Making Meaningful Connections Online

This weekend I definitely felt old online. I was trying to figure out how to get into DEFCON’s packet hacking village’s CTF Friday morning. I couldn’t figure out the process for the life of me and had to ask for help…very specific help. ‘Go to this channel and type exactly this’…I felt like a real old dude trying to figure out technology. You had to access their Discord server, choose the correct role, go to a specific room and type out a specific cmd for a bot to put you into a queue.

The CTF was pretty cool. First of all, you had to actually capture traffic. I haven’t done that many CTFs but all previous ones involved a pcap that you download. Here they had packet generators and you had to use tcpdump, tshark or wireshark to capture the traffic. This in itself was neat. You did all of this inside a linux VM that you get creds for once you follow all the steps described above. Second of all, you had a 2-hour time limit in which to solve your prompts. I could get about half done of most of the prompts, but they didn’t just ask you to find a certain type of traffic. You then had to do some sort of forensics, to download and decode a pdf or mount an image to find a file. So, since I don’t have much of the forensic type of experience, and nothing with those sorts of tools, with say pdfcracker, I didn’t far too well. I think I left after 90 minutes and a score of negative 250 (I took some hints) I felt like I have a lot more to learn. I did tell the person helping me in the chat that I would do better next year 🙂

In the midst of all this, at some point after the CTF, I was messing around with some settings in Discord, and accidentally called a friend I’ve been chatting with online for some time now. Tony E didn’t answer but called back a few seconds later. We maybe only chatted for ten or fifteen minutes but something he said during this conversation, along with the conversation in it of itself struck me, he said:

You can’t spread yourself too thin on a whole bunch of different social apps if you want to have meaningful online relationships.

This one thought, one sentence, really made me reflect a bit for the rest of the afternoon. I had been chatting with Tony for maybe a year, almost daily but we have never hopped on a chat. In this one chat, he got to meet my daughter, he showed me some cool note taking ideas. I feel, I can’t speak for him, that in regards to a ‘meaningful online relationship’ hopping on a live chat can really help facilitate that.

My main social app, ever since my mom died, has been Twitter full stop. I was mostly on Facebook to upload photos of the family for my mom to see. I’ve found quite a few friends on Twitter. People I talk with all the time. After my conversation with Tony I was wondering; Am I really having as meaningful online relationships as I can? I mean, the people I talk with everyday are really cool, but what if, we just jumped on a call? Would they be down with that? These thoughts lead me to think perhaps I can move more to Discord and spend less on Twitter.

Today, I got on a thirty minute call with Robin. He helped me troubleshoot somethings on my end and I got to try and figure out some issues he was having with his home lab. Again, nothing really ground breaking came of the conversation itself but moving beyond text, how I mostly interact on Twitter, to video on Discord did seem more meaningful (by a lot).

I’ve tried doing the Art of Network Engineering’s ‘happy hour’ and while I do enjoy the time I’m on there, it is a bit harder to be around a larger group of people I don’t know online. When do I chime in, what do I saw or talk about?! Being an old guy, I realize this is something I probably quickly got to get more familiar and comfortable with.

A lot of people, like Network Chuck, will tell people to create a blog right now. Teach people things. Get active on social media…put yourself out there. I see a lot of blog posts or youtube videos that are really not good, where you can tell the person didn’t put that much time into it. It looks more like they were trying to put themselves out there before they figured out what they were putting out or trying to package it well. I’ve never really like accounts on Twitter that are heavily curated, only sharing articles, never in the replies, never having an opinion. I’ve always tried for the most part to have meaningful interactions online, straying away from things I don’t like and doubling down on being authentic and myself.

This blog, my social presence, due to a short conversation I had on Discord by accident, will be a bit more intentional in creating more meaningful interactions and relationships and to that I’m grateful to those I’ve made friends with and those who’ve I’ve not yet to meet. All the best. Till next time.

Published by Andre Roberge

Packets // ☕️ & 🏀 // BA Philosophy // Sleep

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