Category Archives: Social Media

Yearbook Pet Peeves, the Internet and PC

12-30-2013 11-00-31 AMOne of my favorite things to do as a child was to browse through my mother’s high school yearbooks. I remember looking at the photos of the teenagers, reading the blurbs under each photo and anticipating my own high school years.

In at least one of the yearbooks the students were asked their pet peeves and they were listed under their photos along with their academic and extracurricular highlights and ambitions. I focused on these pet peeves of the Elgin High School students in the early 1950s.

Because I was on a sort of quest to become perfect I made a list of them in a notebook to make sure I did not ever do whatever these students found annoying. The only two I remember were: “Wearing pink with red” and “The song, ‘June is Busting out All Over’”.  I vowed to never be caught wearing pink and red at the same time or ever singing the song “June is Busting out All Over”.

The others were similar – simple things that teenagers of the time just didn’t like. Nothing mean about them – just something fun for the yearbook. I however, took it to heart. I never did become perfect, and probably threw out the list because I realized it was silly, however you’ll still never hear me sing “June is Busting Out All Over” or wearing pink and red at the same time.

12-30-2013 11-04-16 AMFast forward several decades. Now, instead of my mother’s yearbooks, I like to browse the Internet. I usually start with Facebook – the yearbook of the world – and read what people are doing and what they are thinking – some of which are pet peeves. Sometimes people post links to lists of what might be considered pet peeves.

I no longer keep a list of what I should be doing or should not be doing to make my fellow man happy, but I do take a lot of things to heart, just as I did with the pet peeves from the 1950s. If a Huffington Post contributor suggests I not comment that the weather is wonderful where I am when someone posts a photo of a thermometer reading below 0 degrees F, I’ll try to not do that. If I know that one of my Facebook friends hates it when I cross post from Twitter to Facebook, I’ll stop. If my brother doesn’t like my political views, I’ll either stop posting them or not include him in the group of people by whom the post is seen.

In addition to simple pet peeves, there are also the PC kind. These are more dangerous to ignore. For instance is it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? No matter what you say you are bound to insult someone. I used the term “Christmas Tree” in a post a week or so prior to Christmas and someone responded, “What’s Up?” which made absolutely no sense to me in the context of my post. I worried that he might be Jewish and be insulted that I said Christmas Tree instead of Holiday Tree when talking about a decorated evergreen in a public place. Once, on a private forum, someone said that using the prefix “uber” to mean “very much” was disrespectful because it was used in Nazi Germany. I don’t ever use “uber” because of that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written an innocent response to a Facebook post and ended up deleting it because I was afraid it would somehow be taken the wrong way. One of my greatest concerns is hurting feelings or annoying someone.

I could go on and on but I am sure someone, somewhere has a pet peeve about long blog posts with too many examples. I think you get the picture and I need to realize that you can’t please everyone all of the time and be it pet peeves from the 1950s or opinions of Internet entities or Facebook friends – I should just relax and not worry so much. Or should I worry more? It certainly gives my time on Facebook a different flavor. What do you do in these situations?

An Un Post

I find it kind of amusing and a little upsetting that the tiny prefix “un” has become a common threat or even a weapon these days in social media venues.

On Twitter, when someone “follows” you it is usually a good thing. It usually means that they find what you have to say of interest. Sometimes people unfollow you too — most of the time you don’t notice it. Sometimes you notice it and wonder why they did unfollow you, but it really isn’t usually a big deal. Some people, however, think that they are so important that they can threaten to unfollow others in order to change the followee’s behavior. (Please note that neither of the people below follow me nor do I follow either of them. I searched for “unfollow” on twitter.)

Bitchh I will unfollow the shit out of u, keep dickin !
Twitter unfollow threat
Who the fuck cares about a damn justin beiber birthday. If people keep posting that shit ima unfollow you.
Twitter unfollow threat

Then there is Facebook. On Facebook people “friend” you. Often it is because they actually know you in real life or online. Sometimes it is because they admire you. Occasionally they might even be stalking you. I’ve not seen “unfollow” used as a threat much on Facebook, but the threat is sometimes implied. Here’s one that is more of a stern warning than a threat.

The next blues band from who-knows-where that sends me an invitation through the message inbox, instead of the invitation feature, is going to get "unfriended." Sorry, folks, I'm not going to attend your show 1,000 miles from here. I didn't sign up for FB to be spammed with ads.
Facebook unfriend warning

Finally, the last and possibly meanest “un” threat is “uninstall”. I’ve only seen this in the comments of my phone’s “market”. I have an android based cell phone and the android market is full of useful and not so useful applications — most of them free of charge. Anyone can create an app for an android phone and upload it to the market. People download it via their phone and sometimes rate and/or comment on their experience with the app.  Sometimes people say things like, “Great app!”. Sometimes they say, “Useful app, but it needs such-and-such.”. And sometimes they say, “This app is a waste. Uninstall!”. Sometimes it is probably a waste or doesn’t work properly, but tossing in the word uninstall is like salt on a wound. It is not only unnecessary it is there to hurt someone who gave them something for free in the first place.

I don’t like this trend at all. Our language and our society need more positives and fewer negatives. It seems that the more avenues that are opening for people to communicate with each other, the more ways some people are finding to hurt each other.

I have issues: Part 4 — Fear of Annoying People

I hate to be a bother. I hate to annoy people. I get worked up about possibly saying the wrong thing to someone at a party and worry about it the next day, and beyond. I don’t know how normal this is. I don’t normally talk about it, but I know it is the root of a few of my character flaws, like why I usually wait for people to call me, rarely initiate things with friends and why I dislike asking for help of any kind. I don’t want to bother them if they are in the middle of something. I don’t want to annoy them with my request. I don’t run my air conditioner if I don’t absolutely have to because a neighbor complained that it was loud — I wouldn’t want to bother her in her quietly air conditioned house. I just want to live my life and not be a bother to anyone.

Until the past couple of years this issue only manifested itself in real life, but lately I’ve been more conscious of feeling this way about my online interactions. For instance, when I first became active in Facebook I had all sorts of things streaming on my “wall”. I had my twitter feed and my friendfeed sent to my Facebook wall. I also allowed whatever app I was using on Facebook to be sent to my wall. These notices were then sent to my Facebook friends’ newsfeeds and I annoyed at least one person enough that he deleted me from his friends. When I asked him about it he suggested I join twitter if I wanted to update my status as often as I seemed to be updating it. I explained that it was twitter that was doing it.

Anyway, after that I tried to limit what was posted to my wall. I made a few mistakes, but seemed to be doing fine. Lately, however, a number of people are posting status reports that they are annoyed by other people’s wall posts. Of course (another of my issues is thinking that I’m to blame for everything) I assumed they were talking about my wall posts. Was my app/external site usage being seen by my followers and I didn’t know it? I searched the settings and double checked that what I was doing on Facebook was not annoying anyone. Not bothering them.

And then there is this blog. The theme or the plugins or the widgets is causing problems with commenting and viewing. I’ve spent entire days troubleshooting and have not found an answer.

This is one issue that is not going to be fixed by writing a post about it. I expect that I’ll have this issue until the day I die. I imagine it is part of a larger issue.

So if I annoy you in real life or on Facebook or on Twitter or on my blog, please accept my apologies. I really don’t do it on purpose.

Howard’s Butt

Howard's Butt
Howard's Butt

Unless you’re one of his colleagues,  past students, on Brainstorms or are an Internet Junkie like me, you might not have heard about Howard Rheingold. I first heard about Howard in 1998 when I saw a link to his website on a Dan Bern fan’s online bookmarks. I followed it and saw he had recently started an online forum called Brainstorms. I applied for admission (I sent an email to him telling him about my studies and asking for admittance) and was allowed entry. I was delighted and announced it in class the next time we met. No one knew about Howard Rheingold nor did anyone know what Brainstorms was. No matter — I was in.

I’ve met Howard three times. The first time was at a dinner in Frederick, Maryland. We had Chinese food and I drove Howard back to his hotel via an unintentional  circuitous route through the Pentagon parking lot and Arlington Cemetery. [Note: these were the days before GPS devices and I was a little awed that a hero of mine was IN MY CAR].

Howard & Rupert
Howard & Rupert

The second time I saw Howard was after he’d done a book reading at Politics and Prose about his new book, Smart Mobs. He signed a copy for me mentioning something about “taking a ride” and then a group of us went to Guapos in DC for dinner.

The third time I saw Howard was when I visited San Francisco and he invited my family and me to  hike with him in the mountains near his home (close to Mt Tan).

I’m still a member of Brainstorms and have many friends from that forum, although I rarely visit. About two weeks ago I noticed a post on my Facebook wall that Howard had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum and had begun a blog about it. Today I saw that his butt has been twittering updates.

Oh Howard…

Brian Andreas and his Storypeople

There is a wonderful store in Rockville called As Kindred Spirits. I’m not sure when I first knew about it — I think it was first a kiosk at a mall. It also was at National Airport. Their About Us page does not mention the kiosk in the mall, but I’m fairly certain that’s where I discovered them. I think one reason I liked the kiosk was because the owner reminded me of my best friend from middle school — Cindy. Another reason was their selection. They had unique jewelry and gifts. Their store in Rockville also has clothes — the classy but comfortable kind with brand names like Flax and Willow. I even bought a pair of hemp sandals from As Kindred Spirits a number of years ago. (and yes, I did wonder if I’d get high if I smoked them).

An example of Brian Andreas' work.
An example of Brian Andreas' work.
As Kindred Spirits also carries a unique line of books and artwork called “Storypeople” by Brian Andreas. Not long after the Rockville store opened — or at least not long after I discovered it — the store invited Andreas to do a book reading one evening. What a delightful man he was and what delicious stories he told. I remember feeling as if I’d made a friend that night. I’ve bought many of his books over the years and have given people gifts of his artwork. His artwork is unique because it incorporates his words with his rather primitive, yet colorful, drawings.

I love his books and could read them over and over again (and do). They are small truisms with an eclectic drawing thrown in. They make me nod my head. They make me giggle. They make me snort. They make me laugh out loud. They make me a little sad sometimes. They even made me cry once.

A while back I found his work online and checked the sites out now and then. More recently the company began blogging. A few weeks ago I discovered that Andreas was on Twitter (@brineypup for you Twitterers) and Facebook.

I was most delighted, however, to see that Andreas began his own blog, Zen Bandit, where he posts stories, thoughts and sketches. He even uploaded an audio post and I’m pretty sure will put some videos of his work up on the blog as well.

He and I have exchanged a few words via twitter and I’ll post comments on his blog for sure. This is what I love about the Internet. A person can personally tell someone thanks for making their life a little better.

Thanks Brian!

Artwork by Brian Andreas [from somewhere off the Internet :-) ]

Motrin Ad — stupid but not damning

Ok, the makers of Motrin made a mistake. They put up an advertisement that they thought was amusing and apparently sympathetic to moms who wear their babies in slings or backpacks or in front carriers, suggesting they might need pain relief after wearing their kids all day.

Ok, the ad was a stupid idea. I’ve watched it a few times and, while I’m not outraged or even very much offended, am not about to run out and buy a bottle of Motrin because of it. It’s mildly, although somewhat uncomfortably, amusing even — in a mean-spirited stand-up comedian kind of way.

Dona and Andrew Yosemite Granted, I’m not a mother of young children anymore — my teenagers are too big to carry around in slings — but I was. I used backpacks and front carriers on a daily basis. Sometimes at the same time. Even while hiking in Yosemite. It was easier than carrying them and it made all of us happier. I could cook dinner or clean house and be with my infant and toddler at the same time.

But, this part of the ad was true — it was painful. The stress on my shoulders and back made the occasional pain medication necessary to get through the day. What did I take for it? I don’t remember. Maybe Motrin. Maybe Advil. Maybe Tylenol.

So, while I understand that the mommy twitterers and bloggers out there are unhappy about the advertisement, and their collective outrage made a point, continuing the outrage is overkill. The company has apologized and promised to remove the advertisement from their website immediately (which they must be doing now because the website is inaccessible at this writing). [edited: The Motrin website is back up with apology notice.] They’ll also remove the ad from magazines and newspapers, but said it would take more time for that since they are already in circulation.

I’m hoping that the baby-wearing moms who twitter and blog and vlog out there will realize that the makers of Motrin did the right thing by apologizing and removing the offending advertisement and not demand blood from the company. Moms can be unrelenting when it comes to their kids — I know from experience on both sides — as a mom and as a former teacher.

I think, what’s going to come out of this, is not so much the satisfaction of social media savvy women with children (although hopefully that will be the case), but a deeper understanding of how important social media has become. It’s going to be a highlighted example of what social media can do.

And as a sidenote, it’s interesting to note that the woman who reported on this on Mashable works at one of my alma maters in my hometown of Elgin, Illinois.