The Dumbest Thing on Facebook

Quite frequently something will come along on Facebook that everyone seems to do. It can be a survey to see how many states you have been to, a test for color blindness, a status that you copy and paste, a special avatar commemorating a movie or cause, and/or a game where you try to get the highest score possible. For those of us who can claim Facebook membership for at least a half of a decade, we all know that these things come and go.

Because these gimmicks are just part of the Facebook beast and because they seem to disappear as quickly as they appear, it isn’t worth it to get too annoyed with them. I am trying to tell myself that right now…

What do y’all think of these Blobla memes that have taken over Facebook this weekend? Well, let me tell you my two thoughts…

Everyone will tell you that I actually am very ridiculous.

Everyone will tell you that I actually am very ridiculous.

1. I am amazed at how Blobla has swept across Facebook in record time. I saw my Facebook friends sharing their individual “stories” yesterday for the first time. Today, it seems like my newsfeed is completely dedicated to them. Usually a Facebook trend takes a little bit to catch on; not completely engulf the service like wildfire.

But with that said…

2. I don’t get it.

I know by posting this on my Facebook profile also won't help anything.

I know by posting this on my Facebook profile also won’t help anything.

I hate to be that guy who cuts down the cool thing that everyone seems to be having a lot of fun with but I will pass on Blobla. Okay, let’s just call it for what it is: A simple format meme that just spits out random junk. It doesn’t check your profile, it doesn’t attempt to create something based on your characteristics, and it doesn’t output something that is aesthetically pleasing. It reminds me exactly of Bitstrips minus the creativity and personalization.

I never let anyone win, not even my fiancé.

I never let anyone win, not even my fiancé.

What probably bothers me the most (even though it shouldn’t), is that some think Blobla is actually made to legitimately describe you. It is the perfect example of the power of suggestion at its finest. “This is Fred. Fred likes to go to the grocery store. Fred likes to buy food at the grocery store. Fred is smart. Be like Fred.” Hey, that is totally me!! Give me a break.

Again, I don’t want to work myself up too much with this. After all, I take pride in not letting social media changes and trends rattle me. I just go with the punches and adapt. However, please forgive me if I say that Blobla is the stupidest Facebook gag of them all. Don’t Blink.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I always enjoy getting comments on my blog posts, both positive and negative. It lets me know that people are reading and that they care enough to go the extra mile and type out a response. Quite often the comments I receive on Don’t Blink come way after the fact. It will be 2:30 a.m. on a Tuesday and I will get an e-mail telling me that someone commented on a post that I published a year and a half ago. Many times people will go on Google searches, find something that I wrote, and sound off. Although this is typical, sometimes comments will come under different circumstances.

Last night I wrote a blog post about the app Bitstrips. It was essentially a review of the service. I did point out a couple things that I didn’t care for but I didn’t go overboard or anything. About five minutes after I published the post I had an e-mail notifying me that I had a new comment on my blog. I opened up the e-mail thinking that the comment would be under a post I did several months ago or maybe from one of my friends who made a facetious comment on the post I had just written but I was wrong on both fronts. Instead I received a reply from a woman named Susan in Toronto regarding my Bitstrips post. In four logical and well-reasoned paragraphs she countered my criticisms by giving me a history on Bitstrips and then using that to illustrate how the service once used to allow for more creativity (one of my main complaints) but was altered when users wanted a more simplified product.

Here is a piece of the comment that Susan left under my Bitstrips blog post.

Here is a piece of the comment that Susan left under my Bitstrips blog post.

I was intrigued by her response for a couple reasons. First, how did someone in Canada come across my blog post so quickly? Secondly, what made her so passionate and defensive of Bitstrips? I decided to dig deeper into my second question. I sent an e-mail to the address she left asking if she worked for Bitstrips and if she was not employed by them, what was her stake in the app as obviously from her comment I could glean some type of existing relationship. Within ten minutes I had my answer.

In a lengthy and well-composed e-mail she explained that she is related to one of the founders. She once again reflected on the history of Bitstrips when it used to be just a website. She explained that they used to have some of the features that I desired in my review but that they had to do away with them because of complaints from users. Susan expressed frustration that people seem to want something new/changed and once they have it they inexplicitly want the old version back. She talked about how many of the comments people make are unfair. In a pretty telling line from her e-mail she wrote “The negativity directed their way (to Bitstrips) has made me crazy and defensive.”

This was some of the e-mail I got from Susan explaining that she was related to one of the Bitstrips' founders.

This was some of the e-mail I got from Susan explaining that she was related to one of the Bitstrips’ founders.

At that point I knew exactly how I needed to respond. Please read my exact e-mail:

My Response

In our daily lives we can’t get “crazy and defensive” when others point out perceived flaws with organizations/initiatives/efforts/causes that we are associated with or directly invested in. While it is definitely important to listen to criticisms, it can be fatal to become so wrapped up in the negativity that you allow yourself to “go crazy”. I work in a position and for an employer where I am/we are judged continuously for every little thing under the sun. There is absolutely no way to please everyone. If I didn’t have this squared away in my head, I couldn’t do the job I do. I tried to pass on this mindset to Susan. The last thing she needs to worry about is the opinion of some guy who lives thousands of miles away from her who had only used Bitstrips for less than 24 hours. Don’t Blink.

My Take on Bitstrips

The past couple weeks I kept seeing simple cartoons featuring the comic book version of my friends popping up on my Facebook newsfeed. As these cartoons became more and more prevalent I started to get a little annoyed. In my hasty judgment I declared them as stupid. But I was reacting to these cartoons in the exact same way a person reacts to a joke that he does not get but everyone else is in on. My judgment came pretty much out of ignorance, I really had no idea how these cartoons were made and I had no idea why they were so popular. Last night after I saw a whole new slew of these comics I decided to educate myself on the movement instead of hating on it.

As I do many times when I want help, I reached out on Twitter. I asked that someone please fill me in on these comic scenes taking over Facebook. My answer came quickly as a few of my followers quickly informed me of the hottest new app: Bitstrips.

I immediately downloaded the app and started exploring. Still a little jaded at first, my initial thought playing around with Bitstrips was the exact same as what I had when I viewed everyone else’s comics…stupid. I think this was mostly because I hated the way the cartoon version of myself looked. I didn’t think it looked a thing like me. But I felt this way prior to when I discovered that there are several options you can utilize to make your cartoon avatar look a little more like your actual image. So after I messed around with my hair length, hair style, skin tone, and wardrobe I became a little more satisfied with my appearance. I then went ahead and created a “status cartoon” of me in the office. Even though pretty underwhelmed with the rather boring scene of me “seizing the day” I tried to upload it to Facebook. It didn’t work. Bitstrips was not off to a good start in Brent’s World.

This is what I came up with for the Bitstrip version of me.

This is what I came up with for the Bitstrip version of me.

However, I didn’t want to stick a fork in the app right away. Instead of deciding to produce content immediately I took a step back and decided to just investigate the various features of Bitstrip. My disdain for the service turned to joy when I looked at the avatars of all my friends who were already on the service. I scrolled down with a grin a mile wide as I looked at their depictions of themselves. Many of them were spot on! Some intentionally embellished certain physical traits that they hold and I couldn’t help but laugh. While I disliked what I produced for myself, I loved what others were able to come up with.

Then, instead of creating just a lame cartoon with myself in it I went to the option where I could create one with one of my Facebook friends in it. One thing you have to know: You can’t create your own comic. Bitstrips forces you to choose from one of their premade designs. With that said, they do offer some funny and cute options and you can change the captions. I had probably a too good of time creating some comics featuring my friends and I.

This is a Bitstrip I created of my cousin and I.

This is a Bitstrip I created of my cousin and I.

After getting a feel for the service and starting to have some fun, I went back to my avatar and continued to fine tune my appearance. Although I still am a little frustrated with how I look, I think I am starting to get to the perfected Bitstrip image of myself.

So while I do like some features of Bitstrips it has by no means won me over. I think it is lame that you can’t have more control over the content you create. Yes, the service does come up with some funny ideas but we all know we could do much better with placement control. We all have our own sense of humor and inside jokes that we could incorporate that would make for very funny comics. Also, you can only include one friend in each comic. Time to expand a little bit, we all know that the more the merrier.

This is a Bitstrip of my friend Amanda and I. This is one where I edited the caption.

This is a Bitstrip of my friend Amanda and I. This is one where I edited the caption.

The social engagement element of Bitstrips is lacking too. Through the actual application you can’t like or comment on comics. This is where the fun of social media is at! If we can’t make our own jokes within the actual comics, at least let us make them underneath it in a comment section. The potential for interaction with this service is high but right now Bitstrips has all options turned completely off.

Finally, it bugs me that I am having trouble posting to Facebook. Then again, I should maybe retract my words and take it as a blessing because I don’t think Bitstrips is a good thing for Facebook. I think the comics look out of place and tacky on a timeline or on a newsfeed. I think these comics belong housed inside their own application where people who appreciate this type of social expression can go and view several at a time while commenting and liking away. Of course this comes from a guy who believes that for the most part social media content should be as unique as possible and to accomplish this the wholesale sharing of pictures/statuses/video/etc across every single social network should be avoided with the exception for truly outstanding content.

I say go ahead and download Bitstrips. Give it a shot and see if it is something that you like. Even if you still hate it, at the very least it will educate you on one of the newest and hottest apps out there right now. What are you waiting for?! Go make the perfect cartoon version of yourself. Don’t Blink.