Writing From the Heart: Question #16 (Now and Then)

good_and_bad_changes_since_you_were_a_kid

I can still remember when I used to type on a typewriter. The old school kind where there was no white-out tape. When you made a mistake it was like the worst shit ever. You’d tear out that piece of paper that had like two sentences on it and the big fat error, and fling it into the garbage to start over again.

There are other things about back-in-the-day technology (DOS operating system, anyone?) that make me feel slightly ancient now when I see little infants playing on their iPhones.

I feel really ancient when I find myself thinking: I am not going to allow my child to have these things at such a young age and be busting it out at the dinner table. (Well, they won’t be busting it out at the dinner table if they don’t have it in the first place, so forget I said the second thing …).

But you know what I’m sayin’.

Is all this new technology necessarily a bad change the world has gone through? No. But it certainly is strange — and nostalgic — for me to have grown up both in the generation of rotary telephones and in the generation of the technology/social media boom.

When the following generations grow up knowing only a world of high-speed, digital communication and advanced technological entertainment, how will they, as people, be different from their .. um .. forefathers? (I know, ancient talk lol).

Take a few minutes to ask yourself: What are some ways — good and bad — the world has changed since you were a kid? Write a post about it, share it in the comment box below, or just keep it to yourself ;)  

- Cafe

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Housekeeping stuff: I had wanted to update my Page Dedicated to My Readers as I have amassed quite a few new blog subscribers over the past few weeks. But when I visit many of these bloggers’ pages, I find it really difficult to not suspect that they have only subscribed to my blog to hopefully get a “follow” back. (You know what I’m talking about, right? Those blogs that are trying to make money, grow their business, etc). And I never see their actual presence on my blog, so I’m even less convinced that they’re here to actually read what I’m writing. So long story short, I don’t plan on adding anymore blogs to the list unless it’s someone who I’ve been chatting with here and know they’ve genuinely subscribed. I ain’t into that crap where bloggers set up those automatic “likes” on a shitload of random bloggers’ posts to try to get traffic onto their blog. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have automatic “follows” as well. I apologize to anyone who likes to read the blog in silence, but there’s no real way for me to know unless you leave a comment.

Photo Credit: http://thoughtquestions.com/archives/3725

Going Dark on Facebook

A few days ago I looked down at my Blackberry and threw my hands up in the air. I had just about had enough! Flinging my phone to the ground, I declared: “Facebook must die!!!”

Okay, fine, so it was slightly less dramatic than that. What really happened was that over the past few weeks, I had been frequenting my personal Facebook account less and less. I just didn’t have anything much to say. I found myself browsing my newsfeed purely out of habit.

Sometimes I did come up with things to share with the world: “The TTC should burn to the ground.” “It is freezing like a biznatch out here.” “Watching Alias makes me want to drink red wine.”

But after instinctively reaching for my Crackberry and hitting the Facebook app to spread these profound thoughts far and wide, I paused and asked myself: “Does anyone really care?”

Yesterday, I had been chatting with my cousin about potentially disabling my Facebook account for an indefinite period of time. An hour later, I came across a Freshly Pressed post, Are you Being Squeezed by Social Media?, that asked the readers what justified us staying on Facebook and what would it take for us to leave?

Then today, I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader and came across Mooselicker’s post. It really didn’t matter what it was about (I don’t mean it like that, Tim) — all I saw were the words “Soul Sellers” and “Facebook” together and my mouth dropped open. My God, it was a sign.

What did justify me staying on Facebook? What the heck did I do on there anyway? I decided to take a browse around my page to determine this answer.

I found that I used Facebook to broadcast urgent requests:

I used Facebook to update my friends on what had become of me …

… and about my vacations and crazy new adventures.

My Facebook page was the home of many a football game commentary, where friends would take the opportunity to diplomatically discuss their thoughts on my favourite team.

But Facebook was also where friends would send me links to interesting videos and news articles:

And where I could easily connect with family who lived in different countries:

So at the end of my search, I was nowhere closer to figuring out the answers to my burning questions:

  • Would shutting down my account actually lead to more meaningful communication between my friends and I? Nevermind if others would make the effort, but would I?
  • Or would I simply lose connections with people I did care about, but who choose to mainly communicate through FB?
  • Are emailing and texting actually more meaningful ways of communicating? Do we give FB a lot more flack than it deserves?
  • Would I be more productive with the time I was using to mindlessly browse my newsfeed? Or would I at the very least feel less like a FB automaton?

WOULD MY LIFE CHANGE WITHOUT FACEBOOK? OR WOULD ITS DEMISE BARELY MAKE A DENT?

I’m curious to find out. But I’m not completely convinced just yet. Thoughts, people?

- Cafe

Photo Credit: Facebook stats

Getting Past the Stereotypes: The Inside Story on the Jane-Finch Community

Paul Nguyen, my guest blogger and founder of Jane-Finch.com. Here, he has received the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada Award.

The Jane-Finch area has a bad rep for gangs, drugs and gun violence. It’s a community north of Toronto and a place many immigrants call home. Residents have fought hard to change the public’s perception by working together to show the positive reality of the neighbourhood.

I grew up there and, as a kid, I was unaware of the media stereotypes. For me, the community was an exciting mix of diversity, culture, and occasional mayhem. It was normal to shoot firecrackers at each other during Victoria Day, shop for brand names inside someone’s apartment, and witness the 6 o’ clock news reporting a murder on your street. I’ve seen SWAT guys, police, and gangsters walking around with sawed-off shotguns. It’s not your typical suburban upbringing, but those unordinary moments help give you a different perspective on life. Continue reading

Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

In the past few days, three things happened that made me question: Am I wasting my time blogging?

1. I read an article by the Blog Tyrant titled “Why Blogging is a Waste of Your Time.”

2. One of my newest visitors, Whitt, left a very thought-provoking comment on being addicted to blogging after reading about my self-imposed 4-day social media ban.

3. I came across the Freshly Pressed post “Revenge of the Ping” by cheerful.egg about the weapons of mass distraction that we need to learn how to say “NO!” to.

Were the greater powers that be staging an intervention?

Just say no.

Why would blogging be a waste of time? Most people would say it’s because it takes away from doing other things — meaning other, more productive things.

To me, blogging is productive in many ways and really fulfills a creative need that I can’t always get elsewhere. But sometimes I’m not entirely sure if I’m starting to cross the line again.

It’s a good thing to check-in with yourself on this from time to time. And if you do feel like you might be wasting a lot of time on blogging, here’s some ideas on how you might be able to keep up your blog without sacrificing all of your precious time:

1. Post on the bus. I’ve spent many a bus and subway ride typing up blog post drafts in my Blackberry notes (if I wasn’t doing that, I’d be passed out in my seat).

Email myself the note, copy and paste into WordPress, and with some minor edits, I have a new blog post ready to go and don’t have to spend time creating a whole new work of art right there on the spot.

This goes for any other time you might be sitting around waiting by yourself — like for a doctor’s appointment, or for that girl/boyfriend who is always late.

2. Post less often. Some people like to post something once a day, sometimes multiple times a day. If you have time for it and that’s what you want to do, do it. But if you’re finding that it’s taking up way too much of your time, schedule a post for every two, three or even four days.

There’s a plus side to this too. There’s a better chance that more of your readers will get to read each blog post you put out there. As much as I love my blogroll, there’s no way I can keep up anymore with reading every post that each person writes, especially if they post every day.

3. Get a guest blogger. I don’t recommend doing it all the time, because in the end your followers are following YOU and want to read what YOU have to say. But if you know someone who has something interesting to say about the topics you tend to blog about and are willing to keep up with replying to comments, it can provide a nice little break for you.

4. Simplify some of your posts. Take a photo of something interesting and just write a paragraph about it. Sometimes people would rather just look at images than take the time to read a lot of text.

I’ll try to take my own advice on this and not to say so much all the time … after this post ;)

5. Do something just to blog about it. I know it sounds kind of weird, but go out and do something that you might not normally do just for the sake of blogging about it. If you can’t pry yourself away from writing up a next post, at least make it a point to get out there and experience something new, interesting and/or exciting that you can tell all your readers about.

Make blogging the motivation to do “real” stuff, rather than let it hinder you from experiencing those things. This way, you won’t feel guilty about wasting your time and you’ll probably have a kick-ass post to blog about!

- Cafe

Do you feel like blogging is taking up too much of your time? What are your tips for balancing your blog life with real life?

Why Do You Blog?

When I first started out as a new blogger on WordPress a couple or so months ago, I was trying to get used to the new landscape, the new community. How could I search for other like-minded bloggers? How did you work these Widgets? And what did “Freshly Pressed” mean?

As I became more and more familiar with the WordPress neighbourhood, I kept thinking back to a post that I previously wrote – Why Do We Blog? Although I still stood by everything I said in that post, I started realizing that it didn’t truly capture the myriad of reasons, motivations, and inspirations that drive Bloggers to, at times obsessively, update their readers with the newest thing that’s gotten their wheels turning. I started realizing that blogging was truly a passion for many — a way to fulfill something that they might not be able to fulfill elsewhere.

Walking down a block in the WordPress community. (Sorry to those I couldn’t fit into the drawing, I just included bloggers as they accepted my invitation to participate! Karen — there definitely needs to be a Starbucks in WordPressville!)

I’ve taken quite a few strolls through the WordPress ‘hood and come across many different types of blogs and Bloggers, but I know that I’ve only caught a small glimpse of what’s out there. There is just no shortage of what people can and do write about. We blog about our best recipes, music we love, beauty tips, fashion ideas, places we’ve traveled to, marathons we’ve run, our eating disorders, our depression, addictions, stories we’re writing, our goals and dreams, things we find hilarious, things that inspire and challenge us, things that piss us off, and so on. We write about our opinions on things that matter to us, or maybe things that don’t really matter but that we’re gonna give our two cents on regardless. Some of us want the world to know exactly who we are and what we look like, and others find freedom in anonymity.

But what’s really interesting to me is that, in the end, despite the differences we may have, we all share one thing in common: we choose to speak out in this public space, to share our stories with potentially hundreds or thousands of other people whom we will likely never know or meet. We know that out of the thousands of readers who walk through our community (and we are a community) every day, at least one, at some point, will hear us. Some people might think blogging is silly — just a bunch of people ranting about nothing — but I’m always amazed to see how much people can affect others simply with their words and images. Many of us seek to touch or inspire others with our experiences, ideas and creations — and from having read your blogs, I know that there are so many who end up doing just that.

Two inspiring bloggers, Nadia and Den, who have never met each other but created a blog together that spreads optimism far and wide! (Photos from: Writing a blog & Dear Optimists)

It’s taken me a very long time to write this post, because I have found it difficult to convey to you, my dear readers, why blogging is such a staple in so many people’s lives. I didn’t think that it could be complete without a few words from just a handful of great Bloggers who have one way or another inspired me, gotten me to think, or simply made me laugh so hard that it hurt. So I asked them the question: “Why do you blog?” and here’s what they had to say …

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“There many forms of expression, whether by music or art. In writing we take inspiration from within ourselves and place it in words, sharing with everyone our most sincere thoughts.”

– Andy from My story to you.. (Life)

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“I blog as a way to connect. I blog to entertain, to provoke, to question, to confront. Blogging is my unapologetic way of sharing myself with the world. And it can be said that life’s greatest insights come at such moments of vulnerability.”

– Fraser McGuire at Unsolicited Advice (General Interest)

* * *

“Why did I start blogging? Because I felt like I had something to say and needed someone to say it to. There sometimes feels like there are things in my head that are trying to escape. It’s like my brain has a cage around it and there are thoughts and ideas trying to get out. Blogging allows me to reach an audience. It cleans out my brain and keeps me creating. It’s an easy schedule to maintain, since I make the schedule. I also want people to like me and tell me I’m handsome. That’s why I do everything I do.”

– Tim at Mooselicker (Humor)

* * *

“I created a blog to show my ability in Graphic arts and media communication.”

– Jake at Time After Time (Graphic Arts & Photography)

* * *

“Writing makes me happy. I`ve always wanted to write but I think I was always afraid of how it would be recieved or what people think. It`s hard when people critique something that you love doing. This blog was my way of breaking away from that and creating a happy place that I can always come to. Also, someone needs to document ridiculous things that happen in everyday life ;)”

- Karen at The Skinny Jeans and Starbucks Chronicles (Humor)

* * *

“I blog mainly because I love writing and telling stories and disseminating knowledge — it’s an extension of my everyday life as a teacher. I also blog because there’s nothing like making someone laugh, or smile, or think about things a little differently, and blogging gives you the most immediately available means to reach others and touch them in some way with your words and experiences. I blog to share what I know, to question what I don’t know, and to examine what I think I know or what I could know. I blog to share my newest works in progress and my experiences writing and revising with my readers, and to hold myself accountable for completing those projects — there’s nothing like those emails demanding the monthly sneak peek! For me, in the end, it’s all about individual and collective understanding and communication. I blog because it is one immediately tangible way to be in relationship with the rest of the world.”

– Melissa Ridley Elmes at Cerridwen’s Cauldron (Lifestyle & Eclectic)

* * *

“I blog for a lot of reasons, but mostly, I like the process of figuring out how to say something in the most direct and resonant way. How can I make this funnier? How can I make this more emotional? How can I make it more true? And because blogging is so hurried, I have to make those decisions in a compressed timeframe. It’s an academic exercise, but in the best way.”

- Yoona at Yoonanimous (Fashion, Food & Other Ephemera)

* * *

“One of the greatest inspirations for this blog is my desire to help people find the beauty in life, and therefore find their own Wonderland.”

– CT at insearchofwonderland (Self Improvement & Enlightenment)

* * *

“We blog because we want to make people smile, we want them to read our post of the day and realize that sometimes, the little things in life are all we have, and to cherish the short moments of bliss, the smiles, the laughs and the hugs that people have on a daily basis but are so small that sometimes they forget about them when the bigger, tougher parts of life overwhelm. We blog because we like to make others feel good, which in turn makes us feel good and want to continue making others feel good, and thus keep a circular motion of positivity that continues on and on and on and on…do you think we are the ones making people smile? Well the reality is that those very same people that we make smile are just as equally making us smile as well.

That, my friend, is why we blog.”

- Den and Nadia at Dear Optimists (Humor & Optimism :)

* * *

And as for me? “I always had a hard time expressing my opinions and feelings through talking about things when I was growing up. Sometimes I still do. Writing allows me to get all of it out in a way that makes sense. But this blog isn’t just about me. There is so much that I want to say and share with others, but I also love hearing about others’ perspectives and own experiences and getting a good discussion going. This blog is my creative space that let’s me explore, discover, and share.”

- Cafe at Your Daily Dose (A Mixed Bag ‘O Goodies ;)

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Thanks so much to the Bloggers who took the time to participate in this post and send me your answers. I would love to hear from more bloggers about your own motivations and inspirations for blogging! So answer me this, my dear readers:

For the Bloggers: Why do YOU blog?  (Don’t forget to leave a link to your blog!)

For the Non-Bloggers (or the Not-Yet-Bloggers): Why don’t you blog? (Just never thought about it before? Don’t think you can write? Don’t have the time?). And if you were to create your own blog, what do you think you’d blog about?

- Cafe <3