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Rob Gould

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002). Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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Social Social with Rob Gould
Posted: January 23, 2015

Cody Laplante | Writer | Portland, Maine

Cody Laplante

Cody Laplante

So, I’m pretty new to Portland (NH native). It’s been 4 months now. I’m a man of letters: teaching them, translating them, composing them, editing them, devouring them … Since I mostly work from home I haven’t met too many people in this fair city, but I sure would like to. I’ve just got back from a yearlong contract on the French Riviera so this wintah is killin me ked! Nice place though, real nice city you folks got goin here. 

Ok, now that you know who I am and what my agenda is, let’s start the interview.

What was your first experience with social media?

I want to preface this interview with a quick classification – all of the social media I’m referring to are the .coms, not like the telephone or postal service or human voice.

My first contact with on-line social media was in the sixth grade in 2001. I met a kid and I thought he was really cool. He was in the seventh grade. He gave me a little scrap of paper with his screen name on it. I had to ask my brother what a screen name was. He explained AIM to me. I remember painstakingly figuring out how to download and install the application (my first download) and then finding out that we already had it. I remember typing through a bunch of screen names until I settled on ‘Codman8800’. It was supposed to read ‘code man eighty eight thousand.’ So, people made fun of me a lot for being cod man.

That kid was on-line and I found him and we talked but he made sure to use all the new acronyms that I didn’t know. I felt naïve. I typed out a bunch of emo lyrics onto my profile page.

Fast forward to freshman year of high school, 2003. My best friend makes me a LiveJournal page so I can scribe all of my delicate thoughts. I use it zero times.

Fast forward to freshman year of college, 2007. I am spinning (like around in circles, not records or exercise class) and a hip upper-class chick is telling me how I need a Facebook. She snaps the pictures, plugs in the information, and asks everyone to be my friend saying that she has finally converted me.

Present day: I visit Facebook.com with a frequency I am too embarrassed to admit. I work 75 percent over the internet, and as you’ll see below, I have a web portfolio.

What do you like about social media?

Without all the $free social media on the Internet, I’d never keep in touch with half the people I keep in touch with. It’s amazing how we can communicate instantly or even video chat like we used to see in the sci-fi movies for $free. I do this a lot. Should I just not keep in touch with them and let bygones be bygones? Probably.

I like that everyone in the whole civilized world who likes to make little birdhouses from nostalgic scraps, for example, can meet up with each other online and share their secrets, advancing the craft and increasing the production of bird architecture to unprecedented heights! And, shy girls with good ideas are often much less shy on social media. So, we can hear their good ideas and maybe they can even get the recognition they deserve for them without ever even being seen by anyone!

It seems like within social media are all the potentials for a nice revolution – the ability to: buy goods ‘directly’ from the craftsman/little fish, organize en masse, congregate, and spread messages to millions of people within minutes without relying on major media conglomerates. It’s easier to hold evildoers accountable when the whole civilized world can read the perpetrating text messages written by their red hands. But the problem is, these are the owners of some of the networks we now rely on, heavily.

Also I loveeeee when I put up some rare throwback indie gem of a tune and my hippest friends all click “like!”

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What do you dislike about social media?

Like a lot of cultural media today, social media strikes me as an unbelievably powerful tool that is, for the most part, squandered. Faced with unlimited potential for self-development and enculturation we follow celebrities with increasing intensity and become addicted to posting pictures of ourselves for our “friends”. We publicly wallow in our loneliness or else hide behind our fake smile profile pic while we’re drunk on the couch visiting the pages of people we added purely for their looks, chugging wine, and scratching ourselves.

We want people to see our posts, to like them, to like us, but all we can do is send transmissions into the void and hope.

These networks lead to dependencies that are then exploited by the market to forge value for us. It’s amazing how quickly participation in these circles has reached an almost necessary status to be a member of our society. And though the networks themselves are $free, the devices and data are prohibitively expensive. Yet, somehow everyone seems to still have several brand-new portals onto the Internet.

We are all addicted to social media and it’s disgusting. I hate when people insist that I take pictures so that they can prove to the world that they are with me at a certain place or whatever. I hate how we’re all forced to spam each other with endless self-promotion. Oh man there are actually so many things I hate about it and so many pet peeves it regularly activates; is this why I can’t resist?

What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?

My world would get much smaller without digital social media. I’ve lived in a lot of different places and connect with a lot of different strata and people of my past solely through social media. I think there are some people that would definitely be sore with me by the end of the six months. I’d have to prepare the project and tell various people that I wasn’t dead or ignoring them. It would be a to do.

I’d have to be on the phone a lot more, and I’m sure people would be like ‘Jesus – we put it on facebook.’ pretty often to me. I’m sure if you were disconnected from social media for six months you would begin to loathe it and see how everyone is so addicted and transmuted by it, sort of like how straightedge people must see things – with puritanical bitterness.

When my crippling withdrawal ended, maybe I’d take up painting landscapes. Maybe I’d train a carrier pigeon to peck at the windows of all my friends on the west end. How cool would that be? Cooler than a private message.

If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?

I’d call it a misused groundbreaking cacophony.

Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?

No.

Where can people find you online?

My friend Fascinating Monster recently developed me an on-line portfolio for my creative writing. It’s called the inertia of mistakes. Please go poke around until you find a pattern that stirs you.

I want to thank Cody for taking the time to talk with me about his opinions on, and experience with, social media.

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