Ways and Means (of Communication).

With so many different avenues for connecting with our friends these days, why do we pick one method over another?

With the advent of smartphones, and their integration into everyday life, as well as other devices – laptops, desktop computers (do people still use those?!), iPads, other tablets, iPod touches, etc etc etc… – we now have a million and one ways to connect with the people we know and don’t know. There’s Facebook wall posts, Facebook chat message, Twitter replies, Twitter DMs, email, sms, mms just to name a few. So, doesn’t it all get a little bit confusing when we’re not sure were “the message” has been sent?

Now I, for one, do not have everything pushed to my smartphone. I got sick and tired of every Facebook posts, message and twitter DM being pushed to my mobile and having it go off while I was at work, studying or exercising. It just got a bit insane, especially with multiple email accounts for a little bit of separation of identity (yes, some of us still do that). Add onto that, the alerts of posts to study discussion boards for university, and the alerts for various groups I was (and still am) administrating… Well, let’s just say it was full on.

So, why do you choose one place or platform over another to “talk” to your friends?

Personally, after many many many years in retail-based industries I have found that I hate, with a passion unknown to man before this time, talking to people on a telephone. Why then, do I still have a telephone? Well, unfortunately, other people still require you to be connected via a voice line. There’s still a rather large amount of unwarranted shock when I tell people I do not have a landline. I haven’t had one now for quite a few years, and I find it rather pleasant. In fact, when I have been around one I actually get quite nervous. You can’t turn it onto silent. You can’t shove a pillow over it. It’s there, loud and obnoxious. When you ignore it, everyone can tell.

I do not always answer my mobile when it rings. I figure, just because I have a phone, doesn’t mean I have to answer it. I am one of those, seemingly, few people who turn my phone off (not just onto silent) when I am at a theater or cinema or a meeting or any other event where a phone ringing would be counterproductive. In fact, I almost rarely answer messages in these events as well. It’s just a little light, but it’s really annoying to other people. It seems to me, that in the grab for more connection and social media, we have forgotten that there are actually other people in the world and we ought to remain considerate of them in actual events.When I do talk on my mobile, I keep my voice down. I remember the days when mobile phones were only just becoming an everyday item. These were the clunky bricks of things, so vastly removed from today’s sleek lined pieces of modern art. There were people who didn’t realise that you didn’t have to shout down the things to let the person on the other end hear you. The technology did that for you. Well, I can tell you we haven’t come very far. People using their mobile phones in crowded or enclosed areas (public transport, doctor’s waiting rooms, libraries) have forgotten what an “inside voice” is, and just yell to their friend down the line about how drunk they got the other weekend and how it was awesome. I don’t need to hear that. Really.

Which leaves us with the myriad on online connection platforms. Facebook alone has multiple ways to let your friends know your message. Add onto that email, Twitter and whatever other social media site you like to use, and we are still left with a host of potential meeting grounds. As much as I possibly can, I like to use email. It has something of a more important tone to it. It shows that you have taken time out of your usual internet/web usage to type the message. To me, it just seems like the person sending it gave me a little more time than a message sent via Twitter or Facebook or anywhere else. It makes me feel like I was at least a little more than a momentary glitch in the sender’s day.

Having said that, there are people with whom I only communicate via social networking platforms. This isn’t because I value my communication with them any less. Some of them I have email contact details for, some of them I don’t. For those I do not, it makes sense to communicate with them where I can. For those I do have alternate contact details for, it is a case of ease of communication. If they rarely check their email, or if their email takes them a lot of time to get through due to flooding, it is easier for me and my message to stand out as either a Direct Message on Twitter, or a message on Facebook.

I think, at the end of the day, it is all about standing out. There is no point sending someone an information-filled email, if the recipient rarely checks their email and may not get the required info in time. There’s no point in sending a message via Facebook, if they ignore the notifications. It’s all about getting your message across and keeping the lines of communication open. so the next time you call me and I don’t answer, maybe I’m not ignoring you. Maybe I’m watching a movie or in a meeting, or maybe you just need to find out more about where I hang out online.

Change that doesn’t jingle in your pocket.

Most statistics out there reflecting on the several to seven career changes we will supposedly have during our lifetime, pertain to Americans. It is hard to find a strictly Australian statistic on this matter. In fact, I have not yet found one story that could point me to a shred of factual evidence to say we share in the American trend for so many career changes. The “evidence” out there is, it would seem, circumstantial and anecdotal.

So why is this even a point?

Well, for starters, when we say “… most people…” when referring to a supposed statistic, the chances are the research, if any, was done in the United States of America. This means that there is a lot of “research” being batted about the web that is simply wrong, or incorrectly applied. It is this kind of statistical plasticity that leads to “urban legends” and factual gymnastics. Also, it’s just annoying.

Having said that, I am heading into a career change myself. Some have told me that it may not be a wise move to write about such a topic. To those people, I thank them for their obviously kind and thought out advice, but I write about events surrounding my life, and this is a fairly large occasion requiring documentation. If you happen to be a professional in either of the fields I happen to currently be involved in, hi! I would really like it if you could add your two cents worth in a comment down below.

Yes, there have been mutterings in regards to the appropriateness of certain things I have been writing about. Some have said I should not state that I am a newbie when it comes to certain things because it will show prospective employees “the truth” behind any claims I may make in the future. For instance, if I suggest I may be a complete whiz at one program and then it happens to come to light that there was a time that I was not, that may reflect poorly on my subsequent work. To this I say, we all had to come from somewhere. We all have a path that has led us to the present. Thus we all have a history that, in this day of the web and blogging, will be indelibly marked on the face of the web forever.

So, back to the original story. I am a professional body piercer. This, in itself, may taint some prospective employer’s opinion of me. They may hereon in see me as an overly pierced freak who cannot hold down a ‘real job’ or is a threat to the professional image of their business. This is, unfortunately, an outcome I am used to. That is not to say it does not effect me when it does occur. However, it is why I now include a picture of myself in all of my CVs and applications I have sent out. When staring in the face of potential discrimination, it is best to be proactive.

Now that I have come to the one-third-through milestone of my degree, I feel it is time to start employing the learning I am currently conducting. It is time to start making a difference in another field. I have done all I can for the body modification industry in Perth. They can survive without me. It is time for this verbose, opinionated, hard-working personage to get out and try something different. Time to interact with something else I feel requires my magic touch: the world of Social Media.

Now, those of you who know Nephthys will know that she is rather tirelessly active on multiple platforms. Perhaps a little too much. It is for this reason that I have decided that this is the Way To Go. I have done a fair amount of unpaid work in this field and, for the sake of sanity and perhaps world betterment, think it is time to start looking for paid work.

However, this is more than a little scary. They do not add all the scary stuff into the glossy brochure they hand out at career advisory agencies. Yes, they tell you where you can go to get all this magical learning. They show you how to rework a resume or CV to get A job, but what about what you need to do to get THE job? No one can tell you that, and that is the scary part.

When you have been in an industry for some time, you know what is required of you to obtain THAT job. You can look at a business, see their needs, understand what it is of the position they are actually asking for and, if necessary, dazzle them with your awesomeness when the actual credentials might fail you. When you are embarking on the journey of entering a new career, you find yourself second-guessing your abilities. You may know that you are perfect for the position, but how do you let them know that?

That is where this particular link comes in. It shows amazing ways in which people have managed to take the ordinary piece of paper that everyone sends off, and turn it into something eye-catching and original. Let’s face it. Reading resumes is boring. As someone previously in charge of filtering through many many resumes for a single position, it gets tiresome very quickly. If even one of these came across my desk, I would have offered them the position in a heart beat. They may not have had the requirements of the position, but they did something different. They got my attention and kept it. Simple. I think this is the way to gather interest in you, especially in light of the web and whatnot. Do something that gets attention and maintain it.

In light of this, I shall be revolutionising my resume. It may take some time, but it’ll be amazing. I shall link to it when it is complete, and you may revel in its glory.

Ten Years Ago… A retrospective.

This time ten years ago, I was alone in a hospital room. I was scared. I was nervous. I was tired as hell. I was hungry. I was cold and feeling very very lonely.

This time ten years ago, I was almost double my current weight. My hair was double its current length. I had significantly less piercings. I had no tattoos.

Exactly this time ten years ago, I was writing in a journal, now long lost in a myriad of house-moves. I was writing what may well have been the most important letter of my life.

It was a letter to my then unborn daughter.

I was young. I was single. I was unemployed. I was a burden on society and my family, and I was very very pregnant.

I wanted to tell my daughter all of my mistakes in life up until that point, knowing that there would have been more to come. I wanted to tell her so that she would not have to make them, knowing she would have plenty of her own. This time ten years ago, what it meant to be a parent finally started to fall into place for me.

I wanted to tell her that no matter what anyone might say to her, that she was most definitely wanted. That no matter how people judged her and her family, she was exactly where she was supposed to be in life. That she was loved. I wanted to tell her that she was my daughter and that nothing would come between that.

Ten years ago I could not have foreseen the tumultuous lives we have both led. I could have seen that mistakes of mine would come between us, that she would stay within the family, but not with me, for a little while at least. I was not aware that there would be times when I would question my own motives in keeping her, and that these would be triumphed by the times when I held her so close I never thought I’d let her go.

Ten years ago, there was a beating heart besides my own inside me. Now it walks the world, albeit at the end of my hand. In know in the not too distant future I am going to have to let it go so that she can walk the world on her own.

Ten years ago I could not have guessed that in ten years time we would be where we are, in a loving home where we are safe and feel wanted and loved. I could not have guessed I would be proud of the little baby who kicked at my sides, aching for more room.

I hope that in ten years time I will be able to look into my daughter’s eyes and say that I did my best, as I see her off into the world. I hope I have the strength to do so without crying. I hope I will not have been so hardened by the world that I will not dare to cry either.

Ten years… it’s a long time.

Down Days.

You’re sitting in front of the computer. You can see the incessant flicker of the cursor. It’s taunting you. Just sitting there on an otherwise blank page. Like a beacon alerting you the rocky cliffs. Like a Siren, calling you to your demise. The clock ticks away the seconds. You blink. Another minute has passed. You’re still sitting there, staring at a blank screen with nothing to write.

These days don’t come so frequently for me, thank goodness. When they do, it’s not so much not having anything to write about, as not being able to pick the one thing I do want to write about. It’s not a block, so much as as unstoppable flood threatening to take over my screen with a jumble of words and little sense. So what do we do about it?

 

There are literally over ten million sites to assist with writer’s block, according to the Google gods and supposedly over twenty-one million on writer’s flood. Not too many of them really cover how to stem the flow to a useable trickle. I try and write down the ideas that come to my mind in a list. This ends up becoming an explosion of a mind map covering the entire notebook. Not so easy to turn into a piece of prose for others to read… unless I scan the pages and publish them. Then you all have to try and make sense of my chicken scratchings for yourselves.

Instead, I am trying to keep up with the ideas as they flow into my mind. Write until the flow for that train of thought stops, move on to the next. It is for that reason I have a lot of half-fleshed out text files saved on my computer. Bits and pieces that in a non-digital frame would have been scraps of paper stuffed into a bulging notebook. I would have been comparable to William S. Burroughs and his cut and clip format for making stories. Except, not physically published… and significantly less drug use… and talking typewriters…

So the digital form of scraps of paper have become text files scattered over a desktop. They sit there like a chrysalis, waiting. Paused in suspended animation, for the day that moment of magical metamorphosis takes place and they can fly free, except these digital butterflies have a much longer lifespan than just a few days. Their glory may only last that long, but they exist forever in the backlogs of the Web waiting, like a corpse to be reanimated by a necromancer’s incantations, or smiled upon by the Google Gods once more.

So for now, I shall go back to my digital scraps and see what I can make of them. I might leave them for the rainy days when inspiration is low and attention can be mustered. Alternatively, I might leave them as a digital breadcrumb trail to the gingerbread house of Ideas…

The Many Shades of Me.

One of the most frequently thrown around terms when people talk about me is “eccentric”.

To me, that word brings up images of older rich ladies with habits of having lots of cats or expensive figurines of them, taking tea outside even in the rain. Certainly not a “just-out-of-teens”* female with varied interests and different ways of thinking about the world. I own one cat, which actually belongs to my daughter. I have expensive figurines, but not of cats. It’s mostly sci-fi or comic book characters. I do take tea outside, and I love the idea of taking it in the rain, but it would dilute the tea and that makes it not worthwhile an adventure.

I do think differently to most. There are times when I think quite differently to myself of five minutes ago. That is one of the joys of still learning. May I never stop learning!

But, this idea of eccentricity got me to thinking. If we are constantly being told to be careful as to how we portray ourselves online, are we not then running the risk of appearing eccentric to our followers? If all we talk about is tea, do we become the crazy lady focused on loose leaf beverages? If All I talk about are my cats, am I the crazy cat lady on- and off-line?

I was talking to a friend about why I was changing the focus of my blog and diversifying it from just writing about food. They didn’t seem to understand. The very idea ran so contrary to all other opinions on writing online out there, that she just couldn’t understand why I would want to run the risk of not having a focus to my blog. Well, there IS still a focus. The focus is me. Now, while that may sound extremely egotistical and self-centered, I believe I have multiple unique perspectives on life that no one else writes about at the moment. Sure, there are mothers who blog, there are food-lovers who blog, there are people in Perth who write about their experiences in this city. There are people who write roller derby blogs, and there are people who keep learning blogs of their university gleanings. But none of them, to the best of my knowledge, writes about their lives. It is seen as taboo, or that to do so is to invite an invasion of privacy too heinous to consider. I don’t think this is the case at all.

The people who read my blog may feel they know me from my writing, but I do not share everything about me. I choose what people know and do not know. The people who read my blog actually know no more about me from online conversations with me, than I would have with them in real life were I to engage in an meaningful conversation with them.

I am not just a foodie, a roller derby enthusiast, a mother, a partner, a student, or a body piercer. I do not have only these interests. I think in this brave new world of multiple active perspectives, in this place of everywhere and nowhere, we ought to embrace more the idea of flexible privacy. I can tell you about my life, without you having all the details and, in return I should be respected as a person enough to not have the privacy I choose to retain violated. I think this makes sense, don’t you?

*term may be somewhat loosely applied. Well, Douglas Adams did say “time [was] irrelevant…” I am merely following his lead.

“Social Proof.”

I find the way we think about how well social media changes our mind set quite interesting. Mostly because I am of the opinion that humans are fundamentally lazy and, following this theory, the action of clicking a “Like” button of a social cause does not mean we will get off our couch to actively do anything about it, we seem to think it shows enough support. Enough compared to what, I am not sure, but enough that we do not have to go and do anymore. We intrinsically know clicking a “Like” button on a facebook page for stopping hunger in the third world will not necessarily give them more food, but we feel we have done our part.

However, following this concept of “social proof” by clicking on that button, I am potentially shaping the actions of those people who receive the notification that I have done so. There is some anecdotal evidence to show that my actions on social media will be reflected in the actions of those around me. While this in itself is not necessarily a startling revelation, it does bring one of my main concerns in engaging with social networking sites into the light. I am normally disinclined to notify everyone on my friends list that I have gone and clicked a button saying I like this or that. I feel that if people were interested in such things,they would have gone and searched them out for themselves. This, however, does not mean that I would continue to be so disinclined if I thought it would force more action from those who do watch what I do online, the “lurkers.”

Reading this article, I found the process by which many people find new reasons to step outside of the “lurker” patterns of behaviour interesting. By choosing to comment on an article, rather than simply read it, you have entered the world of action. You are no longer a passive consumer. You are now actively consuming the article, because you have become part of the discussion.

So, to this end, I invite all who read my blog (and I know that even with the recent rebadging there are still a few of you) to comment with at least one article out there in the online world that you have read recently. It can be about anything. I also ask you to actively engage with the writer of that article, by commenting on their article. It doesn’t have to be an intellectual tirade. Just let them know that you appreciated them writing it. Sometimes that is all it takes to let a writer know that you are thankful for their efforts. Let’s face it. It’s just plain polite.

Media140 Perth.

I was fortunate enough this week to volunteer for this event.

For those not familiar with what Media140 is all about, the site is here: media140. They can explain themselves better than I can, suffice to say it was a three day event covering the digital future we are facing and how best to move forward in that world.

I was the tweet-queen for this event. You can find my colleague’s storifies for the three days here: Digital Business, Digital Me, and Digital Family..

Through all of the talks and presentations, there were some over-riding concepts.

We, as in the current generations of adults, are entering the world of a truly digital future. This requires new ways to look at this new world, as the old ways of thinking are not necessarily conducive to moving forward. While we embrace this new technology with open arms, we are still trying to overlay them with old modes of thought that do not run concurrent. As such, we need to adapt our minds as we adapt our lives and bodies to these new devices we seem to take everywhere. This means new ways of thinking about commerce, connectivity and engagement with life in general. Part of the responsibilities in this new role we have taken on is to open the channels of communication about the issues surrounding web use.

Our children learn first by watching our examples. If we do not lead by example, how can we assume they will listen to us when we try to sit down and speak with them about the potential pros and cons of the web? Notice I used “speak with” and not “speak to”. This is something very important to me personally, and was touched on by a few speakers. We need to speak with our kids and not orate to them. They actually know more about the digital world than we may give them credit for, or even the they give themselves credit for.  We need to allow them to bring what they know to the table, but also give them an environment where they feel they can ask us about things they don’t understand. *** Potential backlash warning *** I think this is a fundamental problem in many families I have seen. Sometimes this includes my own. We do not give our children what they so desperate need, and that is the feeling that it is okay to fail, it is okay to ask questions, it is okay to not know.

And at this point, it’s time for some squee. Miss9 just came up for big squishy huggles. Okay. Squee-mum is done. Back to the other stuff.

Ahem. So. Where was I? Yes. Too many parents that I see think they can fix all of their kids problems for them. How does this give them the space to learn from their own mistakes? We have this societal mentality of failing being such a bad thing. Combine this with the idea that we, as parents, do not want our children to have to make the mistakes we have made, and we have a recipe for disaster. To this end, I have given up on trying to give my child access to the repository of my learning. My mistake, vast and varied as they may be, are not hers to learn from. They are mine to learn from. While some may see it as a kindness to try and impart their knowledge to their kids, I strongly believe all it achieves is resentment on their end at not being allowed to discover for themselves.

Right, so that’s that rant over and done with. Yes, those were the main themes covered by the event Media140. New ways of thinking for new technologies. Food for thought most sincerely.

BREAKING NEWS!

NephthysNile is now under some heavy reconstruction. This will include a rebranding of the original PAFC blog, as well as some new features (Shhhh! It’s a secret). Stay tuned. Apologies if there’s some missing stuff while these changes are being made.