BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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The Allure of the Like Button

Recently I’ve been wondering how people use their “like” buttons. If you use social media at all you have them, and with them you wield power. So maybe it’s not great power, at least not by yourself, but it’s power all the same.

like-button2On Facebook, I notice that the like button is often used to simply acknowledge something someone has posted, and in that arena, I think that’s a perfectly acceptable way to use it, at least most of the time. You planted flowers? Great. Like. Your kid got a part in the play? Terrific. Like. That’s the dress you’re wearing to the party? Nice choice. Like. Grandpa Vito is in the hospital? That’s a shame. Like. Wait, what?

I think we should use our Facebook likes for things that we actually do like, or feel good about. Maybe it’s a puppy picture or a funny story about you and Aunt Vi on vacation in Bransonville. Why do people go to Bransonville? But the more challenging stuff in life? In my opinion a supportive comment in more appropriate. I know people don’t really “like” the bad stuff, but if you’re too lazy to type in a few words of encouragement, I think you should skip the interaction all together, until you have more time to put some thought into it.Web

That brings me to WordPress “likes.” I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a few more of these lately, which I really do enjoy, but they sometimes leave me confused. I get a little notification on my phone that so and so has liked my post about blah blah blah.

“Oh goody!” I think to myself, “someone has actually read one of my posts!”

That thought makes me want to check to see how many views the blog has received, so I click on that little button on my phone, and it brings up the exact same number as it did an hour ago, when I last checked. And, yes, I know I have a problem. The only thing I can think of is that people are seeing my posts in their reader and then clicking the like button from there, without actually visiting the blog.

Why would you do that? I mean I’m flattered that after just a few words you already know that you like what I’ve written, but really, you ought to jump in and read the whole thing! I’m kidding of course about the love at first sight thing. The truth is, people are busy, but want to show their support of their fellow bloggers, so they click the like button. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it seems like a friendly gesture. The only issue I take with it, is that’s it’s a hollow one.

I like making bloggy friends. I like having them around in my reader and in my comments. They are awesome people, and I enjoy their blogs. But here’s the thing, when I read them, I actually go to the blog and read! Yes, the whole thing (if I like it). For some reason, sometimes a post doesn’t click with me. I don’t hit the like button automatically. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I don’t like everything I read, so I save my likes for the ones that I do.

I do try to comment on most posts that I read. Blogging is a conversation, at least to me. Granted it’s kind of one sided, but it’s a conversation all the same. For it to work, there has to be some give and take.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the likes. In fact I’d love to see more of them. But what I really like to see are readers engaging with the writing and contributing to the conversation. That makes me far happier than the quick click of a button.


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Reblog-Lamenting the Decline of the Christmas Card

It’s a new year and I’m in a new home, and of course I didn’t send out a change of address card to anyone, so this year I really won’t get many cards, but yesterday I did get one. It may be the only one, aside from the one my mom sent. That’s ok, because this year I’m not sending out a bunch either. I’m afraid I’ve given in this year. Maybe 2015 will be the year that old fashioned in the mailbox Christmas cards make their return to fashion. In the meantime, enjoy this post from Christmas 2013.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my own personal circle of friends is unusual, or maybe they all lost my address, or, dare I even say it, maybe they just don’t like me anymore. I don’t think any of those are true, but who knows? Whatever it is, the number of Christmas cards I’ve received so far this year is zero. Not one single card. It is the 7th of December and the Christmas spirit has yet to enter my mailbox.

Now, before I go too far, I have to come clean and admit that I have likewise sent zero Christmas cards this year.  I have good intentions, though. I even saw a box of cards that I really liked with a cool funky retro pine forest on the front and a nice non-offensive greeting in the center. I didn’t buy them, though. A snarky little voice inside my head said, “Why should you send cards out? Remember how many you received last year? It’s hardly worth the trouble.” And I put them down and walked away. I regret doing that. I will go back and get them. Let me tell you why.

First there’s this little saying that I actually happen to believe that goes a little something like this, “it is better to give than to receive.” Ok, sure, if you’re starving it’s better to receive food than to give it away, but I’m hardly starving. My life is full of abundance. I live in comfort surrounded by love. I have rewarding work, I can pay my bills, I feel safe and secure, my loved ones are reasonably happy and healthy, and therefore I have nothing to complain about.

I like being able to give a tiny bit of myself to my friends, even if that tiny bit is just a warm greeting inside a pretty card. I know some people see sending out cards as an unnecessary chore, but I actually like sending Christmas cards. 1012-den-cards-lI like writing a short personal note inside each one letting my friends know I’m thinking of them at this time of year. I also like slipping in a school picture of my now gangly, braces wearing teen, as much to embarrass him as anything else. Besides, what else are you supposed to do with all those tiny pictures? His friends don’t want them. They all have phones that take pictures.

Another reason I’m sad about the demise of the Christmas card is that it offered a yearly glimpse into the lives of people with whom I’m friendly but didn’t necessarily see or talk to a lot. It was a yearly check in, sort of like your annual physical. It said, “we’re still connected to one another.” It might prompt a phone call or a get together, or it might just bring a warm feeling, but it didn’t mean a big commitment. Now those people are on your Facebook feed and you hear more about their lives than you ever did, so the check in feels unnecessary. I think that’s one reason the cards are going the way of the dinosaur, at least for my generation.

My mother’s generation is still a generation of Christmas card senders, bless them. She has a lovely annual display of them on her piano, showing smiling grandchildren, fabulous vacation spots, and drawings made by pediatric cancer patients. They feature spiky script, or long newsy letters full of deaths, births, and procedures, and promises to get together when the weather warms up or they get back from Florida.  They are cherished by my mother, as I cherish the few I still receive.

Growing up, I lived in a house built in the 1930’s. It had a beautiful fireplace with a grand mantle. Every night in December we would read the day’s Christmas cards at the dinner table, then after dinner add them to the already impressive display on the mantle. There was often some rearranging to be done, taller cards in back, prettiest pictures in front, and so on. In my twenties I lived in apartment with a long extinct fireplace, but it had a pretty mantle, and it always filled with Christmas cards too.

Depending on where I’ve lived I had different methods of display, but I think my favorite was in my last home, which was two stories. We wrapped garland (with white lights) around the bannister, and attached the cards to it with tiny clothes pins. It made such a pretty display. I no longer have stairs, but I do have my grandmother’s antique piano on which to showcase my cards this year. If I get any.

Today I will go back to that store and buy that box of cards. I will write a note inside each one and mail them out. I won’t send out twenty or thirty, like I used to, but I will send some. I hope to receive some in return, but if I don’t I’ll try not to take it personally. Everyone is trying to get by, especially this time of year. Decisions need to be made, time and resources have to be distributed in the most effective way possible. For many people that means putting up a Facebook post with a cute or meaningful graphic on Christmas will take the place of a real card sent through the mail. I understand this, but it makes me a little nostalgic and sad. I hope your mailbox is filled with Christmas cards this year, and for many years to come.


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Feeling Pretty Popular

 

facebook-add-as-friend1I was never the popular girl in school. I wasn’t unpopular either, at least I don’t think so. I always had friends and I didn’t worry about being part of an “in” crowd. In fact the only “in” crowd I was really aware of were a couple of girls a few years younger than me who decided that they enjoyed being bottle blondes. Whatever.

I had fun in school. I liked high school, in spite of a few difficult times. Overall, it was a blast, and I made great friends who I still keep in touch with.

That’s saying a lot, for me. I’m not great at keeping in touch. Weird for someone who enjoys writing, but true. I’m not big on making phone calls, and writing letters has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur for me, which is too bad. I used to write lots of them, and receive them too. That’s ancient history now. Now it’s all about social media.

Through the modern miracle of Facebook I still keep in touch with friends from as far back as kindergarten and yes, even nursery school. I don’t have oodles of Facebook friends, but I like the ones I have. I don’t add new ones often, since at heart I’m pretty much an introvert, so I don’t collect friends as easily as someone more extraverted might. That’s why I was so surprised last weekend to receive not one, not two, not three, but four friend requests. My mind was blown.

Let me explain. None of those four individuals know each other. One lives in New Jersey, one in Texas, and two in Arizona. I know them from completely different parts of my life, and I had only seen one of them within the past week, but I don’t think we said more than “hello” on that occasion, simply due to circumstances.

Why any of these people thought to themselves that they should hear more from me is beyond my imagination, but I’m glad they did. These are people I like, and would like to be in closer contact with. Now that we’re “friends” that will be easier. I’ve already gotten caught up with one of them through pictures and “chatted” with another via messages. What a treat.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I was on their minds over the last few days. It’s been a treat to reconnect, and an unexpected surprise. When someone reaches out to you, it makes you feel as though you count, and everyone wants to count. Thanks to my four “new” friends more making me count.