That Social Networking Thing

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Two mortifying things:

1.  I don’t have a Facebook page.

2.  I have a Twitter account, but I don’t use it.

I know:  it’s weird.  I read an article yesterday on in which some interesting statistics were listed about Facebook:  that it has over 500 million users; that 70% of those users are outside the US; and that of people who are active on the web, 1 in 4 has a Facebook page and they’re really into it.  Apparently so much so that about 24% of active Facebook users admit to checking their pages FROM BED as the last thing they do before turning in.  Wow.

And, gross!  What on earth is that important?  I know I sound like an old person complaining about “kids today.”  But seriously, what is the big deal?  I’ve glanced at a few of my friends’ pages.  They are, at best, inane.  “My kid said this today…” then seventeen people reply back something like “isn’t that cute?!” or “how about that?” or the ubiquitous “LOL.”

I don’t have a Facebook page because I don’t believe in sending out news flashes about myself.  And Twitter is even worse.  Does anyone need to know that you read a billboard today on your way to work that made you cry?   Or that your kid still has a scratchy throat? Or that your dog ate your homework?

It reminds me of those salespeople that used to come to people’s houses or even call on the phone–back in the day before people had caller id and answering machines and therefore actually answered their phones.  Maybe they made the sale with you or didn’t, but they always ended with, “…and if you give me the numbers of two or three friends or family members…”  And of course you DIDN’T give them those numbers.  Because what would they do with them?  Call and pester your family and friends!  No decent person would condemn people they  loved (or even just liked a little) to that fate.

Yet that’s what Twitter and Facebook do to people every day.  They’re the modern-day equivalent of the door to door salesmen.  The digital version of the phone solicitor.  People used to put up signs, “No Soliciting.”  I remember  them from when I was a kid selling Girl Scout cookies around the apartment complexes in my neighborhood.  I still see them here and there.  People put them up because they don’t want to be bothered.   Yet they allow countless updates from Twitter, Facebook, or RSS feeds to bombard them with information like, “Margo just completed the 5K with a personal best of 19 minutes!” or “Jared Smith has published his latest article on”

I know the irony here:  I’m posting on a blog.  I hope some people will actually read this blog.  I’d like to make money from my writing which of course requires me to interact with people who will be reading my writing.  But isn’t there still a time when things get turned off?  Like when they used to play the national anthem after the 11 PM news and then the station went off the air.  Even HBO used to close down for the night.  Maybe that’s what it is:  Twitter, Facebook, email, text, IM’ing–it’s like the last barrier has come down.  As if now, not only are the grocery stores, gas stations, TV networks and movie channels all 24/7, but all us people are, too.

And you know what?  I hate that!  I think there needs to be more turning off:  as in the lights, the TV, the phone.  And a time when everyone goes off the air.  Like Tracey Ullman used to say,  “go home!”


Who are you, really…?

January 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Have you ever read one of those little bio blurbs?  You know what I mean, the ones that follow an author’s name after a magazine or web article, perhaps on the back cover of a book.  Or maybe you’ve seen (or heard) them in other places:  obituaries, web sites, talk show hosts welcoming a guest, even blogs like this one.  Has it ever struck you how neat and concise, even how significant, a life can sound when it is expertly summarized and put into print or proclaimed on television?

Those little blurbs are what started me thinking and ultimately led to my decision to write this blog.  Let’s look at this logically:  IF a life is more interesting, organized, and significant when it is written about, is it possible that the converse is true also–that writing about life MAKES it more interesting, organized, and significant?  I think it is.  Let’s try it.

Here are a few bios I could use if I were to publish an article or a book today:

a)  Ryland is a writer, teacher, and mother who is currently completing her first novel.  She enjoys horseback riding, camping, and scuba diving  with her husband and two children.

b) When not working on her first novel or teaching elementary school, Ryland can be found in the great outdoors scuba diving, camping, hiking, or skiing.  She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.

c) Teacher, mother, and outdoor enthusiast Ryland Canon has written numerous poems and short stories.  “Fear of War” is her first novel.   She and husband Steve currently reside in Oregon  raising  their two small children.

These sound real and convincing, although not all the details are true–no stalkers, please!  But my point is, doesn’t Ryland sound like someone who has her act together?  Doesn’t she seem even a little bit interesting?  I mean, after all, she’s written a BOOK; she skis; she scuba dives.  C’mon!   What’s not to like?

But perhaps most importantly, doesn’t it sound like everything you read inside the covers of books, magazines, or on the web?  I’ve read bios like those countless times and I’ve never thought until recently:  these people are no different than me.  Sure, some have traveled the world, speak 8 languages fluently or made their first billion by the age of 17.  But most of them haven’t.  Most of them sound good because someone wrote something good about them. I will dare to say it:  most of them sound good because someone wrote about them, period.

S0 I invite you to do the same.  Write a little  bio.  Pretend (if necessary) that you matter. Because that’s really what makes these blurbs so effective:  they’re only written about people who are IMPORTANT, right?  That’s what we assume when we read them.  Because surely no one would go to the trouble to write about and publish something from someone insignificant.

The editors at Time Magazine or Bantam Books might never craft a bio for you.  You may never be introduced by Matt Lauer on the Today Show.  But that ‘s not because you don’t deserve those things.   Okay, you probably need to do SOMETHING to earn the attention.  But you’ll still be the same person after you write the book or after you’re interviewed on a morning news show as you are right now.  So why not be ready?  Go ahead and write your bio.  Now. A good one–no criticizing or belittling yourself.  No lying (yes, you can still make it good without lying!).  Then take a moment and read it over a few times.   Don’t you like the way it sounds?   Don’t you like the way you sound?

Ryland is an outdoor enthusiast, mother, and teacher who enjoys inspiring readers with her poetry and short stories.  Having traveled her own healing journey through depression, she seeks to help others by sharing some of the hard-earned wisdom she has gained along the way–through this very blog you’re reading now.

Read my article at E zine Articles:

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