In my current love/hate relationship with social media its easy to forget why I liked it in the first place.

Facebook was a great solace during the three years when my office was isolated and I could go entire days not speaking to anyone except by email. Have I mentioned I’m an extrovert?

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Insta linked me to the outside world. And Pandora.

One big benefit of working alone in an almost empty building was that I could play music as loud as I liked – electronica & jazz for writing workshops, grants or  PowerPoints,  classic rock & funk for collating binders.

Social media connected me with folks I’d never meet in person (friends of friends, journalists, activists etc.) and more importantly created a much larger circle of information. I know we all live in our bubble of self-selected media, but having FB friends outside of my regular friend group continues to introduce information I might otherwise ignore or miss.

For instance, a Native artist I follow  introduced me to Indian Country Media so I learned of the DAPL protest actions long before it surfaced in the New York Times. Social media introduced me to, among other things, emergencies and issues affecting women of color, the LGBTQ community, Black Americans and native peoples.

I’ve read perspectives that I agreed and disagreed with from Libertarians, Bernie progressives, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and international citizens, activists and journalists.

So it’s not all bad.

However.

Since the election I have decided that social media and journalism has to be balanced with conversations In Real Life (IRL).

I’ve started reaching out to old friends and acquaintances to schedule chats over coffee, phone, or Skype. I’ve started reaching out to make new acquaintances and friends to meet and chat. Did I mention I’m a shy extrovert who doesn’t make friends easily?

It’s hard to be the initiator all the time (no one likes rejection), and time is as limited as ever, but committing to In Real Life is helping me feel hopeful in a way that liking folks social media posts isn’t.

Hearing opinions and updates accompanied by voice and body language puts me back in the “I – Thou” that I know I need.

So hit me up for a coffee date or drink.

Meanwhile, this brilliant animation my inspire you to join me IRL.

 

Yesterday as I slogged through endless emails I had an idea for a new App – The BizMail Translator.

It could be embedded at the bottom of web pages as a service like a URL shortener. It would have to be a smart app to constantly adjust to changing management speak and would probably have to be a Wiki so contributors could help us stay on top of paradigm-shifting communication advances in the field of organizational management.

Examples of translations:

  • “Sorry for the confusion…” >>> “Next time read the damn email before you reply…”
  • “Thanks for understanding…” >>> “Tough luck Chuck!”
  • “To follow up on our telephone conversation…” >>> “You cover your ass, I’ll cover mine.”
  •  “You mentioned you didn’t get this email…” >>> “Since you’re not in the loop…”
  • “Just a reminder about the meeting…” >>> “Since you never freakin’ answer…”
  • “I appreciate your attention to this matter…” >>> “NOW! I need this NOW! Five minutes ago!”
  • “I hope I captured the tenor of our conversation…” >>> (see cover your ass above)

Additional examples welcome.

Best regards,
–Amandatoryrant

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I am driving my father-in-law Sheldon’s car. Not his actual car as he passed away a few years back and no longer drives, but the car that he would be driving if he were alive.

This is a rental because I get to drive all over rural America for my work this month, and each time I do I rent. It ends up being cheaper and I don’t have the wear on my car. This time I have a 2012 Chrysler Altima 300 Luxury Series sedan – the car that practically drives itself.

I got the super premium upgrade because last week when I had to drive 2 1/2 hours (each way) with my current project team and I needed a mini van, which I dutifully ordered 10 days ahead of time. Which Enterprise called me on my cell phone the day before to confirm that I still needed it. Which was not ready and waiting for me when I arrived to pick it up.

The guy tried to hand me the keys to a 15 passenger panel van instead of the tricked out minivan with the captains seats for all the comfort of those I was toting around. Being short of temper I snapped at him that this was not an Orthodox Family Outing, I was driving senior executives and I expected the minivan I ordered.

So they offered me a van that was at another dealership and what choice did I have I let the guy drive me to the dealership 10 minutes away. I had one hour to get the car, go home and put my suit on and gather my files & briefcase. This whole transaction usually takes 10 minutes because the rental place is so close to my house. So off we go to the other rental place 10 minutes away. Except the rental boss calls the guy while he is driving me and says that place no longer has a van so now we have to go and additional 10 minutes. So now I am 30 minutes into my hour with no hope of being on time. Still trying to roll with it, make some calls and tell people I have a problem, and tell the kid to call ahead and make sure this van is ready to drive away the minute we get there.

Then he gets lost.

Because you see he’s never been to this location in the middle of East Nowhere so we get on and off the highway a couple times before he actually finds it. And there it is. The most piece of shit van I have ever seen at a rental place. It rattles. It makes clicking noises. And it smells like candy-coated smoke. I turn it on and the Change Oil light comes on. No kidding. And it has pickup like I’m dragging a U-Haul. But I am stuck so I off I go to run the red light camera gauntlet back to my house, pickup my team and drive for five hours in the nasty van.

So today I was treated to the super upgrade as consolation for the Van Incident.

This Altima is some kinda thang. Its like that Knight Rider car from the ’80s but better. Its got leather everything and is silent as the grave with the windows up. The windows open and close themselves because holding that button the whole time to make the window go up is clearly taxing. The lights and wipers “sense” when they need to come on, the cup holder keeps your beverage hot or cold, it has voice command for using your phone, changing the radio station, picking songs on your ipod, all controlled by a touch screen as big as an ATM in the center of the dash.

I could go on but there are too many features. You can see the crazy luxury at Chrysler if you like.

The reason this car made me think of my father-in-law Sheldon is because he was a man who could really appreciate both luxury and laziness. He would have loved this car. He would have pre-ordered this car last September and gleefully listed its qualities and features to anyone who would listen. Of course its really safe too. You need a lot of air bags to protect people who no longer know how to turn their wipers on.

The thing I covet from the car, other than the 100% silence and feeling like I am in the Mafia with the tinted windows, is the Satellite radio. If I was filthy rich and could buy whatever I wanted, I would pay for Satellite and have 150+ stations to choose from. I always liked the radio best. Punching the buttons, hearing the DJ’s, stumbling on something you forgot or never knew. On my drive I heard Wet Willie, Dan Hicks and Boz Scaggs mixed in with De La Soul, AC/DC and Pittbull. And I thought about Sheldon.

Sheldon was a hoot. I miss him. And I liked driving his car.

I have been on a months long quest to figure out how to better interact with a person who is driving me up the wall with passive-aggressive behavior while also developing “my personal career plan”. At first these seemed like separate tasks, but they converged pretty quickly.

As is my habit I dove into piles of books on psychological profiling, enhanced communication and other equally sexy topics. A am very predictable when faced with any problem or question – first, find a book. Continue reading

If you know what the title of this post means you have probably been through some feel good, group training/team building experience.

The Meyer-Briggs indicators are used for everything from increasing productivity in teams to improving your love life. Supposedly there is no way to game the test so you get a true picture of your type.

I test out as a ENTJ.

On the positive side this translates to me being an outgoing, organized, logical, decisive big-picture kind of person. On the negative side this means that I can be perceived (not by myself of course) as arrogant, impatient and insensitive. Add in feminist and now ENTJ means Bitch.

I once had to do an MBTI exercise with a roomful of social workers and nonprofit types at a diversity workshop. [Insert any of the obvious jokes here.] The result, after the trainer sorted us physically into 4 quadrants of the room, was 27 people in the sensitive/feeling box and me, by myself in my ENTJ corner.

During the next three workshops these supposedly sensitive people called me Spock and made cracks about my drowning puppies. Clearly logical people have no feelings. Lesson learned.

Currently, I am revisiting all this “type” research in an attempt to find a way to deal with a person who appears to need more hand-holding, appreciation and affirmations than I have previously provided. I am trying to not be impatient, but I fail to see why I always have to come over to their corner.

Not only must I do the organizational grunt work “because you’re so good at that sort of thing” but then I have to make sure others feel OK with my efficiency and logic. Please.

I will figure it out and make it work because I always do, but one day I would really love to be on a team with someone else in charge of the organization and macro thinking so I can be loose, brainstorm endlessly and not have to worry about details or deadlines.

Someday.

The full comment “Well of course you know that, because you’re so political”, was said to me after I explained a joke someone made about the Department of Energy. It wasn’t that esoteric, it was a Rick Perry reference and most people in the room got it. I made the mistake of remarking ‘it was all over the news’ and got the political comment.

I don’t consider myself a political junkie, but I do pay attention and get my news from sources other than Jon Stewart or Fox News. On the other hand, I can name several heads of state that are not monarchs, and know who the secretary general of the united nations is, so maybe I am “political”.

Not long ago I had a different friend accuse me of never doing anything frivolous. I don’t think she thinks this is a bad thing on its face, but it was clear from the conversation that I make her feel inferior somehow because I don’t consume pop culture the way she does.

It all started because I didn’t know Jennifer Aniston was pregnant. (I always figured a pregnancy is none of my business until I get a birth announcement in the mail.) I protested that I do in fact read the occasional “O” magazine or Real Simple, and was informed that those are practically work. Seems I need a Yahoo feed to really know what’s going on in the world.

This struck me as the kind of anti-intellectual sentiment that pops up in the media every now and again. Especially in an election year. Not that I call myself an intellectual. Actually I can’t think of a single “label” I call myself. More to the point, it seems like people view the fact that I don’t watch “E!” or read People magazine as some judgement about the fact that they do.

The only time I care what media anyone besides me consumes is when it’s time to vote. Maybe that’s why I’m considered “political.”

I feel like its kind of hard to miss big news like the Penn State scandal (which will have repercussions across higher education if not US society) or the EU debt crisis (which we are feeling here already). But I can’t really ask folks questions like ‘Don’t you read the newspaper?’, or ‘have you tried NPR instead of the “drive time show?’ because that sounds like a judgement about their media consumption.

But I am curious.

If I am considered a political, intellectual because I read books and pay attention to non-celebrity news, what does that make everyone else? I bet that sounds all judgmental doesn’t it?

It’s sort of like when people find out I’m a vegetarian. They get defensive about what they are eating, or aggressively insist that I can’t be healthy. Yeah, me and roughly 400 million other vegetarians are all starving to death while suffering from scurvy. I digress.

This is another bizarre situation. My being a vegetarian, is not a commentary on your steak. Nor is my reading the newspaper meant to induce guilt over your Live! with Kelly. Enjoy.

It will be 11 months before I give a flying…fig how people get their news & info. Then we can talk about how political I am.

I was having a little chit & chat before a meeting with some people I know casually. They somehow got themselves around to talking about dreams. One of them had recently had the classic recurring school dream of taking a final exam and you realize you didn’t study/never attended class. I mentioned that I’d never had the “back in school” dream and was told of course I had, everyone has, I just don’t remember.

Now I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do know what kind of anxiety dreams I have.

Being told I ‘just didn’t remember’ told me more about him than it did about me. Seems he wants his experience to be universal, his anxiety centers around personal performance, or forgetting responsibilities, regret or paths not taken. More importantly he is someone who thinks he knows more about me than I know about me, and isn’t afraid to say so. Valuable information to have when forming a new business relationship.

It also amazes me how much people will reveal to an “almost stranger”. Maybe they don’t know what insights they provide. Or maybe they do.

During the dream chit chat I was thinking that one recurring dream I have is being chased, attacked and physically fighting for my life – in ever changing venues and situations just to spice things up. That recurring dream leaves so much open for interpretation that I can’t see how or why I would share it with casual acquaintances.

I know I am guarded. That’s a hurdle I may never jump.

But casually intimate people can be casually hurtful just as easily. So in a world where peoples personal “layers” are displayed like a parfait in clear glass, I will continue to wear my layers like an onion.