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Social Media (Part 1)

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Required for the perusal of social media. 

Now that I finally got around to discussing the social media where I’m able to be true to who I am (which I’ve been promising to do since January), it got long. So you get it in two parts this week. Today I’ll discuss where not to find me; tomorrow, I’ll rave about the ones I love.

[Disclaimer: Some of you who are prone to reading between the lines and fretting that posts are about you – relax. Even if everything I say below about things I dislike (and thus don’t personally want to be) steps on your toes, that doesn’t mean I think you should stop doing them. It means I’m a curmudgeonly old woman who barely tolerates the Internet at all, even though I recognize that as a Gen-Xer that makes me a traitor to my generation, as the creation of the Internet is one of our crowning glories. My apologies to the Microserfs who came before me (and to Douglas Coupland for stealing his term). But seriously – if I follow you, it’s because I generally like what you’re doing. If I click like, I mean it. Don’t fret.]

It will come as zero surprise to anyone that I’m not naturally great at social media. It seems that you have to spend a lot of time there to gain a following. It also seems that you have to not be easily annoyed, and that’s not my strength. The level of repetition needed to establish a platform/have an audience/build my brand *retches* looks like nagging to me. It looks like nagging when others do it, and it feels like nagging when I do it.

[I see you fretting. Stop it.]

So if I don’t have a clear plan, my social media presence is reduced to liking and hearting and *hugs* all around. I have accepted that as the norm on some of them *eyes Facebook* because 1) I can’t/won’t be everywhere all the time, 2) some of them are more annoying to me than others, so the less time I spend there, the better my blood pressure will be, and 3) I prefer using different media for different reasons. In the same way that I prefer different geographical places to look different (i.e., have their own personalities), I prefer my different virtual spaces to look different.

Ergo, the plan.

The purpose of these posts is two-fold. First, I want to let you, dear readers, know where you can find me and what you can expect when you find me there. Second, I want to put in writing what I plan to do so that when I am feeling overwhelmed (probably because I’m trying to do what others are doing and that feels exactly like the train wreck it is), I can come back here and look at it and see that it’s not so big and scary after all. The following is a list of places you can find me online and why you may want to find me there.

So…on to where not to find me. I mean, find me there if you want. But don’t expect a lot.

Facebook:

UGH. I often rue the day I got peer-pressured into joining Facebook, because I can’t seem to quit it, and most days, I desperately want to. It helps me keep up with birthdays and events, gives me an organized space for managing groups and event invitations, and helps me keep up with a select few friends, bloggers, artists, activists, and writers who curate their Facebook pages well. And that’s basically all you’ll hear from me there. I scroll through my feed when I’m bored and click the like button a lot which makes it show up in the feeds of people who are following me (sorry-not-sorry), so that’s a nice feature that makes it look like I’m on Facebook constantly, but I really only spend about 10-15 minutes a day there until I’m tired of it. My wall is a collection of other people finding things they think I’ll like (mostly coffee, food, and kittens) and posting it on my wall or tagging me in it. I find the rest of it click-baity and junky.

Facebook is where it seems the general population likes to vomit their opinions, whether their opinion is based on anything factual or not. It is the place where people who don’t seem to understand how research works claim they’ve done their research (which, unless they actually conducted the study by gathering raw data and analyzing it, no, they did not, because that’s what doing research entails). What they probably mean is that they have read some of the research –most likely just the part of the research that supports their opinion – and are trying to pass themselves off as an expert which they wouldn’t need to do if they were experts because their credentials would speak for themselves. The only reason I can fathom for even bothering to mention that they’ve done the reading (without, by the way, posting any links to the reading in order to give credit where credit is due; ergo, they are also moderately plagiarizing) is to silence the opposition by falsely trumping it with their fake expertise that they have done nothing to earn.

Which I don’t like. Obviously. /endrant

The thing I like most about not quitting Facebook is that having an account lets me have a page (coming to a post near you tomorrow).

Twitter: https://twitter.com/coffeesnob318

One hundred forty characters is not enough for anything but “Hey, look at this!” or succinctly stated fluffy witticisms, and that’s precisely how I use it. I follow a ton of people, and sometimes it overwhelms me. I’ll read my list, scroll back to the top, and Twitter is like, “You have 520 new posts.” *flails* I don’t want to stop following them, though, because on days when I don’t have time to read the real news, I can get the gist by scrolling through my Twitter feed, because the people I follow are well-informed. That’s helpful.

Twitter meet-ups/parties/whatever-they’re-called are what I imagine Hell must be like. I have tried them a few times, and it just ruined my whole night. You pretty much have to buy me shoes and many wines to get me to consider it, and I can almost guarantee I will still back out at the last minute. I am not even sorry (and I’m keeping the shoes).

Tumblr: http://coffeesnob318.tumblr.com/

If I were still active in fandom, I would freakin’ live on Tumblr. I’m bitter that Tumblr wasn’t around when I was still keeping up with Smallville on a weekly basis. That would have been awesome.

I don’t know how I’m going to use it in the future. Maybe I’ll continue to forget about it. Maybe I’ll just continue to pin Tumblr posts on Pinterest and call it a day.

Other:

I don’t have an account on Snapchat (I’m a information hoarder – that it goes away freaks me out). I have a LinkedIn account, but I don’t use it except to add people who have added me and to say nice things about them. I don’t Periscope, because I have no desire at this point in my life to record videos of myself.

What social media don’t work for you?

Call Me

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“And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.” Ta-Nehisi Coats – Between the World and Me

Today I had a post scheduled about how living a year of true also makes for a year of happy. This week, however, like far too many weeks before it, has been heavy, so while I am still happy, I also hold heartbroken in my other palm.

This holding juxtaposed forces is probably good practice. I have hope for the world, but the world is so broken. Every day, dozens of terrible things happen, and that’s just the things I know about from reading my daily hour of news.

There are many pieces already out there about our most recent tragedies and what we can do to combat racism. My favorites are from Luvvie Ajayi, A’Driane Nieves, and Rebecca Lee. I also like this idea – support activists on the ground by paying their bail.

I can listen and I can speak and I can donate (well, I can donate a little. I work in education). These situations make me panicky, though. They make me want to call all my friends of color and say, “Are you okay? Are you safe at home?” I can do all the things on all the lists and that still might not save my friends’ lives tomorrow.

But I will say this – call me.

If you have car trouble or need to stop somewhere or want someone near just in case…if you are in a situation in which having a short, white friend present might be…culturally helpful…call me. Until the world is a better place for you, if a white face is what they need to see to be comfortable and not shoot to kill, I will bring my white face to you.

I’m not sure what we’ll do if they decide that I’m the next thing that threatens them. But I am not free unless you are free. A freedom that excludes you is not anything I’m interested in having.

It might not help. I might not get there in time. I realize this is a naive and terrible solution.

But I can’t burn the system to the ground by tomorrow.

So call me.

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Today’s the day! Today marks my fifth year anniversary of having a blog at this location, so what better day to start my first link-up?

Last week, we watched the State of the University’s address from our office. Jessa and I also took advantage of Avesta (restaurant in the Union) finally being open for the semester (maybe that was the Friday before…yes). I had beef bourguignon, and it was as tasty as it was beautiful.

I halfway participated in Your Career Homecoming Challenge by Laura Simms, but I wasn’t very good at it. She had some great ideas, though, and she has a free video series starting tomorrow, so click the link above to learn more/sign up!

And as with any week, there was much coffee.

How was your week? Want to share a post? If I’ve done this right, you will be able to follow the LinkUp below. *crosses fingers*

The Magic of Onions

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We had a church potluck on Sunday to welcome back the college students who go away for the summer and to welcome the new school year.

It came at a good time. I have been eating terribly for the last few weeks. Work is busy, and I’m trying to finish a manuscript (about meal planning, oddly enough), so home has been easy food (sandwiches, cereal, the occasional drive-through) and comfort ice cream. I needed to get back in the kitchen and make something again.

I am going to the farm this coming weekend, so I decided to use up some of the veggies in my fridge and on my counter while they were still at their peak. I chopped everything Saturday night so that I could just load up the slow cooker in the morning to create a little ratatouille/caponata hybrid.

Then I went about my evening. It didn’t go as planned. I planned my usual evening of late – sitting in front of the television or reading until I was tired.

But there’s something about onions.

The smell of onions in the air changes my mood. It reminds me of MeMaw’s garden and kitchen. It makes me want to read cookbooks and dream of future dishes. It got me off the couch and into the office to write another 1,100 words on meal planning.

Onions might be my favorite vegetable.

I mean, I’m not going to sit and eat a raw onion like an apple, but I put them in almost everything I cook. I like raw onions just fine but if a dish contains them, they are so overpowering that they’re all I can taste. Then my mouth gets confused, because why is this onion creamy?!?! Oh, wait. Because it’s actually guacamole. My taste buds register it as an oddly green onion dip.

When I make guacamole, I mince the onions (and the peppers, because ditto on the strong taste of peppers) and soften them for a few minutes in a little olive oil. Then I drain the oil and reserve it for a future stir fry or scrambled eggs and let the onions and peppers cool while I prepare the avocado, tomatoes, and celery (yes, celery. Do it! You know, if you like celery). Then I mix it all together, sprinkle in some fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper, and enjoy, usually straight from the mixing bowl.

What’s your favorite veggie? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

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Last week was books, reading, flowers, and welcome.

Our church book club selection this month was The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro. It was a quick, fun read. The review on the back that said it was as if Bridget Jones’s Diary and The DaVinci Code had a baby was spot on.

I love that I have a table with enough room for a bouquet of flowers.

Kim fed me on Monday. It was delicious. Charlie was disappointed in my lack of interest in throwing the whats-it, though.

And yesterday was our big move-in day to the residence halls. It was my twelfth move-in and the first one where I wasn’t drenched in sweat by the end of it. I love my new job.

What was your week like?

Friday Five2

Our residence halls open Sunday, so this week has been busy. I totally missed posting last week. So if this list seems scattered and random, welcome to what’s left of my mind this week.

Last week can be summed up by the Olympics: First, shame on Ryan Lochte et al. You are not cute. You are not boys being boys. You are liars and a disgrace, and you should be punished more than you will be, and the fact that you will get away with a slap on the wrist for criming while white is what’s wrong with America.

For the record, here’s how real Olympians behave:

Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin help each other finish the race. This makes me want to run like the wind.

Simone Manuel wins history and the gold. LOVE. LOVE LOVE LOVE. And I chose this short piece because I love its salt.

Simone Biles  makes me happy. She is a badass.

Gabby Douglas is my favorite. I love her intensity and the high standards she holds herself to. I love that she is tough AND vulnerable. That is hard balance for anyone to pull off, much less someone so young. I despise that the same people I saw laughing at the swimmers’ “tussle” are the same people I saw badmouthing her for not putting her hand on her heart. You want to be patriotic? Be just half as awesome as she is with an American flag on your chest. She’s good. Some might even say “perfect.”

Holy crap, Usain Bolt.

Kristin Armstrong – Thanks for making the 40s look awesome.

There were so many more. The Olympics always make me want to have cable again.

Here are my favorite five this week:

1. AddyeB – On Being a Woman Outrunning Yet Still Carrying the Impact of Male Violence.

2. How each Myers-Briggs type reacts to stress. I can’t speak for everyone, but the INTJ info is spot on for me.

3. EEEEE! I love Denton. Formal market talks are happening. Also, if you’re here and you love the square and want to help flood victims in Louisiana – two birds one stone.

4. How well do I know Lutheran slang? 100% actually. The recap said, “You have grown up in the Lutheran church.” Or, I have attended one for three years and I’ve taken four semesters of Latin.

5. The cutest thing on the Internet this week – baby sloth sounds.

 

What are some of your highlights?

 

 

 

 

 

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Ah, the syllabus. Friend to all.

I’ve worked with college students in some capacity for the last 18 years. Friends, having been regaled with stories vague enough to protect privacy but clear enough to entertain, love to send me treasures from the Internet about the many ways to get along with your professors. It’s not really that hard, but lots of advice is out there. Some day, I might actually write a book about it myself, as I have the benefit of working with students not only in an academic capacity but also in a variety of advising and service capacities.

Oh, the knowledge I could impart.

First, please understand the fundamental viewpoint of people who work in academia or student affairs (or insert your student-related field of choice here). We are not in it for the money. We have to work 10,000 years just to get to a position where we’re making anything resembling a respectable income. No one whose primary motivation is cash flow would put up with this sort of nonsense. So why do we do what we do? Because on some level, we care. We want to help. We either remember our college experience fondly and want to recreate that experience for others, or we had bad college experiences and have a clear view of how we can make it better. The rose-colored corridor you pass into when you enter academia from what many call the “real world?” That’s idealism. That’s a focus on what the world could be rather than just settling for what it is, and it abounds at universities, particularly in the underpaid staff that cling to it when times are hard (and by “times are hard,” I do mean “students are exhausting”), which is approximately 92.3%*of us.

Translation:  you don’t have to convince us to want to help you. We’re already there.

Recently, someone sent me this gem on how to send non-annoying email to your professors, which is mostly just good sense on how to email anyone ever. Overall, I agree, but there are elements of the piece that give me considerable pause. This makes sense, as it was compiled from feedback from students. Students, however, do not have the benefit of knowing what we ignore in order to get to the point where we help them anyway. You know, because we want to. So I’m going to give you my professorly point of view. I mean, I’m taking a break from teaching right now, but I’m going to go back in time and address the issue as if I’m still teaching.

Regarding Small Talk

Or “meaningless nicety” as the writer of the piece puts it. Key word there? MEANINGLESS. Maybe there are some people out there who like this sort of useless input. I’m just going to say it – their taste is wrong and they are doing their students a disservice by giving the impression that this will help them at all ever with anyone else. Overwhelmingly, the people I’ve known, worked with, and flat out asked before writing this post agree – do not do this. This is terrible advice. No “How do you like the weather?” No “How are you today?” Because you know how I am today? I am busy. I have eleventy dozen emails from my literally hundreds of students, and here’s some fool wasting their time (and frankly – mine) trying to small talk at me. Save this for when you write a letter to your grandma (also, write letters to your grandma – it will make her day). Save this for when we are standing awkwardly outside the classroom waiting for the class before ours to finish and vacate (although really, I prefer silence or talking about something that’s actually interesting even then. Tell me about your favorite band. Tell me the fun new restaurant you tried last weekend. Tell me what you want to talk about in your next speech. But don’t you talk about how hot it is in Texas in August. Don’t you dare.). In an email to your professors – skip it. Get to the point.

Regarding Identifying Yourself

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Who are you? Where do I know you from (see above re: literally hundreds of students)? Name, class, day, time. Help me help you.

Regarding Style

This is not the time to get verbose and flowery. State your business clearly and succinctly. We do not need your life story.

Regarding Showing Me How (Not at all) Awesome You Are By Junking Up My Inbox

You know who is awesome? People who send short, clear emails with actual purpose. If you can answer your own question, why the hell are you – again – wasting your time and mine by emailing me? It’s not impressive to me that you read the syllabus – it’s expected. You don’t get special “I’m a wonderful person” cookies for doing what is minimally required of you, so don’t ask for them by sending pointless email. The time it takes for you to write and for me to read your email that you had no need to send is five minutes of both of our lives that we will never get back. One third of the reason we spend so much time creating a syllabus (the other two thirds are because the law/university requires one and because we want you to succeed so we are happy to spell out how to do so in minute detail for you) is so that we can answer frequently asked questions one time instead of hundreds of times, thus freeing us up to work on making our class as good as it can possibly be.

Do not phrase a request like this –  “I know the syllabus says ___, but ___.” Let me save your relationship with all your present and future professors. That first blank? That’s your answer. That second blank? That’s your problem that you need to be a grown up and solve on your own. No need to email me. I am your professor, not your mommy, life coach, or therapist.

[Aside – I will, however, teach you how to use a planner and manage your time more effectively so that you don’t feel compelled to make excuses or ask for unfair exceptions, because this will make you get along with everyone in your life better and just be a better human all around. Stop by my office during office hours, or make an appointment, and I’ll work you in. I will get excited and nerdy about this, so be prepared for that.]

I know you think I have superpowers, but I actually only have the same 24 hours in a day that you do. And every minute I spend responding to email that had no business being sent because I have already handed that answer to you in writing is a minute I’m not reading the latest research on the topic we’re discussing next week or finding ways to make my presentation more engaging or grading your paper that I presume you would like back some time this month.

I generally respond to these emails with “Read syllabus.” I know professors who refuse to respond to these emails at all. Their students get all bent out of shape about it, but here’s the reality check – you’re not their only student or their only responsibility. If a professor seems to be ignoring you, try to put your hurt feelings aside, re-read your email objectively, and put yourself in their place. Yes, some professors are disorganized, avoidant assholes, but if you’re honest with yourself, most of the time, I think you’ll see that it’s not them – it’s you.

Regarding Politeness and Frivolous Repetition

You know what’s actually super polite? Not treating your professors like idiots who have forgotten what you said in the last (clear, succinct) paragraph or trying to dictate their schedule by imploring them to answer as soon as they can. This oversteps a boundary and is the exact opposite of polite. If there is an actual deadline for when you need a response (e.g., you are asking them to write a reference letter for a scholarship application), tell them the deadline, because that is information they will need to determine whether or not they have time to say yes to your request.

Another way to be polite is to remember that extra things you are asking of your professors are requests, not demands. They may have to say no or may not get to it before you need it, and contrary to popular belief, it’s probably not personal. Trust that they know their schedule better than you do, and prepare for this possibility.

Also, don’t ask your professors to compensate for when you fail to manage your time well. Sadly, Time Lord is not part of my repertoire. Don’t email me at 2:00 in the morning about a project that was assigned a week ago and is due tomorrow. First, you will not get an answer in time to finish. I may still be up at 2:00 a.m., but I’m reading or watching the Netflix or socializing, not working. Second, at 8:00 a.m. when I do get the email, I will know that you procrastinated and will thus begin my day dreading the near future moment when I have to find something constructive to say about the piece of shit you will surely be handing in to me. This is a rude thing to do to me that early in the day before I have had a proper amount of caffeine. You’re the worst. At the end of the semester, if your grade is an 89.4 and I could give you the 6/10 of a point it would take to make it an A, I’m going to reflect on your responsibility that semester to see if your performance merits the small bump to take you to the next grade. Emails that threw a funk into my day do not bode well for you in this particular situation.

[Unless, of course, I got that email, dreaded your presentation, and it pleasantly surprised me by being the best in the class. You get the A then. Well done. Maybe, for future encounters, work on your personal discretion issues, but well done in my class.]

Regarding Flattery

Do not suck up to me. I know I’m awesome. I don’t need you to tell me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most professors do not suffer from low self-esteem. We don’t need you to puff us up. Also, I tend to keep an appropriate social distance from my students. Therefore, you don’t really know me well enough to be a good judge of my awesomeness. You don’t have enough information to make that assessment. Just stop.

If you really need to compliment me, there is a time to do it. At the end of the semester, in your evaluation of the class, thank me and tell me what you learned. Gratitude that is not attached to a request is rewarding. Gratitude that is attached to a request (i.e., in an email) seems false and shady.

 

You want to know how to email your professors? It’s really quite simple:

Before emailing, check the website, syllabus, class notes, friend from class, etc. Your answer might be there, and then we can just all be proud of how good a listener you are. No need for email at all. You don’t have to spell it out for me. I automatically know that students who do well and hand things in on time without ever emailing me listened well, because that’s exactly the way I designed the course to work.  Thank you, and here’s the A you earned.

If you do all these things, and you still don’t see the answer, email thusly:

  1. Subject line – 4-5 words to summarize
  2. First line of body of email – Tell them who you are and how they know you (name, class, day, time).
  3. Ask your question or tell them what you want. Be direct and succinct.
  4. End with your (electronic) signature (or just your name).

And for the love of beer, proofread! You are in college. Write like it.

 

*Statistic totally made up for the purpose of humor

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