Friday, December 30, 2011

All this social media is doing my head in!

I knew the attraction of social media had got a bit out of hand when I failed to keep two chat conversations running simultaneously (one on G+ the other on Facebook) while making witty repartee with a friend regarding her latest droll status update. I know for some people that’s nothing, but this is me, the person who was sneered at for not having used a computer not that many years ago!

It had started off innocently enough. A friend and I were arranging to meet for coffee. We’re both introverts and appreciate the ability to arrange get togethers without the need to talk on the phone –  Facebook to the rescue!

The other conversation was on G+ with someone I haven’t met, but with whom I share thoughts and links on the environment and sustainable energy. English is not his first language, so I like to think carefully about what I want to write so there are as few misunderstandings as possible, hence my style of writing is more formal and “correct”, with no slang. I need to concentrate for that!

I was doing ok for a while, but the toggling between links, people and social networks began to play havoc with my brain.

Was I arranging to meet for a coffee locally, or had I got mixed up and perhaps arranged to meet someone in a far distant land, complete with ice and snow, for a coffee in his hometown? Definitely time to call it quits!

It’s said (by those who say they're in the know) that it’s important for businesses, and particularly solepreneurs, to have a strong presence on line. The more you want to be seen to be an expert in a particular field, the more they encourage active participation in a range of social media settings.

But, let’s be honest about social media, it can be a whirlwind of aimless chatter and links to content of dubious quality that have the ability to distract us from what it is we want to do and achieve. It can be like 'Whistling into the wind'.

“They” say we should be on Twitter. I’m trying, really I am, to take Twitter seriously, to give it a fair go and make something meaningful of it. But, honestly, whenever I take a peek it feels like I’m opening a door and staring down a hurricane. It’s frenetic! I doubt would anyone notice if my meagre contribution disappeared. I’ve chosen to keep it though, for the links that come in, and of course when Adam Hills has done his Mess Around shows, it’s fun – now there’s someone who uses Twitter to advantage!

Personally, though, I sputter on, occasionally making tweets: Little reminders about slowing down, making time for exercise, uplifting sayings and mindful exercises. If anyone drops by they won’t be overwhelmed with a barrage of data or links. If the reminders help someone else to pause for a moment, then that’s great. If not, meh, there’s no damage done.

I use Facebook as I mentioned mainly for family and friends. A few other people have snuck in, and that’s ok. I like the ease of sharing happy snaps and informal tidbits – the sort of things I choose not to share with professional colleagues!

Linked In is my professional social media hangout. It is what I use for professional contacts, for catching up with ‘lost’ colleagues and seeing who is up to what in my field of Career Development. My Linked In groups are where I can ask for advice, share experiences, comment and interact with other professionals in my field. It's great for that.

I’ve used Linked In to assist some clients by encouraging them to revamp their profiles so it’s there as part of their professional presentation. It’s a good place for them to quickly add experiences and highlight achievements. Having a recent photo is important, and potential employers often check for consistency between your resume and your Linked In profile.

And then, there’s G+
Oh dear.
G+ is the current bane of my life. It’s where I meet and interact with people who reflect my diverse interests.
Different clusters of interests = different circle.

It’s certainly not a time waster, because that would imply that it’s frivolous or petty. No doubt there are places there you can look at cute cats, diverting dogs and a whole range of well, yes, timewasters. But it’s also an amazing opportunity to talk to, debate with, grumble to, be inspired by, and encourage, people from many, many countries, from Iceland to the Ukraine, from India to Canada.

I wasn’t sure how to use G+ at first. I’d been invited to join back in the very early days, and recognised that it was different to FB, but couldn’t quite see how to use it. No family, no friends, and only one blog buddy – there didn’t seem to be much opportunity for interaction. I didn’t know how to find people, or what was expected. I wasn’t aware of any tutorials way back then!

Thankfully I’d filled out my profile with some useful information and someone who knew the ropes had filtered profiles for people with similar interests. He was starting a meditation hangout and invited me to join. Unfortunately due to the timezone difference I couldn’t make it, but suddenly I saw that G+ was a whole lot more than a FB lookalike, and with amazing potential.

Through that first contact with a ‘stranger’ a whole range of people with diverse interests emerged. Photography, art, astronomy, social conscience, science, blogging and the environment: I’ve met people I couldn’t have had access to in my normal life. I’ve been stretched, challenged, learnt about SOPA and all sorts of other things, all from the comfort of my laptop.

I enjoy the depth of interaction and that fact that an unsubstantiated comment could well be met by “Can you cite a reference for that please”. WOW! Because of the beauty and ease of use of the circles, it’s easy to keep interests and posts separated and relevant to my different interests - joy oh joy!

I doubt that I’ve explored much beyond the surface layer - maybe I never will. But if you haven’t had a look at G+, I’d encourage you to dip a toe in, spend some time acclimatising and see if it works for you. Remember to say hi when you do!

How do you use social media? What works for you?


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seasonal job vacancy available at short notice.

I'm not sure where the photo came from, but isn't it brilliant!
If it's yours, please let me know.
Whilst on a training flight early this morning, tragedy struck the much loved (by children and junk toy makers) figure, known in many parts of the world as Father Christmas or Santa Claus. It is understood that Father Christmas had been whooping it up with his reindeer.

The reindeer, led by the exuberant Dasher, were enjoying stretching their legs after twelve months of idleness and were excited about the biggest event on their admittedly, mostly empty calendar. It's rumoured that the effects of climate change and a warming earth had disoriented the team as they usually navigate by observing glaciers which have been melting at an unprecedented rate.

 “Forgetting about intercontinental air space regulations and not beng up to date with the effects of climate change are a bit of a hazard when you take to the skies so rarely” confessed a visibly devastated spokesperson for Father Christmas.

Lawyers are vying to represent the interests of Father Christmas, and figures in the mega millions are rumoured to be offered to the winning firm. A well known company from Australia are said to be in the running! However, given that Father Christmas gifts everything he makes, this figure is possibly somewhat inflated, as he leaves no obvious estate other than some very shaken reindeer a battered sleigh, and the unheated, uninsulated sheds the elves work in.

An international incident is looming with the pilot of the aircraft claiming complete innocence, "I was not flying negligently" he insisted at a press conference earlier today "the mad fool came out of nowhere and didn't even show up on the radar. Then WHAP, I couldn't see a thing for presents, sleigh and reindeer".

In scale the incident will probably top Russia’s rage at America trying to bring the internet to its knees with the proposed SOPA bill, and be even larger than China’s chagrin at America setting up a military base in Darwin, Australia. Aussie annoyance at the government allowing, nay encouraging, a northern US base pales into insignificance compared to the untimely demise of Father Christmas by an aircraft of ***** nationality. Those pesky Americans seem determined to flex their international muscle and will probably try to gain notoriety by sending their most aggressive lawyers to work on this most sensitive, discreet case. Admittedly, it would be a coup for any firm to represent such an interesting figure.

Human Resources representatives for Father Christmas are scurrying to find a suitable replacement. Advertisements for this part time, voluntary position, have been placed on line and they’re scouring the earth to find someone of suitable shape as well as an astounding level of athleticism, generosity and genuine cheerfulness. Candidates are unlikely to have their references or Working with Children checks vetted thoroughly given the short time frame and urgent need to fill the vacancy. All applicants are – unfortunately - welcome. A note just to hand advises that the successful applicant need not be fat, Anglo-saxon or male.  The situation is obviously extremely dire and tension is mounting by the hour.

Historically, Father Christmas wore a green suit, but it’s understood that when Coke Cola (oh dear, Americans again) commandeered the image, this was changed to the current vibrant red. The incumbent will naturally be provided with a tailor made suit as the current one is in poor shape, not to mention its rather torn and blood-spattered appearance.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja vu - heart shaped?

Only one post!?

For brevity, I'll share a Drabble; it originally appeared on February 17 2011. My selection criteria? Short because it's a blog hop, but also showing my interest in social justice and careers.

Predatory employers suck the life out of the young and vulnerable, secure in the supreme right of their greed and avarice.

Say it’s for the good of society. That it represents progress and the might of the free world.
Democracy in action!

But really they love the feeling of power and all that that means.
Betray the trust of the innocent; exploit and manipulate vulnerable employees.

Desperate for work, children will take anything,
even washing bloated hearts in a pool, wearing ill fitting uniforms and inadequate wings.
Fixed smiles belie inner sadness.

They unwittingly support
the rampant commercialism


This Drabble first appeared in The Burrow Valentine's feature 17 Feb 2011.  Thanks to Burrower's, Books & Balderdash for hosting.

A Drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more, no less.

Picture from Wikimedia commons.

On the 14th December I managed to whittle the year down to choose 12 13 favourite posts, and I thought that was hard! You can go here for a selection of themes, from social justice and workplace communication, to the healing process after being the target of ongoing bullying. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The year in review.

Well, that was a challenge!

I've just taken Mitch's suggestion about going through my blog posts from the last 12 months and making a short list of my favourites. His suggestion is to do this to bring some older posts back to life, and to give newer readers some idea about the types of things you write.

Mitch is Mitch Mitchell from I'm Just Sharing. He has lots of quality information about all sorts of things including improving your blog.  He was recently featured on Arlee Bird's Tossing it Out which is where I met him.

I've managed to whittle away, to list 12 13 posts that include some of my favourites. It was a lot harder than I expected and I kept getting distracted, thinking "Did I really write that?" "It's not too bad at all!" (Which I confess is a pretty good feeling!)

I'm going to present them in reverse chronological order simply because that's how I re-read them.

1.  The Great Barrier Reef or to quote from 4 corners "The Great Barrier Grief". I wrote this in response to a TV report on the damage that is being done in and around the Great Barrier Reef by coal seam gas mining and exporting our finite minerals overseas in massive tankers.

2.  Exams. Failure is in the eye of the beholder. I was angry when I wrote this piece. Not at any particular person, but at the world in general. The world that puts immense pressure on students to achieve high grades, and which occasionally leads to tragedy.

3.  Workplace bullying. Behind closed Doors. Angry again. This time a personal reaction to the classroom bullying of two of my relatives. I've been on both sides, I know teaching is really tough, however, bullying by teachers is unacceptable. I've seen it up close and personal, and sadly, it can happen like this in the classroom.

4.  Workplace communication sounds like a bit of a dry topic, but it's fascinating! "If you REALLY..." explores manipulation and offers a perspective on how it can become a habit for some people.

5.  Another one on communication, discussing Teams, games and sport. I'd been reading Susan Haden Elgin's "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work"and was intrigued by the notion of 'games' themes and terminology in the workplace. Something to explore further another time I think!

6.  Do you bully yourself? is something I'd been wanting to write for a while, particularly after spending April presenting Workplace bullying in an A-Z format as part of a blog challenge hosted by Arlee Bird.

(The link to the 2012 Challenge is in the sidebar to the right). Here's the link to my A-Z posts on Workplace Bullying. It's a bit long and rambling. You can tell I was blogged out -  it was a rather intense month.

7.  Random acts of kindness is a brief to the point post - it was enjoyable to write and revisit.

8.  Another step, recovering from bullying Recovery after being the target of serial bullying can be a lifelong process. This is one tool that can help. I felt it was important to balance the equation after spending April exploring bullying tactics.

9.  Recovery from bullying - learning new patterns. If you've been bullied, I believe it's important to be proactive and arm yourself with new behaviours. Here's another idea to assist.

10.  I'd never written a book review, and having read so many, decided to try my hand. It was an interesting exercise for an outstanding book. An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days by Susan Wittig Albert.

11.  I hadn't heard about Drabbles until I came across Burrowers Books and Balderdash, (here) but having tried it out, I became addicted. The discipline of saying what I want in 100 words is good! (I spent April over at jumping aground writing alliterative drabbles. Yup, drabbling is great). This one, on young workers was included in the Burrow February Valentine feature.

12.  Have you heard about The Red Light Flashing?  Sometimes, something in us seems to sense that all is not right with an apparently attractive course of action. In this piece I attempt to explain without the benefit of waving my arms around to illustrate a point.

13.  Another Drabble, Pole Star. I said I liked writing them! This one was featured in the Burrowers Books and Balderdash, December Advent Calendar in 2010. My take on the photo prompt wasn't a Christmas theme, but the words demanded to be written - I didn't think overly about it, just wrote. I'm still pleased with the result, but sad that nothing has changed.

So, there you have it. There were some posts that I re-read and thought, "Hmm, that could do with a bit of a tidy up" but on the whole, they weren't too bad. If you haven't spent time reviewing your own posts, I'd recommend the exercise. It's easy to forget what you've written (or is that only me?) and I found it encouraging to see a general improvement in my writing.
Graffiti on a wall in Melbourne



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas is coming

Tourists pause, aimless and free, fondle market wares, hold them aloft, twist and turn, alert for the perfect Christmas gift.
Street market stalls laden with goods
Heels clack clack clack
on the footpath behind me
Loud. Insistent. Demanding.

I turn, maintain momentum, keep pace:
“You seem to be in a hurry. Must be a local!”  
A laugh and wide grin, “How did you guess?”

I gesture to the tourist busses, densely packed groups, alfresco diners and coffee sippers, deeply relaxed and at ease.

Muslim women, tightly scarfed, giggle together;

Cheery red poinsettias.
Elderly Italian and Greek women with sensible shoes and bags, closely inspect the local farm fruit and vegetables;

Asian groups of mixed ages and genders, umbrellas angled against the sun, wide brimmed hats pulled low over black hair and tied with bows under chins, ponder whether to try the local Japanese restaurant for lunch – their body language is clear.

No, they’re not local, but they are welcome …
or are they?

I was once lost for words when a friend said “I didn’t know we got that type of person down here” when she saw a group of traditionally dressed Moslem women.

 As I watch cars inching down the crowded street, sporting jaunty antlers and red noses under the searing sun, I wonder sadly if that sentiment remains.

Isn’t there enough room for us all?
The Town Crier decked with tinsel making a Christmas announcement.

I cringe at the addition of a Santa hat

Monday, December 5, 2011

The pain of bullying up close

I've written and deleted, and written and deleted, but my words aren't adequate, so I'll take away my megaphone and soapbox and go and calm down.

What would you say to Jonah?
What would he hear?
What would you say to the perpetrators and onlookers?
What would they hear?
What would you say to the adults around?
What would they hear?
Can any words help?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas questions

Are you galloping towards a frenetic bout of over-consumption this Christmas season?

Are your purchases something you've thoughtfully and consciously chosen or are you buying as a habit or  in response to the powerful advertising machine and their clever manipulation?

Is the "stuff" you're being encouraged to purchase worthy of your hard earned wage?