As The Wonder of Tech nears its third anniversary, I think back to the excitement I felt about sharing my knowledge of personal technology with others and learning about running a website and blogging. I was very fortunate to have the help of many friends, including one of my very best friends, Rachel Anderson, who guided me in setting up this website, advising me to use WordPress as a blogging platform, steering me towards an aesthetically pleasing design, and even letting me use her account to host my website for free.
Rachel got me started in the right direction with The Wonder of Tech so I didn’t have to worry about a steep learning curve for website administration and could focus on writing about apps, social media, gadgets, smartphones and other fun and useful tech.
How fitting that Rachel helped me launch this website because I met Rachel on the Internet. We connected through a forum for fans of All My Children and chatted online for months, then met in person at a fan event for Vincent Irizarry in New York City. Within a few hours of meeting her, I invited her to stay at our home for a week.
Imagine my husband’s delight when I informed him that a friend I met on the Internet would be living with us and our three daughters for a full week. When he protested, I informed him:
“But she’s really nice!”
Shockingly, my husband, though unconvinced, agreed to my folly. I’m not quite sure how Rachel convinced her husband that it was a good idea for her to travel 5000 miles to stay at a stranger’s house for a week, but he must have enthusiastically endorsed the trip. Rachel arrived on our doorstep with a big smile on her face and no visible weapons in hand.
Rachel and her family have since become very close with our family, our husbands and children are great friends, and we visit each other as much as possible with our busy schedules. I now know how to run a website and have my own hosting account. But Rachel’s help in guiding me with the launch of The Wonder of Tech was invaluable in getting me off to a strong start.
I Am Setting a Horrible Example for My Children
As the mother of three teenage girls, I realize that my friendship with Rachel sets a horrible example for them. No, I don’t cook crystal meth, send my girls to forced labor camps or otherwise engage in child abuse. But my warnings about meeting strangers on the Internet must sound quite hollow to my daughters.
Oops, I Did It Again
In addition to learning about administering a website, I also had to learn about running a blog when I launched The Wonder of Tech. The best way to learn is to learn from the best so after I began this blog I started reading other blogs and discovered Adrienne Smith, the Queen of Blogging a/k/a Engagement Superstar.
If you’re not a blogger you may not know Adrienne Smith but if you are a blogger, you should get to know her. Adrienne blogs about blogging (including tech tips!) and knows how to do it right. Following her lead is a great idea if you want to have a successful blog.
Not only is Adrienne a superstar blogger, she has become an amazing friend. She always takes time to help me with my blogging questions and we have developed a true friendship online over the past three years.
So when my family planned a trip to Houston, Texas last year, my first thought was, “Yea! I want to meet Adrienne in person!” My family knew of Adrienne from my frequent praise of her so they were game to meet her in person as well. A few days after Christmas, we flew to Houston and met Adrienne. Big hugs for everyone!
I had discussed with Adrienne ahead of time how I felt conflicted by sending mixed messages to my daughters about not meeting online friends in person so Adrienne duly warned my girls not to try this themselves. I hope they learn from Adrienne better than they learn from me…
While my friendships with Rachel and Adrienne show that meeting online friends in person can have a positive result, not all real life meetings go smoothly. Actuality often doesn’t match perception. Many people have been duped by false online personalities, created to fool others into believing a fictional character is a real person: Catfishing.
That’s right, some people who live a double life on Facebook may not be using their real personna but instead have created a false character with the intent to deceive others. From the stories on Dateline’s To Catch a Predator to Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend, we have learned that people aren’t always whom they seem to be online.
In 2010 the documentary movie Catfish told the story of Nev Schulman who was deceived by false online Facebook accounts created by Angela Wesselman. Nev’s brother Ariel and fellow filmmaker Henry Joost documented Nev’s journey of uncovering the true story behind 8 year old “Abby”, a gifted painter who contacted Nev on Facebook and asked to create a painting from one of his photos.
“Vince Pierce: They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They’d keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn’t have somebody nipping at our fin.” — Catfish Quotes, IMDb
See, Who Coined the Term “Catfish”?, Aisha Harris of Slate.
I am not immune to Catfishing. During my first year of blogging I was duped by a woman who claimed to be a blogger from Los Angeles. She was a frequent visitor and commenter here at The Wonder of Tech. She wrote a blog and asked me and other fellow bloggers to write guest posts for her, which I did.
Soon after my guest post was published she wrote me and other bloggers to let us know that she had been using a false identity to write for the blog which was run by a business. The business decided to end the blog and she wanted to reveal her true identity and true nationality so we could support her with her new blog. I didn’t support her new blog.
See, It’s catfishing season! How to tell lovers from liars online, and more by Molly McHugh of Digital Trends.
Can you relate to my experiences? Have you ever met an online friend in real life? Vote in The Wonder of Tech poll and let us know!
Have you ever met someone from your online world in real life? Are you ever conflicted about what to tell your kids? Have you ever been catfished by someone online? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Consumer Electronics Show 2014 News
The annual Consumer Electronics Show is under way in Las Vegas, Nevada this week with plenty of news and new stuff for tech fans. Each year CES gives us a sneak peek of what’s ahead for the world of tech.
The innovative folks at Hang w/ continue to bring new personalities to their live streaming social media platform. In the unlikely event that you aren’t already at CES, you can join in on the fun with Hang w/ who will be streaming live from the event later today. Check in with fellow tech blogger Robert Scoble as he live streams on Hang w/ from 7-9 PM PST tonight.
See, Hang w/ – Who Knew the World Was This Much Fun? for my full review of Hang w/.
The Pebble smartwatch has a new design launched at CES this week: Pebble Steel. With a higher end look and price, the Pebble Steel operates the same way as the original Pebble watch but now comes in stainless steel and black matte models. Both models come with leather and steel straps and are fully compatible with Pebble apps.
This video introduces the new Pebble Steel:
The Pebble Steel sells for $249, $100 more than the original Pebble watch. You can find out more about the Pebble Steel from the Pebble website.
See, Pebble Watch – A Smartwatch with Potential for my full review of the Pebble watch.