Bedbugs And Ballyhoo – The Social Media Saloon

Those of you who know me, know I enjoy the odd tipple. You might also know that I live in the rather rough and tumble, slightly blue collar east end area of Toronto. Directly to the north are million dollar homes on a gorgeous ravine. To the south, million dollar homes on the beach. Where I live? Not so much.

But I love my little hood, or ‘the ghetto” as I affectionately call it. It has everything you could need. Two subway stops, schools, 24 hour grocery, hardware stores, restaurants, and doctor’s offices. And, my local.

My local is my local because, in the truest tradition of the term, it’s local. Like, ‘I can see it from my back deck’ local. Yes, that’s equal parts awesome and dangerous, but it provides my neighbourhood with a sense of community – a ‘place’ – where everybody knows your name. Our own Cheers, minus Coach but including Carla (except her name’s Patti). Last night I got to thinking about the odd little microcosm that is my local. And it struck me that it is exactly like social media.

Scammers And Spammers

Like social media, it’s full of sketchy characters. I mean, really sketchy. I know people personally who would never set foot in the place. But as a veteran ‘people watcher’ I love it. Whether I’m engaging with new people on Twitter, or making conversation on a patio, it’s up to me to be on the ball, eyes open, radar up when it comes to the scammers and spammers, con artists and creeps that I might encounter. Life experience and a finely tuned gut instinct rarely fail me, online or off. And I would hate to miss out on the fabulous because of fear.

Community and Connections

Social media has changed and enriched my life in ways that just a few years ago I would never have imagined. I’ve embarked on a new career, and have made an astonishing number of incredible connections online. During the last couple of months of personal upheaval, those friends have been out of this world supportive. I know there’s a core handful of you who would help me out in a heartbeat. That’s called community. And while I keep a healthy distance between where I sup and where I sleep, though they’re a stone’s throw apart, over the last ten years or so, I’ve also made deep community based connections at my local. Seriously, there’s no one more community minded than a guy who’s been working these streets for 40 years. I’ve also developed a handful of close relationships. Trust is a huge commodity in any community, online or off. Maybe more so in a sketchy dive bar. And whether I need a shoulder to lean on or someone *kneecapped, all I have to do is ask.

Musicians And Mobsters

Speaking of characters, what’s so interesting about social media are the people. You ‘meet’ people that you would never meet otherwise, whether because of where they live, or due to their offline social strata. Through my Twitter connections I chat regularly with industry big wigs, small business owners, bloggers, journalists, developers, and CEOs. I’m friends with people from Australia, Chile, Norway, France, the United States north and south, and all parts of Canada. My local, as a similar social petri dish, is not that different. I’m friends with artists, musicians, and film makers, construction workers and accountants, creative directors and chefs. I also know drug dealers and dope heads, members of the east end mob, and down on their luck old men with no family who are buoyed by a pint, a chat and a bit of attention. All of these people live in my neighbourhood, but there’s a slim chance I would have met them otherwise.

People and Perspective

Whether it’s social media or my local saloon, it’s that unique mix of people, from every level of society and walk of life, that keeps me coming back. I hear incredible stories of success and solitude, horror and heartache, life and love, remorse and redemption. Whether online or off, there are days spent cheering others’ achievements, or seeing one’s own life put in perspective – those “There but for the grace of God go I” moments. The bottom line is this: each and every person I meet, slightly sketchy or super successful, who impacts my life in the largest or smallest of ways, helps me become a better person. And on that note…who wants to join me for a drink?

*NOTE: I would never have someone kneecapped. But I could. If I really really wanted to.

I would love to know, aside from social media, when was the last time you engaged with someone who you probably wouldn’t normally in your day to day life? Did they impact you in any way? What was their story? Please leave your comments below. 

19 thoughts on “Bedbugs And Ballyhoo – The Social Media Saloon

  1. I could really relate to your “local” and the people who frequent it. While working at a Public Library for over 25 years, I met and spent many hours talking to people from all walks of life with every story you could think of, and I few I hadn’t yet!!! I had many “there but for the grace of God” moments, which made me more thankful for the life I have.

    • Diane! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it really means a lot to me! I think there’s a lot of “being a Maritimer” that also draws us to people of all types. It’s much harder to surround yourself only with “like” people when you live in a smaller city. I can only imagine what your years at the library were like! :) I still remember going in there with Sandi to see you! Love you lots, Lindsay

  2. Fantastic post! Love this statement: “I hear incredible stories of success and solitude, horror and heartache, life and love, remorse and redemption.”

    You’re so right, and touch on so many interesting points in this post. Brilliant, just brilliant.

  3. yes indeed m’dear. I feel the same way about all my ‘locals’.(tho my truly LOCAL locals keep closing down, or re-inventing themselves so I have to branch out – could be a good thing!)
    EVERYONE has a story to tell, and each is worth hearing…and sometimes you get to hear it over and over and over again – but that just adds to the patterns of a place. I enjoy being an ‘irregular regular’ at my locals – met alot of interesting characters – yer fine self included
    CHEERS!

  4. Hey Jeff, thanks for stopping by to comment! I agree that moving locals/branching out can be a fine thing, as you said, I was able to meet *you* that way! Agree that everyone’s story is worth hearing, you never know how much it means to a person to just listen sometimes. Great seeing you the other weekend, at the local. Don’t be a stranger! :) xo, Lindsay

  5. I hear you, Bellindsay. I live in a small town about 20 km south of Porto, Portugal. It’s a n ancient fishing community, now living mainly of tourism. Being a small town (probably smaller than your neighbourhood), “everyone knows everyone”. I take pride in attending the same small coffeshop for over 20 years now. Gipsys, fishermen, managers, lawyers, doctors, I engage on a daily basis with all of them, and I’m thankful for it. Makes my life so much richer. Just the other day, I was writing there (free wifi rocks) and an old man, about 80 years old, looked at my screen and said: Is that Facebook?” “Yes, Mr. José (his name). Had you seen it before?”, I replied. He gave me one of the best definitions of social media I ever heard: “From my POV, and from what I read, that is pretty much a world-scale coffeeshop, isn’t it? You talk to people you know, meet new people and share stories, just like in here, right?”.
    Greetings from sunny Portugal.
    Vasco (@vascocv)

    • Vasco, I am *honoured* that you dropped in from sunny Portugal! A place I’ve always wanted to visit, even more so after your description of your community. It sounds very much like where my husband is from, though minus the history (Canadian fishing village, 400 people!). We love it and intend on retiring there some day. But I digress. Your story of Mr. Jose is so fantastic. Absolutely love it. Such insight. You must tell Mr. Jose that he now has a new admirer in Toronto, Canada, thanks to the power of social media! Thanks for sharing, it means a great deal to me. Cheers, Lindsay

  6. Oddly, my current work is like this. I spend ten days on a bus with 40+ strangers from all areas and all walks of life. By the end of tour, connections and friendships are made that would otherwise never have happened – due to differences in location, social strata, whatever. It sort of is like social media. Ten-day Petrie dish tours!

  7. Exactly Sandi. You nailed it. I just love encountering different people. Not that I would have them all to my house for dinner, mind you, but still. Everyone has a story, and they usually are personally enlightening in some way, shape or form. I’m so happy that your job is working out for you! xox Lindsay

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  10. Love this post! Thanks for sharing! We have a mutual fascination with the people around us. I love finding those places off the beaten track where the “real” people live. Remind me to tell you of the months I spent living in a sheep barn in the Aussie outback in a town of 200 people sometime… I have also thoroughly enjoyed those fascinating characters that my different social media channels exposed me to. Your final paragraph here is really lovely. It is so true- each interaction can enhance my life and encourage me to be a better human-ish honourary alien. And finally- without delving in to SM, I never would have met you!

    • @RebeccaTodd Like attracts like, Rebecca, funny how we just ‘click’ with certain people, right? Like I clicked with you! I love that we’re the same this way – our mutual love of freaks and geeks! 😀 I can’t wait to hear about life on the outback – it’s a dream of mine to go to Australia. xox

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