Four people who conquer the Internet.
I hear a lot of people say, “kids these days… always on their phones… they don’t know how to socialize anymore.” In a lot of ways, I see how that holds true, and I do think there is something to be said for in-person social interaction.
That said, these four people taught me to see a very different side of that argument. From how we build and maintain Internet culture, to the creation of Internet fame and having an online career, we’ll hear personal stories of how powerful- and how real– Internet community can truly be.
Ian Tornay is a video game community manager at a company based in British Columbia. He’s the lucky guy who “gets paid to Reddit” and manages the sentiment of massive groups of people. This presents a huge challenge: not everyone provides feedback. One of his roles is to accurately and efficiently understand the needs and desires of the people playing his company’s game, then communicate that information effectively with the game makers. He helps consumers identify as video game players, not simply people who play video games… and to be successful, step one is understanding the difference between those two identities. Another big factor is knowing what drives people to interact online in the first place.
Ian’s background? Music. That’s right, and it’s actually very helpful in his career. In our interview, he shares both how music strengthened his resume and why he learned the accordion.
Cathy Ngo is a social media strategist at BuzzFeed where one of her specialties is using Facebook. Her path to a career in social media is partially a product of four separate internships that became increasingly specialized. She says she applied to over 100 jobs at the beginning of her career search, and it was perseverance and hard work that paid off in the end. “Keep trying, keep doing it. Don’t be stagnant,” she shared.
In a work environment that encourages and supports continued learning, Cathy says she hopes to flex her creative side even more. This means both at work and in her spare time working on costumes for Cosplay.
For Cathy, excelling in her career involves paying attention to pop culture and current events because social media is “a response to what’s happening in the world.”
Matt Nelson is the single managing member of We Rate Dogs, LLC, better-known as simply We Rate Dogs. It all began as a humorous Twitter account that has now grown into a full business, website, and store. Since I had just talked with Cathy, I found it interesting when Matt said his dad realized We Rate Dogs was a legitimate thing after stumbling across a BuzzFeed article about it.
Matt is big into sports, swam competitively in high school, wants to play in a PGA tour event, and is currently a professional golf management major in college. His love of making people laugh was- and continues to be- his primary goal through We Rate Dogs. It’s definitely working for him, too. I mean, who doesn’t love humor and dogs?
The Bulbaswag Guy
Bulbaswag is a community built around a social Facebook page. Its creator preferred to not be directly identified, so there’s not an opening introduction for him. We’ll call him “the Bulbaswag Guy.”
After a rough break-up, he was looking for something that could keep his mind off the current situation. That’s when he turned to social media, and the community embraced him. When I mentioned the other people I was talking with for this episode, he said, “Oh! Those are the big guys! They’re way bigger than me.” And while that may be true on a purely numbers-driven assessment, the reality of what the Bulbaswag internet community does for its creator and each of its faithful members is just as touching, inclusive, and real as any other.
As the Bulbaswag Guy puts it, “Basically anyone can find a community to be part of, you just have to look for it.”