Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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Why I don’t work on Sundays

candleThis is a rant. I don’t do these often. For a long time, though, I’ve had some thoughts I couldn’t quite put into words. It’s more of a feeling that just couldn’t be quite defined. Until now.

But this week I came across a post that just got me thinking. And it made me mad too, and I realized that what I had been thinking about was this: people are expected to do way too much these days, and something’s gotta give.

Here’s the post: “Why productive people work on Sundays.” The title alone annoyed me. It implies that people who don’t work on Sundays are not productive. Wrong. Everyone has their own way of working and everyone has their own workload to manage. It doesn’t mean that you have to work on Sundays to be a productive, worthwhile member of society or a valued employee of a company. I consider myself to be a very productive person and pride myself on how much of a workload I manage on a regular basis. I do what it takes to get the job done, and I know I’m not alone in that. And I’m willing to bet that all those other productive people are not working every Sunday.

The other thing that bothered me about the post is the fact that this writer is suggesting that we take time out of what is conventionally known to all as the “day of rest.” For me and Mr. J, Sunday is our day to enjoy the morning and relax and then go out for a leisurely lunch and cocktail. It’s the one day we indulge ourselves in some R&R time. That’s our time together. I would imagine that for those with children, that day is ever more precious, and needed more too!

Now granted, there are some professions and jobs that just simply have to work on Sundays… nurses, doctors, waiters and waitresses, the retail industry, and the list goes on. But those people have other days off.

The other thing that post made me realize is that there are some factors at play that make up the reality of today. Thanks to the horrible economy, most companies have fewer people expected to do more with less money. So there’s a bigger workload for most people, who are already stretching themselves too thin. And how many hours of our lives are we expected to dedicate to a job rather than our lives? When did it become the norm to live to work rather than work to live?

Now, let’s add to these expectations the fact that if you’re not part of the social media world you’re probably not going to be a top candidate for any jobs in the field of marketing or public relations (or any number of fields for that matter), right? In this industry, if you’re not part of social media, you may as well call it quits and retire. So let’s add on the hours that you can spend (lose?) just keeping up with Facebook status updates, tweets, retweets, hashtags and lists in Twitter, Instagram pics, Pinterest pins, and so on. And don’t forget the time post to your own blog, and catch up on the reading of all your fave blogs and commenting on those posts. Hmmm.

Do you see where I’m going here… suddenly a 40-hour a week job becomes 60 just to get your work done and keep up with everything in the social sphere. I know there are many people who are just totally driven and are not happy unless they’re working all the time. But for the most part, those people are often self-employed. There are others of us who work for companies who are trying to do manage workloads that should be handled by more than one person, and who are also trying to keep up with being a part of the social world. They also try to maintain some sort of family life.

As my dad used to say, “You’re burning the candle at both ends.” I can’t think of a time in history when this is more true.  And this is the reality of today. I don’t think everyone can keep up this pace for too long. Eventually, it’s going to meet in the middle and there will be no wick left, and the candle is not a candle anymore. It’s given all it had to give. There’s nothing left to burn.

So how long do you think you can keep going at the pace you’re going? When is your candle going to meet in the middle? Do you feel it necessary to work on Sundays? Do you think it’s necessary to be productive? So many questions. I’d love to hear from you.


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Forget FOMO. I’ve got FOBF – fear of being forgotten

ambulance at night.This July, I took a two-week vacation from work. It was the first time I can remember that I took a hiatus that long from work. I promised myself and the Mr. that I was going to unplug. So with the exception of a few personal Facebook status updates and deleting unnecessary emails from my inboxes, I was mostly MIA from all things social & tech.

The day I returned, I wrote a post for my blog and I thought I would start doing more frequent posts, since I was feeling so rested and ready to get back to things. Then at 10:00 that night my mom called to tell me she had just called the rescue for my dad. My parents are in their mid-80s, and so that phone call in the middle of the night is something I always dread.

That night was spent in the emergency department, and my dad was finally admitted at 5:15 a.m. I drove my mom home as the sun was rising. I had to start working in just a couple hours, and I was just heading home. As I was driving, I thought to myself that I couldn’t remember the last time I was coming home at sun rise. Leaving for the gym at that time is much more my speed now that I’m a 40-something and not a 20-something.

Of course, with that night in the ED, the vacation and the relaxation that came with it quickly became a distant memory. For the next two weeks I would pick my mom up and drive her to the hospital, where I worked on my laptop from my dad’s hospital room.

During that time, I did everything I had to for work, but I feel like I was barely a presence on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ (which wasn’t often for me on a good week!). As for my blog, well, it hasn’t seen a post since this all started, until this one. While I’m thrilled to report that my dad is now home and on the second part of his recovery, I’m feeling completely forgotten in social media.

There were a few wonderful people (and they know who they are) who often asked how dad was doing and expressed genuine care and concern. I’m especially grateful for those amazing people both in Twitter and in the real world. It’s astounding how quickly you find out who your real friends are when you’re in a crisis. (And there’s a lesson in here for brands too… the same is true of those loyal followers you’ve built through your social media efforts. They will come to your aid in a crisis!)

It’s taken me all these paragraphs to get to my point: I get nervous about not being more visible, not being a regular contributor or a regular blogger. I feel badly about not keeping in touch with people on Twitter or reading their blogs with any set frequency. And I feel like I’ve let people down by not sharing the great info they’re putting out there. I’m not suffering from FOMO, I’m suffering from what I’m coining the “Fear Of Being Forgotten,” or FOBF.

But in the long run, is it just our own minds that tells us we should feel badly about taking this hiatus from the social world? Does anyone really care if we’re not visible or not blogging or commenting for a while? More importantly, does anyone really notice? I’m sure the people who we are in touch with regularly would notice, but in the big scheme of things, does it really matter?

Personally, I’m hoping it doesn’t matter, because this FOBF can really weigh on you! Have you ever felt this way?


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A social community comes together to support one of its own – Liz Strauss

communityWhen a friend, relative or someone in your community is ill, you often hear of or attend fundraisers to help with medical bills. It’s nothing new, and it’s understandable. But today I was amazed at the power of the social media community.

I happened to be browsing through my tweet stream between posts for work when I saw this tweet from Brian Solis:

brian s tweet

I had no idea what this was all about, so of course I had to follow the link. Apparently some well known folks in the social sphere are coming together to donate items for an auction. Some of them are donating consulting time, others are donating collections of books, and other items. It’s all to serve as a fundraiser for Liz Strauss, who is “reclaiming her voice from throat cancer.” In case you don’t know her, Liz is a thought leader, an amazing blogger and founder of SOBCon. You can read more about her here.

Now I clearly don’t run in the same circles as these folks. Many are well known speakers, authors, or bloggers, and they probably all know each other because of what they do. But I’m willing to bet that if it wasn’t for social media, these individuals probably would not have met. And while I’m not a gambler, save for the occasional visit to the slot machines, I’m also betting on the fact that this fundraiser would not be happening without social media.

We can easily become disenchanted by the world of social media. People may not be who they claim to be, there is no scarcity of rudeness or swearing, accounts are hacked, and people are publicly shamed for something they may or may not have done purposely.

And then there’s this. People coming together to support someone that they probably would not know, and may never have met in person were it not for this electronic thread that binds us together. And it’s a testament to the goodness in people, to stand up and come to the aid of someone in their community who needs help. 

Liz will probably get more help than she ever would have were it not for the kindness of strangers who are learning about her situation. Her story is reaching so many more people through the wide net that is being cast through each of these donors’ own communities. It’s amazing when you think about it, and it makes me happy to know that I’m a small part of something so big that can do something so good. 


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Darn you RSS feed!

RSSI love reading. Whether it’s books, web sites, blogs, magazines, I love to read. And working in PR and social media, reading is necessary to keep up with news of the day, what is trending or the hot topics du jour.

Over the last few years, I’ve built quite a list of blogs I like to read. It’s so easy when you come across something you like and you just hit that little RSS button and add it to your reader. My list is a mix of social and tech sites and personal blogs from really great, really smart people who wax eloquently and often about a variety of topics, including social media.

I love the mix of topics, from Bonnie Sashin talking about her beloved grandson Jack or what it’s like to row on the Charles River in the morning on Bonnie’s On It, to Jayme Soulati’s brilliant thoughts on marketing in today’s world on Soulati-tude (even the name is fab!), to the straight talking, no holds barred honesty of Gini Dietrich on the amazing Spin Sucks blog, absolutely one of my long-standing faves. Then of course there’s the brilliant Shelly Kramer who has given me more tips and tricks that use on a daily basis, along with wonderful commentary on so many topics on her V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing blog.  I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t include Margie Clayman and her wide mix of topics (which is what I absolutely adore about this blog, not to mention her lovely writing style) on Margie’s Moments of Tiyoweh. And then there’s the amazing Geoff Livingston who recently started writing longer, more thoughtful, beautifully written posts that are thoroughly enjoyable and an escape from the norm, which I just love.

Of course these are just a handful of my favorite bloggers, and I could go on and on (and on!) with many more from my reader, which is Feedly since Google announced it wouldn’t offer Reader anymore. Sigh. Don’t get me started on that. But I digress. My point is, I could spend my entire day and most nights trying to keep up with my reader, reading the thoughts that come from these brilliant minds that are then crafted so beautifully into a wonderful little package we know as a blog.

The problem is how do you keep up? My days are filled from morning to night just managing my job responsibilities, and rarely getting to that list of “I should do that when I get a chance” tasks (I bet you’re nodding your head right now in complete understanding!). I hadn’t been on my reader in a while and today I had 724 new posts to peruse. Yes, 724. So I can either scroll through and delete most and maybe have some time to read the ones that really jump out at me, or I can mark them all as read and start over tomorrow.

But being my father’s daughter and never wanting to throw anything away, I find it impossible to do the latter, so I will start the slow process of going through my list and saving many for later reading, some of which I’ll get to and some I won’t, and I’ll be obsessed with the fact that I missed a vital piece of hot info, or an opinion by one of my fave bloggers that was just not to be missed. You know the feeling, right?

So for now, I’m going to end this post and head over to my reader. But I’m wondering what your favorite blogs are, and how you manage to keep up with your reading. I’m sure I’m not alone in this dilemma!


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Another day, another tragedy?

Photo from Wikipedia.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Is it just me, or does it seem like lately we’ve been hit with one tragedy after another? Today, we awoke to the total devastation in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, after a nearly 2-mile wide tornado swept through, leaving it in total ruin.

Because I had to be at an early morning panel discussion on the use of social media, my normal routine was way off. I did not see the morning news, or tune into Twitter or Facebook first thing this morning. When I finally did get to social, I find myself asking if people are becoming immune to these tragedies.

From my streams and newsfeeds, it seems that so many people were basically sticking to their own agendas. I even looked through the tweet stream of hospitals across the country and was shocked and slightly appalled to see that many were just carrying on with business as usual.

Is it just me? Am I being overly sensitive? Am I wrong to think that we need to be a little more respectful in the social sphere and acknowledge what is going on? Is it inappropriate to step away from our self-serving agendas for even a day? I know I’ve posted about this before, right after the Boston bombings. But for some reason, it seems like less attention is being given to the countless number of victims of Mother Nature’s latest wrath in Oklahoma than tragedies in the past, and I’m not sure why.

Even my hometown paper, the Providence Journal, apparently didn’t think Oklahoma was Page One news. Seriously? This has been called one of the worst tornadoes of all time. Families lost children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles… not to mention those who were wounded, and all of their possessions gone. Of course possessions can be replaced, but people can’t.

I am saluting the amazing folks at @NormalRegional who in the midst of their own tragedy are tweeting and posting important updates to their Facebook page to help people find their loved ones, to direct moms-to-be as to where they can deliver their child, and other important information, from a hospital that was leveled, by the way.

And yet the rest of us go on tweeting about Lasik surgery (really?) and “want to make your hot body hotter?” (I kid you not.)

Maybe it is just me, but I choose to be respectful of what people are going through and put aside the company’s social media marketing efforts FOR ONE DAY in favor of supporting our fellow man. If that seems silly to you, then maybe I’m in the wrong business. (And I must add in here that I’m so grateful to have a director who is of a like mind and believes that we need to show a little respect during times of tragedy. Phew.)

But in this writer’s opinion, showing sympathy for your fellow man and trying to understand their plight during a difficult time will speak more loudly for your brand than any other tweet or Facebook post you might want to put out there. Do you agree or am I alone in this thinking?


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Let passion and emotion drive your blog writing

passion dictionaryThis was supposed to have been my “year of blogging.” That was my new year’s resolution. I wanted to write a minimum of two posts each week AND participate more in the blogosphere as well by reading more, commenting, etc. Well it’s now almost half way through the year (seriously??) and I have to say I wouldn’t give myself very high marks. While I’ve done more blogging than in the past, and I’ve tried to be a better reader, despite my good intentions I haven’t fulfilled my resolution.

What I’ve learned though, is that my muse for blogging is a strong emotion. Let me explain what I mean. When the Boston Bombings happened, I was inspired to write four different posts within a very short period of time. That’s a definite record for me. Why? Because I was passionate about it. I had so many emotions about the whole thing, and it’s clear that it was passion that was driving me to want to write about it. It was a combination of several factors, I think: a need to come to terms with what happened, a chance to explore my own feelings on the horror of it all, a way to connect with others, and a chance to reflect on how things have changed so greatly over time because of social media.

I truly believe that if you don’t have strong feelings about your subject, it’s probably not going to be a very good piece anyway, right? (Kind of like this one, but sometimes we just have to rant.) Ask me for 500 words about how I feel sitting on a beach on a beautiful summer day? No problem. Want to read about what dogs can do for your life? I can give you thousands in a few minutes! Why? Because I love those things. Because those things instill an emotion in me and have some sort of impact my life. If you’re NOT connected to something, your readers will be able to tell. I don’t think you can fake passion, well, at least in writing!

So that brings me to a question about blogging — should we be blogging because we have set goals and deadlines for ourselves? Should we really be putting up a post because we said we would post daily, bi-weekly, etc. I know that more regular blogging will help your readers stay interested, but if your heart isn’t in it, then isn’t it better to wait until you have a topic that really moves you to write? I would like to suggest that you forget the schedule and expectations that you’ve set for yourself and wait until you are inspired. You will end up writing a better piece and your readers will sense your passion and appreciate your post all the more.

And now I want to hear from other bloggers. How do you blog? Do you push yourself to search for subjects to fill a schedule or do you write when something hits you? Do you set time aside to do your blogging? What’s your method? Please share it! I’m sure it will help me, and many others who struggle with this topic.

Thanks bloggers!