All media can be social media

One of the themes of the last year or so is that a lot of my traditionally solitary pursuits suddenly seem to have become much more social. The biggest difference is my job, but my evenings and weekends are also busier, with a greater diversity of social events than before.

Mr E Man’s seven-week stay in Montreal last summer really initiated the whole thing. Almost all of my own friends are people I know from my current or previous jobs – all of which have been located within a few blocks of each other – which means that our socialising is very much based on quick drinks at local pubs immediately after work; the friends we spend most of our time with on weekends and evenings were originally Mr E Man’s friends, and with a few exceptions they’re just not really in the habit of calling me rather than him when they’re planning a night out. So while Mr E Man was away, I became much more proactive about seeking out other opportunities to socialise.

Science. I was already going to geeky events like Cafe Scientifique and Science Online Vancouver, but wasn’t making a huge effort to go every single time; with Mr E Man away, I started being much more diligent about adding the events to my calendar (and also about fighting the lure of my lovely comfy couch after a long day at work). As a result I now know more of the other regulars than I did before, and I’ve continued to go to as many events as I can – sometimes bringing friends and colleagues with me.

I also tried Skeptics in the Pub once while Mr E Man was away, but while I met some nice, interesting people (some of whom I recognised from Cafe Scientifique) and everyone was very welcoming, it just wasn’t really my thing. I think I’d just rather base new friendships on something tangible in common, rather than joining a group for people who don’t collect stamps or a team of people who don’t play lacrosse.

Writing. Thanks to Bean-Mom’s recent post and the email conversations that followed, I’m joining an online (blog- and possibly Google Hangout-based) writing group. I think it’s going to really help to motivate myself to write even on days when I come home from work feeling tired and there’s a Canucks game on and there’s a cat on my laptop and it’s just so much easier not to write.

Stories. I’m a big fan of spoken word podcasts, especially those that involve storytelling – The Moth is the granddaddy of them all, Story Collider is a science-specific version, and there are an increasing number of other similar shows available from all over North America. I listen in the morning after Mr E Man leaves for work, while doing laundry and other boring chores, at the gym, and on transit – this, to me, was therefore the epitome of a solitary pursuit. However, that changed when a friend from my last job* asked if I wanted to go with him to see the This American Life live show, which was being simulcast at a local cinema.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but the event was AMAZING. Watching and listening as part of a big crowd of fellow fans, and joining in the musical number via a Guitar Hero-type interface on the screen and a specially created musical iPhone app, just made the whole experience so much better. Since then I’ve discovered that Vancouver has two live storytelling shows of its own – Rain City Chronicles and The Flame (the latter is a Facebook link – they don’t seem to have any other website). I’ve now been to The Flame once and Rain City Chronicles twice, absolutely loved it, and am already starting to recognise regulars at RCC. RCC is the better known and the more polished and professional of the two (with the result that it’s sometimes hard to get tickets – we squeaked in via the waiting list last time), but both feature a mix of funny and serious stories, good music, and beer.

Oh, and I also went to Interesting Vancouver while Mr E Man was away, which doesn’t have a podcast but certainly lived up to its name. I met someone there who I now see at both of the other storytelling events in the city.

Sadly, I couldn’t use my ticket to the Vinyl Cafe live show in December because I had such a bad cough I’d have ruined the event for everyone, and I’m not even going to try to get into TED when it moves to Vancouver next year ($7,500 and you have to write an essay to get in?! I’ll just keep watching the videos online, thanks). But live storytelling is now one of my favourite things, and a permanent feature of my social calendar!

And finally… a shocking abuse of the work email system took place last week:


Figure 1:



The pilot study will commence in three weeks… very exciting! I will report back…


*This was a new-ish guy who I thought was super grumpy and unfriendly, until we went on a work trip together. We realised during a big group dinner that we had tons in common (and I realised that he wasn’t grumpy at all), but sadly he moved to Australia just as we were becoming friends. Science SUCKS, reason #281.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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10 Responses to All media can be social media

  1. bean-mom says:

    Ah ha ha! I saw a YouTube video some time ago about a Game of Thrones board game and I thought it was a joke! (I’m pretty sure that it was, at that time). You’ll have to keep us updated on the game testing. I am a diehard Stark/Snow fangirl, as you know, but I could see myself playing for the Lannisters just for kicks. . . (by the way, have just started watching the second season on DVD).

    I love The Moth and This American Life. Sounds like you’ve been having a good time!

    And about writing groups. . . Yes, I hope it will be helpful! And regarding motivation. . . I’ve seen some writers posting weekly writing goals on their blogs, with the idea that public pressure and shame will motivate them to actually meet those publicly posted goals. Something to think about. . . although I don’t know if I have the guts to do it myself!

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Eeeeeeep on the public posting of goals… I’m not that brave (yet) either! Maybe after I’ve had a chance to see how the writing group goes…

      I’ll definitely be posting about the board game! I have one person who really wants to be on Team Stannis (I even have a Baratheon beer mug he can use. Well, it’s an Alexander Keith’s beer mug, but has a stag on it so same difference), and I think I’m the only Team Targaryen wannabe (what can I say, Daenerys is gloriously insane but kicks serious ass!), but the rest of them will have to fight over which House they represent!

      We will be watched over by a very cool Tibetan dragon print as we play, but sadly it only has one head.

      We’re watching part of Season 2 on TV right now. The scenes between Jon Snow and Ygritte North of the Wall are absolutely priceless. I am SO FREAKING EXCITED about Season 3 starting next week!

  2. Robyn Roscoe says:

    I heartily endorse the use of work email for social media!

  3. Elizabeth H says:

    My labmates and I have now played the board game Game of Thrones three times over the past 3 months. It’s intense…..each time it has taken us 6+ hours to finish the game with 5-6 people. The first 5 hours fly by and the last one can drag out a bit because by then most of the players know they can’t win the game. Still, I highly recommend it!

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      six HOURS?!

      SIX hours?!

      Oh dear. Our first attempt is planned for a weeknight. I foresee the need to take very detailed photos of the board so we can reconvene on a second occasion…

      • Bob O'H says:

        Reminds me of my youth playing boardgames. There was one called Civilisation, which a friend described as “almost as long as the real thing”.

        • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

          I’ve never played Civilisation in either the board game or the computer game format. I lost so much time during grad school to my addiction to an early version of Sim City that I just didn’t dare.

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