As I mentioned earlier this year, I have taken some rather prolonged breaks from social media and the Internet in general, happily giving in to my hermit instincts to retreat into my little cave and turn off the world as much as possible. Why? It’s just too noisy. So many opinions and messages zooming around in my head until I can hardly tell what I’m thinking myself anymore.
The constant bombardment of everyone shouting over the top of each other, determined to make their point of view known and convince everyone to agree with them, is overwhelming. The negativity, division, and outright hatred is overwhelming. While the Internet is a wonderful tool for communication and sharing information, it is also increasingly becoming a tool for propagating discontent, fear, and hate, and spreading misinformation (although this is hardly a new development).
So, at the end of 2016, here are a few things I’d like to see a little less of in the New Year:
- As always, hatred and discrimination towards others for their religion, appearance, race, sexual orientation, etc. ( It’ll never happen, but I can hope.)
- The increasing sense of ‘us vs. them’, the demonisation of the ‘other’ as a scapegoat for all problems, the decreasing empathy for others, and the corresponding rise in popularity of more extreme opinions and politicians.
- A lack of open mindedness, the supreme confidence that one is right, and the derision of all others that disagree as stupid morons.
- The frequently bemoaned despair at the amount of stupid people and the idiot ‘masses’. Unfortunately, we are all the ‘masses’, we are all idiots sometimes, and nobody is perfect. We are all affected by cognitive biases, and we are all subject to manipulation by social forces, mass media, and our own preconceptions. We are all human beings.
Image via http://www.izquotes.com
In the end, 2016 will not be the year I remember most for the large number of celebrity deaths (although we did lose many great icons), but the year a large portion of humanity seems to have forgotten how to have a civil, educated discussion and look beyond their own point of view. The year that so many people got so wrapped up in shouting that they forgot to listen.
2016 was the year I finally caved and turned to overly cutesy kitten and puppy videos – and spent way too much potentially productive time watching them : )
Here’s to 2017. May it be a little brighter, a little calmer, and a little more compassionate and open-minded than 2016.
Wishing you all a wonderful (retrospective) holiday season, and a happy new year.
P.S. Please forgive the clumsy title, it was the best my caffeine-deprived brain could manage. Also, the irony of adding yet another opinion to the cacophony is not lost on me : )
by Millie Ho Netflix’s Luke Cage was an entertaining series, and it also helped me understand how to write better symbolism. Here’s a summary of my talking points. AVOID USING SUPERFICIAL SYMBOLISM In school, I was taught to reference existing works or mythologies if I was writing symbolism. For example, a guy who […]
Just as I have been spending a lot of time re-thinking my whole social media strategy, this post crossed my newsfeed. An interesting look at author platforms, and how to focus on the best options for your needs. ~ Flynn
So last night I’m watching TV and this ad comes on for an item called, Forever Lazy. Basically, its a blanket with a zipper and legs (oh and there is a zipper at both ends and I will just stop there). Basically, it’s a cousin to the Snuggie.
This got me thinking…
What if we just gave up wearing clothes and just took to wearing Lazy Blankets or Snuggies? I mean, my thighs that haven’t properly fit in a pair of jeans since fifth grade would no longer be a problem. And how much time would we save going to the gym? With a Lazy Blanket, no one could see our cellulite or our less-than-impressive-pecs. No more sweating at the gym and bring on the cheese fries! Shaving our legs could be totally optional. No more sorting the laundry, either. Our Snuggie is already fuzzy, so just throw that…
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Hi everyone, I’m baaaack. Sort of. I’ve been around on social media again for a while, but have had a complete blank on anything to blog about. So as my grand return post, here are a bunch of interesting things that other people have said : )
“You know how writers are… they create themselves as they create their work. Or perhaps they create their work in order to create themselves.” ― Orson Scott Card
“The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t.” ― Iain M. Banks
“A novel rough draft is like bread dough; you need to beat the crap out of it for it to rise.” ― Chris Baty
“Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.” ― Theodore Dreiser
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” ― Hugh MacLeod
Internet fatigue, or perhaps more aptly, social media fatigue, has been causing an increasing disruption in my life. The endless cycle of news, opinions, scandals, advertisements, and largely useless information, has been clogging up my brain and causing both anxiety and an enduring sense of exhaustion.
(Wondering what exactly “Internet Fatigue” is? Check out this great article: http://au.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/03/is-internet-fatigue-ruining-your-life)
I should point out here that I still think the Internet is a wonderful thing – never before have we had access to so much information at our fingertips – but it is a dual-edged sword, and the flip side is information overload and misinformation. With a discerning eye, research, and a little practice, weeding out misinformation is not that difficult. Information overload, however, is an entirely different problem, particularly in a world where we are already being bombarded by information from all angles in everyday life.
From our TVs, radios, billboards, posters, food packaging, magazines, newspapers, and pretty much anywhere we look the minute we set foot outside of our homes, information bombards us from all directions. Add in the Internet, particularly social media, and this information bombardment increases exponentially.
Yes, social media can be fun. It can be a great way to keep in contact with friends and relatives, and to network professionally. But it also becomes exhausting. It can become a compulsion to check Facebook or Twitter (or your social media of choice), every spare second. It’s the first thing you look at in the morning, and the last thing you check at night. You scroll through your timeline when you’re bored. And it all becomes overwhelming.
Which is why, in the interests of reclaiming a good portion of my day, re-prioritising, de-clogging my brain, and reducing my stress levels, I will be on hiatus from blogging and social media for the foreseeable future. Thanks for all of your support, and hopefully I will return with a clear head and fresh perspective at some point in the future.
A very relatable and informative post from Kristen Lamb about the negative effects of stress on your cognitive and creative abilities.
Image courtesy of Eflon via Flickr Creative Commons
The past few years have been just brutal. My grandmother who raised me was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it was just one crisis after another and it just never…freaking…let…up. I felt like I was in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu being crushed all the time, but not allowed to tap out. Then, on Independence Day (ironically) my grandmother finally passed away.
I really never appreciated how much her declining health was impacting me until she was gone. It was like I was wandering around in a fugue state only aware that my knees hurt. Then out of nowhere a hand lifted off the 500 pound gorilla and I could breathe again. I never noticed the gorilla, never noticed the lack of air, only the knee pain.
So now I am in the process of rebuilding. I plan on taking a couple days off to…
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If you have written anything before, whether essays, reports, fiction, articles, or any other form of writing, you will most likely have discovered the difficulties that come with proofreading your own work. Even if you have an impeccable knowledge of the English language, there is one pitfall that is almost impossible to avoid:
Our brain tricks us into seeing what should be there instead of what is there.
No matter how often we re-read our own writing, or how much distance (time) we place between ourselves and our work, sneaky, simple mistakes will almost always slip through the cracks. As an example, I wrote a short story where a character “threw her bag and keys on the table”. Or, that is what it was supposed to say. Despite multiple readings over a period of two months, I never picked up that it actually said “threw her back and keys on the table”, until someone else pointed the mistake out to me.
These sorts of errors slip easily past spelling and grammar checkers, and often only a fresh pair of eyes will find them. It is also small errors like this that can drag a reader out of the flow of the story, lessen the impact of your writing, and affect your professional image if you write for a living.
There are, however, a few tips and tricks that can help you pick up on as many of these pesky little mistakes as possible:
- Take as much time as possible between writing and proofreading your writing, so your work has become less familiar
- Read very slowly, or read out loud (or both)
- Re-read the work several times, focusing on a particular issue on each pass (punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc.)
- Print out your work to proofread it
- Change the typeface, colour, size, and/or background to trick your brain into thinking you’re reading something new
- Take breaks, be well rested and as alert as possible
While all of these techniques can be useful, nothing really beats getting another person to proofread your work, if at all possible. Just to be safe.
Helpful Links for Proofreading Your Own Work:
Get Your Eagle Eye On: 10 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Work by Leah McClellan:
21 Proofreading and Editing Tips for Writers by Melissa Donovan:
A great post on writing dialogue from Kristen Lamb.
Today we are going to talk about dialogue. Everyone thinks they are great at it, and many would be wrong. Dialogue really is a lot tricker than it might seem.
Great dialogue is one of the most vital components of fiction. Dialogue is responsible for not only conveying the plot, but it also helps us understand the characters and get to know them, love them, hate them, whatever.
Dialogue is powerful for revealing character. This is as true in life as it is on the page. If people didn’t judge us based on how we speak, then business professionals wouldn’t bother with Toastmasters, speaking coaches or vocabulary builders.
I’d imagine few people who’d hire a brain surgeon who spoke like a rap musician and conversely, it would be tough to enjoy rap music made by an artist who spoke like the curator of an art museum.
Our word choices are…
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I am still here, though blog and social media updates may still be a little slow for a while. In the mean time, keep writing, keep reading, and keep dreaming, everyone.