Before social media became a thing, we had email chat rooms, brought to you by America Online. I still remember my dad using a “street address and mail box” analogy to help me understand what a URL and @ symbol were, all to the static-laden interlude between hitting “connect” and hearing the famous words of one of my wife’s favorite movies.

(Bet that voice actor wishes he had taken the royalty option instead of the studio fee).

Where I once felt the rush of talking to an AOL user in a chat room, I now freely post text and images of my life before the better part of 2 billion people.

What happened?

Like everything, technology moves forward, which means feasibility, accessibility and integration does too. In short, things just get easier and more interesting.

After a few years of playing with all of the connectivity apps out there, here are the ones I use daily and why.


Instagram is my go-to social media app for me. It’s what I like. Promoting family, adventure, music, life. It encapsulates the essence of a picture being worth a thousand words, and shamelessly ignores the trappings that have made Facebook the mess it is today.

Since 65% of humans are visual learners, its a seamless way to capitalize on our natural predisposition. I can scroll through dozens of images in a minute, learning what my friends or favorite retailers are doing, leave a comment if I want, or just double-tap the image (“like”) to let them know I was here.

Posting a picture a day has become a habit I love, because it forces me to look at my day with extreme visual appreciation. It’s helped me be intentional with valuing my contexts, and therefore, it’s made me a more appreciative person. And it’s brought me closer to considering other people’s joys and heartaches. It’s the closest thing I can handle to having God’s timeless and instant access to all of humanity.


Twitter used to be my go-to platform (which now auto-populates from my Instagram posts, accounting for 90% of my Twitter activity). Twitter was especially attractive to me as I tired of Facebook’s decay to non-user commercialism and the irrational commentary from people who felt everyone should read their obscure opinions (which added little value to society). Twitter has, in large part, salvaged that, though it’s recent popularity in commenting on TV drama and pop culture is wearing on me (thus why I follow so few people).

The limitation to 140 characters means intelligent humans must be thoughtful about anything we say, and likewise limits the praising or ranting abilities of anyone commenting back. This makes for short, cunning dialog that doesn’t require much time. And even if someone says something unintelligent, they can’t say it for very long.


The only thing I use Facebook for anymore is posting links to what you’re reading right now. If I didn’t get thousands of click-throughs every week because of it, I wouldn’t bother. But enough people still faithfully use Facebook to make meaningful connections that I recognize the value of publicizing my work there.

Facebook was a great idea, but between the maintenance it required (friend request management, comments, private messages, and the incessant app-blocking if you don’t want your page to look like a billboard for FarmVille), as well as the presumed familiarity if you’re a public figure, turned me off to the site’s time-sucking irrationality. I once had a Facebook follower get mad at me because I failed to write him when his wife died suddenly. I was genuinely grieved for this poor man, but astonished that Facebook had elevated presumptive intimacy to such extraordinary levels.

Everything Else

While there are plenty of other cool apps out there, most either seem like repeats (Google+ repeating Facebook) or irrelevant (LinkedIn, since I don’t need any more work, and don’t want to be linked anymore than I already am). The only other platform I tend to spend a lot of time cultivating is this one right here: my blog. I’ve made it a point to always respond to every comment.

In the end, my advice is to find one or two platforms that inspire you to be a better person without enticing you to disengage from the world around you, trading reality for life-lived-from-a-screen. Social media is a powerful tool, and it’s uses are only in their infancy, but tools should never trump people.

Live life with your eyes open, looking straight ahead, knowing that the most valuable connections are made with the people right in from of you.



Nathan Reimer · 18 Feb ’14 at 3:07 pm

I like this.

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Feb ’14 at 3:07 pm

    Way to cross-reference posts in a single comment!

      Nathan Reimer · 18 Feb ’14 at 3:13 pm

      Did I tell you I like this? Post it on Instagram so I can like it there too. 😉

        Christopher Hopper · 18 Feb ’14 at 4:22 pm


          Nathan Reimer · 18 Feb ’14 at 8:36 pm

          I’ve setup two custom Twitter search widgets in the footer of my blog to pull in my tweets that have “amazing” and “worth your time” as a running record of cool stuff I’ve found.

          Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 3:38 pm

          What a brilliant idea! (See why it pays to have smart friends, people?)

Pete716 · 18 Feb ’14 at 3:45 pm

Mine are in this order:

1) Google+ – I really like the community pages, hangouts, and the autoawesome photo features. I love what g+ does for my photos. It’s now my go to photo editor. Also there’s a lot of geeks on there. I have found a lot of people with similar interest such as Google Glass and Pebble. Also it’s great for SEO.

2) Twitter – I get a lot of news from Twitter. Also I follow a lot of musicians and a lot of people from local community. Also great for following sports and real time events.

3) I really like Instagram. A lot of my friends post on Instagram so it’s great way for me to see them since I’m not no Facebook anymore.

4) LinkedIn. It’s the 21st century resume. I do websites as a side business and I’ve made several good connections there. Also I have friends and family that aren’t on any other social networks but I can see what’s going with them professionally on LinkedIn.

5) Foursquare. I stick with this because it has location history. For example it will tell me the last time I was at an airport I just checked into or how long it’s been since I was at the Dentist. 🙂

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Feb ’14 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks so much for adding yours! It’s really fun to see what others are doing.

    I’m really interested to see Google+ as your number. I so respect your digital preferences that I’m tempted to spend more time on it again.

    I forgot to mention that I, too, tend to get some good news and articles from Twitter, though I sometimes don’t take the time to read all the goodness on there. Thanks for the reminder.

    I loved Foursquare when it first came out. Not sure what happened to me after a while. (But needless to say, I could use a tip to the dentist!).

      Pete716 · 18 Feb ’14 at 7:37 pm

      I forgot to mention Reddit ! I get a TON of hits when I post original content in a relevant sub-reddit. Here’s one you might enjoy

        Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 3:38 pm

        LOVE IT! Thanks for thinking of me.

        Great…now I want spring to be here already.

Matt Harris · 18 Feb ’14 at 6:53 pm

Good stuff as always. I must say I’m a Facebooker. It has connected me with some really quality metal dudes from around the world. As much as it has been a time sink at times. I’ve gotten some really valuable ideas for what I do, and recently I even made some money through it. Sold a lot of metal valentines roses, most were from Facebook traffic. But at the beginning of the year I revamped my website and blog, and vowed to put more time in the blog. Which I have, my goal is a bare minimum of once every two weeks, with once a week being the ideal. I had an experience of getting banned from a blacksmith specific social site. REALLY stupid reason by the way. After that I took another hard look at the blog, and said. This is it. I own the content. And it will be cool to use even as a documentary down the road. I wish I had taken it even more seriously back when you started me on it, but I’m building now. Anyhow great thoughts, thank you!

    Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 10:34 am

    Dude, no shame in coming late the the party—many people never even show up. And it hurts their business in the long run. So I’m stoked that you’re into it.

    By the way, your roses are incredible! What a great idea! How are people using them? Stand alone items in vases? Gardens? I’m curious.

      Matt Harris · 19 Feb ’14 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks, the roses are usually meant as a special gift, for valentines day or any special occasion. A “forever Rose” 🙂 most people display them laying somewhere or yes, a standalone in a vase. They were an item that I targeted for February valentines day. I’m working on many items for the store, a sculptural lighting line, is my main goal.,some truly one of a kind lighting. By the way I saw your pictures of the Sprig Studios lighting. I love the industrial look. Very cool

        Christopher Hopper · 20 Feb ’14 at 7:30 am

        Thanks, Matt. Hope you can come see it in person one day.

        I’m a lighting freak. It makes or breaks a space in my mind. To think that your iron work is also going to be formed into light-emitting art is perhaps one of the coolest notions ever. Seriously.

          Matt Harris · 20 Feb ’14 at 7:47 am

          I too hope to see it in person some day. I’ve been trying to follow all your post on the project, I’m really excited for you guys. Lighting is key, absolutely.
          I was in a house yesterday with some lights I had previously thought hideous, they looked like a chicken egg baskets stuck to the ceiling, NO exaggeration, only in a very non cool way,
          they switched out the bulbs to the retro tube kind and the lights absolutely rocked! I was blown away.

          Christopher Hopper · 20 Feb ’14 at 8:20 am

          Dude – Edison bulbs are my FAVORITE. So warm, and steampunk!

WayneBatson · 18 Feb ’14 at 11:08 pm

DeviantArt is pretty cool too, though obviously not exclusively for social networking. 😀

    Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 3:39 pm

    But what it lacks in “social media status,” it more thank makes up for in “pure-awesome.”

Erica D Lehman · 19 Feb ’14 at 9:00 am

I just use Facebook and Twitter. I got a Google+ when I made my blog a few months ago, but don’t use it (it came with the BlogSpot package). I feel the others are enough. I don’t know if scanning a photo allows it to be posted on social media. Photos scanned can be attached to email and that’s all I know.

    Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks for adding your experience into the mix here, Erica.

    Yeah, I go in waves with Google+. Trying to get back into it again. We’ll see.

    Scanned pics can be used, yes. Really, any image you want can be posted. That’s the beauty of it all.

Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 10:28 am

1.) Google+! After I discovered the stupendulous Underground (does that count? It would be, like, #1A!) then I joined G+ and Im currently in 2 communities with my awesome UG buddies B-)
2.) Twitter: I got tired of my old Twitter account, but once cool people started tweeting/following me I got back into it!
Annnnd my fictional characters have a bad habit of somehow getting on social networking too…

    Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 3:42 pm

    I love that you’ve got your fictional characters online! This is brilliant, and a marvelous long-term, embedded marketing strategy. Love it! Junar made some appearances here and there, if you’ll recall. I’m trying to get back into Google+…again.

      Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks 🙂 I’ll admit that I never though of it as a marketing strategy before, but you’re right! I’ll keep that in mind.
      Junar was on G+!? I must not’ve been on then!
      *dashes to G+ to look for him*

        Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 5:45 pm

        He made appearances on a lot of blogs, and even the UG. Still has his own blog, I believe:

          Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:12 pm

          Awesome sauce. I remember him on that WP blog. But reading Sky Riders shone a whole new light on it! 😀
          Btw at my suggestion my brother asked for TSR and got it for Christmas. Cha-ching! xD

          Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:22 pm

          You’re such a good sibling! Had he finished it yet?

          Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:23 pm

          Heh sometimes x)
          Yep, he finished it in a flash!
          But I think I enjoyed it more x) bit by bit as a proofie. That was my first proofie experience, and I really enjoyed it…it actually was a big factor in my decision to choose a writing/proofing Dual Enrollment class last semester

          Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:27 pm

          GET OUT! I feel so honored, you have no idea!

          Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:34 pm

          *grins* ‘Tis an honor to honor thou x)

          I tried to edit this in to that last comment but apparently something went wrong o.0 but anyway, here:

          >>Oh and another thing, for my research paper for this semester I’m going to be comparing the fiction genres of fantasy, sci-fi, and steampunk. and since TSR is the only dedicated steampunk book I’ve read, I planned to feature it…is that cool with you?

          Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:37 pm

          Are you kidding? Of course! Wow! (Send me a copy when you’re done?)

          Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:39 pm

          Sweet! Kk, will do! *grins*
          Say, do you have any interesting sources for steampunk info/ideas that I could use?

          Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:42 pm

          Not off hand, but I googled “steampunk” a lot and found a lot of cool dedicated blogs and picture feeds.

          Venaril NightBlade · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:51 pm

          Cool, I’m sure those will come in handy.
          Hey btw are you on Twitter (I feel like I already know and am just forgetting…) or G+?

          Christopher Hopper · 20 Feb ’14 at 7:30 am

          Yes, I am. 🙂 @find_ch

          Venaril NightBlade · 20 Feb ’14 at 1:43 pm

          Cool! *goes to look him up*

Jason J Clement · 19 Feb ’14 at 6:50 pm

Thought you’d appreciate this…

    Christopher Hopper · 20 Feb ’14 at 7:32 am

    And THAT pretty much sums it up right there.



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