Guide to understanding social media

December 8, 2015


The head-spinning proliferation of social media outlets makes some of us want to retreat into a cave with no devices or internet at all.

Well, ok, that’s probably not ever going to happen.

But most of us acknowledge that social media can be a time-suck. So we pick and choose the ones with which we want to get involved.  My hilarious Facebook friend, Gary Henderson, has developed this handy guide to understanding social media. The minute I saw it, I knew it would be a great guest post. It’s genius. But don’t take my word for it. Read on:

understanding-social-mediaUnderstanding Social Media

By Gary David Henderson


is my living room. I’m very careful about the people I invite in. I expect them to have a certain sense of decorum and to not leave garbage all over the place. I expect people I invite in to respect me and the other people in my home. Or if not respect, at least show tolerance. Or if not tolerance, just politely ignore me/them, or come back at a time when the others are not there. No one has to agree, but you don’t have to get in anyone’s face, either. I’m not always the most gracious host because I forget others are around, but I do at least try. If I overstep, I expect to be shown the error of my ways. I have certain rules, though, and if you break them, out you go. It is MY living room, after all.


is the busiest train station downtown (the one where all the lines meet). Everyone is standing on their own soapboxes, shouting into the wind. Some of them use megaphones. A few people are gathered ’round some of the louder voices, listening intently, but most people are busy and hurry by without paying attention, occasionally looking up from their phone to listen for a few seconds, then moving on. Some people toss coins at speakers’ feet; others yell things at them. A lot of people are just animatronics saying the same things over and over. Other people just say the same things others are saying without contributing anything original. It’s kind of a mess to figure out which are which.


is the monorail station at Google HQ. Everyone is still standing on their own organic kale-boxes, but the only people listening are other geeks and nerds with the same cross-section of interests. Most everyone is wearing Google Glass, and some of them are tuning you out, even though they look like they’re in a circle around you. For some reason, a lot of people are intensely angry that they had to go through this station just to get to YouTube. It IS an unnecessary stop . . .


is a bare-bones, designed community that has fallen into disrepair, and no one really goes there anymore, except on a dare. All the buildings look pretty, but if you examine them more closely, they’re all merely façades. They all say, “IN DEVELOPMENT” on the door. There are two people there, right now, wandering around on opposite ends of the subdivision saying, “Hello? Anyone there? Is anyone listening?” The guy who sold you the property led you to believe it was going to rival all the other communities, but now he’s nowhere to be found. Good luck getting a refund.


is looking at everyone’s boring vacation slideshow at the same time. Some of them are interesting, but most of the time it’s nothing anyone would ever want to see except your closest friends and family. The occasional celebrity shows up and everyone runs over to see their boring vacation slideshow. At least there are a lot of cats.


is looking at all of your great-aunts’ friends’ scrapbooks at the same time. All of them. They’ve all gone a little “off” and think they’re Martha Stewart, but deep down, they’re closer to Rod Stewart. You know they’re never going to try to do any of those things they put in their scrapbooks, and if they did, they’d never show the results.


is kiosks at Burning Man.


is the lunch room at the largest high school, ever. Everyone is so self-obsessed, it’s just a bunch of people standing around taking duck-lip selfies and obsessing over finding just the right filter, while talking endlessly about themselves. There’s the occasional streaker, but they mostly seem to be looking at themselves, as well. No one stays for more than a few minutes, and then everyone forgets them, because ME!


is the largest cineplex ever, and people just go from theater to theater, watching videos. Sometimes, you find yourself in a theater and wonder how you got there, but it’s OK, because the “safe” ones are just across the hall. Every time you turn a corner, you find another huge -plex of related content. The cat video -plex seems to be the most popular, but no matter what your interest is, if you keep looking, there’s a whole wing devoted to just that. Every once in a while, the RIAA or MPAA will send goons in and rip films out while they’re playing, but if you wander next door, someone already posted the same video. It’s probably in Portuguese with English subtitles, but it’s there. The films vary wildly in quality because it’s free to show them. In every theater is a group of 9-year-olds who shout ‘fat’ and ‘gay’ and ‘ugly’ and ‘go kill yourself’ and ‘first!’ because they’re at the age where they think that kind of thing is funny. Sit in the front with your bluetooth headset on and ignore everyone behind you and you’ll do fine.


is an infinity of iPads set up in an infinite theater lobby, each playing a six-second video that loops continuously. People wander from iPad to iPad. And then wonder where Tuesday went. Every six seconds, there’s an enormous laugh from the people clustered around the funniest clips.


is pretty big, like YouTube, but the theaters are all IMAX. You have to pay to get your videos on screen, so the quality is amazing, but other than that, it’s basically just like YouTube, only not as full of 9-year-olds.


is a diary that just happens to be public. You pour your heart out onto its pages, and other people copy it and share it without attribution, or draw a big pink heart on it to let you know they liked it.


is a break room full of water coolers where everyone you’ve ever worked with eventually shows up. Recruiters dash from cooler to cooler, desperately trying to get everyone’s attention. Every time someone gets a promotion or changes jobs, a PA announces it to the whole room. Everyone golf-claps. Occasionally, someone you barely remember shouts, “This guy/gal? S/he’s GREAT at” some skill you don’t actually possess. You look around, embarrassed, and wonder who let them in. People you’re glad you no longer work with solicit you for recommendations and you have to pretend you didn’t hear them.


is a 70s disco. The people who are in there have no idea it’s not 1979. Don’t tell them. It’s . . . kinder, this way. You should be daaaaanciiiiin’, YEAH!


is that apartment where you used to live in college, where all your friends were in and out at all times of the day and night, having lively discussions about anything. But then the Russian mafia took over the management right after you moved out. Now the security gate at the complex entrance is locked on more days than not. It’s too bad, because it used to be a really nice place.


is an infinite book store where readers and authors tear each other to shreds in public, while onlookers cheer with bloodlust, often turning on each other in the excitement. Meanwhile, in nooks scattered about, peaceful groups of readers and writers meet, ignoring the spectacle going on around them.


is a bulletin board in the rec room at a college dorm. People post all kinds of crazy stuff on it, and other people can move it around so it’s more (or less) visible. People hang smaller bulletin boards off the big one, but around corners so you have to go looking. Often, if you do, you find yourself scrambling back to the main board, wishing for eye-bleach.

So you want to know about Gary? He lives in Atlanta. I could say a lot more, since I’ve been following him a while. But here’s what he says:

By night, I put words together into sentences for fun and (a complete lack of) profit (for now). By day, I put words and symbols together into computer code for (low levels of) fun and (lucrative) profit. I’m a 10th-level black belt in the partial art of procrastination. Eventually, I’ll get around to cashing in on that. In spite of my status as a writer of speculative fiction, I do not currently own a cat. I am overly amused by terrible puns and have been known to commit them without any visible signs of remorse.

He says a lot more, too. But visit his website to learn more, here.

71 comments on “Guide to understanding social media
  1. I’ve seen this before and it never fails to bring a smile to my face, especially as I’m a social media manager in my day job!

  2. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    This is going to help a lot of newbies understand the differences between the platforms. I need to get better about snapchat actually.

  3. Shann Eva says:

    Oh my gosh. This is hilarious! I love it! So very true. Great post.

  4. Roz Warren says:

    Organic kale boxes!! ROFL. It’s all too funny because it’s all too true.

  5. Oh there are waayyyy too many social media sites, I couldn’t keep up!! Hey maybe you know the answer to this one: what is the social media place where you post a 40 sec video and then once you see it – it’s gone? Apparently all the kids are on there now. In the mean time, I’ll just stick to the basic ones.

  6. Thanks, Carol, for hosting my fun little poke at social media! I’m glad people seem to be enjoying it. 🙂

  7. This is so good! Thanks, Gary, for the laughs, and to Carol for sharing this post. It really restores a sense of perspective to the whole social media thing (reminding me to not take it all so seriously).

  8. Hi Carol and Gary! This is a great (and funny) reminder of how crazy Social Media is and why I don’t even attempt to try to keep up. I do try to keep up with things so I’ve heard about all of these but honestly don’t have the time and/or interest to make them all work. Far better to pick a few and go “all in” than wander around here and there. Thanks again for the laugh! ~Kathy

  9. Wow, there’re some on here I’d never heard of! I love Pinterest, but I’m definitely closer to Rod Stewart than Martha Stewart. 🙂

  10. T.O. Weller says:

    Having just come out of a month of intense immersion in Pinterest, I appreciate this more than you can ever imagine!

    I laughed out loud and may have startled the dog a little when I read what you said about LinkedIn … especially “everyone golf claps”. That’s so awesome!

    Thanks for the laugh!

  11. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    As one who strives to keep current with the slew of social media platforms, I found this to be hilarious and spot on.

  12. Clare Speer says:

    I love this – and this truly brought a smile to me face – but I must admit…. I am “so old” – ha ha ha 🙂 that I am not familiar with some of these – but definitely Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and my kids are always on “Snap Chat” – and …… much to my chagrin (chuckle chuckle) they will snap and record me doing something particularly stupid (which is quite often mind you) and post it on “Snap Chat” and just say, “It’s okay, Mom, it’s only going to stay up there for a few seconds…..” ha ha ha

  13. Jenn says:

    This is hilarious and so true! I’m really only active on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (the others are pretty foreign to me) – but your descriptions are so accurate. I appreciate the Facebook one – it IS like my living room, and not everyone gets invited. Also are MySpace and LiveJournal still in existance!? Definitely a blast from the past 😉

    • Oh, they’re definitely still there, although *whispering* MySpace is actually quite a bit less old-fashioned than I characterized it being. 🙂

      I sincerely miss when LiveJournal was THE place for all my friends. Facebook killed that.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  14. And you are sure that this is satire???

  15. Anna-Maria says:

    Love this post pretty accurate and freaking hilarious!

  16. andi says:

    well i am a Facebook girl for sure – i’m on that a couple of times a day – including on my IPod Touch 🙂

  17. What a list! I never heard of Live Journal. How am I to join the in crowd with such a lack? Oh, and feel free to throw coins at me as the twitter trains zip by.

  18. Wow, I had not even heard of some of these. This list is very helpful, thanks.

  19. These are all so wonderful and TRUE! I actually haven’t heard of some of these you’ve mentioned! Love the last one about Reddit, I had actually signed up for the account last night, but found it to be too cumbersome so I ended up deleting the account. Thanks for sharing this post! I will be bookmarking this for future reference.

  20. Hayli says:

    This was a great post and so so true!

  21. Elizabeth O. says:

    That’s a very detailed guide, but thanks it definitely explains a lot as well. Social media sites are so helpful especially when you’re a blogger or a business owner.

  22. Bree Hogan says:

    This is very funny and at the same time, a very informative article on the multitude of social platforms that are available to us. Thanks so much for sharing!

  23. This is a. cute b. funny c. so true! Social media is MIND BOGGLING. Especially as a blogger!!

  24. Haha yep! This sums it up perfectly!

  25. Angie says:

    Ha! Some of this is funny… And downright accurate, but some of it missed the mark a little bit for me.

  26. Liz Mays says:

    This makes me want to stay off ALL social media. When it boils down, it really is all a big dumb game.

  27. So what does Gary think about Blab? I gravitate to Twitter and Facebook, and keep going back to Flipboard. I wonder what that really says about me?

  28. Tish says:

    Great post. Funny times.

  29. Estelle says:

    Gary is hilarious. I really like twitter though.

  30. Absolutely love this post so much, I even bookmarked it!

  31. Kimberly says:

    Lately I feel like I’m drowning in social media hell. Gary, will you save me, or at least find me a 12 Step Program???
    Kimberly, who’s lost her tweeter

  32. Lisa Froman says:

    Hysterical. I feel like such a dinosaur — I blog and am on Facebook and Twitter but that is it! I don’t have the stamina for the rest.

  33. Lol. These are hilarious, but true. I only use a few of the, though. This will give noobs a better understanding about how all of these work.

  34. Doesn’t look like satire to me! They are the truth! I love this list!

  35. Lexie Lane says:

    Yes I agree with these, these are true and love how you express all of these.

  36. Jonathan Key says:

    This post brought a smile to my face. Doesn’t look like satire but instead is spot on! Lol

  37. Jennileigh says:

    True words! Funny look at how we “socialize” today!

  38. Barbara says:

    Bravo. Very funny. 🙂

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