Why is Social Media so Cliqueish?

I was hanging out with some SW friends the other day on Twitter when I realized that I also had other friends who are not on Twitter, but that I haven’t talked to them in a whale, errr, while I mean.

Then I realized the same thing about my blog. Some people just do not believe in blogs, or believe they are for showing pictures about your vacation or self-consciously talking about what it’s like to go through adolescence or something. And the same sort of thing plays out again for things like Second Life, AOL chat rooms, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, CadJunky, YouTube, even older forms of social media such as the SolidWorks forums, or even the crusty old retro-grouch social media format USENET.

I dabble in some of these things, and spend focused time on maybe a couple. You simply can’t be everywhere all at once. The result is that these social media outlets tend to be clique-ish. You have to establish yourself as a regular, new comers are sometimes ignored. There usually develops a central circle of people… I guess it’s not the media that does this, it’s just human nature, we do it where ever we go.

I know people under 30 think they invented the world, but the truth is “social media” has been around a long time, even before it had a name invented by corporate marketing people. Dial up bulletin boards were common in the 80s and into the 90s. USENET is just now starting to fade into irrelevance, but was the enduring social media outlet before web-based forums. I think AOL is largely responsible for making on-line chat wildly popular. Twitter is itself in many ways indistinguishable from AOL chat rooms (or from teenage girls on the telephone, depending).

There are so many social media outlets now that SolidWorks has several individuals who work in one form or another on on-line communities and general social media. Matt West (in my blog roll as The Other Matt) is the social media guy for SW. He tries to ride herd (as in herding cats, most likely) on the bloggers that write about SW. If you have an idea or a question or a good beer recipe, you might want to contact Matt. There are a few bloggers who are part of the SolidWorks community in general, but are a bit off the beaten track and are not necessarily part of the “blog squad” clique. I’m not sure how you get to be a member of the “blog squad” other than to have happened to be drinking with a certain group at a New Orleans party joint and get your picture taken.

Devon Sowell was one of the early bloggers who is missing from this shot.

I’m not really a clique-ish kinda guy, but I definitely catch myself being that way sometimes around social media stuff. If you see me at a user group or at SWWorld or in the county lock-up, you can stop me and introduce yourself. I have a notoriously bad memory, so even if we’ve met before you might introduce yourself anyway, I’ll be just as happy to see you this time as I was the first time, even if I don’t remember the first time.

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