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My Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media

People like to argue that social media gets in the way of real, face-to-face human interaction. I don’t place much store in this argument. As a bonafide introvert, if it were possible to use social media to avoid human interaction, I would. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked so far. (I’m joking. Mostly.)

My greatest objection to social media is the never ending glut of information that spills out of it. Social media does not stick to business hours. There is no down time. I looked away from my computer screen the other day, and when I looked back a couple of minutes later, 65 new tweets had been tweeted. It is impossible to catch up, because users post content faster than anyone could ever hope to consume it all. Then, of course, there is the pressure to add to that content. And, furthermore, the pressure to add content that will stand out from the rest of the content.

I have found that the best thing to do is step back and limit my exposure. Were fewer things happening before social media? No. Celebrities still died. Protests still happened. Oil still spilled. Cats still looked grumpy. However, our exposure was limited to print, radio, and television. Fewer people could share their opinions and pets with a large-scale audience. The best thing to do is admit that it can’t all be consumed, and it doesn’t need to be. Before social media, we wouldn’t have had access to it all in the first place.

What I love about social media is also the never ending spout of information. I like reading tweets about people, organizations, and activities that I otherwise would have never known existed. I have found volunteer opportunities this way and discovered new favorite artists. I have often heard about news items through social media before articles have been published about them in The New York Times.

Furthermore, I love the collaboration and connection that social media fosters. Through social media, I chatted with an Acquisitions Editor for a publishing company based on the East Coast. I “attended” a bus tour of historical Portland by following the tweets of those who were actually on the tour. I’ve consumed more art, lectures, and music, than I ever could have accessed before social media.

As with all technological advancements, there are reasons to fight against and avoid social media. However, like many technological advancements, there are also ways that social media can improve communication and quality of life.

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Everything I Admire About My Little Sister

My little sister keeps joking that I should write a blog about how wonderful she is. Well, in honor of National Siblings Day, here you go, Katherine. (Shout out to my older brother, Daniel, as well! I love you both!)

 

Everything I Admire About My Little Sister:

 

She is Persistent 

As a child, this was the trait that drove me insane. If I had friends over to play, Katherine would insist on being wherever we were. She didn’t necessarily want to play with us. She just wanted to be in the same location. No amount of screaming, pleading, or threats had any effect. Now, Katherine’s persistence works in bigger and better ways. She loves to prove people wrong. When her first-year advisor refused to sign off on her overloaded schedule at the beginning of freshman year, Katherine found someone else who would. She proceeded to earn a G.P.A. close to 4.0 during her first quarter. She continues to double-major in Biochemistry and Music, while participating in the Air Force ROTC program, despite the logistical difficulty of managing her schedule.

 

She Says What She Thinks

Katherine believes that people should speak their minds. In short, she is blunt. This is something that I particularly admire, as I generally am the exact opposite. I convey my opinions very diplomatically, in a more roundabout fashion. Katherine says what she thinks. It does not matter whom she is talking to, or whether the subject of the conversation is politics, health, education, or cheese. Or whether our mom would prefer that she closed her mouth.

 

She is Paying Her Own Way Through College

My brother and I were lucky enough to attend college while my family could still afford to help us pay for our education. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Katherine has not been so lucky. This means that Katherine has had to cover rent, tuition, groceries, utilities, etc. since she started at Central Washington. I am forever impressed by her ability to do this. She has even managed to purchase a car and travel.

 

She is Courageous

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.” – Meg Cabot

Every time I try to compliment Katherine for being brave enough to introduce herself to new people on a regular basis, she argues that she is not brave. She says that she almost always feels anxious in unfamiliar situations. However, that does not stop her from walking up to strangers and introducing herself. On multiple occasions, she visited me at college and wandered off on her own to introduce herself to professors and students in the Music department. She recognizes that the potential benefits of knowing people outweigh the fear of rejection.

 

She Dreams Big

Despite the fact that it is one of the most competitive jobs in the Air Force, Katherine has set the goal of becoming a flight surgeon. This job would require her to complete intensive medical training, as well as pilot training. She has already begun looking for flight surgeons to talk to, and perhaps job shadow, in order to set herself up for taking on this role.

Never Rest Again, a review of Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

In Never Eat Alone, founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight Keith Ferrazzi contends that building relationships is the most effective way to build success. He draws from personal experience, his friends’ stories, and the biographies of historical figures and celebrities to explain how to create a powerful and supportive network. His suggestions range from starting your own club to curating an electronic contact list.

The last time a book led me over and through so many emotional hills and valleys, I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after waiting in a line several hours long for its midnight release. No beloved owls or house elves die in Never Eat Alone. No dark wizards commit atrocious acts. Instead, Keith Ferrazzi suggests that the way to cultivate a successful career and life is to form meaningful relationships with thousands of people.

At times, Ferrazzi pumped me up and called me to action. I couldn’t wait to arrange meetings with the people I most admire or create my own projects at work. Every few pages I had to stop reading to jot down ideas.

At other times, I was so riled and frustrated by Ferrazzi’s words that I had to put the book down and take a break. How exhausting would it be to maintain mutually satisfying relationships with thousands of people, wishing each and every one a timely happy birthday and playing professional matchmaker? As an introvert, I often find it difficult enough to maintain a couple dozen relationships at once.

By far the most irritating part of Never Eat Alone was the name dropping. Oh, the name dropping! I’m friends with this-or-that television personality, and I’ve made the career of such-and-such an impossibly rich CEO. Maybe the prospect of befriending Arianna Huffington or Martha Stewart motivates some people… Ferrazzi does try to establish that celebrities should be treated just like everyone else in your network, but he doesn’t exactly follow that advice in his book.

However, Ferrazzi redeemed himself, in my mind, in the second to last chapter. On page 287 (of the hardcover version), he writes, “you don’t have to do it my way.” In this chapter, he fights against the popular idea of “balance,” in which so much time is spent on work and so much time is spent on leisure. He writes that, for him, this kind of “balance” doesn’t exist. Ferrazzi doesn’t differentiate between professional and personal relationships. He mixes clients and family members, CEOs and college students at his dinner parties. He stresses that that is his recipe for a gratifying existence. The reader’s might be different.

I agree that if you are pursuing a career you truly care about, which is something that I would like to do as soon as I can, work and life should and will blend seamlessly. That is something I desire more than anything else in the world. I love the idea of reaching out to and learning from people in the fields that I want to go into, as well as introducing people who can be mutually beneficial to each other. However, if I have to know thousands of people in high places to be successful and never eat a meal alone again, it just isn’t going to happen.