyone do anything. I wholeheartedly agree. I think the sense of anonymity and disconnect of the internet does something similar.

The internet is in an uproar for the last couple of days since Google was court ordered to release the identity of a blogger. She ran a site talking crap about models, specifically one model that apparently was someone she knew IRL (In Real Life). Now the cowardly blogger, that spewed the venom towards the probably not completely innocent model, is suing Google for $15 mil. This has huge ramifications legally because it sets a lot of precedent in the area of anonymity on the internet.

I have never felt like I could put content on the web and be anonymous. I have encountered plenty of trolls throughout my internet adventures, but not many have any substance or staying power. They come and go and even quicker when they are totally “anonymous.”

I think the blogger that was calling models “skanks” was just bitter and jealous of something she probably could not be or obtain. Any time I see people trying to criticize others on a personal level, I am sad for them because they are obviously trying to cover up the sadness that it is their own life. Why are so many grown ups acting like they were back in high school? How is there a blogger out there that has the desire or even the time to create content just to attack another human being? Pretty pathetic.

I am glad that a big portion of the people that read my blog know me in real life, know that my name is actually John and that I am the same person online and off. I actually enjoy being public and thanks to that I have an awesome group of friends that I met through the internet. Think of it, I might just switch my blogroll around to people that I know IRL and people that I would love to meet!

Le Weekend

Bea and I had a pretty full weekend ahead of us when Friday came around and we were able to wrestle it to the ground.

Friday kipkillagin and I had our first play date lunch together (are you reading this @queentuffy!)

Saturday even “The West” became more than just fictional characters in Banky‘s mind (I TOLD YOU THEY WERE REAL PEOPLE!!!). I even managed to be groped by a waiter related to @Taracuda in the barbecue joint where the (some random mathematical calculation) armadillos were playing. Watching a trailer with Meesha (next time bring chips with the salsa dude) and then have him describe Avatar’s new trailer as “Titanic f@cks Narnia.”

*Takes Deep Breath*

Then we needed to meet the love birds (@wrytir @kayhaswings) that were at the #KCTweetup with the local geek king and his queen (I wonder what the process to apply to be like a Count would be). Cardinal taunting by @arogersphotos and @vivid13 followed by good (@angelchrys) and (@markvanbaale) interesting blowing.

As if it was not enough the tour continued with an almost drunken trampstamping and talk of a sparkly frozen object that I rather not discuss ever again. Thanks for the hospitality @average_jane(Thank Alex for the tour of the studio, it almost makes me want to start practicing the guitar again).

All the running around was not enough, we even managed to do what seemed like all of our laundry at once (I swear somebody else is sneaking their laundry into our pile), watch Grand Torino (or the reverse Karate Kid as I will call it from now on), more BSG, mass (I don’t like going to the Spanish one because the hyms were monotonous and distracting enough to actually made me forget “Our Father”) and sushi!

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Interview – Mike Piatek-Jimenez

One of the coolest things about friendship is being able to admire the people that surround you. Mike and I became fast friends while I was living in Michigan. We bonded by our mutual love of movies and computer programming. He is now living the “dream” by being the owner of the software firm Gaucho Software developing apps for Macs and iPhones. Mike and his wife Katrina have become one of my closest friends as an adult, and our love for good restaurants and interesting conversation have made their visits to Kansas City as much of a vacation for me as it has been for them. When I heard that through the Mount Pleasant Rotary Club Mike was going to spend a month in Thailand I could not wait to hear about the experience and see the pictures. The more I heard and read about the trip, the more I wanted to interview him to share some of what he learned while being in such a different culture. Some of what he found out while in this trip might truly surprise you.

Logtar:Had Thailand been in your radar at all before the opportunity to do a cultural exchange there?
Mike: Not really. Of course I had heard of the country, but I didn’t know much about its people or their culture.
L: Had you ever thought about visiting places for the cultural experience rather than just a relaxing vacation? if so what was your top pick?
M: Whenever my wife and I go on vacations, we always try to learn about the culture of the place we are visiting. We’ve traveled to different countries in the Caribbean, for example, and instead of hanging out on the beach all day, we will usually try to do things the locals would do. Things like go to plays, or attend fairs or festivals in a park, etc. If I had to visit a country just to learn more about the culture, Ireland and Poland would probably be my top picks, as those are the countries where my family is from.
L: How many different cities did you get to visit while in Thailand?
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