…and it’s how I’m gonna stay.
…and it’s how I’m gonna stay.
One of the inescapable facts of life these days is the internet. You go there to find leads on jobs. You go there for the news. You go there to connect with friends and family you might not otherwise hear from. It’s quickly become not just part of our world, but in some cases, it’s become our entire world.
Which means that the more time we spend cruising the information superhighway (remember when we called it that?), the more likely we are to run into certain types of people. Five types, to be exact. They cannot be avoided, no matter how hard you try; if you have so much as an email account, you’re guaranteed to run into at least one of them, and the more you expand your cyber-footprint, the more likely you are to run into all five.
Chances are, you’re one of them.
So, who are the five people you meet on the internet? Based on my extensive interactions, here they are, from least active to most:
Lurkers – this might easily be the largest category, and everyone on the internet knows a lurker. This type of person is not engaged online. They might have one email address, just to “get with the times”, but they seldom use it. A Lurker is also fond of signing on to Facebook or Twitter with someone else’s account, just to see what’s going on. Every once in a while they might drop a comment or two on a post, but it’s always under their pseudonymous ID. They also like to use Google Earth to look up people’s houses and see where they’re living. Basically, they’re someone’s grandparent, who’s just trying to understand the world their grandkids are living in.
Likers – These are the people who don’t contribute much in the way of content or information, but they will Like the crap out of every puppy picture, baby photo, eCard meme, inspirational quote, and “Click Like to Cure Cancer” post that anyone, ever, posts. They are nice people who want to belong, and have no problem filling up your Facebook feed with ten thousand of their “favorite” things. If you bombard them with enough Like-able content, they will click Like so fast and so furiously that they’d eventually Like a picture of Hitler kicking a puppy while pushing a nun down the stairs, without even realizing it.
Crusaders – There are two classes of Crusaders. The first class pops up every election cycle, or whenever there’s a hot news item about a controversial topic. They tend to post all sorts of pictures, videos, and links that not only affirm their preferred position, but also attack anyone who holds a different view. They are very nice people in real life, but online they tend to be strident-bordering-on-militant, and they won’t hesitate to hide or unfriend people who don’t agree with them. The second class has a personal cause they love to promote or talk about all the time – to the exclusion of anything else. They don’t post a picture or leave a comment that doesn’t revolve around their particular subject. It can be sports, their kids, their church, or their favorite comic book movie, but whenever they get a free moment, they’re ready to share with you all of the details you didn’t know you needed to know.
Trolls – Perhaps the most famous of all the five types of people, a Troll is a professional pot-stirrer, the kind of person who provokes a Crusader for the fun of it. Trolls love causing trouble, and are often better known by the user names on Reddit, FourChan, or other Troll-familiar websites. A Troll is the kind of person who would pop up in the middle of a discussion about the fair tax suggesting that the IRS is not only a great American institution, they should very well have the power to go after and investigate fringe political groups who skirt the tax code. After dropping that little conversational hand grenade, a Troll will then sit back and watch the Crusaders lose their minds. Trolls are very smart, and probably very tired of living in someone’s basement.
Promoters – This is the worst of all internet users because they are always online. Constantly. The kind of idiot who can rack up almost 2,000 tweets in less than six weeks. They have their Twitter feed hooked up to their Facebook, website and blog, so nothing that rolls through their “creative” little minds goes unnoticed. They are usually pushing you to check out their latest ebooks or sharing something witty they happened to think up while waiting on line at the local Publix, or asking you to go check the blog or book of a friend. They have multiple Facebook pages (personal, professional, and product-related) and are constantly asking you to check them out. They are usually pretty funny, or at the very least offer some form of entertainment, but their single biggest trait is that they are ubiquitous, almost as familiar as the other advertising flotsam you see floating around on any given page. Worst of all, they’re clueless about how much they put out there.
There are variations on each of the types, but as far as generalizations and stereotypes go, that’s a pretty complete list. But in case I’ve missed anyone, sound off below and let me know what kinds of people you’ve met on the internet.
Oh, and be sure to follow, like and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And if you haven’t had a chance to read my books, please check out my author page on Amazon. And if you have read my books, please leave a review and tweet the link…
Well, maybe a little bit of an idea. I know what I want to do, I know I’m good at it, and I know people need the services I can provide. So it’s not like I’m totally adrift. But on the bigger details, on the exact “how” of moving forward with my life, I’m actually kind of winging it.
And it’s turning out better than I could’ve imagined.
Maybe you’ve been putting off making a change. Maybe you’ve just had a bad week. But if you’re wondering today if life could possibly suck any less, the answer is yes. Yes it can. And if you can master the scary, then you’ll be amazed at how cool life can be.
Today is my mother’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old she is, but if you take my age and add 20, you’ll have an idea. We celebrated last Saturday by taking her out for lunch at a local restaurant, and she enjoyed eating with her two boys, two daughters-in-law, and four grandkids. It was a nice afternoon.
See, we haven’t really celebrated my mom’s birthday in years. Her birthday is May 30; my first daughter, Ruthanne, was stillborn on May 31, 2004. We were in the hospital on my mom’s birthday that year, struggling to comprehend what was happening. I’ve written about Ruthanne before, but I don’t think I’ve ever acknowledged that her birthday sort of stole the thunder from my mom. If she had lived, it would’ve been a dual celebration. But since she didn’t, it kind of killed our desire to do much of anything around this time of year.
Not that my mom minded too much; if there’s one thing she doesn’t really like, it’s being the center of attention. It’s kind of funny – both my brother and I ended up being people who don’t mind being on stage, performing or speaking, and our being wired that way sort of pulled mom along into the spotlight. She would deflect it, of course, but people would seek her out to commend her on raising two “fine boys” and she would have to spend a few minutes being the focus of conversation.
Sometimes people ask her what her secret is; usually, she tells them to just trust God and let the kids be themselves. From my vantage point, that’s a true enough statement, but there were other things that helped shape my brother and I, things that aren’t intuitive to some parents. She let us be ourselves, but she also drew us firm boundary lines. She surrounded us with good friends and tried to make even the bad ones welcome. Our home was never closed off to the other kids in the neighborhood – everyone within five miles knew the Brooks household was always open, and the fridge was usually full.
In fact, some of my friends liked my parents better than me. I didn’t mind; their respect for my parents kept them from inviting me to do some truly stupid things. They knew my parents wouldn’t approve and they didn’t want to break their hearts by inviting me along. As a kid, that was kind of annoying; but as an adult, it’s touching in a way.
Touching too is the fact that I have sort of grown up with my parents. They got married young, and had me when they were barely into their twenties. They never tried to be my friend, but they never treated me as if I weren’t a friend. Like I said, I knew where the boundaries were, and as long as I stayed within them, things were fine. My parents allowed me to follow my passion for reading and drawing; they encouraged me to write; they let me play baseball and basketball and become an Eagle Scout. And while they were together in philosophy, they often weren’t together in presence. My dad traveled a lot, which meant it was mom and her boys against the world.
It probably also means that we were closer than other kids and their mothers. I learned sarcasm from my mom (who learned it from her dad). I learned how to be gracious in the face of struggle and how to be authentic with the people you love. I saw firsthand that parenting could be overwhelming, but I never knew just how deeply some of our troubles were. I was thirty-five before I learned that some years my Christmas presents came from garage sales. To borrow a phrase from my grandparents’ generation, I never knew we were poor.
I also never knew the absence of laughter. If you could say one thing about my mother, it’s that laughter runs through her veins as surely as blood. You can’t spend more than five minutes with my mom before someone is laughing hysterically. Occasionally the jokes are even clean. Growing up that way made humor my default language – I always knew the power of humor, it’s ability to infect people and become a conduit for ideas. Even now when I speak, I try to use humor as much as possible to help get my point across. And if my mom is in the audience, I know exactly where the loudest laughs will come from.
Case in point: my senior year of high school, I was cast as the male lead in the musical, “The Boyfriend.” In the third act, my character had to make a grand entrance at a costume ball dressed as Pierrot from the Comedia dell’Arte – essentially, I came onstage dressed in a satin clown costume that included a tiny satin dunce cap with black poofy balls affixed to the side. As soon as I made my entrance, a hoot arose from the audience, a single, uncontrolled guffaw at my appearance that reverberated through the otherwise silent hall.
It was my mom.
In her defense, I did look ridiculous (a fellow student suggested that I looked very much like a contraceptive device). And it seems wholly appropriate that of all the people in the audience who could’ve laughed at me, it was my mother that did. After all, we’d been laughing together our whole lives. We still are.
So happy birthday, mom, even though you’ll hate that I wrote about you, even though you’ll think that some of these stories are embarrassing or not worth telling. Whether you like it or not, these stories are worth telling, because they show how much you’ve influenced me, and Ryan, and our wives and children. They’re worth telling because they help us understand and appreciate you all the more, something that a good mother is due.
I love you, mom. Hope you have a great day.
This will probably not make me popular with some folks…