Wednesday January 15, 2014 | 08:00 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

I interviewed 36 people here in 2013. It has been my favorite part about writing this blog. About half-way through last year, people started asking me when I was going to be interviewed. So, I thought I would kick-off 2014 with my own Social Social interview. And, who better to interview me than my great friend, and arch-enemy, Ian Grady. I hope you enjoy what he's put together here. It certainly made me laugh.

Here's to lots more interviews with interesting people from Maine and beyond in 2014!

Take it away Ian ...

First, a bit of background about Rob and me: We first connected via Twitter a few years ago; I’m relatively confident the matter at hand was grooming products. I always enjoyed Rob’s insightful posts about advertising and PR (a shared interest of ours) and, most of all, his ability to laugh at himself. Later, in 2012, we met in real life when I started volunteering with Rob on the TEDxDirigo team. It was then that I too discovered an ability to laugh at Rob’s self. 

Folks love to deride the Internet as a discourager of real human connections, but for Rob and I that couldn’t be less the case. What started as me making jokes about his age on Twitter grew into a real friendship where I make jokes about his age in person.

When Rob asked me if I would interview him for his blog I said, “I’m sorry; who are you again?”

No, I kid; I was very flattered. Rob has done such a great job with his interviews (including my own) that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep pace with him. I’ve done my best to share with you the highlights of what was a much longer conversation about intranets, Twitter and self-proclaimed gurus.

Kidding aside, Rob is good friend and a great writer. If you enjoy him and his blog like I do, I hope you’ll like this interview. If not, he’ll be back in the driver’s seat on the next post and it was all his fault.

Today's themes are: Dinosaurs, jet-setting, and all roads do not lead to Bobby G.

When was the first time you used social media? What was that like?

"In 1985 (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I went to visit a good friend at Dartmouth College, and they had an intranet system. I thought this was like the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was fascinated by it. Everyone else went out to a frat party – and I didn’t usually miss a party – and I sat there obsessed with the fact that I could talk to people on the computer."

"Other than that I didn’t start using social media until many (many, many) years later. And, that was for work, when I was the director of social media & agency communications with The VIA Agency. I started using it primarily as a tool to contact journalists. This was 2006, and I created profiles on Facebook and Twitter."

"I was lucky to have a brilliant intern who showed me the ropes; because, I didn’t grow up with this stuff. But, I enjoyed it, especially Twitter, and I have obviously stayed interested in it ever since."

What do you like about social media?

"The biggest thing for me is the ability to connect with people, to talk with people. I'm a talker. As you well know."

"Social media has been a great source of new friends in my life. I would say at least ¾ of the people I know in Portland, yourself included, I first connected with through social media. Of course, I would never call someone my real friend who I didn’t know in real life. However, I often first connect with people through social media."

"The first time I met my friend Chelsea she said to me, 'When I moved back to Maine I thought, "All roads lead to Bobby G."' I don't think I'm quite that connected, but social media has been a great tool to use to connect with people through shared interests and friends. And, thank God all roads don't lead to me. Could you imagine finding me at the end of every road? I mean, how dull would that be?"

"And, there’s an amazing access to information. I find out about so many great articles, or pieces of art — all sorts of things — through social media. I love that."

"I also think of social media as a thing that can really bring people together, and not just in a superficial way."

"There are so many people out there who just have this adversarial relationship with social media; like, oh, it’s so phony and such crap. Part of me just thinks, this what people said about everything. They said it about the phone, about the computer, about TV, all of that stuff. Are there bad things about them? About TV, for example? Sure, if you sit and watch it constantly. And there will be bad things about social media too. Especially if you spend all of your time engaging with it. But, I hope that social media finds its healthy place in the world, and that people give it a chance to do that."

What do you dislike about social media?

"Definitely the distraction factor. It doesn’t help my ADD."

"I also don’t love how it’s natural for us to create impressions of people based on their social media profiles. It can definitely lead to inaccurate impressions and misunderstandings. There is obviously much more to people than their Instagram photos, and I think we can all forget that sometimes. I know I have. I also know others have done that with me. I’ve had many conversations about it. Someone once described me, to my face, as a jet-setter. I had to laugh because I had been lying on my couch staring at the ceiling for the previous three months. I typically don't take Instagram photos of that kind of stuff."

"People also use social media to be passive aggressive, posting things like: 'I hate people who wear blue. You know who you are!'”

I asked Rob to name some names of specific people who engage in passive aggressive behavior online, and he refused to comply. Which, I pointed out, made him guilty of a very similar sort of passive aggressive behavior. I, for the record, hate people with blogs about social media at the Portland Press Herald. You know who you are.

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

"I think it would be awful. I would definitely like it –and I’ve done it- for like a week or two or three. But, it would be very uncomfortable for me after that. I’m a single extrovert and I work from home. So, if I’m at home by myself a lot, this is a way for me to connect with people."

"Unless the Internet was disconnected for everyone else. Like the first 30 years of my life. I could handle it then. But, if everyone else was continuing to use something that I couldn’t use, that would be very difficult for me."

Describe social media in three words:

"Best. Thing. Ever."

What is your favorite social media network?

"Twitter, definitely."

"Twitter is absolutely, without question, the most time-consuming social media platform. It requires that you engage and respond, especially if you’re a business."

"But, what I love about it is that it’s like being somewhere and being able to go up to anyone and tap that person on the shoulder. And you can talk to whomever you want as long as you’re not completely crazy. It’s enabled me to follow and engage with all sorts of people that I might never otherwise know. The other channels don’t offer that ability to connect."

"There’s also a whole world of people who are just hilariously funny. And some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen said have been on Twitter."

Are you a social media guru?

"No. Absolutely not. I’m not a guru of anything. I have always really loathed that concept; especially people who self-label in that way."

Well, folks, you heard it here first: Rob Gould, Self-Declared Social Media Guru

You can find Rob on Twitter at: @bobbbyg

You can find Rob on Instagram at: @bobbbyg

You can find Rob on Tumblr at: House of Urban Angst

You can find Rob on Google+ at: Rob Gould

You can find Rob on LinkedIn at: bobbbyg

Ian C. Grady is a communications and PR consultant based in Portland, ME. Previously, he was the Communications Director at EqualityMaine. He was also the Digital Director of Maine’s historic 2012 marriage campaign. If you would like for him to make fun of your age too, you can follow him on Twitter @IanCGrady

 

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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

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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