The Truth Behind Social Media

I’ve considered this for a while now. Social media is one of the few things I had done even close to correctly. So much so that my writing group has staged an intervention to get me catching up on other aspects. At the same time though, people whose opinions I respect are very anti-social networking. As an example, the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I understand, people are “wasting” one of the world’s most valuable resources. Several US states are in severe drought right now. Other countries don’t have access to clean water. But then, ALS has historically been underfunded. Drastically. Not to mention, the effects of it are pretty horrific. And I read, write, and watch horror.

Orlando Jones took his challenge to a new level. Raising awareness for the disease, contributing money to the cause, but also using it to raise awareness of the violence that is gripping us at home, in places like Ferguson. Now I’ve been a fan of Orlando Jones for as long as I can remember… MadTV was the first thing I remember seeing him in. But without social networking, I’d not know much of what he has had to say these days. And then man has some brilliant messages dropped between his jokes and behind the scenes photos.

rule32Enter today and I get two very pointed reminders to appreciate the beauty of Rule 32…

Rule 32 – Enjoy the Little Things

The first comes from social media, but let me give some preface to this. Only a few people who it would directly affect know that my wife and I are adopting a rescue dog. We were looking for something to help out with after our Aladdin passed, so took dog food to donate to a shelter. And found a dog. Only one there that fit, but we found her. We were supposed to pick her up tomorrow. An outbreak of kennel cough has pushed the date back to next Saturday. I know it has to be that way, but it’s like we’ve accepted she’s part of the family and it feels weird not having her home.

This morning I was having breakfast and getting ready for work when my phone dinged. A Twitter friend had mentioned me in a tweet. We’ve never met in person, but we have things in common. We’re both writers for one. She was working at a writing conference in New York, brainstorming on a project and had thought about me. She sent the message on Twitter to see how I was doing.

Probably 30 seconds of her day, for someone she hasn’t event met in person. It was enough to give me a smile this morning. Well, that and the thought that my wife is getting doused in ice water today with her team at work. I’m a little twisted like that.

The second came in a more traditional, less interactive way. Through the radio. Which is to say, they were taking callers for someone who could name what the “demons in Evil Dead” were called. How sad would it be if I missed deadites? Good thing I didn’t.

In short, on September 12th I have tickets to take my wife to Evil Dead the Musical. Or at least I will once I go pick them up from the radio station. Though that will be a full weekend. The musical on Friday, Sonic Boom on Saturday (full day puppy duty for my wife, early morning for me and the son as we have the Sound Lounge tickets for the pre-show), and an pet remembrance event at the Dane County Humane Society that Sunday. I may be over-caffeinated by Sunday. And by “may” I mean to say “definitely will be.”

If you read to the end…

I have a challenge for you. It doesn’t involve water, ice or embarrassing videos. It only involves you. I challenge you to be less cynical about what everyone else is doing on social media. There is no inherit good nor evil attached to it. It’s all in what we do with it. So go out there and enjoy the little things.

  • The message from someone you’ve never met in person telling you “Happy Birthday.”
  • A video of a friend dumping ice water on their head… no matter how silly or wasteful it is.
  • That video of a dog playing with a baby deer.
  • Or people singing songs about the living dead…

Open Letter to Political Posters

Okay, maybe I am overusing the “open letter” concept, but there are far to many people that fit this bill to call out any one person. Also, in these situations, if you call out any singular person they are bound to take it personally. And don’t get me wrong, this is on both sides of the aisle. As it were.

getalongA while back a normally moderate friend on Facebook posted a note railing against taxing corporations and the rich. His issue was the math didn’t work as it left less money for those entities to advance the economy. This isn’t a blog about that issue. Hell, it isn’t even about the governmental shut down. Don’t even get me started on that. It is about people. Friends.

Some of my family don’t seem to realize that I am a moderate. A moderate liberal, but a moderate. The current state of the Republican Party makes it so that they cannot produce someone that I can see voting for. It’s not going to happen. I’m not sure if many of my friends realize this as well. Most of us don’t discuss it. I have family members that can’t stop taking about the “revolution” and beseeching me to check out the Drudge Report for the “real facts.”

So here we go. If you support the Republican Party, that is your choice. Hell, even if you lean so far to the right that you walk in circles. Your call. I support your right to do so. What I do not support is your right to refer to me as a “Loony Lefty” or make value-based statements on my decisions. Once you start making personal attacks against my person and decisions, in an effort to maintain our friendship, I will “de-friend” you in social media. That goes for family too. It’s in my nature to love you, I don’t have to like you.

This came from one of the aforementioned people who lean so far to the left they circle-walk posting to my friends thread how us “lefties” were a “lost cause.” Now, similarly to some of my friends who are walking circles the opposite direction, I might think that people who are willing to shut down the government and put thousands of workers on unpaid furlough in an effort to force the reversal of a piece of legislation that has not be overturned any of the forty plus times you have challenged it is a “lost cause.” My comments in support of tax reform or campaign finance reform doesn’t even hurt anyone. But that isn’t my point. I don’t rage against that machine, so why would you do so to me?

I am fully aware that the statement that sparked this wasn’t made by a friend of mine, but a friend of a friend. At the same time, I have had to reinitiate the Alfano 30′ Politics Rule™ which states that political discussion will not happen within 30′ of me. Though realistically, I tend to do this around family or people I am not very familiar with. The arguments just aren’t worth it.

Seriously I have online contacts that treat me better than some friends and family. Charles St. Michael (a YouTube guy with as dark a sense of humor as I have) leans towards the right. Me the left. Both of us are mostly moderate in our leanings. I don’t agree with many of his political views. He doesn’t agree with many of mine. His posts are still funny. His cooking show still gives me ideas. And were we in a face to face setting, I would still buy him a beer and talk to the dude. Without knowing him personally, I get the feeling he would do the same.

I have an author friend who marks herself as a fiscal conservative so therefore is Republican. Whereas I cannot come to terms with fiscal conservatism closing down a government and costing the people millions in an effort to advance their political agenda. She doesn’t see it the same way. I’m not going to stop reading her books. I won’t refuse to review them on WLP. And I would still buy her a drink at a conference and talk with her. She’s funny and energetic and her stories are entertaining. I don’t think she’s written me off as a Loony Lefty as I am still on her friends list.

That is the answer. To those circling to the left as well as the right. Politics needs to be discussed. But never at the cost of friendships or other relationships. Politics should never replace respect. I bring this out for the younger people. My grandchildren (yes, I do have those), as the schools are starting to lean away from classes like Civics. Though my son (our youngest) did have to volunteer back in 2008 for a political party of his choice for school. We waited to see who he chose, we even allowed him to convince us as to why he thought we should vote for that presidential candidate. Luckily, he chose the one we were voting for anyhow. But I see those programs going away in many schools.

For this moral to the story, I will give you two pop culture choices…

Keep Calm and listen to Bill and Ted

Keep Calm and listen to Bill and Ted

Dalton will tell you when it's time to be "not nice"

Dalton will tell you when it’s time to be “not nice”

A Short Mental Vacation

This morning I needed to get into the office a little early. More to the point, I needed to let my words percolate a bit anyhow, so I was skipping the coffee shop for pre-work writing. And yes, I am regretting the no coffee before work – thanks for reminding me.

In light of this, I am giving a short update that doesn’t involve word counts, talk of caffeine or even my current sanity level. Actually everything I write here is a testament to my current sanity level. But the first two – totally not about this post here. In fact three things brought about this post.

The Cause

Thing 1

J.A. Saare posted a vlog thanking fans and readers for reading her books and following her on the web. In total seriousness I think we don’t thank people in our lives nearly enough – especially the ones we don’t have direct face time with.

Thing 2 (with a nod to Dr. Suess of course)

Today J.A. Saare also stated in Twitter that people would not want to run into her at a con because she “ain’t right in the head.” This of course led me to state that she is an author. A fiction author. Consider this those of you who attend cons and writer’s conferences. How many fiction authors have you run into that were “right in the head.” Consider that, I will get back to this.

Thing 3 (Sorry Cat in the Hat, there are 3 things here)

An author that I read and enjoy their books started following me on Twitter. This same author at one point gave me some encouragement. Or at the very least they made me think I wasn’t going to be completely over my head at a writer’s conference.

The Effects

Effect 1

When someone I read and admire follows me on social networking, gives me a word of encouragement as us aspiring authors need now and again or simply goes “Anyone known as Zombie Joe needs something special on this book!” it makes me feel like a kid being picked first at kick ball. At least I would assume that’s what it feels like – by the time I was really good and kicking we weren’t playing that in gym class and honestly I was training at kicking an entirely different set of balls.

Snark humor aside, if you are one of these authors – no matter if you are a midlist author or a rock star of the scifi genre like Neil Gaiman – I appreciate each and every one of you. My own ideas of how one acts while standing in line at a convention to get a signature leave me with a stunning inability to say that in person (too much time working cons as the “hired help,” a.k.a. indentured servant), but I do appreciate you.

Effect 2

A series of “You Know You’re a Fiction Author When…” jokes started popping up. Well, started popping up between bouts of #jayerumors today. If you are reading my blog there is a better than even chance you are an author or an aspiring author like me. You will likely get these jokes. Otherwise, you are at least a reader and will probably get them as well – or at least get a chuckle out of them.

If you have some of your own, feel free to leave them in comments. We should all share in our “pain” and latent (or not so latent) insanity.

You Might Be An Author When…

  • If you stay up late at night because the voices of the characters in your head won’t let you sleep… you might be an author.
  • If you ever asked where the liver was on the human body and had someone answer in less than 20 seconds including the depth needed to puncture to hit it and approximate time it would take an average human to bleed out from a cut there… you might be an author.
  • If you have ever caused your spouse to rethink buying that dutch oven for your camping supplies because of something your character did… you might be an author.
  • If you ever watched the latest YouTube viral video and thought, “I am totally using that in my next story” instead of “Wow is this really dumb yet profoundly entertaining” … you might be an author.
  • If you can make someone reading the ingredients label off of a box of cereal sound dirty… you are likely an author.
  • If you watch television and are figuring out the 4 different ways to make yourself think the wrong person is the killer and still manage to catch the twist at least 10 minutes before the reveal… you are an annoying author if you tell your spouse. (Trust me on this one.)