Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Unhappy with ‘the media’? Then support real, good journalism

attack-the-media

Image courtesy of a news publication to which I subscribe.

Are you fed up with “the media” and all its liberal/conservative/insert-negative-adjective-based-on-your-personal-worldview bias? Are you utterly disturbed that Donald Trump may well be our next president because of people like this profiting off “fake news” sites? Or are you relieved Hillary wasn’t elected despite a constant barrage of “media bias in her favor”?

Then do something about it. Instead of simply complaining about “the media,” support real, good journalism, which is a cornerstone of any successful democracy.  Here are just a few suggestions on how to do that:

-Support a local newspaper or media organization, not just national orgs like NYT or WaPo, through a subscription. (After all, all national stories start out as local stories somewhere.)

-Be a responsible consumer/sharer. Always, ALWAYS check the sources of the story (both the website itself, and the people/organizations to which information in the story is attributed) before plastering it all over social media. If it’s not real, good journalism, don’t share it.

-Be aware of your own confirmation bias and question it whenever possible. Just because you don’t like a fact doesn’t mean it’s not true, and just because you agree with someone’s opinion doesn’t mean it’s a fact. I personally avoid sites like HuffPo because I know they have a liberal bent, and I would be tempted to just agree with what they publish without questioning it. It can be hard, but try not to only consume content that reaffirms your existing beliefs.

-Make consuming investigative journalism a priority. It takes longer than skimming a newsletter or Twitter or watching a two-minute segment on CNN, but you’ll have a much more nuanced understanding of the issue.

-In that same vein, I personally also avoid 24-hour cable news all together. The need to fill airtime, along with the use of soundbites and the constant punditry, is a disservice to journalism and the people it’s supposed to serve.

That’s just a handful of suggestions I came up with off the top of my head after a friend asked me on Facebook. I’m sure other journalists have more, and I certainly welcome those suggestions.

Because here’s the thing. Journalists, like you, are people doing their jobs. Also like you, they expect, and deserve, to be paid for doing that job. But when people consuming the service they provide expect to get that service for free instead of paying for a subscription, or use online ad blockers, or claim to be interested in investigative stories and “good” news, but actually only click on fluff and “bad” news instead, it stifles the sources of revenue needed to pay  journalists to do their jobs — and to do their jobs well. When revenues decline, the higher-ups employing these journalists order layoffs to keep the company somewhat profitable. The survivors are then expected to do more good journalism with fewer resources. This, of course, is a logical fallacy, so the quality of work produced by the organization declines, and even fewer consumers are likely to pay for what they perceive to be a sub-par service.

I’m sure you can see how this story ends.

You have the power to change that ending though. Support real, good journalism. Clearly, our democracy needs it more than ever.

New life philosophy: Don’t be a dick

Well, I like to think that’s always been my life philosophy, but I know I’ve committed my fair share of dick moves in my life, intentionally or not.

But motherhood has made me soft, and the current shittiness of the world makes me feel powerless.

But there is one thing I can do, every day, that makes a difference, even if it’s small. And that’s to be kind. Or — if you have a propensity for crude language, like myself — to not be a dick.

No matter a person’s perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, intelligence, socioeconomic status, education level, physical ability, mental state, age, upbringing, attractiveness, weight, occupation, hometown, lifestyle, current mood, hygiene, relationship status, parenting style, annoying tendencies, apparent inability to use a turn signal, or recent history of screwing up your lunch order — we are not actually capable of knowing what it’s like to live their life, despite whatever preconceived notions we might have.

But we are all capable of not being a total dick to them. Even if they were just a total dick to us.

Is this oversimplying things? Of course. I might just be a privileged white girl in Montana, but I’m not naive enough to think that if we all just sing kumbaya and be nice to each other, it will magically erase the deeply ingrained prejudices in our country and the excruciatingly real pain so many people suffer because of them.

But is it going make things worse? In a world much too full of hate and indifference, is going out of your way to show kindness to a fellow human being going to make it worse?

Show compassion. Have empathy. Choose love. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. However it resonates with you, make a concious effort to do it, especially to those in our society who need it the most. Don’t be just another person spewing negative energy into the world.

Is it always that simple? No.

But sometimes, it is.

So when it is, make the choice to be kind. Or at least, don’t be a dick.

The day I lost my Fitbit and my legs stopped working

Fitbit meme

 

When I got to work the other day, I looked down at my wrist. To my dismay, my Fitbit was no longer on it. I frantically searched every inch of my office, hoping it had merely fallen off upon my arrival.

When that proved unsuccessful, I started backtracking my steps, all 1,200 of them that it takes me to walk the five blocks from my car to my office. I scoured the sidewalks, hoping to spot my slate blue wristband against the white of fresh snow. No dice.

So I tore apart my car while refreshing the Fitbit app on my phone, longing to see the magic word — “synching…” — pop up. Negative.

I walked back to work, head down, my eyes flitting across my path, just in case I’d missed it on the way out. Nothing.

If you are a fellow Fitbitter, you know how perfectly rational this reaction is. Because if you’re not obsessively quantifying every single step you take every single day, what’s the point of even walking at all?

I got back to my office and posted a pithy Facebook status about it.

Fitbit status

 

Then my husband commented.

Fitbit comment.png

 

As you can tell, my husband does NOT have a Fitbit. Because if he did, his takeaway from all this would not be “Good news – it’s slobber-proof.”

I replied with a comment that properly conveyed the gravity of the situation.

Fitbig reply

 

Then I hardly got up the rest of the day.

 

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

Even during the holidays, there sure is a lot of nastiness on the Internet. So when I saw a post by Emily of The  Waiting titled “50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of  Gratitude,” I knew I wanted to join in this collective effort, if only to drown out a tiny bit of the cacophony online.

The challenge is simple, per its creator, Dawn of Tales from the Motherland: Set a timer for 10 minutes, and write down 50 things you were grateful for or that made you happy in 2015.

So, uh, you may notice my list is approximately 41 items short of the stated goal. This is because there is nothing so small that I won’t over-think it. So the 10 minutes went fast. But, I hit all the important things.

My 2015 Gratitude-Givers/Happy-Makers

1. This little starfish, who I can’t believe is almost a year old already. There’s nothing better than starting my morning with snuggles from her.

Starfish

She’s my favorite.

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2. My partner in parenting: my husband. Lily is a lucky girl, and so am I.
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3. My family. They live two hours away, but I know they would drop everything at a moment’s notice if we needed their help. I know this because they have.
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4. My husband’s family. Though we’re in Montana and they’re in Illinois, they’d do the same, too.
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5. My crew/squad/besties/whatever the hip term for friends is these days. We’re scattered all over the place now, but with the help of technology, we never feel that far apart.
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6. Social media. Despite its obvious downfalls. Because SPOILER ALERT: I’m actually kind of awkward in real life. But online, my awkwardness comes off as mildly charming.
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7. Pancake. And the fact that our fwuffy bunny finally lets us pet her. Only took five years to gain her trust.

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Fwuffy-wuffy wufferton

Miss Pancake T. Bunsen

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8. Blogging. As a kid, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I even remember checking out a book at my elementary school library that was about “how to be a writer,” because, — shocker — I was a nerd. It might not be my day job (though I still get to write and edit for that), but blogging allows me to do what I love and share it with the world. Thank you for reading!
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Now comes the part where I silently freak out that I might have left off someone or something really, really important. If that’s the case, I’M SO SORRY HOW CAN I MAKE IT UP TO YOU PLEASE DON’T HATE ME I LOVE YOU I’LL GIVE YOU A COOKIE.
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Want to join in the gratitude magic?  Here’s how it works: Set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 things you feel grateful for. (Or, see if you can beat my all-time low of eight.) The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s OK. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! To join other bloggers from the project, head to Tales from the Motherland for complete instructions on sharing your post. 

Unemployment, Day 11

Or Day 9. Or 6. I don’t really even know what day of the week it is. Monday? Thursday? Some weird in-between day only jobless people know about, called Schlermday? Sure. Maybe every day will just be Schlermday for now.

(I just Googled “schlerm” to make sure it doesn’t mean something completely inappropriate. According to Urban Dictionary, it means “a permed mullet.” So clearly I’m sticking with it.)

We moved back to Missoula about a week ago so Zach could start his new job. I, on the other hand, am gainfully unemployed at the moment. I’ve had some good leads and done a few interviews, but I’m still waiting for news on those.

This is the first time since I graduated college seven-plus years ago that I just haven’t had a job, so I’m feeling a bit anxious with all this free time, which somehow pays worse than journalism.

But, I’m also finding a lot of time to work in my daily cheese consumption. And I get to wear comfy (and sexy!) high-waisted maternity leggings all day. And I am super on top of all my Facebook notifications. So it’s not all bad. I’m sure something will work out soon …

Unemployment

Your reckless abuse of the Oxford comma is furthering the demise of the English language

Oxford comma-nistas around the world are having a heyday over a recent push alert sent by Sky News, which they believe is the end-all, be-all argument in favor of their precious punctuation mark.

Comma

Now, let’s be clear: The Oxford comma is necessary in this “sentence” as it’s written. Obviously, there are some pretty serious implications without it. However, this whole “sentence,” if you can even call it that, could be rewritten for clarity, and we would not have been subjected to all this nonsense in the first place. The Oxford comma-nistas would never suggest that though!

See, the purpose of a comma when used in a list is to replace the word “and.” When you use an Oxford comma in a list of three or more items, it’s redundant. You’re essentially writing “and and.” And that’s just silly.

Let me spell it out for you using another famed Oxford comma-nista example: Instead of saying “We invited the strippers and JFK and Stalin,” you substitute “and” with commas. “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.”

See how I used the Oxford comma there? Because it’s necessary for clarity. Without it, one could infer the writer is saying JFK and Stalin are strippers. Better yet, you could just rewrite the sentence to read “We invited JFK, the strippers and Stalin.” Because what kind of red-blooded American puts strippers before JFK, anyway?

(JFK. JFK may have put strippers before himself.)

I’m certainly not for an outright ban of the Oxford comma. I just ask that people tasked with the glorious responsibility of writing sentences pause to think about whether it’s necessary instead of blindly inserting it. Because if you can’t make that distinction, do you really have any business writing sentences in the first place? Especially those involving world leaders and strippers.

I mean, have you been on the Internet lately? Couldn’t we all benefit from everyone taking a moment to consider whether their sentences could be written more clearly?

And Oxford comma-nistas, let me ask you: With the current state of the English language, do you really want more people paying less attention to appropriate punctuation use? Do you want society to inflict upon your precious comma the same fate that has befallen the poor semi-colon? Just scattering it throughout sentences from time to time, showing no courtesy for its intended use? Do you really have so little respect for a punctuation mark you claim to love? HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY?!

If you continue your misguided crusade, before you know it all the written word will consist of is emoticons and Oxford commas:

SmileConfused, Loser, and Dizzy. LOL!

So, knowing what the future holds, do you still want to continue on your quest? Let’s take a quick poll:

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If your answer is still yes, fine. But just know you’ll be on the wrong side of history.

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