Just Be Kind

I like quotes. I’ve collected quotes for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I like them because of their message, other times I struck by the perfect combination of words. And while I could fill pages and pages (or should I say posts and posts) with favorites, I do think that perhaps one of the most important quotes I’ve ever come across is the following:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato (though apparently the author of this adage remains up to debate)

I was reminded of this saying today when, at the grocery store, I ran into a woman I know from my job. She tragically lost her only daughter a little less than a year ago. My immediate reaction, as it always is when I run into someone I know, was to say the typical: “Hey! How are you?” with a (not insincere, nor completely natural) grin plastered to my face. And of course, that is exactly how I greeted her. She was kind, we traded casual conversations–small talk about the frustrations of grocery shopping on a Sunday, and then we parted ways. It was a very brief conversation, but the whole time my mind was racing, thinking about the pain she must feel for the loss of her child. How each trip to the grocery store might wrack her with memories. How she was no longer buying the types of foods her daughter once loved. How every child she passed was a reminder of what she no longer had. Of course I didn’t express any of this. In fact, this was all projection on my part; emotions that I could only imagine I would feel in her situation. But it hit me– here is one woman in a store of hundreds. I happen to know her and know her story, or at least the bare minimum of her and her husband’s saga that eventually led to the loss of a young and sick child. Here is this one woman who I know has had this incredibly difficult ordeal. But what about the other people in this store right now? How many of them have recently had such terrible losses?

We all struggle with our own inner demons. Our issues vary in complexity, but not importance. We all have our own shallow troubles that can be blown out of proportion, but at the time they truly do feel like the end of the world. And, unfortunately, most of us will also have not-so-shallow drama; we will feel the all-consuming, mind-numbing pain of grief after an ordeal of such magnitude that it changes our entire world. At different phases of our life we have different worries and fears, but we are all fighting a battle. At the root of it, life is not easy. We will experience fun and adventure, but no one is without pain.

Now, as someone who dislikes conflict and cringes in the face of confrontation, my personal belief system focuses greatly upon the concept of being kind to everyone. Yes, everyone. I’m a thorough advocate of the “kill ’em with kindness” theory. But that’s another story. The point I’m trying to make is that it is SO incredibly important to be kind to one another. It takes little extra effort but makes a world of difference. We are all struggling, maybe not today or tomorrow, but each and every one of us is fighting something. Understand that, accept that, embrace that, act upon that assumption.

I may be something of a peace monger (in fact, I have a whole theory that World Peace could be achieved by nothing more than puppy dogs and warm cookies– an idealist doctrine, to be sure, but it would certainly work for me). The bottom line, however, is that this world is never without its hardships, so why not do our part to add a little more pleasantness to it.

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“We gave the Future to the winds…”

I just wanted to take a quick moment to share one of my favorite sentences in the entire existence of the human language.

It’s from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Mystery of Marie Roget (I went on a bit of a Poe kick this past summer. No regrets.).

“We gave the Future to the winds, and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into dreams.”

When I came across this sentence during my reading, I immediately stopped to write it down. Something about it caught my attention– possibly a mix of the meaning (of serenely living in the present) and the way the words felt on my tongue. Go ahead, say it out loud to yourself.

Okay, so I have officially sealed my reputation as a geek with that last bit, but as I’ve mentioned in the past: I absolutely love quotes. They hold a lot of meaning for me and I collect them like one might collect baseball cards.

So, I have to ask: What are some of your favorite quotes? Care to share?

The Permanency of a Digital Legacy

Around the time of her 80th birthday, my Grandmother decided to write down her memoirs. Not for publication or as some sort of formal biography, but simply as a keepsake for the family. Having been born in 1919, she lived through a time of major changes and, whether kin or not, it’s hard to not find her stories fascinating. After reading them more recently, I began to wonder about my own legacy. Sure, it seems a bit morbid, but it’s hard not to wonder what you will leave behind after you’re gone.

That’s when I realized that, unlike my Grandmother, much of my life and experiences have already been recorded in perhaps an even more permanent format than ink and paper. Yes, I’m talking about the internet.

Over the years, I’ve had multiple blogs, some for school and some for personal use; social media accounts, ranging from the now-dated MySpace to the ever-popular Facebook; accounts at numerous sites, from shopping to gaming; papers or pieces published in online formats; and of course, any bit of local news with my name in it can also be found in the great online archive. So you see, if years from now my ancestors decide to look into who I was, they need go no further than the nearest computer.

Certainly there’s something less romantic about memoirs from the digital age, but perhaps the most frightening thing to take away from this is the permanency of all our online (and offline) actions.

In 2010, Twitter announced that the Library of Congress would be digitally archiving the tweets of all the site’s users since its inception in 2006. Phew, what a relief– years from now my ancestors can view my attempts at being witty with a 140 character limit. What exactly will they learn from this officially documented data? Well, they’ll find out I’m a bit of a complainer, not all that funny, and kind of boring. Of course, while sifting through the thousands of trivial tweets, they may come across some of my activities and opinions– you know, the kind of things one actually puts in a memoir.

But what about my other social media accounts? Well, I’m not sure if the Library of Congress has any claims of ownership on my Facebook, but then again there’s no telling what sticks around after you pass on. In fact, this has actually become a major concern for individuals– what happens to one’s online accounts after they die?

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter actually have policies set in place to deal with this and, with the proper proof, loved ones can delete the accounts of the deceased. In some cases, they can also choose to memorialize the account instead. Other accounts, such as those on PayPal or Gmail, also have systems in place to deal with such issues.

To make things a bit easier, it is becoming more and more common for individuals to make a Digital Will in which they leave instructions on the proper steps to be taken with digital accounts after the person’s death. There are also services, such as Legacy Locker, that store all of the information– passwords, usernames–for loved ones to access in the case of death.

So sure, there are plenty of steps to take in order to clear away some of your digital disarray, but there’s no way to completely erase your online presence. Then there’s always the fact that many people, myself included, don’t really care much what happens to those accounts after our passing. I mean, I’m dead and gone, what do I care if Amazon.com still has my order history on record. But then again, I also don’t have anything to hide…do you?

And that’s what it comes down to: our lives are out there, on the internet, and with just a little bit of digging, any number of things can be found out about us. And the scariest part is the permanency of it all.

So here I am, writing my memoirs every time I tweet, or comment on Facebook, or write a blog post. Look at me, I think I just wrote a whole chapter of my memoirs right here and now.

So what do you think? Is your digital legacy something you would like to try to erase, or just another chapter in your memoirs?

What does Tumblr mean to you?

I’ve been on Tumblr for about 6 months now and I’m surprised to say that the novelty has yet to wear off.

I mainly use the site to keep updated on and entertained by my television and movie fandoms ( [n] The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. ), and generally let out my inner nerd. From my own personal use, I would have supposed that the site would remain more of an alternative social site, always in the shadows of the more thriving Facebook and Twitter. And yet, despite my suppositions, a Nielsen Co. report finds that Tumblr has gained 183% in popularity from 2010 to 2011.

Further findings from the study include:

  • The site averages 21,280 messages and links posted daily. To better understand this figure, understand that it surpasses the number of blogs hosted by WordPress in one month.
  • More than 57% of Tumblr users are under 34 with only 17.5% over 50 years of age.
  • Tumblr uses are more often female (53%)…but not by much.

So why has this site gained so much popularity? And does its notably younger user base point toward Tumblr’s continued trend and growth?

Technically speaking, Tumblr is a form of microblogging. Microblogging  “differs from a traditional blog[ging] in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size. Microblogs ‘allow users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links.'” Other examples of microblogging include Twitter and even Facebook.

To me, it is easy to see how Tumblr is more similar to Twitter than to a blog, such as WordPress. For one, people don’t often use Tumblr for longer messages or posts. On Twitter, individuals are actually forcibly limited in their content (140 characters max).

As for myself, on Tumblr I often just reblog posts that I find informative, humourous, or interesting; I rarely add unique content to the site. Many times, as with Twitter updates, the content of a post may send  the user to a completely separate site. The main focus is not the post itself, but the links or pictures that may lead to another domain.

Tumblr emphasizes how easy it is to use the site. And certainly, the directions are as simple as the  functions of the site. While some may use Tumblr as a primary blog, I still find the site to be less professional due perhaps in part to its simplicity. By this I mean that I don’t feel that one can accurately learn about me via my Tumblr page, whereas I consider my WordPress blog to be an accurate professional representation of myself (much as some people would consider Facebook to be a personal representation of themselves). There are just fewer opportunities to personalize and declare oneself on Tumblr. But then again, as I mentioned earlier, my primary purpose in having a Tumblr account is to free my inner geek.

I also want to clarify that by “less professional” I do not mean that companies and brands are wasting their time on the site. In fact, I feel that Tumblr is a really great way to reach a niche market– whether it be youth in general, or more specific fandoms of certain products and programs. Tumblr is a community in which people are constantly sharing information, even if there isn’t nearly as much direct conversing. It is also a community filled with very opinionated and interested individuals who are purposely seeking information on things that may interest them.

In my opinion, Tumblr is a fun site, but not one that I would ever put on a resume. It’s a place for me to relax and learn more about things that I might enjoy outside of a professional environment. I would love to hear more about other people’s opinions on the site.

Sound off below or respond to the poll. (Note: the last time I tried a poll it failed miserably. Please prove me wrong and restore my faith in both bloggers and polls).

Collecting Quotes

I recently realized that it has been a while since I last posted a quote. I decided it was about time to add a new one. But first, I want to explain something: When I do post quotes, they are more than just space fillers or a way for me to compensate for not having written an actual post in a while. I can say this because, honestly, when I first started blogging, those were the exact reasons why I did post quotes. Now, however, I’ve come to enjoy simply sharing these quotations.

Since I was about 12, I’ve collected quotes. From books, from family, from things I’ve heard in TV or on the radio. My room is littered with little notebooks filled with these collections. Needless to say, I have a wide variety to choose from. But more than that, when I share a quote from my collection, I regard it as personal. I am sharing part of what makes me who I am, in hopes of finding other people who will take equal inspiration/humour/hope/knowledge away from these words.

Today, the quote I’m sharing seems all to relevant to my current situation. As I look for jobs in the real world, I need to remember that the “risk” or staying still is just as “painful” as moving on. Please enjoy and feel free to share some of your favorite quotes with me. I’m always looking to add to my collection!

 

 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

-Anais Nin

The Philosophical Lessons of a Jigsaw Puzzle

I don’t mean to unnecessarily philosophical, but my recent puzzle-ing escapades have led me to some introspective meditation.

You see, it all began after doing the same-old 100 piece puzzles at work with the kids, I’ve realized that one can only do so many ‘My Little Pony’ and ‘Pixar Cars’ puzzles before one’s sanity is put to the ultimate test. However, I was not completely put off by the activity and actually went out and invested in my own 1,000 piece puzzle. It’s a real artsy affair: a painting of a waterside town at sunset (it was either that or a snowy village). I’ve been working away on it, slowly but surely (emphasis on the slowly), and I’ve come to realize that my biggest fault is that I will look at a piece and convince myself that it belongs in a specific spot. I am so sure that this 1/1000 of a puzzle is a part of the boardwalk, and yet I can’t quite make it fit anywhere. Frustration ensues, followed by begrudging acceptance that I made a mistake, and  finally I find myself able to look at it from a different point of view. This isn’t a piece of the boardwalk; it’s clearly part of the roof on the fish shop!

After struggling with many similar instances of stubbornness, I finally came to accept that what I at first assume is not always accurate. I’ve learned to keep an open mind and look at things from multiple perspectives. Sure, at first glance this one piece may seem like a bit of the ocean, but in actuality it’s a fold in a woman’s dress. By having a rigid mentality, I’m unable to see this, making the puzzle about 20 times harder.

So here are the philosophical lessons I have learned during my puzzle experience:

  1. Keep an open mind– whether it’s about a puzzle piece or a person. It’s important to not get stuck on one thing, but to realize that there are any number of possibilities and solutions.
  2. View each situation from multiple perspectives. So what if you didn’t get into the college of your dreams, view it as an opportunity to explore rather than an impediment to your future. It is important to view each and every situation (or puzzle piece) in multiple ways.
  3. Don’t assume, or at least accept that assumptions are prone to inaccuracy.

And finally

4. Puzzles are hard.

Facebook Frenzy!

I am horrible about staying in touch with people when I’m away at school. My friends from home constantly berate me after long absences with limited communication. Even my father, my designated ’email buddy,’ will tease me about the amount of time it takes for me to get back to him. I understand their frustration completely. In fact, I’m not even exactly sure how I became so inept at online communications, especially since I’m a frequent user of several social networking sites. For socializing with my friends, our primary resource is Facebook. Oh Facebook.

On February 4th, Facebook celebrated their 7th anniversary. That same day I received a phone call from a friend, just to chat, but her immediate reaction was: “Wow, I was actually able to get in contact with you.” These two concurrent events made me think a bit more about my Facebook socialization throughout the years. In more recent years, when the site would have actually been a valuable resource for keeping in touch with my high school friends, my interest in Facebook has waned. Personally, I prefer Twitter, a preference that most of my friends unfortunately do not share.

I do, however, remember my first experiences with Facebook. I remember the ‘addiction’ and the excitement of this new website. And I remember how pathetically encapsulating the site became. I believe I first started my account toward the end of my Junior year of high school (that would be nearly 5 years ago now). Fresh off of MySpace, I was excited to find out about this more ‘grown-up’ various of social networking (not that I had even heard the term ‘social networking’ before). At the time, my brother had just entered college, and as the pretentious kid he was at that age, he was under the firm belief that Facebook should be for college students only–after all, he argued, that’s who it was created for. Instead, the fad quickly leaked into high schools, and eventually penetrated the walls of middle schools as well. Now, Facebook boasts 550 million users worldwide. The site is available in 70 different languages (I’m unsure if that stat includes the ‘pirate’ language feature).

Needless to say, Facebook is impressive. It has also become a key part of our society and culture. Who hasn’t heard someone say something along the lines of “Well, I don’t really know [name] but we’re friends on Facebook,” or “Oh yea, they broke up. I saw it on Facebook.” It has infiltrated our culture, even begin used as a verb, much like Google is (“I facebooked him/her. She seemed cool” & “We’ll have to Facebook”).

I use Facebook primarily for personal socialization– though not nearly as frequently as I apparently should. However, several companies have also taken advantage of the opportunity to ‘keep in touch’ with their customers. Companies and brands roll in  publicity from users’ ability to ‘like’ their work, or add them as an interest. We all want our profiles to be an accurate (though super cool) portrayal of ourselves, and this often means mentioning interests and favorites (i.e. Dunkin Donuts coffee– yep, here’s a shout out for DD!).

From a site that was created for Harvard student only, then college students, then spread to the general public–Facebook has certainly grown. This no use supposing this is just some passing trend. Facebook is an essential resource for companies as well as the general user. Despite my own personal receding interest, Facebook won’t be going out of style anytime soon. Nor will I cancel my account. In fact, I should clarify– my decreasing interest means that, instead of going on Facebook 12 times a day, I only go on 3 or 4. Still excessive by any means, but apparently not enough to ‘keep in touch.’ Facebook isn’t going anywhere any time soon– and that’s okay with all of us!

p.s. I debated prefacing this post with a viewer alert that no, I have not in fact seen The Social Network (I know, shame on me). Instead, this tidbit will just have to do as a post script.