I’ve been a technology evangelist for over 12 years now. It started with Microsoft in 2007, and it continues with Amazon Alexa today. Much of my time is spent using new technologies, and building things with them. But the rest of my time is spent finding an audience, and talking to them about what they like, what they need, and what they want in the future.
Developing a “following” is obviously important to my job. I want to be useful, educational, and relevant to the people (software developers) that I’m employed to help. Most of the time, I know that if I create great content, and provide utility, people will find me. And that has been true for this incredible ride I’ve been on.
But there’s also times where I wonder if I’m doing enough. I start to compare myself to others in my industry, and wonder how they gathered such a huge following. It takes a large heaping of self-confidence (and a dash of hubris) to be able to remind myself that I’m good at what I do, and that my follower count is not a direct reflection of that. Followers are nice, but I’m writing this for what is currently an audience of 50 people. Do I hope more people will read it? Absolutely. Am I going to be defeated if they don’t? Nope. I’m writing this for me.
But what if I was a teenager today? I’ve been doing lots of reading about this subject, and it scares me. Children are basing their entire personal esteem value systems on the number of likes, follows, and streaks they have. It’s the currency of this generation. Your value to others is measured by viral posts, not by your quality as a human. I don’t think it’s limited to teens, either. How many of you would say that your “social media persona” is the same as your real persona? We shine up the rough edges, use just the right filters, with the right lighting and the right camera angles. We only talk about our successes, and don’t bother with our failures. (Not sure? How many divorces have you seen posted on social media? How many baby gender reveals have you seen?)
My point is that it seems to be getting out of control. We need to remind our children (and our friends) that we are the only one that can measure our own value. It is up to us as individuals to determine our own self worth. By allowing this measurement to be determined by complete strangers on the internet, we are setting ourselves up for nothing short of disappointment and failure. And you’re better than that. We all are.
Why is it so freaking hard to have friends? I don’t mean people I’m connected to on Facebook, or Instagram. I mean real – I’ve seen you in person in the past 30 days – kinds of friends. I can count the number of friends I’ve seen in the past 30 days on one hand. And I don’t think I even need all of the fingers.
We’re all busy, I get that. But what are you doing this Friday night? Let’s DO something! Board games? I’m in. Hockey game? Definitely. Dinner and drinks? You betcha. And that’s the real problem.
Did you see how I framed that? I’m waiting for you to ask. If you invited me to a hockey game, I would drop nearly anything to make that happen. Why didn’t I call you? Why didn’t I ask someone? Because that’s harder. You might say no. You might not like me. It’s just more difficult. But it’s what I need to do.
My mom said something to me when I was in my early teens that I will never forget:
“If you don’t call and make plans with people, nothing will happen. They’ll never call you.”
I don’t say this often, but she was absolutely right. Nearly nothing has been more true in my life than that statement. I need to plan things, I need to make the call. And so do you. Your friends like you, and they’d probably jump at the chance to hang out, but the daily hustle-and-bustle distracts from the important stuff. Spending time with the people you love in your life is more important than nearly anything else. And we do a really shitty job of actually making that happen.
Speaking of spending time with the people you love, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching here in the United States. An opportunity to eat the best comfort food your family lineage has invented. An opportunity to be thankful for all that you have. An opportunity to sit in awkward silence as your uncle defends his not-so-subtle racism through talking points he picked up on Fox News.
Are you looking forward to Thanksgiving? What’s your favorite thing to eat on that day?
I have a problem in my life. And its name is Funko. For those of you unfamiliar with this word, Funko is a toy manufacturer based in Washington State, and their most successful line of products are called Pop!
If you haven’t heard of them before, you’ve certainly seen them on the shelves of nearly every store you can imagine. There are exclusive figures at stores like Walgreens, Hot Topic, Barnes & Noble, Target, and even Foot Locker! I started collecting these with my family five or six years ago, and it was a slow process. We would find a character from something we loved, like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Marvel, and we just had to have it. And the collection grew. And grew.
When it started exploding was sometime last year. I discovered there was a Funko app, and it would allow you to track your entire collection digitally. Here’s what got me, though: once I’d entered my collection, they also assigned a dollar value to each one, based on recent sale prices at websites like eBay and other auction sites. Some of earlier figures we had purchased were worth close to $100 each! This completely changed my perspective on this collection, and future purchases. “Will this be worth anything?” “Is it rare?” And that’s how we ended up here:
I’ve generally slowed my collecting way down. There’s a few times a year that something interesting will come out, and I’ll be quick on the trigger to get one before they sell out. The most I’ve ever spent on one is $15. The most recent additions are:
What do you collect? Do you have anything from Funko? What’s your passion? I’d love to hear from you, friend.