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Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.


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No Facebook: Week 3

Did I log off Facebook too soon?

I was asking myself that last week when Facebook’s most recent redesign sparked an outcry among users. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I’ve missed the “huge” changes, all the rage, all my friends’ comments about how they feel about it. I got an eyeful of brief opinions on Twitter, but not enough to overdose. (I can log off Twitter more easily than I could Facebook.) Now folks are saying they’ll quit Facebook, but social media watchers are saying no, they won’t.

But I had already quit Facebook. Was it time to go back?

No.

Although I want to see how the brand pages might look and how marketers would respond to the changes, I’m enjoying my time from Facebook. Right after I logged off, I noticed my life seemed quieter; it was something I couldn’t explain. Then my friend Terry pointed out that social media carries an obligation: If we’re logged on, we are expected required to respond. On Facebook, I felt I was required to respond to everything, no matter how large or small. After I quit Facebook, I felt like something had been deleted from my daily to-do list. I realized what I was feeling was relief.

That’s not to say there aren’t some things I miss about being on Facebook: I miss keeping up with my niece who just started high school. I miss keeping up with my best friend from college. I miss seeing what people are saying about Allstate’s Mayhem commercials.

But I don’t miss spending 16% of my online time looking at strangers’ Lady Gaga photos. And after reading about the creepy Timeline and auto-sharing features, I miss Facebook even less.

I still can’t say whether I’ll stay gone from Facebook forever. Deactivating my account was an experiment to eliminate some distractions. I told my friends I would be gone just for a little while, and then I set an end date for Nov. 1. But I’m not sure I’ll log on after that. I’m finding that there is life outside of Facebook, and I like it.
 

EARLIER: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook

 

YOU NEED TO KNOW: Mashable on Facebook’s auto-sharing feature

 


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How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook

ED’S NOTE: Amended Sept. 13, 2011, for clarity.

I have done the unthinkable: I have deactivated my Facebook account. That was three days ago, three years to the day that I joined Facebook.

I had joined Facebook in 2008 as my personal 9/11 Project. Each year I do something to change my life for the better. Sometimes it’s big; sometimes it’s small. It’s my way of reclaiming my autumns. I started this several years ago when I realized that if I didn’t do something – anything – that perfect September days would forever be tarnished by the terrorist attacks of 2001. It isn’t that I want to forget that day; I just want to go forward – with hope. In 2008, I wanted to reconnect with people I had lost touch with. And I did. I made it a project, and Facebook helped. These people mattered to me; I wanted, I needed, to know them again. Now I do, thanks to Facebook.

But with the good came the bad, the ugly and the mundane. Several times, I found myself overdosing on information that I didn’t need, and so I’d uninstall the app from my BlackBerry and later, my iPhone. Then I would re-install it less than 8 12 hours later.

My friends need to know about my vacation, commute, dinner, dammit!

A recent Monday night, I found myself logged on well after 1 a.m., clicking through photos of a Lady Gaga concert posted by a sister-of-a-friend-of-a-friend.

We were at that concert! She lives three states away! She was at the same concert! Miracle!

No, not miracle. Insanity. I didn’t know this woman. I will never meet this woman. I can’t tell you how I found her album or why I felt compelled to click through it. I can only tell you that I lost 20 minutes of my life trying to determine whether she and I were at the same show in 2010.

She had better seats than we did, didn’t she?

Who gives a shit?

Evidently, I do.

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‘Grease’ was the word: Me on Paragraph Planet

I’m featured on Paragraph Planet today, a 75-word piece was inspired by my friend Amy Stapleford Jackson, who was spending summer afternoons indulging in a revival of the 1978 movie Grease, starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.

For those of us who are a certain age, they were the ones that we wanted. We didn’t want Danny to be stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool. We wanted the beauty school dropout to go back to high school.  Although we were too young to appreciate all the innuendo, we knew all the words by heart and sang each note as if we’d written it, singing into Goody’s hairbrushes and dancing around a bedroom, mentally wearing the skin-tight black pants Sandy wore in the last scene.

Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website that features 75-word flash-fiction pieces on one topic. If you’re a writer, please try your hand at it. There’s something so satisfying about writing just 75 of just-right words. If you’re a reader, click and click daily. There are some real gems there, and they make for a nice breather between phone calls, a shared human moment before another deadline. Writers may also write a sequel to the posted paragraphs using their own 75 words.

Freelance writer Richard Hearn edits the site. He shares is philosophy and vision for the site in an interview with Terry Davidson Byrne at MommyTongue. When he’s not sorting through submissions, Hearn writes the “Distracted Dad” column for Latest Homes and “Dad Sense” for Mumsense magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @latestdad and @paragraphplanet.

After you read my paragraph, read more as you browse the archives or the author pages. Here’s mine, and here’s the page of my friend and former professor, Amanda Holmes.

If inspiration strikes after you’ve lost yourself in story after story, you can submit your 75 words — exactly 75 words — here.
 

UPDATE: This appeared on Paragraph Planet on 8-17-2011.

 

Grease was the word. The word that we heard. And sang. When we were 8, then 9. Then again at 38, 39 – loud. Tell me more about that summer lovin’; that fool stranded at the drive-in. What did they say? Monday at school. Oh, Sandy, you weren’t the one that we wanted. We wanted to be Rizzo, with her reasons for reputation. There were worse things we could do, but we weren’t hopelessly devoted to you.


Now what?

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I bought a shitload of poetry for a song today, an exchange that sure did suck. It’s not supposed to work this way; the dead, penniless writers would probably agree.

Although Borders was chain, this one in Fairfax holds a special place in my heart because was the closest thing I had to a neighborhood bookstore. Over the past 10 years, I have bought countless manuals, dictionaries, magazines and unapologetic trash there. (The loftier tomes – the real books written by serious writers – are still part of the family, dutifully gathering dust on one of many IKEA bookshelves scattered about the house, all casualties of my hair’s breadth attention span.) Sure, I can buy the a how-to guide or best seller from Amazon, but I won’t be able to prowl the aisles, distracted by this title and that dust jacket. I won’t be able to indulge an impulse while waiting in line, so I don’t know where I’ll buy my overpriced bookmarks and spiral-bound journals – Amazon isn’t good for that.

Maybe I can stock up. The girl at the checkout – who seemed far too happy for someone about to be unemployed –  said they would be around for a while. “We have to sell all the store inventory and what’s in the warehouse. So we’ll be here.”

Just not for 10 more years.


Blame Cupid: The prequel

I’m featured on Paragraph Planet today. My 75-word piece was the inspiration for the longer flash-fiction pieces featured on Doorknobs & Bodypaint in February: “Sub Rosa” and “To: Harpocrates.”

This piece is based on my theory that Cupid is a fat, lazy baby who is really bad at his job — and that’s why there are so many lonely people in the world. (Think Will Ferrell in a diaper.)

It’s a fun read, so be sure to check it out today. The pieces are changed daily.

Want something to read? Browse the archives or the author pages. Here’s mine, and here’s the page of my friend and former professor, Amanda Holmes.

Want to try your hand at it? You can submit your 75 words — exactly 75 words — here.

UPDATE: My piece “It’s a Broken Arrow” that appeared April 1, 2011, on ParagraphPlanet.com.

It’s a broken arrow. And my last. I can’t use it; it won’t do. She would never feel it, and he’ll never know. He’s been alone for a while now; a little longer won’t hurt. Besides, he has his dog to keep him company. Why let a woman ruin such a good thing? We’ll get her next year. I promise. I’ll even bring the special bow. The really good one. And an extra arrow or two.


Blame Cupid: The prequel (My stab at love stories)

I’m featured on Paragraph Planet today. My 75-word piece was the inspiration for the longer flash-fiction pieces featured on Doorknobs & Bodypaint in February: “Sub Rosa” and “To: Harpocrates.”

This piece is based on my theory that Cupid is a fat, lazy baby who is really bad at his job — and that’s why there are so many lonely people in the world. (Think Will Ferrell in a diaper.)

It’s a fun read, so be sure to check it out today. The pieces are changed daily.

Want something to read? Browse the archives or the author pages. Here’s mine, and here’s the page of my friend and former professor, Amanda Holmes.

Want to try your hand at it? You can submit your 75 words — exactly 75 words — here.

UPDATE: My piece “It’s a Broken Arrow” that appeared April 1 on ParagraphPlanet.com.

It’s a broken arrow. And my last. I can’t use it; it won’t do. She would never feel it, and he’ll never know. He’s been alone for a while now; a little longer won’t hurt. Besides, he has his dog to keep him company. Why let a woman ruin such a good thing? We’ll get her next year. I promise. I’ll even bring the special bow. The really good one. And an extra arrow or two.


Short and sweet fiction

This took first place in its category, and it turned out better than expected. Think of it as a candy bar: a break before your next meeting.

Enjoy.