Survey Says…

The results are in!

A while ago, I sent out a survey to you guys on Surveymonkey, and the responses were OVERWHELMING.

Just kidding, a ton of people took the time to click the survey; a mere 17 of you took the time to complete it.

To you 17…a sincere and heartfelt thanks…

To the rest of you: well, you have a chance to redeem yourselves from your complacent silence.

First, let’s get to the results of the survey.

First-first, let’s remind ourselves what the survey was about.

I am trying to really get my blog more social. I feel as though I haven’t been networking and marketing quite as effectively as I could. Not that I’ve had a drop in readers on my small corner of the Internet; just that there is so much out there available to get your content out there as a writer, and I feel as though I wasn’t taking full advantage of what the world of the wide web has to offer.

So my survey results, few as there were, spoke volumes about what I’ve been doing right (thank God I’ve done some of it the right way), and what I could cut out or quit wasting my time on, so that I can spend that time doing more of the right stuff.

Also: we’ve concluded that I was correct in my previous assumption that Myspace is dead and Snapchat is for kids and hos.

I’ll paste the specific question results in below, but first-first-first let’s talk about how you guys can help me just one more time (and in the case of you lazy bums that looked but clicked away, for the first time):

The thing I’ve been really trying to integrate into my blog content is more video or podcasty type of stuff. No matter what I’ve done though, I can never seem to come up with enough of what I would call good material to do something like a weekly video blog or monthly podcast.

I really want to do it though. I feel video and audio is the wave of the future – who has time to always sit down and read some random lady’s rantings on the Internet? Give me a quick a dirty something to listen to in the car, or watch while I am at a kid’s sports event, and I’m good!

So what would you guys like to see or hear from me (as opposed to read)?

Seriously, that’s the only question in this second inquiry: what the hell do you want to see or listen to me talk about (if I can ever get over how annoying my voice sounds)?

Comment, message, or carrier pigeon me your wishes… I’m open to *almost* anything.

Thanks again to those of you that replied to my survey a while back. I’ll paste in the results as a little slideshow now for your enjoyment:

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I Don’t Care About 3D Mascara, Jamberry Nails, Facials, ITWorks Wraps, or Beach Bodies

That may sound a little harsh.

i-dont-always-do-my-hair-makeup-but-when-i-do-i-make-sure-to-post-it-on-facebook-d8951Of course I care about mascara, I wear it often enough to. Not often enough to obsessively buy your Younique 3D lash mascara that comes out with something new every two months. Not often enough to suddenly abandon my go-to make up brands for the occasional times that I wear a full face-worth of the stuff. As though Benefit and Smashbox weren’t good to me all these years. As though because someone I once knew of in high school selling Mary Kay cosmetics or Younique fiber lashes is going to erase all of my previous and perfectly acceptable experience with Revlon.

And while I definitely like for my nails to be well-kept and nicely polished, I heretofore politely decline any and all invitations to your Jamberry Nail Parties.

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What I don’t give a flying fuck about is getting facials. I’m a stay at home mom and a writer – I can’t afford that bullshit. And anyway, I must have magical skin made out of unicorn puke and Carebear stare juice – because I have literally never considered doing anything other than washing my face with some basic ass soap every morning, followed with some moisturizer I got on Clearance at Target that has an SPF in it. I have no wrinkles. I have no frown lines. I have no cystic acne. My skin does not flake or peel. I am perfectly content with my skin and do not need Rodens + Fields or Nerium or Beauticontrol that all cost a hell of a lot more time and money than my bar of Dove.

I have no interest in wraps, either. Whether ITWorks or not, I don’t fucking care. As I scroll through my Instagram feed and see photo after photo after photo of people’s before and after ITWorks shots – bulbous legs, arms, and bellies suddenly made ultra thin by a piece of miracle saran wrap – I am more compelled to sign off social media altogether than at any other time in my daily social media usage.

That is how much ITWorks annoys me. Be it the photos, or the fact that one person selling ITWorks follows you, and suddenly you’ve got forty-five spammy ITWorks people sending you messages about how you too can sell ITWorks and change people’s lives!

I have a way to change people’s lives and help them get skinny: eat a fucking apple and get off the couch.

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The newest thing showing up in my Instagram and my Facebook and my Twitter and my email and in just daily life is the Piyo. The 21 Day Fix. The Beachbody. The Shakeology. I don’t know if these are all the same thing, or if they’re different, but I do know one thing: you people drank the Kool-Aid. Drank it. Drank that shit right up, probably out of your Shakeology blender while posting thirty selfies of your post-work out sweat.

I do not begrudge anyone getting in shape. I do not hate people eating healthy.

What I can’t stand is when they’re shoving it down my throat, trying to force me to drink their Kool-Aid too. What I do begrudge are the people suddenly becoming Beachbody consultants – or whatever the fuck they are – and making a little fan page on Facebook and asking me to “like” it, when just a few, short years ago NONE OF THEM would “like” my fan page for my WRITING CAREER.

I am like an elephant – I have an exquisite memory. When I was doing my undergrad, I worked full time at a pharmacy, and I had a disturbingly uncanny ability to remember all the customers, recognize their voices over the phone, and even some of the details of their medications and insurance claims. The manager of the pharmacy used to say that it was like Cheers: everyone came to our pharmacy, because when they walked in the door I’d always shout “Norm!”

I remember who was supportive of my writing career from the get-go. I still have the unfortunate and recent memories in my mind of all the people who said they don’t read books and don’t like blogs, and don’t “DO” fan pages.

Well guess what? If you were supportive of me, and continue to be supportive of me, I will cheer you on to the end of days as you sip your kale smoothies and make your pastas out of ground up beans, because the 21 Day Fix told you to. I will “like” your fiber lash updates, and politely and quietly just ignore your attempts to sell me make up. I will attend your Jamberry Facebook parties, and even though I won’t buy anything I’ll at least be supportive.

Because I really and truly think that’s what people should be doing for one another – supporting each others’ endeavors, no matter how few fucks they give. That’s what friends and family are for, right?

But just know that deep down I don’t give a shit. My level of shit-giving is currently at -15, and it gets lower with each invite to sell ItWorks or to join a Piyo training session.

Congratulations if you have figured out a way to make some extra money off of your lifestyle choices. Kudos – really! I am genuinely happy for any and all people from my past, my present, or just in general that have been able to balance life, health, happiness, and to earn a little extra cash doing so.

But that doesn’t take away the sting when many of those very people were so unsupportive of my own endeavors just a few short years ago. I’m suddenly expected to jump on board with their shit – which I do, to the extent that I can be supportive without having to buy anything – while they continue to tell me that they don’t “do” blogs or “do” books. But could you give me advice, Heather, about starting a Facebook fan page? Oh and could you make sure to please “like” all of my many weekly Runkeeper updates?

Life and relationships are a two-way street, people; and at the end of each road, you won’t always find a set of Jamberry Nails.

4 Things You Can Do Instead Of (Or In Addition To) Participating In Vacuous Social Media Campaigns

First, I’d like to get something out of the way:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry if you participate in social media campaigns; if you participated in today’s big social media campaign (#bumpday).

18j2p8l1obzyxjpgI’m sorry if you posted in a vague Facebook status where you put your purse when you get home in the evening to let people know breast cancer is out there.

 

I’m sorry if you did the Ice Bucket challenge or posted a #nomakeupselfie or whatever.

I’m sorry.

I’m not saying you are vacuous. I’m not saying you are lazy.

I’m saying your campaign is vacuous and lazy.

I’m not saying you sit behind your computer and do the easiest things possible, without ever actually lifting a finger or volunteering your time or donating even just a dollar to really help those in need you claim your social media challenges and campaigns help.

I’m saying that a lot of people – in the general sense – are.

A lot of people are posting their social media challenges and literally doing nothing else.

They posted pictures of their favorite childhood cartoon character on their Facebook status to raise awareness of child molestation – and really thought that stopped molesters and helped children. And really did nothing else but pat themselves on the back for their high level of philanthropic outreach.

They did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to get out of donating money. Sure, the Ice Bucket Challenge did raise an obscene amount of money for ALS research – from people that didn’t do it. (It was either do the challenge, or donate the money; and while a lot of people did both, a lot of people sincerely thought taking the bucket of ice was an adequate contribution).

So today is Bump Day – a day to raise awareness of motherhood and growing healthy babies. A day to support mothers – new, old, to-be; and band together for the overall health of moms around the world. I get it, and a lot of people I know have done it. Some are pregnant right now, some recently had babies. Some haven’t had a baby in over a decade.

I get it. But I’m also fucking sick of it.

One of the women that posted a photo in my Instagram feed is 8 months pregnant. She posted her #bumpday pic with a little caption about it being in honor of maternal and prenatal health. I happen to know she’s smoked cigarettes for the entire 8 months.

Another “friend” (read: person I knew of in high school over 15 years ago) posted her “bump” 6 months postpartum. It was a flat stomach shot. In the comments she rambled on and on about how she’s glad she isn’t a “fat fuck anymore,” like she apparently felt she was when she was pregnant. Sort of missed the point.

And then there are those with bump loss, and by that I mean #bumpday is just another fucked up reminder that not everyone is destined for an easy path to first time or repeat motherhood. If I were to post my bump photo, it would be for the multiple miscarriages I have had over the last few years, the most recent being just three months ago.unnamed

The point is this: for every well-meaning and good person out there participating in these vacuous social media campaigns, there are so many others just participating with no good intentions whatsoever.

Too many.

The bottom line is that if you want to participate in these social media campaigns, the important thing is to follow up the photos and the posts and the Tweets with actions. Here are just a few suggestions.

1. Donate Money

This is the easiest thing you could possibly do in addition to or instead of participating in social media campaigns.

Donate money.

You can literally do this while sitting on your ass, binge watching Orange Is the New Black, eating pizza directly from the box because you’ve given up so much that you can’t even be bothered to walk 10 feet into your kitchen to get a plate.

Some social media campaigns have even made it so easy that you can just text a number from your phone – it isn’t even usually a full length phone number – and they automatically tack on $5 to your phone bill, which gets donated.

You literally only have to hit five numbers on your cellphone keypad and click send.

2. Donate Time

 This is obvious. Every charity needs volunteers. Every organization needs people to help. Sometimes it’s as simple as making an hour’s worth of phone calls, or stuffing envelopes.

The only caveat is that this will require you to get your ass off the couch, if even just for long enough to sign up to help from home.

3. Learn About the Cause You Are Supposedly Supporting

I guarantee you that a vast majority of people posting their #bumpday photos haven’t a single fucking clue what it’s about.

I also know from personal experience that a lot of kids who were participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had no idea what the hell they were doing besides pouring ice on each other and laughing.

And this it the ultimate folly of social media campaigns: they often don’t raise awareness about dick.

I still have no idea what the #nomakeupselfie thing was about, and while I didn’t participate in it I should have at least taken the time to get to know the issues at hand. It seems as though we – collectively, as a world – have forgotten that knowledge is power. Or we’ve somehow confused our Instagram photos and bullshit Facebook status games with knowledge and understanding.

4. Listen To Someone You Know That May Be Affected

We don’t always know people that are affected directly by the issues having to do with the campaigns we portray to support in our posts on social media.

But we all know where we could find one. We all know someone that may be, but we just haven’t taken the time to learn about them and their experiences.

I feel as though people don’t communicate with others in their lives anymore, particularly about things that matter in the world.

They don’t know enough about each other – the big stuff.

They don’t ever ask “how are you doing,” rather they sit and talk about themselves.

Unless you know every single aspect of every single person’s life, they may be affected or afflicted by one of the many causes out there on social media daily – and you could never have a clue, because you never stopped to listen. You won’t know unless you ask, or communicate, or just listen to the people around you.

The problem with social media campaigns is that it’s all about you, when you are often nothing more than a casual supporter. It isn’t quite the same as going into your community and listening to survivors of domestic abuse, or volunteering to sit with cancer patients during their treatments.  Whenever I say these things to people, they say they only have so much time in the day. Then they promptly change the subject to what happened this week on The Bachelorette, or what they’ve been doing at work lately.

There’s more to life than selfies and TV and Facebook and workplace drama. Maybe – just maybe – all these social media campaigns wouldn’t be vacuous – so empty and meaningless – if there was more of a discussion and more action behind every post.

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How Pinterest and Instragram Ruined My Life

Yesterday I had a lot of cooking and cleaning to do. I was behind on my usual schedule of cleaning the apartment; and my in-laws are coming over for dinner tonight. This is sort of a big deal because we haven’t seen them since late last year – and Hello Kitty Toaster is included in the bunch. They hate me something good, faithful blog followers. I’m not sure why, really – except that I operate much differently than the way they run their family. I don’t gossip. I don’t break the sanctity of my marriage to allow other family into our personal business. I don’t tell stories about my bowel movements and my dog’s bloody heat at the dinner table.

Call me crazy, that’s just me.

Somewhere between inviting them over for dinner and preparing the actual meal, though, I let Pinterest and Instagram ruin my life. Although if I were really being honest, this happened a long time ago.

Now that we have Pinterest and Instagram – with people posting picture after stupid picture of recipes, crafts, food, inspiration, you name it – the bar of how things look in real life has been set much higher. It’s not just about preparation, it’s about presentation. It’s not just about enjoying the meal, it’s about taking photos of it at every angle and posting them on Instagram. Your meal is perfection if you can take a photo of it and it looks unbelievable uploaded without a filter. And look! It’s so easy to do all these cutesy little DIY additions to make things look even more perfect. We call it “personalized touch.”

Pinterest and Instagram are just about making things even more perfect than we’ve already tried to make them.

So I planned the meal for tonight according to my own tastes. I figured that if I’m going to be cooking a meal for people whose most recent contact with us included the words “we know Heather won’t let you come see us and Heather won’t let you call us and Heather seems to think you aren’t our son” (in response to my husband not communicating with them for a while, being upset of his own accord – Heather didn’t do anything); I’m cooking whatever the hell I want. I also wanted to spite Hello Kitty Toaster – I know how much she hates carbs and thinks that vegetables are fatty, so I wanted to plan the meal to be as carb- and veggie-filled as possible. And under no circumstance was I going to be making California-Italian. No sir – they feed themselves enough of that slop every other day of the year. And I hate it.

In the end, I decided on: stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites, and zucchini rollups for appetizers; buffalo-style chicken legs, fresh baguette, Chicago-style thin crust pizza, garlic-sauteed mixed green veggies, and a caesar salad for dinner; and a stained glass cake and lemon pie for dessert. It’s just enough for the eight people that are going to be here, and all relatively easy for me.

Do you see what I did there, though, faithful blog followers? I already started in with the Pinterest junk.

Ten years ago, I would have said “pizza.” Now it’s got to be qualified as Chicago-style thin crust pizza. Ten years ago, I would have said “some appetizers.” Now it’s stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites, and zucchini roll-ups. If I were really going to go all out with the Pinterest crap, I’d say bleu cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites with a hint of garlic and onion, and zucchini roll-ups filled with ricotta and spinach. And not only did I feel I needed to qualify it all, but it has to look amazing when it’s presented as well.

So I spent about twenty minutes standing at the box window in my kitchen – where I keep all of the serving platters – deciding what platters would be best for presentation. Will the stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites, and zucchini roll-ups fit on here uniformly? Can I layer the chicken on this platter so as to display the bleu cheese crumbles? Will the presentation of my stained glass cake show the stained glass pieces on this dessert stand?

Oh for Christ’s sakes – shut the fuck up!

There was a day when dinner was just dinner. People came over and unless it was professionally catered (and even sometimes then), the meal was just a meal. No one cared about the presentation. Serving platters (versus the cookware the food was cooked in) were things for pretentious people, and pretentious people only. You never saw little place card signs stuck into various pieces of fruit listing the entire gamut of ingredients in the dish. Hardly ever did you see things like personalization of wine bottles, napkin rings, and elaborate centerpieces. No one ever stood around worrying whether or not their chicken could be stacked to properly display the bleu cheese crumbles sprinkled on it. People didn’t waste their time on bull shit like that! And most importantly – more than anything – you didn’t have a bunch of saps all standing around and marveling at the food; most certainly never taking photographs of it.

Pinterest and Instagram have ruined my life. Has it ruined yours?

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