Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’


Social Media Etiquette: How to Handle Negative Feedback


For those first getting involved in social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, the initial pushback can be over what content to post.  And since social media for business is different than social media for personal use only, that means repeated posts about what you’re eating for breakfast probably won’t cut it, while instead sharing a link about something in your line of work will.

So, why did I post about my breakfast yesterday morning and how was it received?

I don’t have a Facebook Official Page, just my personal profile, so it gets a mixture of business and personal.  And while I don’t recommend only writing status updates of “I’m having Life cereal for breakfast” or “I’m hungry. Time to eat” (regardless of whether or not you use your Facebook profile for business), writing about food in general is hardly off limits.  People love talking about food, seeing images of food, and learning about food.  And with so many people in my sphere of influence interested in healthy living, it seems relevant.

So, I took a photo of the box of donuts next to the bunch of bananas and posted it to Facebook with a question.  As far as posting about something as vapid as breakfast, I thought it was as interesting and engaging as possible.  At the very least, harmless.

As sometimes happens, though, it wasn’t liked by everyone.  In fact, today, this post brought out a negative response from one of my friends.  Shortly after I posted it, I saw this in my Recent News feed:

Now look: this isn’t all bad.  Sure, it’s not quite the response you long for, but here’s the bright side:

  1. My posts were showing up in his News Feed.
  2. He didn’t instantly hide me.

And now it offers a chance to be gracious and informative — even if the snarky, defensive, juvenile route appears optional, as well: avoid that if at all possible.  It’s very difficult to sense tone in people’s online posts – especially when it’s not someone with whom you regularly converse.

So, I responded:

The reality is that not everything you post is going to be interesting to all your friends.  Even the most interesting people that I’m friends with post things that don’t do much for me.  It’s just the way this whole social media business works: we post what we find interesting and thus we attract people with similar interests.

And if someone honestly doesn’t like anything I post, then they have two options: hide me, or defriend me.  While, I’d rather neither option, I also don’t want to be bothering people either.  I’m not going to change who I am, so the onus is on the other to decide whether or not to have me in their Feed.  No harm, no foul.

Turns out, my friend didn’t want to hide me altogether:

I took the opportunity to inform my friend about the different options of viewing the Facebook News Feed, suggesting that Top News might be more their speed.  Even then, my random posts could sneak through — although it’s less likely.  (And in doing so, another mutual friend saw the thread and chimed, liking my posts.  That may not have happened had I responded defensively.)

Not that it’s easy to keep your cool sometimes.  It’s easy to take things personally online, especially when it’s about something you’ve written or something you feel strongly about.  (I don’t care much about my own breakfast either, but it’s still something that I posted and, let’s be frank, we want people to like what we post otherwise we’d just write things down in a diary for only ourselves to see.)

Negative feedback doesn’t always have to end negatively.  Even plain old criticism can be spun into either constructive criticism or – in this case – a teaching moment.  Remember that the next time someone drops some dislike on your latest Facebook post.


Our Current Political Discourse: Time for Critical Thinking, Not Selective Listening


If we consider the endless debating on the 24-hour-news TV channels, in the blogosphere, and on talk radio as healthy political discourse, we’re lacking the “healthy” and “discourse” parts of it.

Instead of focusing on facts and figures to influence a “this is the best course of action” decision, all of our time “discussing” is really just making sure that every single person’s view on things – regardless of how informed it may be – gets its validation in the world.

I suppose the idea is that offering different viewpoints allows the reader/viewer/lemming to determine on their own which one is right and which one is wrong.  Or, more likely on the complex issues not as cut-and-dried as something like the Birther insanity, that each side would offer something valuable to the discussion (and by that I mean factual knowledge, not just personal belief) that would help the reader/viewer/lemming to come to their own conclusions.  Instead, though, people tend to just latch onto whichever person already coincides with their own beliefs (not facts or conclusions) and just accepts everything that person says as truth.  Our news has become simply about offering an outlet to validate everyone, not to empower them to come to their own conclusions.

So what ends up happening? People immediately become defensive when debate occurs because it’s not a discussion of independent facts and points of view; it’s become a personal attack on beliefs.  And, of course, people just reiterating the same talking points over and over.  It’s like we’re all just in one camp or another, following the leader.  That’s not informed debate.  That’s not engaging, educational discourse.  That’s not examining complex issues. It’s just finding someone that is a supposed authority to make you feel like, “Yup! I knew it: I’m right!  See, he said so, too, so that means whatever I think it’s the truth!”

The reality is that everyone lives life in a gray area, even if they claim to – or want to – live in an ideal world where there are clearly defined rights and wrongs. Recently in a Facebook thread, I had a discussion with two Republicans who can’t stand Obama and it came down to this: no matter what Obama does, they won’t agree with him. For example: despite the fact that Obama increased the military campaign in Afghanistan — which is something that one supported — she marginalized it by saying that Obama has merely “supported” the effort there.  I countered that factually that was inaccurate — Obama drastically increased the troop levels in Afghanistan — but, it didn’t change her opinion that he was a “pansy.”  Since she already had established that as her belief of Obama, everything had to be spun to fit that image rather than amending her belief; in this case, marginalizing Obama’s surge in Afghanistan as simply “supporting” what had already been started by his predecessor.

The other commenter in the discussion summed it all up rather succinctly:

“He is slithery and two faced, that is the bottom line.we will never agree on what he has done or not, but he is a fake for sure. [sic]”

Notice that phrasing — implying that even the facts are debatable and up for personal interpretation.  We can certainly disagree on the value of his actions, but to not even be able to see eye-to-eye on what actions he’s done… I mean, that’s outside the boundaries of rational thought. Unfortunately, I feel like that’s where much of our discourse exists today.

We’re at a point where people stick to their preconceived notions in the face of facts that may run contrary, seeking out and listening to others to reaffirm and support those notions rather than absorbing the facts and using those to influence our opinions.  Coming to conclusions based on the evidence seems to be an outdated concept having lost favor to everyone needing validation that their own view of the world is the right one and everyone else is wrong.

Except for those chosen political pundits that share those same beliefs of course.

I mean: what’s so good about all sharing the same feelings on politics as Glenn Beck?  So you can have the exact same political opinions as every other Fox News Channel viewer?  Or every other talk radio listener?  Every other self-proclaimed Republican?

We should all be as skeptical of opinion writers/pundits/hosts as we are of the public figures they themselves are criticizing.  We should all also accept that:

  1. our initial opinions might be wrong;

  2. accept that we won’t share the exact same opinions that we’re “supposed to” have given our political affiliations; and

  3. we will not know what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” on every single issue or policy or maneuver or bill that comes down the pike and is discussed exhaustively in the public eye.

There’s not nearly as much security in accepting those three realities — it’s easier to sleep at night knowing that we’re right and they’re wrong.  The biggest impediment to acceptance is that the pride that has been established already in the polarizing discourse has meant that no one can handle the ego blast that one would endure at this point if a die-hard Republican admitted that – gasp! – Obama did something they agreed with for once and didn’t spin it to still retain their comforting disdain for him.

To universally dismiss and disagree with everything that someone does simply because they did it is the exact same fallacy as universally celebrating and agreeing with everything that person does simply because they did it. It’s the flip side of the same misguided coin.  We need to accept the gray area.  We need to accept that Republicans will sometimes favor (insert traditional Democrat stance here) and Democrats will sometimes favor (insert traditional Republican stance here).  This shouldn’t be surprising nor unforgivable.

It should be encouraged that we think for ourselves and have diverse stances on things rather than stick to partisan talking points.  It’s time to validate critical thinking, not selective listening.


Please, Someone Explain Why Torture isn’t Morally Reprehensible if for American Security


For a myriad of reasons – whether its simply a misguided obsession with safety and national security or going so far as involving a dangerous level of xenophobia coupled with bloated American exceptionalism arrogance – Republicans overwhelmingly support torture. Or, at least (and arguably worse), they deny that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were even torture when we did them and that they were morally justified because of how “evil” the enemies are.

Brian Michael Jenkins has been studying terrorism since back when its perpetrators were called “urban guerrillas.”  He’s sought out for guidance by politicians on both sides of the political divide.  And Jenkins down for an incredible interview with LA Times’ Patt Morrison which is well worth your time to read.  Just an excerpt:

I don’t think torture belongs in the American arsenal. I think torture is illegal, is immoral, but I would go further and argue that it doesn’t work. These silly scenarios [in which] the terrorist knows where the bomb is that’s about to go off in 30 minutes — that’s not reality. Further, you have to judge what you get in information versus the strategic loss that you take when it is revealed, as it will be inevitably, that a country is employing torture…

Finally, you take into account that [using torture] changes the nature of our own society, and that is a tremendous cost.

Let’s break that down into ideas that everyone can understand:

  1. Homeland Security isn’t run by Jack Bauer
  2. Legalizing torture taints our collective moral fiber

Just the other day on Facebook I got into a discussion about George W. Bush’s new book Decision Points where someone said that he was “glad to see him so content.”  It evolved from there to the point where the same commenter ended up defending torture, saying: “I don’t fault him for a natural disaster [Hurricane Katrina] or using techniques on 3 top terror suspects to gain insightful information to save lives.”

To that I ask:

What insightful information?

What lives were saved?

The false narrative in people’s minds about how torture actually worked is debunked by the reality of what happens when these tortured terror suspects go to trial:

A federal jury in New York yesterday returned a guilty verdict against accused Terrorist Ahmed Ghailani on one count of conspiracy to blow up a government building, a crime which entails a sentence of 20 years to life, but acquitted him on more than 280 charges of murder and conspiracy relating to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Last month, the federal judge presiding over the case, Lewis Kaplan, banned the testimony of a key witness because the Government under George Bush and Dick Cheney learned of his identity not through legal means but instead by torturing Ghailani.

I cannot understand the defense of torture.  That mentality must come from an out-of-control fear combined with an unfortunate misunderstanding and conflation of torture and justice causing a warped moral view.  What’s the most troubling is that moral view then considers itself to be the moral authority, trumping all other viewpoints.

But what makes us different than the Khmer Rouge?  Even if the people we torture are truly evil, while the Khmer Rouge were torturing some not truly evil people, don’t you realize that the morality of torture isn’t dependent on the quality of the person being tortured? If we’re so much better than the people we’re torturing, we wouldn’t be torturing them in the first place — not because they’re not bad people, but because we’re not bad people.

Unless we are.

But I don’t think we are.  We deal with serial killers, murderers, rapists, child molesters and all sorts of homegrown reprehensible creatures without resorting to torture. And until 9/11 and the absurd outrage against all Muslims as being inherently un-American, we didn’t torture our own terrorists: we didn’t waterboard Timothy McVeigh and we gave him the death penalty and caught his co-conspirators.  See also: Bomber, Una.

So, please, someone who disagrees with me, explain why:

  • Torture is necessary and acceptable in prosecuting terror suspects.
  • In defending our nation against those who want to destroy it with violence, it’s okay to destroy our own nation through the voluntary abolishing of our own civil protections.
  • The notion of smaller government only pertains to programs that help Americans but not when it means unprecedented power to spy on and torture Americans.


(H/T The Daily Dish)

Image courtesy of shalawesome’s Flickr Photostream.


New Social Media Tools: Time Saving or Time Wasting?


When you learn about a new social media tool — whether it’s TweetDeck, Posterous, or — do you immediately jump at the chance to add it to your digital marketing toolbox?

(Image courtesy of dipster1.)

We all love new toys.  But, remember when we were kids and every time you saw a new gadget or gizmo commercial near the holidays (like now) you would proclaim to your parents: “I want that!” — only to play for it for a couple days and then have it join a group of virtually untouched playthings in a box in the basement?

Social Media ADHD

Like children, many of us have social media ADHD — also known as smADHD (pronounced smadhead if you prefer, but I don’t prefer) — where the latest and greatest tool advertised as a revolutionary way to make connecting with people online even easier and more time-efficient makes us salivate and drool and download instantly without even thinking of the ramifications.

Here’s my recommendation.

Instead of asking yourself: How do I use this new tool?

Ask: How much time do I need to invest in this tool to make it worth my while?

Hidden Costs

New tools come with hidden costs: learning curve, new technology, different functionality, upgrades and glitches.  And biggest of all: adding it to your growing number of tools that all make online conversation with your sphere of influence.  Every new element in your digital marketing toolbox takes time to use.

Even more time-sucking than the obvious are the latent time costs. Take Posterous for instance, which syndicates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of other social media outlets making it simpler and quicker than going to each one individually to update your status. It takes time to get used to, learn its ins and outs, set up all of the sites.  But what if you signed up for Posterous before you knew what all those other sites were: now you have to go to each of them and see what they’re all about, which then takes you hours to set up…

Tools tend to lead to new tools which leads to more and more time spent. Now, if you have all the time in the world, then by all means, go for it.  But most of us don’t.  So we need to use our time wisely and efficiently.

Taking My Own Advice

I’m about to take my own advice: I just learned about a new tool called RockMelt, a new type of browser.  Before diving into it, I’m going to do a little research to see if will indeed make me more efficient… or if it’ll just be another tool that takes up too much time to do the same things I’m already doing.


Lame Duck Congress Could Still Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy


With the Democratic majority ending in the House of Representatives – and becoming considerably smaller in the Senate – come January, we’re currently in what we call a “lame duck” session of Congress.

It remains to be seen what legislation they will pass, if any, but it looks like the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forces gay service members to remain in the closet if they want to serve our country has a decent chance of passing.

Andrew Sullivan pins our hopes on Senate majority leader Harry Reid:

If Harry Reid allows a two-week debate on DADT, there may be 60 votes in the Senate for repeal, bypassing McCain’s bitter, and incoherent obstructionism. If I were you, I’d email Reid, not Obama, to lobby for repeal. It may be the last chance we get for years, now that the virulently anti-gay Tea Party has taken over the House.

Sullivan follows up with a recommendation: email Reid.

While I’ve been politically vocal for a couple years now — first on MySpace, then Facebook, and now this blog you’re reading here — I haven’t been all that politically active aside from voting in every major election since turning 18.  I have only once called a representative and now my second time was just now emailing Sen. Reid.  It took me barely a couple minutes.

I encourage you to do the same and join the majority of other Americans and 70% of active-duty and reserve troops to all agree that DADT needs to end. I have no idea how much good it will do, to be honest — but, it sure can’t hurt.  If we can take the time to forward on random jokes in email or post viral videos on Facebook, it seems like we all have the time to email the Senate majority leader to end a discriminatory policy like DADT.


Sarah Palin Deconstructed: Facebook Note on BP and Obama


I found it interesting when I examined Sarah Palin’s last Facebook note that I thought I would take a look at her latest: “Less Talkin’, More Kickin’.”

As before, my goal is to take a look at her arguments and claims and see what stands up to critical thought and is not just impassioned non-truths that merely espouse an ideology.  Given her track record, this may prove to be a futile effort, but since she is poised to be the next GOP candidate for the highest public office in the country, I think it’s worth the time.

And off we go:

50 days in, and we’ve just learned another shocking revelation concerning the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf oil spill. In an interview aired this morning, President Obama admitted that he hasn’t met with or spoken directly to BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. His reasoning: “Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he’s gonna say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words. I’m interested in actions.”

So far, she’s got her facts straight.  After clicking the sourced link, she has properly quoted the President.

First, to the “informed and enlightened” mainstream media: in all the discussions you’ve had with the White House about the spill, did it not occur to you before today to ask how the CEO-to-CEO level discussions were progressing to remedy this tragedy?

Sigh.  More infuriating quotation mark usage.  I’ll save my breath on this one because I’ve already slammed this arguing technique before and it’s still no more potent today than it was then.  As per her question to the MSM: I’m not sure what she’s getting at.  I assume that she is likening Obama’s job to being the CEO of the country.  It seems that the more pertinent questions would be asking what exactly is being done to stop the spill, rather than if Obama had met with Hayword in person.

You never cease to amaze. (Kind of reminds us of the months on end when you never bothered to ask if the President was meeting with General McChrystal to talk about our strategy in Afghanistan.)

So, this blast of contempt is aimed at the mainstream media, yet the link she provides regarding Obama’s meeting with McChrystal directs over to a Fox News article — her current employer.  It seems that her dig here is actually at Obama regarding the way he came to a decision on what to do in Afghanistan last fall.  Rather unfocused and quite off topic from the oil disaster.

Second, to fellow baffled Americans: this revelation is further proof that it bodes well to have some sort of executive experience before occupying the Oval Office (as if the painfully slow response to the oil spill, confusion of duties, finger-pointing, lack of preparedness, and inability to grant local government simple requests weren’t proof enough).

To recap: the original issue at hand was Obama having not sat down face-to-face with BP CEO Tony Hayward regarding the oil spill.  Then it became about the mainstream media’s ineptitude at not looking into this matter until 50 days into the disaster.  And now it’s about how Obama doesn’t have the experience to run the country — her evidence: because he hasn’t actually spoken to BP Tony Hayward.

This seems to be a rather weak argument. Interestingly though, Palin goes into the reasons that one might be able to make a solid argument in favor of Obama’s potential ineptitude in her parenthetical aside.  Perhaps she expounds on these…

The current administration may be unaware that it’s the President’s duty, meeting on a CEO-to-CEO level with Hayward, to verify what BP reports.

False. This duty is no found listed under the president’s duties in the Constitution.

In an interview a few weeks ago with Greta Van Susteren, I noted that based on my experience working with oil execs as an oil regulator and then as a Governor, you must verify what the oil companies claim – because their perception of circumstances and situations dealing with public resources and public trust is not necessarily shared by those who own America’s public resources and trust.

The difference here is that this isn’t a matter of he-said-she-said: there is an actual event occurring before our very eyes and measures being taken to remedy the situation.  So far none have worked; even the current collection mechanism is missing a large amount of the oil.  Not sure what claims weren’t verified through Obama’s and Hayward’s people that could’ve been done so face-to-face or how that would’ve affected the situation.  It seems to be speculation at this point.  What didn’t Obama verify that he should’ve?

I was about run out of town in Alaska for what critics decried at the time as my “playing hardball with Big Oil,” and those same adversaries (both shortsighted Repubs and Dems) continue to this day to try to discredit my administration’s efforts in holding Big Oil accountable to operate ethically and responsibly.

No links to what she’s talking about here, but her record on her Big Oil stance is far from consistent. Regardless, she’s completely off topic now as she defends her own integrity in her own original post that started off attacking the mainstream media, then Obama’s ineptitude on a number of levels, and to non-truths about the president’s duties.  Let’s see if she gets back on track…

Mr. President: with all due respect, you have to get involved, sir. The priorities and timeline of an oil company are not the same as the public’s. You cannot outsource the cleanup and the responsibility and the trust to BP and expect that the legitimate interests of Americans adversely affected by this spill will somehow be met.

This is a sentiment from both sides of the political divide. Let’s see if she offers ways on how she would have him get involved…

White House: have you read this morning’s Washington Post? Not to pile it on BP, but there’s an extensive report chronicling the company’s troubling history:

“BP has had more high-profile accidents than any other company in recent years. And now, with the disaster in the gulf, independent experts say the pervasiveness of the company’s problems, in multiple locales and different types of facilities, is striking.

‘They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow U.S. health safety and environmental policy,’ said Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who led its BP investigations.”

And yet just 10 days prior to the explosion, the Obama administration’s regulators gave the oil rig a pass, and last year the Obama administration granted BP a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exemption for its drilling operation.

Here’s the real inaction. Here’s the story and the argument. The whole not-sitting-down-with-Hayward-to-order-him-to-clean-up-the-mess-in-person was just a way to get into this.  And here she has some solid ammo for an argument.

These decisions and the resulting spill have shaken the public’s confidence in the ability to safely drill. Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill.

True.  Even Rasmussen reports that support is falling.

And we must! Or we will be even more beholden to, and controlled by, dangerous foreign regimes that supply much of our energy.

Her plan then, as I read it, is to increase regulation on oil drilling, but continue to drill so that we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  Seems like this is actually on par with Obama’s stance — at least until this disaster made him halt new oil drilling.

This has been a constant refrain from me. As Governor of Alaska, I did everything in my power to hold oil companies accountable in order to prove to the federal government and to the nation that Alaska could be trusted to further develop energy rich land like ANWR and NPR-A. I hired conscientious Democrats and Republicans (because this sure shouldn’t be a partisan issue) to provide me with the best advice on how we could deal with what was a corrupt system of some lawmakers and administrators who were hesitant to play hardball with some in the oil field business. (Remember the Alaska lawmakers, public decision-makers, and business executives who ended up going to jail as a result of the FBI’s investigations of oily corruption.)

More Palin 2012 presidential campaign material.  Doesn’t really do much to support her argument.

As the aforementioned article notes, BP’s operation in Alaska would hurt our state and waste public resources if allowed to continue. That’s why my administration created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. We had to verify. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices. We knew we could partner with them to develop resources without pussyfooting around with them. As a CEO, it was my job to look out for the interests of Alaskans with the same intensity and action as the oil company CEOs looked out for the interests of their shareholders.

Okay, here’s where it all comes back together.  But, in doing so, she actually negates her own argument.  Palin claims that in order to verify that BP would be held accountable, she had a new government oversight office created.  Yet, she states that the Obama administration also had regulators of its own, which means that Palin did the exact same thing that Obama did to verify that BP was being honest.  She didn’t meet with Hayward face-to-face, either.  Whether or not the regulators did their job isn’t what she originally argued – which would’ve been much stronger – so this support doesn’t help her case; in fact, it destroys it.

I learned firsthand the way these companies operate when I served as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). I ended up resigning in protest because my bosses (the Governor and his chief of staff at the time) wouldn’t support efforts to clean up the corruption involving improper conflicts of interest with energy companies that the state was supposed to be watching. (I wrote about this valuable learning experience in my book, “Going Rogue”.) I felt guilty taking home a big paycheck while being reduced to sitting on my thumbs – essentially rendered ineffective as a supervisor of a regulatory agency in charge of nearly 20% of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.

Back to shameless plugs and Palin 2012 campaign material.  It seems that if one could glean anything from this section, it’d be that in order to stand up for what was right, Palin quit.

My experience (though, granted, I got the message loud and clear during the campaign that my executive experience managing the fastest growing community in the state, and then running the largest state in the union, was nothing compared to the experiences of a community organizer) showed me how government officials and oil execs could scratch each others’ backs to the detriment of the public, and it made me ill. I ran for Governor to fight such practices. So, as a former chief executive, I humbly offer this advice to the President: you must verify. That means you must meet with Hayward. Demand answers.

More Palin 2012.  She’s fueling the anti-establishment angle of her future campaign and one that many Tea Party candidates have been running in primaries across the nation.  She’s merely selling herself here and if the whole argument of this post is regarding Obama’s necessity to verify, she already swung and missed with her own anecdote of doing nothing much different from what Obama has done — or not done, as is her argument.

That said, her demand for answers is worthwhile.  Everyone wants answers for this debacle.

In the interview today, the President said: “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Please, sir, for the sake of the Gulf residents, reach out to experts who have experience holding oil companies accountable. I suggested a few weeks ago that you start with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR and AGIA team led by Marty Rutherford, I can vouch for their integrity and expertise in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments. We’ve all lived and worked through the Exxon-Valdez spill. They can help you. Give them a call. Or, what the heck, give me a call.

This is more about her own ability and experience in these matters than the credibility of Obama’s advisers.  She doesn’t claim that Obama’s experts can’t help, only that her experts for sure can.  And that she, herself, can be of help.  Though, she doesn’t state how she could be of service.

And, finally, Mr. President, please do not punish the American public with any new energy tax in response to this tragedy. Just because BP and federal regulators screwed up that doesn’t mean the rest of us should get punished with higher taxes at the pump and attached to everything petroleum products touch.

No new taxes. Just a pointless dig that doesn’t have to do with her original argument.

All in all, a failed argument.  She does bring up some valid points and concerns that seem to be universal right now — mainly that everyone feels helpless and is acting out because of it.  We want to be able to blame someone.  We want to be able to just demand that the oil spill gets plugged.  We want to believe that it’s simply a matter of not trying hard enough to plug the hole rather than the more likely reality that this disaster has no quick fix, no simple response, regardless of how much we yell, blame, point fingers, demand, cry, scream, and whine.


5 Ways to Deal with Facebook’s Privacy Policy


Many people are up in arms about the new Facebook privacy policy that defaults to making your information public.  This puts the onus on you to go through the dozens of options and select for yourself the level of transparency you want for your different personal info.

I do not understand this public outcry.  Look: social media is about transparency.  It’s about putting it all out there, letting it hang loose, and saying, “Hey, this is me.  Deal with it.”  It stems from a push against traditional media and advertising that forced people to fit into some sort of predetermined box of expectations.  This move toward transparency is liberating, not stifling. And if you don’t want to participate, no one is forcing you to post potentially embarrassing photos from last night’s party on your Facebook Wall when you know full well that you’re friends with your boss and other colleagues from work.

It comes down again – like so many current hot-button topics in American life right now – to personal responsibility.  We’ve become a society that is unhappy with virtually everything yet rarely accepting the fact that we are to blame for, if not the issue itself, then with not doing something about it ourselves to fix it.  Don’t like the idea of the world reading your status updates or knowing your birth date?  You have a few options:

  1. Spend fifteen laborious minutes that you’d otherwise be spending playing FarmVille and go through your privacy controls and make them fit your comfort level;
  2. Don’t put up anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want the world to see;
  3. Bitch and moan;
  4. Design your own non-evil Facebook clone called Diaspora*.

Or just pull the plug altogether and go off the grid, John Connor-T3-style — which I don’t recommend unless you want to be one of those people who complain about “those damned kids and their Internets” and get laughed at by those damned kids for being completely out of touch.

I’d say choose either #1 or #2.  If you’re programmingly inclined, give those guys at Diaspora* a call and get on that bandwagon.  Please, though, stop with #3.  Seriously.  You give far more sensitive information to companies around the world every single day and there’s no outrage.  You give your phone number to the local grocery store to get those in-store discounts.  You punch in your secret code every time you grab money out of your ATM.  You hand over your Social Security Number to apply for a credit card so you can afford to buy things from which stores all of your billing and shipping information and keeps track of all of your recent purchases so that it can suggest to you what you might end up liking to buy on your next visit.  And let’s not even start with Google’s GMail…

The truth is, you want people to comment with an “LOL!!!OMG!!” next to that photo of yourself doing a kegstand on Spring Break.  You want people to flood your Wall with “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!” on your special day and send you little digital gifts.  You want people to chime in on your latest genius observation of the world that you posted as your status update.  That’s the whole point of Facebook and social media in general.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t even have an account; you’d just have a big tackboard at home on your wall where you’d keep all of these gems to yourself for your own amusement.

And it looks like that’s option number five.


Palin Doesn’t Understand Social Media

Facebook, Inc.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin claims that she never had – nor currently has – any opportunity to further explain her comments on the Family Guy-Down’s Syndrome controversy.  She even uses her time on Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show to reiterate her lack of ability to further explain:

“But a special-needs family asking me what I thought about the episode. I commented and then that gets out there in the blogosphere, it gets out there in the different forms of the mediums that we have today. And then it’s left there, not an opportunity for me to follow up and kind of elaborate on what I really meant and what I really thought of the thing.”

Before Mr. Leno went to a commercial break, Ms. Palin said that a fuller opportunity to discuss the incident would have led to a “much healthier dialogue.” After the commercial, she did not expand on her remarks.

If you believe her claims then it means Palin needs to learn a thing or two about the blogosphere and social media.

I don’t believe her.

The beauty (and ugliness) of social media is that it is constant conversation.  Just stop by Palin’s own Facebook page and read the thousands of comments on her notes where vitriolic fans engage in all kinds of continuing discussion on whatever she happens to write and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  People comment not only on the article itself but are responding to previous comments, whose authors get notified and then can choose to respond or not.  Judging by the number of comments, they are responding.

If Palin is unaware of this, she’s even further removed from reality than I thought.

Don’t like an article?  Write a blog.  Post your anger in the article’s comments section.  While you’re at it, most writers have their bylines link directly to their email address, so you can also go straight to the source. This isn’t like the old media where you’d have to write a letter to the editor and hope that they choose to publish your dissent for an article.

Part of what makes social media so much different from old, print media is that it’s not static.  It’s dynamic, living and breathing, changing and changeable.  It’s instantaneous.  This means that there is always a way to jump into the conversation or start your own.  Sarah Palin just chose to not respond to emails from Family Guy producers or the actress from the controversial episode who actually has Down’s Syndrome.

Probably because she doesn’t actually have anything to say that would clear up the matter.  And it’s more fun for her to just claim to not be part of the media machine so she can keep berating it.

(H/T The Daily Dish)

Image via Wikipedia
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Unintentional Racism of the Day


Courtesty of Facebook Ads:Are you Asian?! Perfect! Because YouTube is looking for engineers.  Apply today!


Impatience Is The New Patience


Microblogging.  24-hour news.  Instant messaging.  YouTube.  We are the culture of now is already too late.

Of course, I am not immune to this shift from novels, two-and-a-half-hour films, and land phone lines to 30-second clips, feature-length commercials, and toddlers text messaging.  I’m right in the thick of it.  And I love it.

I’m addicted to Twitter.  I prefer texting over actually talking on the phone.  I have to force myself to do anything for longer than five minutes at a time or without several other things going simultaneously.  My brain needs constant stimuli from all directions at all times.  I’m struggling to not check my phone for messages at this very moment despite the fact that it’s sitting right next to me and hasn’t beeped or lit up in the past hour so I know for a fact that no one has contacted me.  It’s become habit and also a comforting device.  Healthy?  No idea.  All I know is that the little Tweetie icon in my toolbar is glowing blue so I know someone has posted some 140-or-less words of brilliance that I must read as soon as humanly possible.

(I just checked my Tweetie – nothing of monumental importance – and my phone – and now I’ve lost my train of thought.)

So there are some downsides to this shift.  Our need for constant stimuli has made us virtually devoid of patience.  Seriously – I bet an overwhelming majority of you reading this post won’t even make it past the next paragraph because reading this will take far too long for your attention span.  We’ve become so accustomed to having everything at our fingertips the nanosecond that we want them that when we’re forced to actually wait for things to develop in real-time – and by real-time I mean pre-TADD (Technologically-induced Attention Deficit Disorder) – we freak out.  We seriously can’t handle it.

Let me give an example:

Today was the annual meeting of the Michigan and Ohio State football teams.  Michigan is currently rebuilding with second-year coach Rich Rodriguez, who has implemented a vastly different offensive system that requires a different type of athlete than which usually plays in Ann Arbor.  This has led to some serious growing pains.  For some, the growing pains are far too tough to handle.  With ending the season with another loss to Ohio State (this afternoon makes it six in a row, and seven out of the last eight), fans are clamoring for Rodriguez’s ouster, after just two seasons as head coach and the first with a group of kids that he actually recruited.  Many have been wanting him fired since the middle of the season when the team lost to rival Michigan State, a mere five games into his second campaign.  In fact, the word “embattled” became a common adjective for the coach even before the team took a snap this season.

It seems that no one has the time to wait for a program to develop anymore.  Being a Michigan fan, I feel the pain of going 1-7 in the Big Ten.  I feel the pang in my stomach after losing to our bitter rival for the better part of a decade.  My afternoons get ruined when we commit five turnovers and look like a shell of what our team used to be week in and week out in years past.  So I could easily jump on the bandwagon and call for Rodriguez’s head and blast the system every single time there’s a bad play call, a bad decision by an in-over-his-head athlete, or just a lack of talent on either side of the ball.  But what’s the point?

Look at the alternative: RichRod gets fired.  We bring in someone else, maybe someone with Michigan ties or someone who runs more of a traditional pro-style offense.  He can’t run that system with the current personnel so he starts off with a less-than-amazing first season.  Fans either get their hopes way too high after a strong victory over a solid opponent, or they lambaste the program for continuing the losing ways.  They hope for next year when the coach has installed his own players – who will be young and inexperienced at the collegiate level and need to go through their own learning curve, as well, just like our current crop of footballers. What then?  What if it’s another mediocre season? Fire that guy and just keep on going on like that until we just happen to get lucky?  To me, that makes little sense.  We’ve invested in Rodriguez and our system, whether we all agree with it or not, and we owe it to the program to give him the real time it needs to succeed or fail.

We have to adapt to culture shifts, not fight against them with all our might.  Things change, momentum shifts, and life evolves.  No one can wait for anything anymore.  Not traffic lights, lines at the grocery store, web browsers to load, and certainly not Michigan football to get back to its winning ways.

Things aren’t going to change and I, for one, don’t really want them to.  I’ll take the bad with the good.  I’ll try to sit on the deck of this new TADD world while keeping my toes dipped in the pool of the old days.  I’m going to give Rich Rodriguez at least another year before I start questioning his ability to coach Michigan football into a perennial winner.  At least.  No one wins championships with a team of freshmen, so I’m going to wait for these kids to mature, Rodriguez to get his recruiting machine moving, and hope that in the next year or two we get back on the winning track.  I hate losing, especially this much, but I am going to be patient.  Even though, I can barely sit still without checking my email, my text messages, my Facebook status, and my Twitter account all at the same time and that impatience has become the new patience.

(For those of you who made it this far – I commend you.  Had I not been the author of this blog, I doubt I’d have made it to the end, either.  Maybe I should’ve posted this is 140-word installments instead.)