Facebook & I have changed our relationship status to ‘It’s Complicated’

I know I’m not the only one with complaints about the latest Facebook changes. Everywhere I go, I hear co-workers, friends, and even complete strangers grumbling over the supposedly improved site. In a recent Mashable poll, nearly 74% of users said they hated the changes. And now we long for happier times…

Sometimes I feel like Facebook and I are in some sort of bad relationship. Facebook is crowding me, making me feel claustrophobic, not allowing me to have a life outside of it. Facebook is trying to provide me with everything I need, but rather than finding this convenient, I find it needy and constricting.

Everywhere I go, I find sites asking me to sign in via Facebook. But sometimes, I just want to keep things separate. I just want to be able to play my Words with Friends without checking in with Facebook. I feel like screaming at the site: I don’t need your permission to have a good time! Nor do I want to share every single detail about myself with you. I’ve told you my favorite movies and books, my likes and dislikes– isn’t that enough? Must I fan every product I’ve ever used, every actor I’ve ever watched, and every store I’ve ever shopped at? Stop being so pushy about it! The pressure in this relationship is overwhelming. I can’t handle it.

Of course, the site’s latest changes include updated friends list, news headlines, and feed subscription. Not to mention the pesky blue corner added to updates that are specifically selected to fit your interest (‘You don’t know me, Facebook!’…the two of us may have to settle this on Maury or something).

And worse yet, it’s reported that there are more changes to come. Facebook, don’t go trying to change yourself to fix an already broken relationship. Sure, I don’t visit you nearly as often, but it’s because we’ve grown apart. I’ve found other sites, like Twitter and Tumblr and while I swear their just occasional pastimes, you jealously seems to be getting the best of you. What am I supposed to say? That they mean nothing to me? Why must I feel so much shame for cheating on my social networking site?!

Plus, changing everything about yourself, Facebook, just makes me even more hesitant to keep you in my life. I never asked you to get a makeover or change your features, you did that all on your own, so don’t go blaming me when you start losing users.

And you know what, while we’re on the subject, stop judging me with your side advertisements. Personally, I think my teeth are white enough, thank you. And how dare you assume that I’m always “looking for something to do in *insert town here*.”

Let me live my life without needing to touch base with you every minute. Sometimes I just don’t want to keep you updated. You don’t need to know everything about what I do or who I see or where I am. Facebook: I think it’s time I started seeing other social networking sites.

Once, I felt like I knew you. I felt like we really connected (and that you really helped me stay connected). Now, you feel distant. You puzzle me– with all your new features and confusing ‘aesthetic appeal.’ Weren’t we happy before? What happened to us?

Bottom line, I think Facebook and I might need to change our relationship status to It’s Complicated.

The Musings of a Recent Graduate

My blog absence of late may or may not have gone unnoticed, but either way I’ve decided to try to sum up the reasoning behind it. You see, my dear readers, I am now a member of a group of people known as “Recent Graduates,” and thus feel a bit discombobulated and unsure of things. Let’s see if I can explain…

I’m at this awkward standstill in my life right now. I’ve freshly graduated college and now find myself flooded with mixed messages on the appropriate next steps. On one side, there are those who suggest taking time off and relaxing for a bit before diving into a full-time career. To me, this sound like a euphemism for what they’re really thinking: “You graduated with no job lined up? Oh how sad.” On the other hand, there is the constant societal  (not to mention parental) pressure to find a job, start a career, and start work on the rest of my life.

And so I’m at an uncomfortable, and unique, point in my life where the trail seems to fork and I know I must choose one or the other, the detour or the straight path. Yet, I can’t help but dillydally on my current path of indecision. I look around me and I realize how truly rare of a situation I am in.

For the majority of my life, summers were a time of limited work and of much need relaxation in between a regularly scheduled school year. Now, summer has become just another time when I should be employed—but I’m not.

I just recently accepted to work full-time at my back-up summer job—you know the deal: the place I’ve worked at since high school; the place that has no bearing on my real career, but at least provides me with a constant stream of minimum wage paychecks. My immediate thought upon accepting to “work everyday” in response to my bosses oh-so-professional text message was my own very eloquent: “Shit, I’m screwing myself over, aren’t I?” What happens if I get stuck in this rut?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been steadily applying to jobs, but with no success. It’s gotten to the point where I yearn for even a rejection letter. The application process is so impersonal, most of which is done online by submitting word documents that will some how accurately reflect who you are to a future employer.

With the economy and the influx of new graduates, I can only assume that companies are swarming with excess applicants—myself included. After all, how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd? A witty cover letter? A spectacular list of work experience? All of this requires the hirer to look beyond an initial scan of the hundreds/thousands of applicants.

People are constantly assuring me that “something will show up” and “good for you, take some time off.” Little do they know how uncomfortable I feel about the whole situation. I feel like a disappointment for graduating without a job—I was a great student who really excelled in classes and graduated top of my major. While I am happy to have some rest and relaxation (interspersed with the good old ‘summer job’), I feel so unsteady. I want to settle back into some sort of routine in which I know where I’ll be come fall.

Ideally, I would still be in classes, but school is expensive and I’ve got enough loans to pay for the time being. And so I just sit around, waiting for my real life to start, and in the meantime I’ll go through the motions I’ve gone through every other summer. In addition, I’ll diligently apply to more and more jobs where I will undoubtedly be overlooked for a more qualified and experienced candidate. So as my friends carry on with their regularly scheduled lives—jobs, training, school—I find myself in this uncomfortable slump wondering: just where do I belong?


A Professional Student’s Laments

Please forgive the lack of modesty here, but I’m a good student. Or rather, I’m good at being a student.

I breathe ‘A’s and eat compliments for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These things are simply important to me, and thus I’ve taught myself to be the best possible student I can. I’m not trying to say I’m smarter than all of my peers who get ‘B’s and ‘C’s, for I certainly know that is not the case. I am, however, saying that I’ve mastered the skill of studenting (let’s pretend that’s a verb for a bit).

Maybe it’s my PR mentality, but I’ve learned to position each assignment to the professor who has assigned it. I don’t mean this in a manipulative sense, since I never lie, cheat, or steal to get an ‘A.’ I simply observe. I realize that in one class, including a paragraph about politics in an essay would be beneficial, while if I had that same assignment with a different teacher, I might use an example tied in with family. You can learn much about teachers and their values by simply paying attention. I don’t bend my own beliefs when I position my work, I simply highlight what I know they would find most important and appealing.

More than that, I’ve perfected my own personal studying techniques. I know what works for me (writing, and rewriting, and rewriting my notes again), and I put effort into it.

I guess what I’m saying is, it took me long enough, but ever since I’ve entered college I’ve developed into what I can only refer to as a “Professional Student.”

And now it’s time for me to retire.

I graduate this upcoming May, and while I’ve been liberally applying to jobs, I’ve been unsuccessful as of yet. My fear, even if/when I  get a job, is that I simply won’t excel at it. I know how to be a good student. Years of training and practice and I’ve mastered the art. But now I’m being thrown into a whole other shark tank, where a  high GPA  could quite possibly be as meaningless as a bicycle to a fish (I hope everyone enjoys the aquatic theme of that last sentence).

I know many of my peers who, despite being nervous about getting out into the real world, are incredibly relieved to be done with their school careers. I, however, am hesitant. What if I can’t find success in a workplace? What if my best talents are those of being a student? I’m sure some of my skills will transfer, but I’m going to need to learn to play by a whole different set of rules.

While the concept of being  a Professional Student for the rest of my life has crossed my mind (think Buster from Arrested Development, minus the mother complex), I realize that I’ll be broke enough after graduating from my 4-years here to even think about any more schooling for a while. I may go back to graduate school, but I can’t go simply because I want to stay in school. I need to have a reason and a goal. I need to find a specific area of work that I enjoy and, hopefully, excel in. Then I can build on that.

So while I enjoy my last couple months of professional studenting (again, we’re pretending it’s a verb), I look with trepidation upon the future. Is it possible that I can someday drop the ‘student’ and learn to simply be a ‘professional’?


No NPR? No, Thanks.

Honestly, I should be paying more attention to the campaign to defund NPR. I guess the very concept seemed ridiculous to me– Who would agree to this? And why?

As of late, after the House passed a vote to cut funding to NPR and PBS, I’ve done a bit more research.

On Tuesday, the House passed a three-week temporary spending bill with $6 billion in cuts, including $50 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports NPR and PBS.

The greatest support for the defunding came after a “sting” operation caught an NPR executive criticizing the Republican party and saying that the stations did not need the millions of dollars the government supplied them with.

Republicans have long been critical of public broadcasting and accuse it of having a liberal slant. Many felt their suspicions were confirmed when an undercover video produced by conservative activist James O’Keefe showed NPR executive Ron Schiller calling the Tea Party movement “scary” and “racist” at a meeting with a potential donor who claimed to be from a Muslim organization that supports Sharia law. Both the donor and organization were fake, part of a sting operation set up by O’Keefe.

Executive Ron Schiller has since stepped down, but the damage has been done. While I don’t condone Schiller’s name-calling, I do have admit I’m shocked by the very idea of a “sting operation” being set up to uncover NPR’s true politics. First off, there is no denying they are left-leaning. For the most part, no media source, no matter their attempts, are ever seen as neutral. A news station could have the most impartial reporting ever, but as viewers and consumers we naturally want to categorize our sources. Whether we want an enemy to be angry at, or a companion who shares our beliefs.

Media theories, such as the Uses and Gratification Theory, state that we turn to media for specific reasons. Sometimes we are looking for entertainment, but often when we turn on a news show, we are looking for further validation of our already set opinions. So if we’re liberal, we may prefer one network. If we’re conservative, we prefer a different network. We don’t necessarily want a neutral source.

But that is a tangent from the true point of this post. The bottom line is that NPR is a news source and, while aspects of it tend to be more liberal, its fundamental reporting is all-inclusive. The news on these programs is not distorted, nor are facts left out. I have heard show hosts equally criticize Republican and Democratic politicians and ideas. But, the stations are much more than just news outlets– they provide entertainment, such as my personal favorite show: Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. They also promote cultural discussions and bring in experts from a variety of fields to share knowledge with the listeners.

Of course, nothing proves a point quite like simple facts: In a Harris poll conducted in 2005, NPR was voted the most trusted news source in the U.S.

MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE? That surely counts for something.

Despite the House’s vote, the future remains somewhat bright for NPR enthusiasts like myself:

The bill, should the Senate even bring it to the floor, is almost certain to fail in that chamber. Democrats control the Senate, where members of both parties have expressed skepticism about cutting off NPR because it remains popular among many of their constituents.
In the meantime, I leave you with a very entertaining video of House Rep. Anothony Weimer mocking the efforts to defund NPR and its “un-American” programming…such as Car Talk?

Social media gives animals a voice

I’m the person that has to change the channel when the ASPCA commercials come on. You know the ones–  heartbreaking photos of downcast animals pass across the screen as you find yourself being serenaded by a sad Faith Hill song. The few times I’m managed to get through these ads, I’ve found myself with wet cheeks and a sniffly nose. The humane treatment of animals, as well as shelter-adoption are two issues I feel particularly strong about. Both of my own dogs came from the local shelter, and for the past few years I’ve been volunteering at an animal shelter near my school.

I came across an article today regarding the impact social media is having on pet adoption. In particular, two Nevada animal shelters have taken to the web in an effort to give their animals a voice (of sorts).

At the Nevada Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Doug Duke has instituted an interesting use of online communities. Despite a small staff, limited budget, and overflow of animals, Duke has taken to posting about the  adoptees on the organizations blog, tweeting about/from the animals, and even posting biographies to Facebook. Duke notes that every animals at the shelter has a history, and it’s important for potential pet owners to learn this back story:

“The posts require disclosing the animals’ flaws, such as not being good with children or other pets, but that information helps potential adopters find an animal with the right personality so it can join what Duke calls a ‘forever home.'”

Perhaps Duke’s most unique use of social media is features heartbreaking and adorable messages from the ‘pets’ themselves.

A cat named Princess Ashlyn took to Facebook to post some of her latest pictures alongside the caption: “I will be sure to let you know how much I love you every day.”

2-year-old Chihuahua, Donna asked: “What is it like to sleep in a bed and have toys to play with?”

And 4-year-old Chachito, also a Chihuahua, got more personal when he mentioned how his previous abandoned him in a crate on the side of the road: “I trusted and loved them, but they threw me away.”

Duke’s creative use of first-person(/animal?) messaging stems from his firm belief that “The last thing anyone wants from an animal charity is to hear a person.” Adopting a pet is a very personal experience. Everything is dependent upon the relationship you forge with your potential new pet. This Nevada shelter is eliminating the middle man, or just the man/woman in general. Duke’s plans seem to be working, with a 5% increase in pet adoption seen over the past year, as well as a dramatic increase in twitter followers and Facebook friends.

Another Nevada shelter has also engaged in social media for their adoption campaign. The Animal Foundation at Lied Animal Shelter has focused on educating people as well as contributing to adoption rates. Once a week, their Facebook page features “Furry Friday”– posting the pet of the week. The organization reports that on average, by the end of the day, that animal has found a home.

The Animal Foundation has also taken to creating profiles for their pets, including Maximus the cat, who needed money for surgery. Through Facebook, the Foundation was able to raise the funds necessary.

The support of the online community for animal shelter adoption is overwhelming. It raises awareness on a whole new platform. Says Duke of the use of social media and its benefits:

“Before, people could donate, volunteer, adopt, foster; now, they can help spread the word…It initially didn’t occur to us that all these people could become warriors for the animals.”

As a sign off for this post, I just want to remind everyone to please think adoption first when looking for a new pet. You could be saving the life of your new best friend.





Remember that time…

Hey, remember that time my post was “Freshly Pressed”? I do. And so does the Stats graph on my dashboard. Everyday it reminds me of “the good old days.” It also makes my current measly amount of hits seem all the more pathetic. Oh well, here’s hoping to another fifteen minutes of blogger fame!