Moxie’s Resolutions for Everyone Else: The 2018 Edition

It just seems like yesterday that I was writing the 2017 resolutions for everyone else. Where does the time go? Let’s get right to it for 2018.

1. Use blind cc (bcc: field) on group emails (everyone).

I feel like I shouldn’t have to bring this up, considering it’s been over 40 years since email was invented and around 20 years since we all had Outlook inboxes at work. But I’m still seeing people send group emails with every last email address in the To: field, which means people in that original mailing can Reply All, thereby making life a living hell until someone has the cojones to say “perhaps you should take this conversation offline.” Not sure where to find the bcc: field in your email provider? Look it up!

2. Place UPCs on top of cat litter boxes for easier shopping (cat litter manufacturers).

3. Create short-term incentive program for residents & businesses to recycle (City of Baltimore).

You’d think for a city that is notorious for its trash and littering problems they would be all about recycling and pushing hard to encourage people to use its recycling program. But I see TONS of garbage on the streets that’s recyclable. My building doesn’t even have a recycle bin – I have to collect my own and take it over to the recycling center about once every 6 weeks. I’ve talked to my community liaison from the Dept of Public Works about the possibility of an incentive program to get people recycling more – perhaps a tax credit or rebate. Money is a powerful motivator for some folks and it may be they’d be more willing to recycle if they knew there would be a pay-off later.

4. Stop trolling for women on Instagram (men).

5. Stop posting/sharing content with high ick factor (social media users).

You’ve seen these kind of posts: someone has shared content from another source prefaced by “EWWW” or “NOPE” and the shared content features something extremely disgusting or nightmare-inducing. For the love of Steve, why are you sharing what grossed you out? Do you want everyone else to suffer? Keep your sadomasochism off Facebook.

6. Create mobile device free zones/events AND/OR mobile device-friendly zones/events (theatres, concert halls, other performance venues).

I’ve seen many stories about performers stopping a show because someone decided their need to take a photo of the show or film the entire thing on their iPhone 20 trumped everyone else’s enjoyment of the show or film. I’ve also been the person asking adults to turn off their phones during a movie. (Three freakin’ times during Wonder Woman! I’m still annoyed when I think about it.) Since we all seem to be struggling to define proper cell phone etiquette, how about these venues take it upon themselves to designate special performances where mobile devices are not allowed? Conversely, how about events where mobile device use is encouraged?

7. Stop saying “I don’t see color/race/gender/disability” (everyone).

I know that many folks say this as a way to express their alliance and acceptance of diversity, but it comes off as disingenuous. Why? Because it’s okay to see these things; it’s quite another to take what you see and turn it into a reason to treat someone differently, whether it’s better or worse than you would want to be treated.

8. Design small apartments/condos with bathroom access from hallway or common area, not bedroom (developers).

I’ve been looking at apartments lately (hoping to move this summer, though we’ll see if it actually happens) and it seems many one-bedroom, one-bathroom units, regardless of the age of the property, are designed so that you have to walk through the bedroom to reach the bathroom. If I was a complete recluse who never had people over, I wouldn’t mind this. But on those occasions when people are visiting I would prefer NOT to have them traipsing through my bedroom to get to the bathroom. Even a Jack-and-Jill style bathroom like the Brady kids had – THREE doors! – would be better.

jack-and-jill bathroom, jack and jill bathroom, brady bunch
Sure, that Jack-and-Jill bathroom was too small for 6 kids, and Mike Brady could have designed something better, but it made for good television.

9. Add routes from Baltimore and Washington DC to Ocean City, MD (MegaBus).

I’m surprised MegaBus hasn’t added this route already, as Ocean City is a huge destination for folks in the DC and Baltimore area in the summer months. I’d like it for those times I want to go see Deena but don’t want to deal with driving out there. Of course, it would likely turn into a party bus, but that can happen anywhere.

10. Include expiration dates on lotions containing essential oils (cottage-industry/small-batch natural beauty product manufacturers).

Friends, Acquaintances and Everyone We Know

Recently T-Wizzle and I were talking about the word “friend” and how it’s changed so much in the age of social media. On Facebook, once you connect with someone on their personal profile, they become your friend. In reality they may be a former coworker, your stepdad, your third cousin twice removed. You can put all your Facebook friends into lists based on your true relationship to them. You can signify who is a family member, who is a colleague, who you sat with in the cafeteria at your high school. You can even separate out Acquaintances. Regardless of how you choose to categorize them, everyone you are connected to on Facebook is still your friend.

This bothers me a bit.

I understand why Facebook uses this term – it’s simply a convenient label or shorthand to signify that two people are connected. Twitter has followers, Google+ has circles. But I feel the use of “friend” on Facebook is symptomatic of a larger issue, a shift in how society views interpersonal relationships.

I remember when “best friend” was the phrase du jour, the one that would indicate a level of intimacy reserved for the people we spent the most time with. Hearing that the person you thought of as your best friend considered you one of several best friends, or didn’t think of you as being part of their inner circle, was grounds for tear-stained journal entries and sleepless nights. Now it’s as if we want to call everyone our friend so that no one gets their feelings hurt, when really they are just an acquaintance.

You remember those, right? Merriam-Webster defines an acquaintance as: “someone who is known but who is not a close friend.” I’ve got plenty of those, and I’m fine with that status. If there comes a time when I want to transition into a more intimate friendship, I can do that, provided the other person is interested and willing to do what it takes to become better friends. But if that doesn’t happen, being an acquaintance is fine.

There’s a third approach, though, and it’s one I find particularly interesting. In 2011 Marcia Ann Gillespie, editor of Essence Magazine, asked Maya Angelou in an interview about the difference between acquaintances and friends. Ms. Angelou did not disappoint in her response.

MARCIA ANN GILLESPIE: There are friends and then there are acquaintances. How do you know when someone is really a friend?

MAYA ANGELOU: There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don’t become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able. A woman can say to herself, If I die, I know that my friend, my sister friend will be here to hold up the banner. Now that’s very profound.

The concept of a “deep and serious acquaintance” appeals to me. It’s way too long for any social network to use, but it definitely captures the essence of a connection that is meaningful and relevant, but not overly intimate. Over on Quora, one respondent to the question “what’s the difference between acquaintances and friends” used the term “situational friends.”

Situational Friends

You do have the contact information and a more extensive knowledge of the lives and families of your situational friends.  There still is a context that brings you together, but your discussions have evolved past that context, and involve your life, your family and your other interests.  You may even go on trips that involve the context with them.  But when that context ceases to be a common bond, you will drift away from each other, maybe staying on the Christmas card list.

With these things in mind, is it time for a new term? One that bridges the gap between friend and acquaintance? Or should we just be satisfied with our connections that bring us joy and meaning and not bother with labels?

Educating Pops on Social Media

A while back Pops accidentally clicked Like on a certain presidential candidate’s FB Page, thinking that he could express dislike that way as well. Because Pops is still a FB novice, he was convinced he could not figure out how to Unlike the Page. This irritated me to no end, mostly because I do not like, or Like, said candidate, and I know that Pops doesn’t like or Like him, either.

Early yesterday evening, after a phone conversation about the debates, I finally broke down the steps for Pops in an email, which I have reproduced below in the hopes that some of you will be amused by it.

To: Pops

From: Moxie

Subject: How to Unlike Mitt Romney on Facebook

Very easy to fix this!

2. You’ll see a page that looks like this (I put this image here so you know what you’re looking for):
Inline image 1

3. In the box that says “To connect with Mitt Romney, sign up for Facebook today” there are two buttons. Click on the Log In button, which will take you to the Log In Page.
4. At the Log In page, input your email and password at the prompts, then click Log In. You’ll be taken to your News Feed page.
5. At the top of the browser window, where it says, copy and paste this address:
6. Underneath the big picture and on the right, you will see a button with a checkmark and the word Like next to it. Click on that button.
7. The window that pops up will have an Unlike option at the bottom. Click on the word Unlike.
You have now told Mitt Romney he can go *#%! himself. Well, not really, but your liberal heart will feel so much better.
With love from your left-leaning, socialist-sympathizing daughter,

Repost If You Agree: Why Your Facebook Status Is Not Activism

A week ago a friend on a social network I use often (no, it’s not Facebook or Twitter) posted the following, prefaced by “Oh Lord, here we go again”:

“Okay pretty ladies,it’s that time of the year again….Support of Breast Cancer Awareness!!So we all remember last year’s game of writing your bra color as your status or the way we like to have our handbag handy?Last year,So many people took part that it made national news and the Constant Updating vstatus reminded everyone why were doing this and helped raised Awareness!!Do not tell any males….what thestatus mean…keep them guessing!!and please Copy and Paste (in a message)this to all your females friends. It’s time to confuse the men again (Its not really that hard to do)the idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born.(Pass this on the GIRLS ONLY!!and lets see how it reaches around.The last one about the bra went around all over the world.Your status should say “I am going to_________for__________months”. The day you were born should be for how many months you are going. Janauary-mexico February-London March-miami April-Dominican Republic May-france June-St.Petersburg July-Austria August-Germany September-New York October-Amster Dam November-Las Vegas December-Columbia”

I groaned as well when I read this, because I knew eventually this meme would hit someone within my group of Facebook friends and I’d be seeing this in my Messages. So far I haven’t seen it – but it’s only a matter of time.

I understand why these awareness memes started: it’s very easy to support a cause when all you have to do is copy and paste, or use an arbitrary algorithm (and I’m using the word “algorithm” very loosely here) to figure out what city you’re going to and for how many months. For me, this particular meme suggests I’ll be in London for 8 months, which sounds pretty fabulous, to be honest.

But the reality is that a cryptic, cutesy status update – or even a tweet – is not activism. Telling people what color your bra is or where you like to leave your purse doesn’t raise awareness of breast cancer. It merely confuses people. Social media confusion does not equal awareness; it equals irritation and unfriending and unfollowing.

Righteous – or even non-righteous – indignation over a dreaded disease, the poor and downtrodden masses, or even an abused puppy is common on the Internet. I get it. I get indignant too and I will share stories that particularly piss me off. What I’ve discovered, however, is that spreading those stories doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. What does make a difference is actively doing something to show my feelings about the issue.

So ladies, rather than tell me you’re going to France for 16 months, why not give a few bucks to the American Cancer Society or Susan G. Komen? Or if you’re low on funds, how about going to your local hospital and reading or playing games in the pediatric cancer ward? Or call the nearest hospice and volunteer to deliver a meal to the family of a woman with breast cancer, or babysit her kids while she’s at chemo? It doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. It just needs to come from your heart.

I can’t stop these silly memes or trends with one blog post, I know. But that doesn’t stop me from hoping we’ll move from passive support of issues and causes to more active support.

Classes on Twitter and Facebook? Yes, Please, but for Everyone.

Just read an article on how an Australian parent association is asking the government to offer courses on social media etiquette to students. Why? It all boils down to consequences, schmonsequences:

The Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of New South Wales, which represents parents at about 2,200 schools, said students were often unaware of the consequences of posting offensive content. It has called on the government to formally incorporate classes into the school curriculum.

“Kids engage in these acts without any thought of the consequences,” a spokesman for the association, David Giblin, told the Daily Telegraph.

Lauren Dugan over at MediaBistro asks whether or not good ol’ book learnin’ will make a difference, however:

I wonder if learning proper social media use in schools is enough for students to really change their behavior, however. Peer pressure is often more powerful than anything children hear from adults, especially their teachers and schools. Working with students to teach them the consequences of their actions online is important, but it’s also important to encourage positive reinforcement between themselves when not at school.

Kids do a lot of stuff without thinking of the possible consequences. Darting into the street without looking, smoking cigarettes behind the high school gym, having sex without a condom, hopping in a car with a stranger – and that’s the short list from when I was a kid. (We won’t talk about how long ago that was.) Having a grown-up tell you what to do or not to do gets tiresome quickly. I still feel that way about grown-ups, to be honest. They are always getting up in my business. Sheesh.

But here’s the thing: I know a lot of adults who are completely clueless on social media etiquette. Some of them can barely use Facebook, much less know what a retweet is. But then there are the folks who go bonkers and post everything and anything online. It can be exhausting to read their stream.

By saying this, I run the risk of losing several readers, but here is my truth: I use social media to know about you as a person, and to tell you who I am as a person. To me, that’s what the “social” part of “social media” means. I’m not all that interested in your Foursquare check-ins, or the Pages you Like. I am definitely not interested in the games you are playing on Facebook. Furthermore, I get annoyed by your vague tweets and status updates related to whatever emotional drama you’re going through at the moment. I can’t support you emotionally unless you tell me what the problem is.

That last paragraph makes me sound like a social media hater, which is far from true. It’s the sheer volume that can be exhausting. But I think the exhaustion stems more from the quality of the content and not necessarily the quantity. We are beyond the point of reducing the flow of online information, but we can impact the quality. Like Lauren, I think that’s where the Australian classes need to start: with encouraging kids to share the good stuff.

And what do I mean by “good stuff”? I mean all the things I personally love seeing on social media: people sharing material they find riveting, insightful and inspirational, whether it’s a video, song, or news article. Heartfelt messages of hope and kindness in support of someone who’s going through a rough time. Postings that encourage community activism and awareness. And silly stories, quips and jokes that lift one’s spirits without bringing someone else down.

If the Aussies are going to teach kids how to be kinder, gentler social media addicts, I certainly hope they will share their lesson plans with the rest of the world. Because we really could use the education.