What I'm Thankful For (In Social Media)

This being the day before Thanksgiving, I’m not thankful for much. Not yet, when there are still errands to run, pies to finish baking, columns to write and hundreds of miles to drive before we get to our destination -- which, as it turns out, is indeed grandmother’s house.

Still, when I take a step back, I’m thankful for a lot, and so, just as my colleague David Berkowitz wrote yesterday about who he’s thankful for, I’m going to write about what I’m thankful for, at least when it comes to social media. It turns out it’s quite a lot. Maybe this is because I’m in the business, or maybe thankfulness for social media is what happens when you work from home as an independent contractor, and your only company is the cat and occasional visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses and FedEx delivery guys.

So, here they are. The things in social media I’m most thankful for:

The Pepper-Spraying Cop Meme: If ever anyone deserved his own meme, it’s Pepper Spray Cop, the police officer at UC-Davis who so nonchalantly pepper-sprayed some clearly undeserving protesters over the weekend who were sympathizing with the Wall Street Occupiers. Not since Princess Beatrice have we seen a meme so good at skewering its subject -- whether Pepper Spray Cop is depicted giving a dose to George Harrison on the cover of “Abbey Road,” or impersonating the Wizard of Oz. In fact, I’m grateful for memes, and, by extension, for Photoshop.

Facebook’s Ticker: Call me crazy, I know. But through it, I discovered the “If You’re Really from New Canaan You’d Know … “ Facebook group, and a few other things that somehow weren’t surfacing before Facebook’s controversial (aw c’mon, they’re all controversial!) redesign. Yes, this Facebook group I just mentioned is a time-suck for anyone who grew up in NC, but it has served as a great springboard for rediscovering old friends, recalling things that a small subgroup of American teens found funny a few decades back, and finally giving me the answer to a question that’s haunted me for years: what the name of the department store on Elm Street was (Thornton Fuller).

The Tweeted Times: As Twitter aggregators go, The Tweeted Times may be decidedly old-school; it doesn’t have nearly the buzz of Flipboard, but I don’t care. Since it culls the top stories shared by my Twitter-verse, it’s an indispensable part of my morning, giving me an insanely accurate read of what I should know in a quick 30-second visit, be it the Pepper Spraying Cop Meme (see above), or that Facebook, is, for real this time, coming out with a phone.

Gawker:  Partly I love Gawker for being Gawker (and for posting clips from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” every day). As a writer, Gawker headlines are the stuff of envy, punching holes in what other people take seriously in ways that most of us can only dream about. In serious times such as these, it’s necessary -- as necessary as Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert. 

LinkedIn, Just for Being There: Like many of you, I view LinkedIn as a place I should be, but not one that I run to every morning, the way I do to Facebook and Twitter. It’s an obligation. But, I’ve come to realize something: whenever I do go there, it gives me a reassuring feeling, like a security blanket for the future of my career. If ever I really do need to find new ways to make money, my entire business-social graph is there for the connecting. When and if that day comes, it will be LinkedIn, not some job board, that will be indispensable to my search.

Of course, like Mr. Berkowitz, I’m also thankful for people. I guess in my case, I’m thankful for the technology that makes connections with people possible. With that, I’ll wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving -- and go feed the cat.


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