Tag Archives: Facebook

Flower power

Raise your hand if you don’t reach for your smartphone before you’re completely awake.

We all have that one thing we reach for in the groggy hours, whether it’s a trashy novel, a daily devotional, or Facebook, to help us get back to sleep at three a.m. or to help us wake up at six.

The night before last, I awoke in the wee hours to the then-important thought that I needed to toss some dead flowers before the trash truck arrived. Isn’t it always the small stuff we sweat in the darkness?

When it became clear that slumber wasn’t going to come back to claim me anytime soon, I reached for my trusty iPhone while admonishing myself, “Don’t think about flowers,” much like the exercise that calls us to not picture an elephant. The first thing that appeared on the screen: an email from 1-800-Flowers.

Naturally, I thought about flowers until I finally drifted off, shortly before the alarm rang. When it did, intending to hit the Snooze button, I turned it off altogether, and fell into the deepest sleep of my life.

The dreams were un-freaking-believable, transporting me to a netherworld I’d prefer to not see again, thankyouverymuch. When I awoke an alarming amount of time later, I was trapped in a dense fog, unaware of the day of the week or anything else.

I watched as my hand, over which I seemingly had no control, reached for the phone. I saw a private message from my priest. It read: “Your flower is asphodel.”

Obviously I was still dreaming. Or was I dead? Was my funeral being planned around me? Was I asleep or awake? What the hell is an asphodel?

When I asked the good reverend, I hope in a more reverent manner, she reminded me that I had registered interest in a Facebook meme: “Like this image [of a flower] and I’ll give you a flower to post. It’s part of an effort to beautify the web.” Ah yes, I had liked her flower and her effort to beautify the web.

One can’t argue that the web needs beautifying; I’ll gladly do my part. The problem is, I don’t know from flowers. In case you don’t either, here’s an asphodel: soft and starlike, delicate and beauty-ful, with sparks of bright color. Perhaps even my new favorite flower.

Photo credit: Flickr user Robert Wallace

Photo credit: Flickr user Robert Wallace

Or perhaps, a suitable mantra for my nocturnal meditations.

Asphodel.

Asphodel.

Asphodel.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Technology and Social Media

A zip of the lip

A very wise man—my late father-in-law—was known to say, “He who talks often is seldom heard.”

He also used to ask, “Is all that talking really necessary?”

For someone to whom words are a profession, a hobby, a love, even half a moniker, this Word Nymph has been thinking a lot about silence.

Perhaps it’s the time of year, or the signs appearing before me in recent days. The Sounds of Silence playing on the radio. References to the evils of loquaciousness in my daily horoscope. A favorite hymn in church yesterday, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, stirred me to wordlessness. Message from the universe: Shut yer yap.

In my faith tradition, the upcoming season of Advent is much ado about silence. Many kick off the season with a silent retreat, followed by three weeks of quiet reflection, listening, expectation, focus outside oneself. Regardless of our traditions, this isn’t a bad discipline to follow.

Modern humans have spurred a society that abhors dead air and assaults it with voices. While others speak we are already thinking of what we will say next—and, ever impatient, we interrupt them mid-sentence with our treasured views. As a child whose report cards often reported that “Monica talks too much in class,” I plead talkative as charged.

Modern media have ignited an explosion of expression. Talk radio, talking heads, talk-talk-talk. Tap-tap-tap a 2,500-word Christmas letter and a 750-word status update.

Enough already.

It seems a good time to undertake a new social discipline. While word count is a key metric in my work as an editor, it never occurred to me that I could put it to use elsewhere. What if I followed the Twitter theory and kept my utterances to fewer than 140 characters?

As an experiment, I pledge to do my best for the rest of this year to use my words more judiciously. To the best of my ability I will:

  • Listen first, speak second. After all, there’s a reason we were given two ears and only one mouth.
  • Not feel compelled to fill silence with talking. Silence can create an opening to ideas, energy and more thoughtful words–while excessive talking can suck the energy out of the room and everyone in it.
  • Not overestimate others’ interest in what I have to say. That story, that memory, that dream I find so fascinating? Others, not so much.
  • Not consume more than my share of the airwaves, leaving plenty open for others.
  • Begin fewer sentences with I and My.

Join me, won’t you?

One final comment: Some of the most stirring renditions of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence are the ones without lyrics.

Word Count: 439 (still too many)

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Holidays, Music

It’s courtesy, stupid.

Humans communicate far more boldly from behind a wall than they do face to face.

Think about it. Many are quick to brandish a middle finger when cut off in traffic. Even a certain Southern Gentleman I know does it.

What is it about being safely encased in steel and glass that gives people the freedom to flash an obscene gesture or bark an expletive at a complete stranger—even if that person has done something unintentional, such as changing lanes prematurely?

Would we flip a digit at a fellow passenger who butts in line for boarding? Would we invoke the name of one’s dear mother for colliding with our cart at the supermarket? Of course not.

We’re uninhibited with our language on the telephone when we find a customer service rep incompetent or unsympathetic. Would our words be so harsh if we were looking the person in the eye? We know the answer.

If you and I travel in the same social media sphere, then you may recently have witnessed my (very polite) outburst over the way people speak about one another online. While I’ve since made peace with a number of my offenders, this provides occasion to reinforce a simple courtesy: Never say (or mime) anything from behind a wall that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

Tuesday night, when the presidetial election results were announced, my Facebook feed erupted with hateful comments. I’m not talking about comments expressing sadness about the outcome or disappointment in the process. Those are understandable when something you’ve hoped for—even worked for—does not turn out your way.

I’m talking about comments describing those who voted differently. Not aimed at circumstances; aimed at people.

The predominant adjective was stupid, with a few “idiots” sprinkled in. “How can people be so stupid?” “Well, that just proves you can’t fix stupid.” “50 percent of the country just showed us that stupid is as stupid does.” “The idiots who re-elected our current president…”

Hey, that’s me you’re talking about. And, in quoting you here, I’ve done you the courtesy of correcting your grammatical and punctuation errors. Just so you don’t look … well, you know.

In all fairness, some of the bullies and their cheerleaders have simmered down. Some have even apologized. I’m grateful for that and for the opportunity to remember that we all need to put the “face” back in Facebook.

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Filed under Politics, Rants and Raves, Technology and Social Media

Inspiration

In a concert Mary Chapin Carpenter once introduced her song, “The Last Word,” as many songwriters do, by telling the audience what inspired her to write it. She observed that often writers are inspired by the beauty of nature or an overwhelming feeling of love. “I wrote this one,” she said, “because I was pissed off.”

Today, all mankind is on my nerves.

Years ago, a loved one made me laugh when she shouted, very seriously, “What is everybody’s problem?” Today I can relate. Surely it isn’t me. (I know, it’s I.)

The experts say that making a list can be a good first step in addressing the source of one’s anger. So here goes.

  1. When people who borrow my books write in them
  2. When texters walk in front of moving cars
  3. Rush Limbaugh
  4. Rush Limbaugh
  5. Rush Limbaugh
  6. When people expect the Earth to revolve around them
  7. When people over-post on Facebook
  8. When people spew venom on Facebook
  9. Facebook
  10. When The Washington Post doesn’t know who from whom
  11. Me, for over-consuming and under-producing — and getting pissed off.

Thanks. I feel better.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Music, News, Politics, Rants and Raves, Technology and Social Media

SOPA opera digest

I’d like it to be noted that I endured 24 hours without Wikipedia. But I didn’t. I got in.

Meanwhile, Internet stakeholders-turned-doomsayers appear to have scuttled the online piracy debate captained by the film and television industries. And judging by the millions of followers they engaged by blacking out popular websites, it appears the U.S.S. SOPA could sink, at least as of this moment.

In my aim to be an informed citizen, I spent way too much of yesterday trying to educate myself on this smoking hot issue, another in a long series that has Americans fiercely divided. As if we needed another.

I actually read the entire House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, as well as everything, pro and con, that was posted on my favorite websites by my favorite people, and I talked live with several stakeholders. I’ve cracked open the Senate version, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA.

As usual, I came away with mixed feelings.

As someone who has lived and worked in the hotbed of hullaballoo that is our nation’s capital, I continue to witness firsthand how advocacy groups can twist any public policy issue in their favor, and scare people—often with little effort–into supporting their causes. And people are willing to rally on a moment’s notice when they’re told the end is near.

Who remembers the rumor about 10 years ago that the federal government was going to impose a 25-cent fee on every e-mail message sent and received? I received about 50 bucks’ worth of messages from naïve friends urging me to help beat it back. They cited a bogus bill number that anyone with a clue would have known was neither a House nor Senate measure. It was a hoax.

I’m not saying the SOPA/PIPA proposals or the death knell the tech firms are singing are hoaxes. This is a real issue with high stakes on both sides. What I’m bemoaning here is how quickly some people who have never read a piece of legislation in their lives take up arms based on panic induced rhetoric.  You can’t tell me that every website user who is protesting actually understands what’s in both bills. I know I don’t.

Here’s how I see it.

People and companies who create artistic works are entitled to the income they earn for those works. And these aren’t just the big movie, TV and recording stars. They are members of camera crews, editing staff, key grips (whatever they do), hair and make-up artists, extras, even the little old ladies like my Aunt Patsy who play the small parts they work so hard to get. Their income is being taken from them when foreign websites pirate and traffic their work products.

I use Google and Wikipedia an average of 20 times a day. As an unpaid amateur blogger, I consider Wikipedia my official go-to source for unofficial useless information and Google my treasure trove of silly images, legally available and otherwise. Facebook and Twitter? Big fan. I’d like them to be there for me. I don’t believe Google or Wikipedia should solely bear the burden of policing the content that flows through them, nor do I think they should be censored. But I do believe they have a responsibility to refrain from facilitating criminal activity that harms U.S. workers and businesses and to cooperate when law enforcement has to intervene. So sue me.

Here’s what I’d like to see.

First of all, I’d like to see both sides avoid playing the jobs card. There are jobs at stake on both sides. And these days in the United States, everything has a jobs angle.

Next, I’d like to see the bill’s drafters do some redrafting to address any provisions that produce unintended consequences. This is a challenge given the Internet as we know it isn’t even 20 years old, and criminals are typically a step ahead of the law.

Further, I’d like to see all of us, as regular citizens playing happily on the Internet, simmer down, become better educated before we panic, and think for ourselves. Regardless of where we stand, on this or any other issue.

Need a chuckle break from the madness? Enjoy  yesterday’s amusing take on what would happen in a Wikiless world, by The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse.

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics, Technology and Social Media

Hello, nose. Meet grindstone.

No dessert until I finish my dinner.
No TV until I do my homework.
No shopping until I clean out my closet.
No new blog posts until I turn in my writing projects.

Sorry, I just had to put these declarations in writing. In front of a community of witnesses.

Actually, the grown-up version of that first one should be: No dessert if I finish my dinner. As far as those others go, it’s time to ramp up the self-discipline. I’m grateful to have a busy work schedule this Fall; much of it entails lots of writing.

Given looming deadlines and a busy travel schedule, it’s hard for me to justify writing recreationally. So, Word Nymph may have to put down her feather pen a little more often, so she can concentrate on her day job.

This also means that the new fall TV schedule will have to go on without me. I had even blocked out time from 1:00 to 2:00 this afternoon to watch the final episode of All My Children, so that I could write here about how the serial had changed since the last time I watched it (30 years ago), but I just can’t justify it. Books and mags remain neatly stacked for my return. Fall fashions will await me at Lord & Taylor, as the next personal project, making room in the closet, stands in the queue behind other obligations. I might even have to sit out National Punctuation Day this year—it’s tomorrow and, alas, I’ve made no preparations.

However, the work does yield good travel tales, as well as opportunity to observe regional language differences. Maybe I can weave an epic tale when things settle down.

While you may see less of me around here, may I rely on you to stay in touch?

Please post a comment now and then, and tell me what I’m missing:

  • How did All My Children end? Did Erica Kane find happiness? Is there peace in Pine Valley? Is Susan Lucci finally free to overindulge in Boston creme donuts and Popeyes chicken and biscuits?
  • Who’s interviewed in Vanity Fair’s latest Proust Questionnaire?
  • Is the bow blouse still (back) in fashion and will I still be able to get one?
  • Has Mark Zuckerberg caved to public outcry and put Facebook back the way we like it?

All right, I’ve procrastinated long enough.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading, Technology and Social Media

Reddit somewhere

A poll of social media aficionados:

Are you on Reddit?
How about Delicious?
Technorati?
Digg?
Well surely you’re on Fark.

No? Neither am I.

I did StumbleUpon for a while; even wrote a blog post about it. Word Nymph enjoys a steady stream of referrals from StumbleUpon and, recently, quite a few from Reddit.

I confess, I didn’t know much about Reddit until recently and still, I don’t fully grasp its value. (Speaking of value, reportedly, Condé Nast Publications upped Reddit’s worth to the hundreds of millions of dollars after acquiring it from the two 22-year-old University of Virginia graduates who founded it.)

Reddit got my attention when the so-called social news aggregator directed hundreds of referrals to a blog post I wrote three months ago. My post addressed the etiquette around graduation announcements and thank you notes.

As best I can tell, as Reddit’s paying members—called redditors—post searches, they’re directed to sites where they can find information. Unlike search engines Google and Yahoo, individual searches are posted publicly. Maybe I’m telling you something you already know, especially if you answered Yes to more than one question on my little poll.

Anyway, I haven’t joined Reddit, so I haven’t seen it from the inside. However, I can view the main page where the questions are asked and searches entered. Based on most of the comments and questions I’ve seen, many of which contain the apparently-now-socially-acceptable F-word and worse, a search for how to write a proper thank you note seems out of place.

My hands are  full with Twitter and Facebook so, unless a client shows that my grasp of those others would bring value to their pursuits, I’ll pass.

These sites will give you all the information you’ll never need, including  certain characteristics of Justin Bieber’s wee-wee (my synonym).

But, as best I can tell, only Reddit will point you to the best advice on how to write a proper f—ing thank you note.

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Filed under Technology and Social Media