I forget sometimes that some people don’t use Twitter. It’s so embedded into the way I interact with the world, I am usually a little shocked when someone says, “I don’t have a clue about Twitter and don’t want to learn.”
Twitter is not for everyone, and has changed over the years. It’s a meaner, more commercialized, more divisive place than it used to be.
The most frequent thing people say to me is “I don’t get it” or “I don’t understand Twitter.” It is like learning a foreign language. I swore I would never speak in hashtags but here I am. #NeverSayNever
It’s difficult to find a Twitter 101-type resource that is updated enough to reflect current changes. This one from Wired is decent. Just replace “140 characters” with “280 characters” and note that timelines now are not necessarily chronological (unless you change your settings, as I did, because non-chronological Twitter frustrated me intensely).
Sometimes it is best to read, not tweet
If you read nothing else written in this post, take note of this piece of advice: you don’t always have to respond on Twitter. In fact, you can mute terms that make you anxious. You can block people who creep you out. You can construct lists of people that share interest in common with you, or people who simply make you happy. Twitter will be much more pleasant this way.
One thing Twitter does for me is provide insight on some people who I find interesting, but for various reasons have chosen not to follow. It may be professional (it helps to know that a reporter you plan to pitch is a vegetarian before you pitch your awesome article about novel recipes for meat eaters, for example). It may be personal (you just want to know more about Jane Doe but it’s not a close enough relationship to follow her — kind of the 2018 equivalent of the people-watching we used to do IRL (in real life) at the mall).
Follow People with Whom You Disagree
Although this is not how some people choose to use Twitter, I appreciate the way it gives me perspective into what people think that believe differently than I do. It’s a relatively safe way to get a sense of what the other side is saying and thinking, in 280-character bites. Somehow it feels less “attack-y” than Facebook. Just remember #2 above – you don’t have to always engage on Twitter.
Don’t Hesitate to Tweet with Well-known People
Celebrities (many of them, anyway) love Twitter. Katy Perry is #1 on Twitter with a following approaching 1.9 million (more than Barack Obama). At a ranking of 865,089, I’m definitely far down the Twitter pecking order. BUT, thanks to Twitter, I can support celebrities I care about and interact with the ones who choose to respond (or have a staff person do it — I guess you never really know).
A few fave celebrities on Twitter:
Rubem Robierb – I love his art and his consistently positive, thought-provoking take on things. Follow him at @rubemrobierbart.
Cate Elephante – Okay, she’s 6 years old, and her parent(s) have acknowledged managing her account. But it wouldn’t be logical for a 6-year-old to be managing their own Twitter and social media, right? I saw her as Lulu in Waitress in December 2016, and have followed her since then. I foresee big things out of her, onstage or off, whatever she chooses (because …. she’s 6!). Follow her at @cateelefante.
On the flip side, keep your expectations in check. I’ve gotten better about this over the years, but sometimes you feel you’ve developed a rapport with someone you’ve met over social media, but the two of you share different outlooks. I wrote about this here, when I said, “Balancing the sentiment of “we could be friends!” with “we are strangers to one another who have not established a trust or intimacy level” is a delicate thing.”
Participate in Twitter Chats and Parties
I have participated in Twitter chats for years. In a Twitter chat, participants have an allotted amount of time to interact with each other, brought together by a shared interest and common hashtag. (I was a #RunChat featured blogger for years and kept participating in the Sunday evening weekly chats for a long time.) Twitter chats are a great way to grow your network, meet people with whom you share an interest, and have some social media fun. Some Twitter parties feature prizes for selected participants.
Pro-tip: If it’s a goal of yours, you may work up to having the opportunity to be a paid Twitter party panelist. I have done this a few times and enjoyed it (as well as the cash).
Bonus: Get off of Twitter
Seem diametrically opposed to the title of this post? It is. But it needs to be said.
Twitter is one slice of life. It’s one fragment of social media life, and it’s one 280-character-at-a-time way of looking at the world.
I’ve said it once and will say it again — never have I pursued an IRL meeting with someone I met over Twitter and found myself thinking “gosh they aren’t at all what I thought they would be like” when I did meet them. Maybe I’m lucky. But I do believe people show you who they are on Twitter, for the most part. There are about 10 friendships I can attribute directly to Twitter. Maybe some people l would say 10 close friendships out of around 13,000 follower/following arrangements and 132,000 tweets isn’t a great return on investment.
But I found when I sat down with those ten people face-to-face, that the Tweeting that brought me into their orbits was worth it, as was putting down the phone and lifting a glass with them.
My 100,000th Tweet
This post was inspired by the Sway Group March writing prompt “name 5 ways to get the most out of Twitter.” (I cheated and added a 6th!).
Who’s to say what makes one stupid prank go viral while others falter? If I knew what makes things go viral, my blog numbers would be much better. I suppose it boils down, to an extent, to the fact that preteens and teens do unpredictable things for reasons adults often can’t discern. Attention, of course. “Because I can” probably ranks up there.
The Tide Pod challenge is not the first “kid dare” phenomenon of the Social Media age. Innocuous-sounding (but potentially deadly) “kid dares” have probably existed as long as there have been kids.
The Cinnamon Challenge, which entails consuming a spoonful of cinnamon within 60 seconds without drinking anything (while filming/streaming). The Cinnamon Challenge is not without its dangers.
The Kylie Lip Challenge, one I just learned about today. Participants place their lips into a shot glass and create a vacuum, to achieve their intention of making their lips look plumper. Besides the dangers from shattered shot glasses that succumb to the pressure, apparently some challenge participants have become permanently disfigured (more in this Washington Post article or if you can’t get past the Post’s paywall, this PopSugar piece.).
Why the Collective Humor About the Tide Pod Challenge Irritates Me
The Tide Pod challenge has become the joke du jour on social media.
My beloved alma mater joked that they have made it an admissions criteria (or maybe they really did — I can’t tell if this is serious or not):
And, predictably, the Darwin references have abounded. Here’s a favorite (and one of the kinder Tweets):
Although I hate to give her clicks or more exposure for it, Tomi Lahren says participation in the Tide Pod challenge is an outgrowth of liberal parenting:
The left, which dictates popular culture, brainwashes young people into believing they live in a world where 64 gender options are up for selection, everything is free, Beyonce is a god-queen and eating detergent is funny. ~ Tomi Lahren
Maybe so, Tomi, but this parent who identifies as liberal has focused more on teaching acceptance, critical thinking and compassion, all of which were sorely lacking in your recent tweets about what our President reportedly termed “S-hole countries.” I’ll take the compassion, thank you very much.
The Biggest Irritant
Before the Tide Pod challenge became a viral social media phenomenon, laundry pods were proving dangerous. By November 2012, the year they were introduced, 500 children’s injuries had been documented related to chewing on or playing with the pods and they were declared harmful by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
I had been aware of the safety issues with pods since pretty much the beginning, since I am on social media so much and in so many parent-blogger communities. I wasn’t surprised – kids get into things they shouldn’t and end up being hurt.
Here’s what turned me around and changed my gut feeling about Tide Pod Challenge humor:
“Of the eight deaths directly related to laundry pods in the last five years, two were children — but six were seniors with dementia.” (Source: Consumerist)
Coming out of a three-year stint during which my father-in-law, who had short-term memory loss, lived with us, this hit me intensely. Although Dad never tried to eat a Tide pod (that I know of), I would find odd things at unusual places around the house — partially consumed candy bars he had tried to eat in the middle of the night (not that I minded him eating candy bars, of course — but his dental health had deteriorated (and he had a TUMOR blocking his esophagus), which made eating something like a Baby Ruth bar impossible, so I would find melted/degraded/partially digested bars in his bedroom that he had been too embarrassed (or something) to dispose of correctly).
The man tried to “smoke” a Slim Jim once, thinking it was a cigar.
Elderly people with dementia do odd things.
There but for the grace of God go I.
It also kind of bugs me that people are implying that participating in the Tide Pod challenge is all due to parental negligence. Most of us parents are doing our best. Heck, I accidentally allowed my treasured, wanted-more-than-anything seven-week old to roll off a twin bed onto a hardwood floor once when we were visiting relatives and I was nursing (sorry, Tenley). Mistakes happen, parents fail, kids survive (thank goodness).
(I also think some kids who made the poor choice of doing the Tide Pod challenge probably should be admitted, Florida State.)
As Rob Gronkowski notes, it’s best to keep the Tide pods out of the mouth and in the washing machine:
A Challenge to the Rest of Us
Yes, ingesting a chemical-filled, poisonous detergent packet is stupid (very).
Yes, doing so makes Darwin look prescient.
But laughing at it to the degree that is taking place currently diminishes us all, in my opinion, and introduces a poisonous element of a different kind.
This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.
My dear friend Jane Anderson wrote a Thanksgiving reflection this year that made me think. Among other observations, she talked about a year when her family decided “to try eating out for Thanksgiving instead of laboring hours in the kitchen for 15 minutes of consuming the results.”
My sister-in-law’s lovely table.
Taking steps to ensure a child in your life has the security of Prepaid College Tuition is sort of the opposite concept: spending 15 minutes (often less) now to guarantee years of educational benefits and assurance.
There are several 15-minute investments you can make now that can make a difference in your child’s educational future and make their future more secure.
In 15 minutes, you can scan the Florida Prepaid options and start to narrow down which one may be best for you. There are five choices:
Wayne and I are not new to the parenting rodeo, and I’m going to guess that many of you may be in a similar position to us — you have children who are rapidly hurtling toward college. You may not find yourself *quite* as prepared as you’d like to be for their educational needs once they graduate from high school.
The 1-Year Florida University Plan is one I would particularly take the time to note. Designed to provide an extremely affordable prepaid option, it allows purchasers to buy one year of State University credit hours at a time according to their budget and timeline, without feeling the pressure of having to buy all four years at once.
The 1-Year plan, which starts at less than $50 a month, also allows multiple purchasers to buy a plan for the same child.Each purchaser can have their own separate account and a child can have up to four 1-Year Florida University Plans.
Encourage Your Child’s Aspirations
My conversations with my own children, as well as nieces and nephews, at this year’s Thanksgiving gathering were different from previous years. Everyone has grown up. Some childhood dreams have faded while new ones have taken their place.
But no matter the dreams, the pleasure has been hearing their progression over the years.
“My world was very small. People didn’t think about leaving Long Island, let alone going to space.” When Massimino visited Columbia University as a high school senior for an admissions interview, he wrote, “…the minute I arrived, I felt like I understood what college was.” He goes on to say, “I had a revelation: This is where people learn. This is where you become someone. I’d never had that feeling before.”
Fifteen minutes go by quickly, but they’re enough to remind a child in your life that they can indeed be someone, and that higher education is within their reach.
Talk With Family Members About Pitching In
One practical and positive feature of Florida Prepaid Plans is that family members can help. If a relative asks what they can do for a holiday gift, consider talking with them about Prepaid.
I know I would love to give the children in my life the gift of security at a time when so many aspects of our world seem uncertain; this is a gift that promises to be more enduring than a toy or sweater.
As I mentioned above, with 1-Year University plans, four separate people could conceivably each purchase a year contract. There are various configurations and options.
In addition, anyone can make payments or contributions towards a prepaid account.
Enroll in Florida Prepaid
The enrollment process can easily be completed in 15 minutes or less.
Enrollment ends February 28, 2018, but there’s a special incentive for people who enroll by November 30. They will be entered to have their entire contract paid off!
You can also save 50% off your $50 enrollment fee by using the code GREEN1718.
Visit Florida Prepaid on the web or call 1.800.552.GRAD (4723) for more information.
I’d say 15 minutes is a small investment to make to help a child experience the opportunity to “become someone.”
As I compose this blog, our nation is transfixed by the crisis occurring in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalist domestic terrorists were protesting; lives were lost, people were injured, and divisions among people in our nation seem (to me) to have only widened.
Wiser and more prominent voices have addressed these events better than I could (but I still have something to say at the end of this post).
In the meantime, I have had several experiences this week — opportunities to pay some social media love forward and opportunities to benefit from people’s generosity (such as the thread Berrak created in LinkedIn for those of us looking for jobs) — and want to share those with you. I call it the “grab bag.”
A vendor who deserves some attention
My sweet and incredible friend Rachel asked us to follow her brother-in-law, Jordan (a/k/a watwoodshop), on Instagram. He makes beautiful cutting boards like this one. According to his Instagram profile, they are $40 and you order by DMing him on Instagram.
Here’s what to do: Follow Jordan’s WatWoodShop on Instagram by clicking here.
A REALLY cute dog who needs followers
I have helped promote Melissa Lamson’s work for the past few years through my responsibilities with Weaving Influence. We were talking the other day about her irresistibly adorable French bulldog, Rocky (bluefrenchierocky), and how Rocky needs more followers on Instagram (okay, to be specific, she wants Rocky to have more followers on Instagram. It’s almost as though she speaks for him!). Here he is:
Here’s what to do: Follow Rocky on Instagram by clicking here.
A fun local Twitter account that issued a challenge
I am admittedly more of a wine person than a beer person BUT I am a sucker for people who love with they do and enjoy making our community a more fun place. As soon as TLHBeerSociety reached 300 followers and challenged the Twitterverse to help get them to 400, I was in!
Here’s what to do: Follow TLH Beer Society on Twitter by clicking here.
An opportunity to commit an act of kindness and help the You Matter Marathon
The You Matter Marathon, where participants share a “you matter” card each day in November, is entering its second year (here’s a look back at last year). The You Matter Marathon has big plans to distribute a million “you matter” cards in November 2017.
The YMM is one of the causes being featured by the Kind Foundation this month. If it earn the most “votes” (votes are generated by people doing acts of kindness), it will be rewarded with $10,000! (printing and postage add up when the goal is a million cards.)
Here’s what to do: Do an act of kindness and help the You Matter Marathon earn a vote; click here for details.
An opportunity to support a worthy candidate for political office
My incredible friend Nicolette is running for Orange County Commission District 4. It’s a non-partisan seat. She’s running (in my opinion) for all the right reasons, but a campaign for public office is neither low-stress nor low-budget.
Here’s what to do: If you live in Nicolette’s district (Orange County District 4), vote for her (or at least vote). Whether or not you live in the district, use this link to donate if you are so inclined. (AND, if you are local to me in Tallahassee, support the Women Can Run event — I know they would appreciate scholarship donations too.)
I know some MidLifers Who Need Millennials and Vice Versa
I am excited to be participating in the Bridging the Gap campaign this fall; the campaign pairs Midlife women with Millennial women in an effort to “bring the ‘over the hill’ wall down.” Each partner will do a blog post featuring the other. I have a feeling lots of new friendships will be forged!
Here’s what to do: I am in preliminary discussions with two millennial bloggers to be my partner, but I am not positive either will pan out. If you are a millennial blogger (you have to have a blog and a public Instagram account) interested in participating, let me know! (Even if I have a partner already, I am happy to try to introduce you to a midlife blogger in search of a partner.)
My Personal Requests
Although I always say I blog to flex my writing muscle, I’d be lying if I said comments don’t matter! I was so fascinated by the story of Moss H. Kendrix, who I blogged about recently, and would love to get a few more eyes on it (and comments!). Here’s the link.
I am also still searching for additional part-time work (from 1:00 until (?) every day). It might be virtual, it might be somewhere in Tallahasssee. It might be writing/editing, it might be something completely different (I love providing stellar customer service). If you have any leads, send them my way! (And thank you to those who already have.) Here’s a link with more info.
What’s In It For You?
My main hope is that some deserving people (and dogs!) get followed, some worthy causes supported. To up the ante on that, I’ll treat one of you to coffee at Starbucks (via a $5 gift code)! Honor system — you don’t have to tell me who/what you supported, just that you did. You can also earn an entry by leaving a comment with your recommendation for who/what my readers and I should follow/support.
I do believe that there are voices more wise and prominent than mine, as I said in this post’s introduction, BUT here’s what I want to say:
White privilege and racism are real and alive in our country today. I’ve written about white privilege here and how my views about how #BlackLivesMatter evolved here.
As I said on my Facebook wall earlier (slightly modified here), the actions we can take in response to racism are myriad. Some of them DO involve public statements, speeches, blogs, and overtures. Others involve much more tiny, yet influential, choices: speaking up when you’re in a conversation and someone says something that denigrates another race/gender/status, giving $5 or 5 minutes to a cause (such as Being Black at School or Equality Florida) that helps support the very difficult work of overcoming racism (and yes, dismantling the inequities that white privilege has created).
Let’s not leave our fellow human beings holding the bag on this.
With about 10 minutes left Sunday night, I decided to pop in to #RunChat, even though it was Easter Sunday and I didn’t figure the chat was especially active.
“Especially active” or not, one transaction had me apoplectic within seconds. My husband, who develops the same type of apoplexy when one of his fantasy sports players is failing or some other sports-related travesty is occurring, was looking at me as though I were losing my mind.
What was the conversation?
There were a few more tweets in this back and forth but you get the idea (and I blocked the other individual’s name because although I disagree with her, I don’t want this to be an attack ON her — I’m just still hopping mad and need to rant a bit more!).
Do I agree that someone is a “DNF” if they did not complete a race by the cut-off time? If they completed the race distance, I absolutely do NOT agree!
Credit: Pixabay geralt
If you choose to register and participate in a race that explicitly requires you to agree to be “swept” if you do not meet a certain cut-off, then yes I think you are obligated to comply with the race directors’ request.
Otherwise: a finish is a finish is a finish! I understand that race directors may use their discretion in choosing not to list a finisher who arrives after the cut-off in the official results and that they may not award a medal, but the athlete has ostensibly done their best and most importantly, they have completed the distance!
While I could have a lively back and forth with my fellow #RunChat participant about what “finishing” means, it was the “train within the rules” part that had me scratching my head and ranting, especially since she states she is an RRCA Coach.
I would expect a coach to review my goals with me and help me find a goal that is achievable yet a challenge. If I told my coach I wanted to do a 50-mile ultra in four months, I am thinking she would talk me down, because given my current training level there is simply no way to do that distance without risk of injury or other adversities. A coach does so much more than schedule workouts; they help you as the athlete think through and choose your goals, then strive to meet them.
But even the best coaching in the world, combined with the most compliant athletes in the world, will not prevent the unexpected from happening. Ten minutes in the med tent for dehydration, a wrong turn because a volunteer provided incorrect direction, cramps, “bodily waste” issues, the simple fact of grappling with your mental state to push yourself through when it starts feeling impossible. None of those exceptions can be mitigated by “training to the rules.”
When I walked the United NYC Half Marathon in March of last year, my friend Mary Jane and I were within sight of the sweeper bus for much of the race. We watched water stop after water stop being dismantled before we had gotten there. We were “behind” the predicted cutoff. Honestly, I don’t know what the official race rules said about people who arrived after the cut-off. It did matter logistically, because a tunnel in lower Manhattan had to be closed for us and other accommodations had to be made. I was thrilled to get a mylar blanket and a finishers’ medal. I don’t think I have even looked up my official results. I was with my dear friend; I was making a difference via my fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Association, and I was making memories that were so more significant than the miles.
One More Story
My friend Maria set out in 2015 to do our track club’s ultimate challenge. The ultimate challenge involved doing a group of specific races throughout the year, culminating in the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic in December. At the ultra, Maria missed the cutoff by about an hour but I and many others can attest that she traversed the entire 50 miles.
In January 2016, track club member Mike Martinez said this about Maria:
She has blossomed as a runner, faster times and an incredible range in race distances, from one mile to fifty miles.
(and he said a lot more, presented here for you to see the whole picture, as he presented her with our club’s Female Runner of the Year award!)
I was pretty familiar with Maria’s training and I feel quite confident that she “trained within the rules.”
But what happened at the end of her ultra was not a DNF.
I would call it more of a FWC.
Finished With Class!
Attacking the 50 Mile Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic! Photo Credit: Robin Bennett
In this brief clip, Malala and Colbert share laughs over card tricks. I remember watching this interview last September and thinking, “if I didn’t know she had changed the world in a breathtakingly courageous and daring way, I would almost think she’s pretty much any other young adult chatting it up with a comedian.”
The thing is: Malala is not just “any other young adult.” She is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. As explained via her website:
On 9 October 2012, as Malala and her friends were travelling home from school, a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Two of her friends were also injured in the attack.
Malala survived the initial attack, but was in a critical condition. She was moved to Birmingham in the United Kingdom for treatment at a hospital that specialises in military injuries. She was not discharged until January, 2013 by which time she had been joined by her family in the UK.
The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan. In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly swiftly ratified Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
This February 29, 2016, we all have an opportunity to learn more about Malala and celebrate her contributions when He Named Me Malala, Davis Guggenheim’s acclaimed film, has its commercial-free television premiere on the National Geographic channel at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT.
Here’s the trailer for the film:
If you are on Twitter, you can help spread the word with the following tweets!
#HeNamedMeMalala premiers on @natgeochannel 2/29 at 8/7c. See it and stand #withMalala!on.natgeo.com/1VbVWaJ
Mark your calendar to stand #withMalala for girls’ ed. #HeNamedMeMalala premiering on @natgeochannel on.natgeo.com/1VbVWaJ
Having a daughter who is close in age to Malala, I marvel at the opportunities my daughter has had to learn, work, and grow free of oppression. It is unthinkable that any young woman in our world has to risk death in order to get the education all children deserve, and I commend Malala for her courage, her passion, and her articulate and motivational ways.
Her card tricks aren’t bad either!
For more information:
About the commercial-free showing of He Named Me Malala on the National Geographic Channel, click here.
Follow The Malala Fund on Facebook by clicking here.
Follow The Malala Fund on Twitter by clicking here.
Take action to stand #WithMalala by clicking here.
It gets under your skin and into your head … permanently … that’s what!
Even though this item was several RunChatHunts ago, I don’t ever pass the pay phone at Tom Brown Park without thinking of RunChatHunt. The same is true for road kill, but I don’t think I am ever supposed to talk about road kill again or I may get kicked out of future hunts!
This year’s list was fun! The most challenging item (to me) was the leftover Halloween decorations.
The goal is to find the items listed then Tweet them with the #RunChatHunt tag. Each tweet (that complies with the rules of course!) qualifies the participant for a prize. The prize list this year is one of the most prolific I have ever seen! Visit the link and check them out!
Here are my finds:
The hunt lasts through January 1, 2016, so there’s still time if you want to participate!
In addition, there’s a separate yet equally awesome (and someone easier to pull off) hunt underway on Facebook. Click here to join.
While it is totally fun hunting for the various scavenger hunt items, I have to say the thing about running that has sustained my year the most has been my running friends. In our town, with these people, you don’t have to “hunt” too far to find the very best. And the prize is in the time, the sweat, and the shared miles.
As I compose this post, I am 26 tweets away from my 100,000th tweet.
Although Twitter says I have had an account since September 2008, apparently I didn’t tweet until April 2009. And boy howdy was it a profound one. The program “First Tweet” says my first tweet was this:
In the six years and eight months since April 2009, I have amassed almost 100,000 more tweets. Hopefully, on balance, some of them were more profound than “going to bed!” (although I am a BIG FAN of sleep, don’t get me wrong).
To do some rough math …
If each of 100,000 tweets were a full 140 characters, that would be 14 MILLION characters (if my words averaged six characters each that would be 2,333,333 words!).
I just timed myself composing a tweet, and it took 27 seconds. For ease of math, let’s say each one takes 25 seconds, that’s 694 HOURS (an average month has 730 hours).
All those characters and seconds add up!
In preparation for hitting 100,000, I am trying to manipulate things so that I can have control over that 100,000th tweet. It isn’t as easy as it sounds! I’ve stopped sharing from Triberr for a few days. I have deactivated my Revive Old Posts plugin. I’ve realized that tweeting has become a reflex for me and for the first time in years have found myself thinking, “do you really want to spend a tweet on that?” (perhaps it is not a bad thing to think before tweeting, honestly……). Keeping this post family friendly, I’ll just say it feels a little bit like foreplay, because I am having a lot of fun but want the big moment to be really special.
Ten Thoughts As the Big Tweet Approaches
Ultimately, Twitter is just another way to write. Hence, as a lover of writing, I love Twitter.
I have connected with incredible people on Twitter who I would not have met otherwise. They have entertained me, consoled me, informed me, inspired me. They (especially the running community) have shared my passions and given me a sense of community.
Fortunately, this is a much shorter list than the “Great People” list but there are some bad actors on Twitter. YUCK. Specifically, the guy whose bio says he is in the top 2000 of Twitter accounts. The guy who told me to “EFF OFF YOU C*NT” (this is a sanitized paraphrase). Yes, I do find it humorous, profane guy, that you blocked my main account but haven’t figured out I have a second Twitter account that you have not blocked. All I can say is meanspiritedness is never ever ever in style.
There’s no place like Twitter for safely getting something off of your chest. When I say that, I mean things like “holy cow this traffic stinks.” I don’t mean being obnoxious to a business without giving them time to rectify the issue. After all, I wrote this and need to practice what I preach.
When you’re a frequent tweeter, you never know what goodies are going to show up on your doorstep. I think my favorite was the fact that I ended up in the Pretzel of the Month club for a year. All of a sudden, a huge variety box of pretzels showed up on my doorstep one day. The same thing happened the next month. And monthly for the following 10 months! Thanks, Snyders!
As a faceblind individual, every in person interaction carries with it the likelihood that I will fail to recognize someone I should recognize or, if I take the risk of using the name I think is correct, of making a social gaffe. Thanks, Twitter, for telling me exactly who I am dealing with and eliminating that whole social awkwardness potential!
TWITTER BRINGS OUT MY EXTROVERT
My extrovert/introvert tendencies are pretty much 50/50 but I know in my heart of hearts I am an introvert. Not on Twitter, though! I love connecting on Twitter. Maybe because I can disengage at any time and go recharge.
TWITTER IS NOT THE BEST FOR FAMILY RELATIONS
I’ve come a long way since social media was younger. Of course my children were younger when I first got involved with social media. Five years ago, I was hurt and floored when my daughter unfriended me on Facebook. Now I am glad we are Facebook friends but that connection doesn’t carry the same emotional weight for me. I sure as heck don’t follow her on Twitter anymore after the one tweet I saw where she was venting about my crappy parenting. (Guess that “it’s good to vent on Twitter” thing goes two ways, no?)
THE BIG GREEN PEN GETS AROUND
Nothing makes me happier than meeting a twitter acquaintance in real life for the first time and having them say, “oh YOU’RE the big green pen!” A handle that was born of my intense and meticulous editing has ended up allowing me to compose some fun life adventures, 140 characters at a time.
Those ten things in mind, I do know that Twitter is just one piece of the human relationship puzzle. Nothing replaces looking someone in the eye, and I do regret time I have lost interacting with my family because I was fixated on a screen, as well as the role my intrigue with social media had in the degree to which I lost interest in my previous job and failed to do the quality work I owed my employer.
In addition, all that tweeting undoubtedly led to the fact that I now get to tweet for a living as part of my responsibilities with Weaving Influence and Lead Change. I still love to tweet, and it is icing on the cake to get compensated for it.
I do have a specific tweet planned for number 100,000, if all my machinations to make it happen work. I will post it here after it tweets!
UPDATE: I hit the big 100K mark just after midnight on Christmas Day 2015! With heartfelt gratitude to Lou Kellenberger for permission to use his image, here’s the tweet!
In last week’s post, I shared my thoughts on the decision made by the principal of my son’s high school to revert the schoolwide summer reading assignment from “required” to “optional.” I disagree with this decision.
As the past week has unfolded, and the ripple effects of the decision have expanded internationally, I have seen many reactions, often from people who will never set foot in Leon County, about what this decision means.
Status of the Decision
The decision to reverse the summer reading assignment from “required” to “optional” is apparently going to stand.
Being a “Person to Be Heard”
When I learned there was a meeting of the Leon County School Board scheduled for August 11, I decided to attend. At first, I thought I would just attend and see if the issue came up. As the date approached (and as the public opinions piled up pro and con), I decided I really had to speak about this, if allowed.
I learned that there are two ways to speak before the board. 1) You can arrive at the meeting site prior to the 6:00 meeting time and fill out a PTBH (Persons to be Heard) card and submit it to a staff member or 2) You can call the school board office in advance and provide your information over the phone. I did not learn about the two options until the Monday before the board meeting (because I did not ask earlier…), so I had to go with option #1. I was told I would be allowed to speak for 3 minutes about the matter I stated on my PTBH card.
Although this is not word-for-word what I said, this is the best recreation I can do and does follow the outline I used Tuesday night:
As a parent who has had at least one child in this school system since 2001, I am glad I attended a meeting (and sorry this was my first). I came away from the discussion with a more comprehensive view of the issue from their angle. Specifically, it was informative to hear the comparisons between this situation and issues of appropriateness of human sexuality curriculum (i.e., (and I am paraphrasing here) “as a teacher I may think [name of student] will benefit from the human sexuality curriculum, but if their parent requests to opt them out, I have to comply with that request.”).
I am grateful to the school board for giving me an opportunity to speak.
While I understand issues like this take on a life (and definition) all their own once they blow up, it has been important to me that the discussion be as accurate as possible, in order to focus on solutions.
This book has not been banned from our school system.
The parent who is quoted in most of the newspaper articles appears to have requested an alternate assignment (rather than requesting the principal revert the assignment to “optional” for the entire school).
Although there was back and forth about this assignment’s classification as “instructional materials,” at least one school board member has acknowledged that policy was not followed in response to a parent’s concern about the content of the book.
What Really Matters
First and foremost, what matters to me is: a book with clear literary merit, which ostensibly was chosen by English faculty based on that merit, should not have been the subject of one administrator’s ad-hoc action in the face of the concerns of a vocal minority of approximately 20 parents at a school of around 1800.
Secondly, although I disagree with the choice of the parent who publicly stated:
“I am not interested in having books banned … But to have that language and to take the name of Christ in vain – I don’t go for that. As a Christian, and as a female, I was offended. Kids don’t have to be reading that type of thing and that’s why I was asking for an alternative assignment. I know it’s not realistic to pretend bad words don’t exist, but it is my responsibility as a parent to make sure that my daughter knows what is right or wrong…”
…I fully support her choice to request an alternate assignment. The comments to the articles and blog posts I have read about this incident which attack her personally are the saddest to me. And I know this is how the blog world works. I know I, too, have set myself up for being the subject of personal attacks by being so public about this issue. I know if I choose to walk into the territory of public discourse that I must grow a thick skin and cultivate the good sense not to engage with those who just want to pick a fight for the sake of picking a fight.
As I said when I wrote about Drought Shaming, “distrust among neighbors does not build a caring community.” In this case, I would amend that slightly to “animosity among parents does not nurture a caring school.” For all I know, the very parent in question and I may be responsible for jointly helping our students cope with a tragedy, sell concessions to support a school activity together, or (heh …) reshelve books at the media center together. It does neither of us any good to attack each other and it surely does not present a good role model to our children of civil discourse.
(I am also in full support of the school’s faculty and principal, even though there are times such as this when we will disagree.)
Thirdly, although I feel certain the school district does not propose to “ban” or “remove” this book from our library shelves or digital content, I am uneasy at the whiff of the idea that it could ever happen. I really hope my fellow Leon County parents and literature lovers are with me on this one.
Fourthly, here is why it matters to spend three minutes publicly defending one book. It is important to spend three minutes publicly defending one book because, although I believe what I said above in my third point, the erosion of intellectual freedom does not usually start by a flood, it starts by a trickle.
Erosion can begin by saying “you have to register” if you are Jewish.
Erosion can begin by saying “you have to count the soap bubbles” to vote.
Erosion can begin by saying “because you are a female, you have less right to education than a male does.”
It matters to to put one sandbag in place to make it less likely that freedom to think will wash away.
The Summer Reading assignments for the 2016-17 school year can be found here.
A few months ago, I had to do a Toastmasters project called “Speaking Under Fire.” The objective of the speech was “dispel hostility and convince them that your side has some merit.” Our instructions included, “Select a generally unpopular point of view – perhaps one that you also oppose – in order to assure opposition.” The title of my speech was “My Unvaccinated Child is Just Fine Thank You.” Since I am a Shot at Life champion, this choice was definitely a stark contrast to my true beliefs. I pretended I was a pregnant anti-vaxxer speaking to a room full of pediatricians. It was difficult but the process of being in that woman’s shoes informed my approach. It didn’t change my beliefs, but it forced me to try to understand, on a very personal level, what her fears were and how they influenced her beliefs. The most eye-opening component was the understanding that this woman felt the way she did (and bought into misinformation the way she did) out of love for her child. We all want the best for our children.
Honestly, if I tried to do the same with this incident, I would struggle. I do feel strongly that decision which was made was the wrong one, that this book has particular literary value, and that proper procedures should have been followed at the school level.
Were my three PTBH minutes enough to make a difference? I do not immediately know, but my stubborn ounces begged to be heard …
(To One Who Doubts the Worth of Doing Anything If You Can’t Do Everything)
You say the Little efforts that I make
will do no good: they never will prevail
to tip the hovering scale
where Justice hangs in balance.
I don’t think I ever thought they would.
But I am prejudiced beyond debate
in favor of my right to choose which side
shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.
– bonaro w. overstreet
(But Wait, You Explained “PTBH” But What is the Reference to the Epicentre?)
For all my frustration at people who don’t live here, who have commented on this issue publicly, lumping all Tallahasseeans together, even the one who lumped us all in as “Silly Americans,” I appreciate author Mark Haddon’s tweet (he did the same for another local parent’s blog).
Hundreds of commenters in an international audience have opinions. All I know from my little spot at the epicentre is precisely where my “stubborn ounces” are going to go: toward making sure the one student I have responsibility for has unfettered access to books which matter.
I observed this in the recent school newsletter (January 2016):
Because the resolution of the picture is slightly poor, here’s the text: “At our recent School Advisory Council Meeting, the committee proposed and approved new school procedures for major readings and attached assignments, with an emphasis on summer reading. These procedures outline the responsibility of the faculty to submit potential texts, accompanying assignments, and an alternative assignment to a Reading Committee. The committee will include a group of stakeholders, including administrators, teachers, parents, and students.The committee’s final recommendation will be submitted to the principal for review each year.It is our goal that these new procedures will honor the intent of reading assignments by our faculty while meeting the expectations of all stakeholders.”