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511th Friday Blog Roundup

I can’t even…

Fine, I will.

The most offensive quotes from Time magazine’s “Why Not Having Kids Makes Some People Crazy” (beyond the title itself) are thankfully all crowded in the beginning of the article, such as, “So it’s not just whether they had kids that made people depressed or content, it’s how badly they wanted them.” [Additionally offensive emphasis is actually theirs and not mine.]  So just skip the first few paragraphs.

If you can get past the assumption drawn by the media reporting on the study that the depression that follows infertility is somehow tied to how badly you wanted to be a parent, you will get to a valid, important point made by the study itself: “The paper, which was published online on Sept. 10 in Human Reproduction, recommends sustained psychological counseling for people who did not conceive after fertility treatments and a lot of frank talk about the possibility of failure during the treatments.”

Yes, that would be very helpful, and certainly, with the cost of services, clinics should be able to employ more therapists in order to serve their patients and make sure they feel emotionally cared for while they treat their infertility.

You know… take care of people’s brains instead of just their ovaries.

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Yes, this is your weekly reminder to back up your blog, social media accounts, and email.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

  • Uh… there were none.  People found zero posts worthy of being noticed?

Okay, now my choices this week.

MissConception has a post about where she tells us a secret.  She admits, “I don’t think we will ever have another child.  With no more frozen embryos, no plans for another IVF, and no plans to adopt, we are dealing with trying to conceive all on our own again.”  It’s about listening to your gut feelings and acknowledging them, even when you don’t want them to be true.  A really good, thought-provoking post.

A tiny post from Hapa Hopes about the embryologist’s storage bill.  So tiny that I fear writing about it will lessen the punch of the post.  Click over to read because it’s almost poetry.

So Dear and Yet So Far has a quiet post about the last time she was pregnant, seven years ago.  The post is like a boat bobbing in the harbour before heading into the storm.  She needs to keep writing the story, but of course you wish it had a different ending, too.  Holding her in my heart.

Lastly, I Can Do This has a post about the distance she feels with certain friendships.  After years of remaining supportive of friends once they became pregnant, she is finding that she is not getting to enjoy the same thing back from her current friends who are still trying.  She writes, “I often wonder if these woman that turn off the support once you get pregnant will expect support during their pregnancies? I will support a friend regardless, like I always have, but I feel it is very unfair to have support and then to get pregnant and be treated like you have a transmittable disease. I want people to know that once you get pregnant, we still have feelings also. ”  I think it’s important post to read, not because the situation has a simple answer but because we sometimes need to hear hard words and think about them.

The roundup to the Roundup: This study sounds interesting, the coverage less so.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between September 5th and 12th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

September 12, 2014   9 Comments

Things Biz Stone Told Me (Part Three)

This is that sandwich effect you always read about.  In the first post about Biz Stone’s book, Things a Little Bird Told Me, I gave you something I really liked that I chewed on a bit.  In the second post, I gave you something that made my eyes widen in disbelief.  And now, in the third post, I once again tell you something interesting I read in the book that made me think.

See, it all amounts to a vote for others to read the book.  Especially if you use his site, but even if you don’t.  It’s a lot of very happy, very optimistic advice.

twitter

Image: Twitter via Flickr

On page 211, Stone writes,

For almost a decade now, we’ve been ‘friending,’ ‘following,’ liking,’ and in other ways amassing a prodigious network of virtual connections, but without a long term goal.  What’s it all for?

Uh… that’s a good question.  What is it for?  What is the purpose of social media?

I mean, yes, it connects us, it keeps us in touch, it allows us to disseminate information… but to what end?  Where is all of this leading?  We’re gathering up all these people to do… what?  I mean, is this all it is?  Are we just going to be friending and following each other until we’re in our graves?

I guess I never really thought about it until I saw a site comment on Facebook this week that they just needed one more like to hit 500.  And I instantly thought, “and then what?”  What happens when they hit 500?  Does the goal simply reset and now they strive for 1000 likes?  And what happens when they hit 1000 likes?  When we gather as hunter-gatherers, it’s to feed ourselves, to eat.  But social media sometimes feels a little like hoarding.  Gathering for gathering’s sake.

On page 218, Stone points readers towards a possible end goal: “The true promise of a connected society is people helping one another.”

I love that idea.  I really hope that his vision comes true.  On a day like today, September 11th, when the events of history weigh so heavily on our hearts, it’s a nice balloon of hope: that the world could be a better place tomorrow, next week, a few months from now.  At the very least, within our lifetime.

What do you think?  What is the point of connectivity?  Do you think it will ultimately be used to help one another?

September 11, 2014   5 Comments

Things Biz Stone Told Me (Part Two)

If you missed the first post, I didn’t actually speak to Biz Stone.  He whispered these sweet nothing in my ear via his book, Things a Little Bird Told Me.

The second thought that I chewed on (that I am now passing to your mouth-y brain to chew on) came on page 123, but the discussion was spread out across the book.  It was a topic that came up many many times and can be summarized like this: we don’t need no stinkin’ moderation.

Cough… I will bet you 20 rape jokes that you do.

twitter

Image: Twitter via Flickr

Stone writes (on page 123):

We tried to keep our goal pure: to connect people everywhere instantly to what was most meaningful to them.  For this to happen, freedom of expression was essential.  Some Tweets might facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some might make us laugh, some might make us think, some might downright anger a vast majority of users.  We didn’t always agree with the things people chose to tweet, but we kept the information flowing irrespective of any view we might have about the content.

What Stone didn’t cover in his optimistic but not very realistic look at the tool is that some tweets may do something much more damaging than anger people.  And maybe it is simply because Stone writes from the privilege of being a white male (and surrounding himself with other white males as the primary creators of Twitter) that he doesn’t acknowledge Twitter’s misogyny problem.  It’s not just Twitter, of course, who has a misogyny problem: anywhere that you let trolls run free under the umbrella of free speech you will see rape jokes. (And this just covers the online world’s problem with women.  I’m not even going to open the door to peek at the racism or body image shaming or homophobia or… the list is really endless.)

Free speech is great until it’s not great because people aren’t speaking responsibly.  Free speech is great until people are people, and they look at the offer of free speech as a pass to say whatever they chose regardless of who gets hurt in the spewing of their words.  Many people who have been on the not-great side of free speech, feeling silenced or fearful from someone else’s words, can see the benefit of moderation.  Of setting up a clear community guidelines and enforcing them.  Is enforcing community guidelines on a site as large as Twitter expensive: yes.  Is it difficult: yes.  Would they need to employ many many people in order to ensure that users are not abusing others: yes.  But should they do it?

Well, if what he says on page 157 is true — that unlike Google, his “priorities are flipped.  People come before technology.” — then yes, they should be monitoring the site for tweets that stray outside their community guidelines.

Twitter, by the way, has community guidelines.  I would argue that they’re built with business and legalities first, and people second.  Their guidelines say that you can’t purchase followers, but there is nothing barring you from telling women you hope that they’re raped.  In fact, there is nothing in their guidelines about treating people respectfully.

Biz Stone (and no, he’s not with Twitter anymore, but this is the ideology he left as a footprint on his old site and one that he is proudly carrying into his new site) says that he puts people before technology, but I want to know where free speech falls in that hierarchy.  Is free speech before people?  Do people come before free speech?  Is free speech more important than people having a good user experience with the site?  Should women (or pick your group) feel safe to venture on the site?  Or is it more important that people are allowed to say whatever they want to say?

Based on Stone’s own words on the Twitter blog, I would guess that the order of the hierarchy is free speech, the safety of women, and then technology.  In a post titled “The Tweets Must Flow” (which he used two paragraphs from page 123 in the book, word-for-word… isn’t that one of the things that got Jonah Lehrer in trouble?  Cannibalizing his own work?) he writes,

At Twitter, we have identified our own responsibilities and limits. There are Tweets that we do remove, such as illegal Tweets and spam. However, we make efforts to keep these exceptions narrow so they may serve to prove a broader and more important rule—we strive not to remove Tweets on the basis of their content.

In other words, truly, say whatever you wish to say, regardless of the human beings who receive your words.

I often wonder if sites stand under a banner of free speech out of laziness.  Sure, monitoring tweets would be a logistical nightmare, but it could be done.  There would be a cost, it would be difficult, but it could be done, especially if they enlist the help of Twitter users.  It is cheaper and easier to claim free speech as the reason for why they only get involved in banning users when the transgressions hit the mainstream media, as was the case in the trolling of Zelda Williams.

I thought there was so much good in Stone’s book, but his view of the site was so far skewed from what I observe on the site, and really, what has been well-documented in the media as an on-going problem with the siteTake Back the Tech gave Twitter a failing grade of F (as opposed to Facebook’s sub-par D+) for their horrible track record in protecting female users from abuse on their site.  While it is entirely possible to follow nice people and have a decent Twitter experience, try following a popular hashtag for a bit and see what pops up in the stream.  You will see the unfiltered, uncurated Twitter.  And it will make you question why you’re on the site at all, flying around with that flock.

On page 183, Stone pooh-poohs those people who say that trolls run amok on the site.

At Twitter, we didn’t need an army of people deleting and blocking accounts.  This is why large, unregulated, self-organizing systems with a hundred million people using them can function without much disruption.  If people weren’t nice, I couldn’t do my work.

I wish Stone’s vision for Twitter matched the user experience.  But I walked away from these chapters feeling as if I was talking to the parent of the school bully.  Of course their kid was perfect!  Of course their kid did no wrong!  They had the nicest child in the world!  And you stand there, wondering how the hell they see this perfect angel, even in the face of all the evidence the principal and other parents have presented showing the child to be a monster.

Is Twitter a monster?  Of course not.  It’s a tool.  But it’s currently a communications tool without any guidelines concerning respect.  And that can be a very scary thing.

Change is coming to Twitter.  But it will be in the Facebook-ization of the Twitter stream.  Quite soon, Tweets will not longer appear in chronological order.  The algorithm will place in front of you what it believes you most want to read.  Rather than focusing their energy on curating the feed a la Facebook, I would love it if they dedicated some energy to making Twitter a safe environment for all users.

September 10, 2014   5 Comments

Things Biz Stone Told Me (Part One)

I didn’t actually sit down and have a conversation with Biz Stone, but I read his book Things a Little Bird Told Me.  I’ve been chewing over a bunch of ideas I read in the book, and I want to share three of them with all of you so you can chew on this wad, too.  My G-d.  That sounded really gross.

So, the first thought that grabbed me came on page 118:

We all have many different options for contacting people electronically: email, text, IMs, Tweets.  There is a time and a place for each.  When a plane lands in the Hudson in front of you, that’s a Tweet.  That’s the ultimate Tweet.  You don’t email a friend that.  You tweet it.

He’s referring to a Tweet sent by a man who was on the ferry the day the plane crashed in the Hudson River.  He was up close, and took a photo of the people standing on the wing of the downed plane.

So I read those lines in Stone’s book and then thought, “I wouldn’t have emailed it or tweeted it.”

twitter

Image: Twitter via Flickr

It’s not just which medium you choose to share information or images: do you blog it or email it or Tweet it?  It’s what you curate to appear online and what you leave behind in your brain.  Because there are millions of things that don’t end up… anywhere.  Not in a blog post or a Tweet or a Facebook update.  I don’t email it or text it.

Sometimes I don’t put it down anywhere because I know it’s mundane.  I don’t think anyone else cares that I’m doing a load of laundry.  I don’t think any of you care to know about even the more exciting loads of laundry; like the ones where I mistakenly put in something that bleeds dye all over the rest of the clothes.  I may be wrong.  You may have been waiting for a laundry tweet for years.  But I’m willing to risk that.

Sometimes I don’t put it down… even though I could?  Because it’s interesting enough?  Interesting stuff happens here.  We have dinner with authors you probably know or we go to cool places.  And those sorts of things make interesting stories and interesting images.  And yet… I don’t know.  I just don’t do anything with them.  I don’t blog it.  I don’t Tweet it.  I just… don’t use it.  And I don’t really think about it.  It just doesn’t occur to me to put the story or image out there.

I sense from the book that I may be a bit of a letdown for Biz Stone.

Back when I wrote my college essays, I curated out the most interesting things that had happened to me before the age of seventeen.  And I wrote passionate essays about my life up until that point.  But curation now takes place in real time.  As I’ve said before, blogging is writing your memoir in real time.  I’m trying not to bore you AND I’m trying not to put anything online that I could regret in the future.  I’m not even talking about regret in the embarrassing sense of the word.  I’m talking about having regrets over giving too much of myself away and not retaining enough of myself just for myself.

Is there any sense to what you share or don’t share?  And is your instinct usually to aim wide with Twitter or to hold moments close, sharing them via text or an email?

September 9, 2014   7 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 2: Dye My Hair

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I was walking with a woman I barely know when she said, “Did you know that your hair is two colours?”  I nodded.  She continued, “One colour is brown.  And the other is grey.”

“Yes,” I responded.

“Did you know that there is dye that can make all your hair brown?”

“Yes,” I said.  “I know about dye.”

She nodded.  “Some people have two colours in their hair.  Brown and blonde.  But that is not you.  You have brown and grey.”

We don’t really need to debate the rudeness of this exchange.  I’m more commenting on it because I think about the colour of my hair a lot.  There is not one molecule in my body interested in dyeing my hair.  Yet at the same time, every single molecule in my body wants my hair to be back to brown.  My molecules fight a lot.

I would never think like this if it wasn’t conveyed to women my age that we should dye our hair, that is makes us look old or different from our peers if we don’t.

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

This week’s list is closed.  But come back next Monday for a new list:

1. Persnickety chickadee 23. Mrs T 45. LAM
2. Karen 24. dennasus 46. A.
3. Serenity 25. D 47. Illanare
4. Mali 26. ANDMom 48. Old Lady and No Baby
5. Emma 27. Non Sequitur Chica 49. queenjohnsonclan
6. Mali (2nd blog) 28. Jamie @ Sticky Feet 50. Rachel
7. Turia 29. Corinne@ Everyday Gyaan 51. Isabelle
8. Heather 30. Buttermilk 52. Queenie
9. Archana 31. Tara 53. Amy
10. lostintranslation 32. S 54. Shannon
11. Deborah 33. Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles 55. Stacie
12. Kate 34. Elizabeth 56. Katie
13. Petunia 35. Cindy 57. Stacie
14. Obie 36. gradual changes 58. Northern Star
15. Inconceivable! 37. Laurel 59. Climbing the Pomegranate Tree
16. Lisa 38. Just Heather 60. Miss Conception
17. Living the Dream 39. Misty 61. Jamie
18. sharah 40. Tiff 62. Summer
19. loribeth 41. Elaine LK 63. articulation
20. Mina 42. My Grandmother’s Hula (by Running Nekkid) 64. Ke Anne
21. Daryl 43. Kimberly
22. JB 44. Relaxed No More

September 8, 2014   54 Comments

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