Being Vulnerable in the Era of the Real-Time Web - as told by Jeff Pulver at #140cuse on April 19, 2012 see Inspirations For Everyday! <-Click=> Here For Today’s! As Jeff Pulver makes a difference for the youth to no longer be vulnerable!
“I wanted to talk today about ‘Being Vulnerable in the Era of the Real-Time Web’ and what that means.
Vulnerability is something which is really hard to talk about unless you allow yourself to open up a little bit. You see so many people talking about how to apply social media, or what is social media, that I’ll make the obvious argument that, as human beings, we’re neatly social. And we really needed a term to be applied in the vernacular to be social with our media, and many terms come about because they’re trendy and cool. But to be ‘vulnerable,’ well, the way I look at it is as how to connect with somebody.
Some people are finding their voices for the very first time today. There’s something very powerful by saying something and having a random stranger repeat it, and then, all of a sudden, a million other people just saw or heard it, when, very innocently, it started out as just an observation by a single person. But that’s what’s happening in the world today—we have these ‘amplification systems’ in place which are bringing this all home.
The first time I was actually exposed to ‘being social with media’ wasn’t with Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. It was long before that, when I was a kid. What you may not know, or perhaps some of you do know, is that I grew up on Long Island in New York. Where I grew up, I didn’t have too many friends and I was trying to figure out what to do about it. I really didn’t have any solution whatsoever. What turned out, however, was that radio would be my savior. Radio was something which I discovered as a young kid. But I’m not referring to commercial broadcast radio. My father had a brother who was a ham radio operator. This is back in the golden era of ham radio and citizen’s band—CB—and the various other ways that people were using to connect with each other. I was fortunate enough to have someone force me to learn about ham radio.
I was about nine years old when I discovered this amazing technology called ham radio. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into until I walked into my uncle’s office in Long Island and he demonstrated it to me. There was a box on his desk and he turned it on. What came out of its loudspeaker were some very squeaky voices that were very hard to understand. It was almost just noise. But by listening carefully, and tuning with this big dial on the box, the voices suddenly became clear.
My uncle found a clear spot on the radio spectrum where there was no background noise. Then he said something to me that I didn’t really understand until afterward. What he said was, ‘CQ, CQ, this is K2QQM. I’m calling CQ.’ He repeated it two or three times. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the letters ‘CQ’ in Morse Code means, ‘seeking you.’ It was an outcry for a communication request for some random stranger who might be listening on that particular radio frequency at that very moment in time to say hello.
My uncle repeated the phrase for about a minute, then let go of the microphone. Suddenly there was a roar of responding voices form the box, now all waiting for my uncle to reply. Wow that was cool. For an hour I sat there, mesmerized, listening to my uncle say ‘Hi, my name is Fred. I’m in Farmingdale, New York.’ And whoever it was in the world—whether it was someone from the States or in Europe or in South America—he gave them a signal report: He simply told them how strong the signal reception was. That’s all he said, but this went on for an hour or so.
I realized then that my uncle had the cure for loneliness. It was this box, this ham radio. All I had to do was to take this box, bring it back with me and put it my bedroom, so when I woke up in the morning I could turn it on and I could have some friends. Or so I thought. It turns out that being a ham operator meant that you had to learn a great deal. You had to learn something called Morse Code. You had to learn college-level physics. You had to learn the rules and regulations that the FCC gave you. It was hard for a nine-year-old kid. It was real hard. But I’m happy to say that by the time I was twelve-and-a-half years old I got my license. Once I had my license to communicate, I never shut up to this day. [Laughter.]
I tell you, as a kid growing up, this radio was a magical box. I too could say ‘CQ, CQ.’ I would say, ‘CQ, CQ, this is WA2BOT.’ That was my social ID. Yes, my first ‘social media identifier’ was my ham radio call sign. And the fact that I could turn the radio on, tune a dial and hear voices that were familiar to me over time, well, I soon knew everyone’s story. I didn’t ever have to meet these people anytime, anywhere in my life—I knew them, as if they were standing right in front of me. I could visualize who they were. I knew their backstories. I could listen to someone talk for an hour, literally, and jump in at any moment in time and just say hello. It was fairly phenomenal.
As I grew up and became a teenager and then well into my 20s, I was on the radio probably 40 to 60 hours a week. That was my ‘social network.’ But I can tell you that, by allowing myself to open up a little bit and share some of my own story, and break the barriers or the façade of who I am, the connections I made were always much more real when I shared my feelings. If I was having a bad day, I said so. If I was needed to talk to somebody about something, I did. The amazing thing was, people came back to talk some more. It was a little like crowdsourcing. I just said I was looking for something, and people came. The level of connectedness that I discovered on ham radio was amazing to me.
By the time I was 16 years old, or 15 even, I realized that the secrets of social networking are to listen, to connect, to share, and to engage. Because if you’re on the radio and you’re not really listening to the person you’re talking to, what are you doing? If you’re not connecting to other people in a meaningful way, they aren’t going to connect back to you. If you’re not feeling this, it’s not going to be real.
Years later, now that ‘social networking’ is in the vernacular, I just want to caution all of you that some people are trying to use this to merely accumulate more followers and more friends. But there is a real authenticity here, too. How many people here in the audience have, ever since you first went on Facebook or Twitter, well, if you saw something on a friend’s status page that really got to you, did you ever call them or text them because of what you read? Some of you? Did any of you actually every cry after you read news that one of your friends had posted? You wonder. There’s something magical about that ability for us to feel, for empathy. These are just words, and yet we can connect emotions to them. Your friends out there are sharing and reaching out and want to be connected.
I believe that, when we look to the evolution of the Social Web, we can never forget the fact that we are all people first. We have feelings. And yeah, your feelings matter. And if you ever need help, you can reach out, because the amazing thing is that there is always someone online, right now, that will listen to you. They may be a total stranger to you. But this is how friendships are formed. One of the amazing takeaways I’ve been fortunately enough to have experienced myself as a result of these conferences, is that the person sitting next to you might be a total stranger, but tomorrow they can be your best friend. That’s because there’s something that brought you all here today to listen to these talks, something magical around us.
I’ve discovered a reawakening of humanity that’s going on, a reawakening on spiritual level. Not so much doctrinally religious, but a spirit that’s alive. You can feel it, and these feelings are amplified through these media that are ‘social’ for us. As a teenager, I was ‘social’ with media because I remember going on dates—the worst part was that I’d meet a girl, and since I was a DJ I would spend nine hours making a 90-minute mixed tape of music, but after sharing my music with her I wouldn’t get a second date. That really sucked! But I was being social with media. I actually was sharing stuff.
I think that when you look at so many things in the past, they come back to repeat themselves in the future. What’s constant is that we are people. I could make an argument that the first social networks could be represented by cave drawings. If you go back to ancient Egypt and you look at the hieroglyphs, you can see that we’ve always had some kind of social networking where people’s messages have been seen and heard. Why? Because there’s a part of us that wants to be remembered in the future.
The one thing I think is truly amazing about the present generation is that your stories will be told. Yesterday, certainly just a generation ago, if someone had something to say, maybe there was a photograph, maybe there was a distant memory, but it wasn’t documented 24-by-7 with things like YouTube or Instagram or status updates.
Some people say that ‘tweets don’t matter.’ Well, let me tell you. If you’re alive today, your words matter. Being able to recreate your feelings in the future generations is nothing short of remarkable. My father passed away 14 years ago. I was at my grandfather’s house and I saw a picture of my Dad as an eight-year-old kid. I stood there and wondered to myself, ‘What did the photographer think of my Dad at that moment in time? What did my Dad think of sitting on that seat for the photo?’ I’ll never know. I should have asked my grandfather what he thought about it. But, in any case, we are now living in times where all of these memories can be collapsed together, stored and replayed. Your consciousness is expressed in you tweeting and sharing updates. There’s nothing that is meaningless. It’s all meaningful.
Your willingness to sit and be alive and to share your ideas—well, trust me, your children and future children will know you because in the future you won’t have to be a Rock star or superstar to be remembered. Everybody will remember you. Just give them the ‘digital breadcrumbs,’ have confidence and allow yourself the freedom to express yourself, because you not only matter now, you matter in the future too.
I’m @jeffpulver. Thank you very much.”