Joshua Wilner http://joshuawilner.com A Writer Writes Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:43:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 http://joshuawilner.com http://joshuawilner.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/JWLinkedIn3-5492414cv1_site_icon-32x32.png Joshua Wilner 32 32 Have Electronic Devices Killed Conversation? http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/26/have-electronic-devices-killed-conversation/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/26/have-electronic-devices-killed-conversation/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:38:50 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=5030 A short while ago I mentioned to a friend that I was frustrated because people weren’t returning telephone calls and he just shook his head at me. “Josh, no one uses the telephone any more. It is ancient technology and it would be better if it died.” The universe must not have wanted us to […]

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conversationA short while ago I mentioned to a friend that I was frustrated because people weren’t returning telephone calls and he just shook his head at me.

“Josh, no one uses the telephone any more. It is ancient technology and it would be better if it died.”

The universe must not have wanted us to have that conversation because in the midst of my reply both of our cellphones rang but we responded differently to them.

He let his call go to voice mail and then replied via text message while I chose to answer mine.

“Don’t you screen your calls?”

I nodded my head at him and then asked him to hold on a moment because thanks to the magic of Caller ID I knew that it was my daughter on the line.

He mouthed goodbye and said he had to get to back to work so I waved goodbye and watched him walk to his car.

It probably took him all of my five minutes to wander from the restaurant out to the parking lot. By the time he opened the door I had finished my conversation.

The reason my daughter called was to find out who was picking her up and where she should meet them.

If we had communicated via text messaging it probably would have taken at least a dozen texts to answer and confirm all of the necessary details.

The telephone conversation covered it all in less than two minutes and without any confusion.

Have Electronic Devices Killed Conversation?

Had my friend and I continued our conversation I would have told him I routinely screen my calls and I often communicate via texting.

I also use the telephone on a regular basis because there are moments where texting is far less efficient and useful than a short conversation.

But the thing that really prompted this post was something I saw at my daughter’s soccer game.

It was a group of teenagers sitting together but no words were being exchanged because they were all participating in a group chat.

This isn’t the first time I have seen that happen but something about that moment made me wonder what sort of affect electronic devices are having upon conversation.

I spent the rest of that day and many in between watching people to see how they were communicating with each other and most of what I saw were faces looking down at keyboards and not at other faces.

It was enough for me to think there is probably something to it. There is a correlation between what kinds of conversation are taking place when electronics are part of the mix

Nonetheless I would caution you to take my unscientific survey as gospel because I don’t have hard numbers or any studies to cite as proof that electronic devices are killing conversation.

This Is Not A Good Thing

Ask my family and friends and they’ll tell you I am a heavy user of my phone and computer. I like my electronics and use them  for personal and professional needs.

But I know how to put them down and how to speak with people when I am on the telephone or face-to-face.

I am beginning to wonder if that is a sign of age or if conversation is a dying art.

If you and I are connected there is a very good chance we have exchanged emails and or text messages but there is also a good chance you’ll find me on the other end of the phone.

There is a personal touch that comes with hearing a voice and as mentioned it helps prevent misunderstanding.

When you have verbal cues you don’t spend extra time analyzing the words because you are not sure if the message you got is supposed to be sarcastic, angry or sad.

I am interested in having more balance between the two mediums than what I think I am seeing today.

What about you? What do you think?

Maybe yes, maybe no.
Maybe yes, maybe no.

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Playing Not To Lose http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/22/playing-not-to-lose/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/22/playing-not-to-lose/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 01:00:40 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4866 When I was around 13 or 14 a kid in school said I was the biggest loser I had ever met. I don’t remember what prompted it but I remember knocking him over a trashcan and telling him if he didn’t stop messing with me I was going to try rip his head from his […]

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Babe RuthWhen I was around 13 or 14 a kid in school said I was the biggest loser I had ever met.

I don’t remember what prompted it but I remember knocking him over a trashcan and telling him if he didn’t stop messing with me I was going to try rip his head from his neck with my teeth.

Ok, that last line might not be entirely accurate, it is hard to remember things that happened decades ago with the perfect recollection some people claim.

What I am certain of is that I was this boy had been messing with me and his refusal to listen to my requests to find something else to do.

And I remember sitting on the school bus on the way home trying to figure out why he called me a loser because I hated losing.

Yeah, I took his comment more literally than I should but when you are 13 or 14 years-old life can be more than a little confusing.

Was It Good Advice Or Bad?

I remember telling my paternal grandfather about that incident and how he talked about the importance of standing up to bullies.

He said I should never be afraid to defend myself and suggested that if this boy bothered me again I should hit him in the nose hard enough to make it bleed.

“He’ll think twice about picking on you when he is trying to stop his nose from bleeding.”

I never did find out whether it was good advice or not because the kid never bothered me again, or if he did I can’t remember any more.

Truth is I can’t even remember his name anymore, the only solid memory I have prior to the incident is how he only bothered me if other kids were around and he thought he could show off.

I suppose part of the reason things stick out for me is it helped change my approach to handling certain situations. I think prior to that sometimes I played not to lose.

Another way of looking at it would be to say that until then I was more afraid of getting hurt than I was of stopping the incident so if I said no and a kid didn’t stop bothering me I tried to avoid them.

But after that trash can incident I realized I really didn’t have to let those things happen and that if I needed to do more than say no I could.

Playing Not To Lose

Today I think of playing not to lose very differently than I did then.

Now I see it from the perspective of a father, a businessman and a person.

The father sees it as an obligation to teach my children not to be afraid to fail and not to allow people to take advantage of them.

The businessman and person perspectives are virtually identical because both standpoints recognize the importance to take a chance.

It is the understanding that growth and opportunity stem from a willingness to push beyond our comfort zones and to try something different.

If you ask me to provide more distinction between the two I would say I am usually willing to take on more risk on a personal level than business because many businesses can be unforgiving of mistakes.

But I would add that is not a hard and fast rule because it is not always applicable across the board. Some businesses are happy for their team to push the envelope so the trick is making sure you understand who you are working with/for.

Don’t Stop Playing Hard

A while back one of the guys I play basketball with asked me why I seemed a bit disengaged on the court and I just smiled at him.

I didn’t want to tell him how frustrated I was because my team wasn’t playing smart and they weren’t playing hard.

It was just a pickup game and no one receives awards, medals, paychecks or trophies for wins or losses there.  We play because it is fun and we enjoy hanging out with each other.

Except I am not always good at turning off the desire to win and that irritation I get from losing.

It is funny when I think about that kid telling me I am a good loser because even though I know how to do it gracefully I still don’t like it.

Most nights when I am playing ball with the guys I really am just having fun but every now and then that competitive fire is lit and it makes me crazy to see guys approach the game like they don’t care.

When you play not to lose you let down your guard and you lose your edge. That doesn’t happen when you play to win.

There is a different feeling that comes when you lose while playing to win than when you play not to lose and then lose anyhow.

The Kind Of Life I Want To Lead

Playing to win isn’t about winning at Monopoly or dominating on the soccer field. It is not about being the valedictorian either.

Those things are nice but they are too restrictive for what I am thinking about.

It is the willingness to go the extra mile and to take an extra step. It is being open to listening to opportunity and then making an educated decision about whether to stop or continue.

Playing to win doesn’t mean you don’t stop thinking, it just means that you don’t let fear of failure and or uncertainty run your life.

What lies beyond the bend.
What lies beyond the bend.

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Don’t Suffer From The Stupidity Of Forward Thinking http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/19/dont-suffer-from-the-stupidity-of-forward-thinking/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/19/dont-suffer-from-the-stupidity-of-forward-thinking/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 18:59:12 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4844 Another father told me that he would never yell at his children because it was the type of behavior that would lead to his kids turning into “unthinking animals.” When I didn’t respond he took that as a prompt to continue and told me he believed “forward thinking” parents understood that “progressive parenting” meant you […]

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wit

Another father told me that he would never yell at his children because it was the type of behavior that would lead to his kids turning into “unthinking animals.”

When I didn’t respond he took that as a prompt to continue and told me he believed “forward thinking” parents understood that “progressive parenting” meant you explain everything you do to your children every time.

For the next five minutes he regaled me with tales of his parenting skills and theory while I wondered when my number would be called and I would be given an excuse to say goodbye and walk away.

But bureaucracy refused to cooperate and when I saw the line wasn’t moving I shrugged my shoulders and decided to engage.

“When my son was two he tried to run into the street and I yelled at him to stop.”

My companion in line asked me if I thought that was necessary and suggested that perhaps I should have held my son’s hand so that I didn’t have to yell.

“You know we can’t keep our children in bubbles or encase in them in bubble wrap. They have to learn how to do things without us. How many kids do you have and how old are they?”

He looked at me and proudly said he had one child, a bouncing baby boy who was three months old and was already off the charts for every measurable statistic.

I smiled and told him that my oldest is going to be heading off to high school in the fall and suggested he not fall into the trap believing that “forward thinking” and or “progressive” means better.

And then my number was called and the conversation was over.

Reality Check

I didn’t tell the other dad he was stupid, inexperienced or naive because there wasn’t any point in doing so.

I remember how excited I was when I was a new father and how determined I was to do everything better than my parents, grandparents and every great television dad had done.

It is funny to me to look back and remember how certain I was about my ability to do it all because I had access to resources my father and grandfathers never had.

They didn’t need to feel badly about their shortcomings because they didn’t have the tools I had.

If you listen closely you might hear them all laughing now because reality kicked me in the teeth and knocked some sense into me overnight.

I could tell you about sleepless nights spent with babies who were fed and had clean diapers who screamed at us for what felt like countless hours.

We talked to them. We asked them to tell us what was wrong and promised we would fix it and they still screamed.

I remember watching the learning to walk and how I explained to them exactly what they had to do to become expert walkers but that didn’t make them learn how to do it any faster.

It wasn’t because I was a bad teacher either. It was because some learning is done based upon the foundation of knowledge and until you reach a certain level you can’t always advance to the next.

Don’t Suffer From The Stupidity Of Forward Thinking

A while back I sat in on a meeting and listened to a team talk about the importance of being progressive and forward thinking as it related to their business.

They went around the table and asked everyone to pitch ideas and or share thoughts about what they could do to meet those needs and then asked me for my input.

I asked them if they could explain what those expressions mean and why they are important.

It wasn’t because I was trying to be adversarial or because I didn’t have any ideas but I wanted to understand where they were going and what they were trying to do.

I wanted to know if they were using progressive and forward thinking as buzzwords or if they had real meaning.

What I call the stupidity of forward thinking refers to missing the forest for the trees.

There is always merit in taking a hard look at your business and trying to figure out how to more effectively distinguish yourselves from the competition.

It makes sense to try and come up with ways to work smarter and not harder but you need to be careful not to suffer from tunnel vision.

For example if your business offers products and or services for families there is a good chance you’ll start by targeting mothers.

In concept that makes sense but unless it is something that only a mother can use (breast pump, maternity clothing) it would be a mistake not to widen your scope.

Use What Works

I am not saying you don’t use what works. I would absolutely market to mothers but if you don’t include fathers it is a mistake.

Fathers are a significant part of the family makeup and they are involved in every aspect of family life.

I suppose we are still living in a time where targeting fathers for some of these things would actually be progressive and forward thinking.

But the real point is as we said before not to mistake the forest for the trees and get so caught up in trying to be different that you ignore what is proven.

Old isn’t always bad.

Nor is it wrong to try and find a better way. The trick is to find the right blend of the two.

All those new tools and resources I had to work with as a new father didn’t mean that my father and grandfathers didn’t have the same desire to provide their families as I did.

All it meant was there was access to different ways to meet that desire.

Sometimes we forget how the more things change the more they stay the same.

What do you think?

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You Don’t Need 98 reasons To Defenestrate People http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/16/you-dont-need-98-reasons-to-defenestrate-people/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/16/you-dont-need-98-reasons-to-defenestrate-people/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 06:11:44 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4825 One of the first things people told me about Texas was to be prepared for the Summer. “You Californians don’t know real heat, Texas is different.” I nodded my head and smiled because I knew they didn’t know I grew up in the San Fernando Valley where it wasn’t uncommon for it be in triple […]

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Kincaid's Hamburgers in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by QuesterMark
Kincaid’s Hamburgers in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by QuesterMark

One of the first things people told me about Texas was to be prepared for the Summer.

“You Californians don’t know real heat, Texas is different.”

I nodded my head and smiled because I knew they didn’t know I grew up in the San Fernando Valley where it wasn’t uncommon for it be in triple digits during the summer nor was it unusual to be beach weather during the rest of the year.

When I talk about being a seventies kid and playing on steel playground equipment I never forget to mention how hot the equipment was.

Because there were plenty of days when you gritted your teeth and went down the slide to prove you were as tough as the next kid.

So I never worried about the Texas heat because it felt like home to me.

Bring Your Own Brick & Towel

It wasn’t quite 98 degrees today but the thermostat outside said it was about 91.

Most of the time I wouldn’t think twice about that but today was different because the air conditioning in my place went on strike last week.

We called the repairman and found out they couldn’t get to us until Monday morning and we discovered the joy of living in a house that was almost as hot inside as it was outside.

When my daughter asked me to do something about it I told her we were going to open our own spa.

“Our house is now a sauna but our clients will be required to bring their own brick and towel.”

She shook her head and told me she didn’t understand so I tried a different approach.

“Honey, all we need to do is find some Finnish folk who are on vacation. They love saunas.”

She scrunched her face and gave me a look that at almost 11 is cute to me but usually saved for when she is unhappy with her brother.

I decided not to try and explain what I meant and why because she didn’t appreciate my first attempt at humor and was unlikely to give the second go a better response.

So I told her not to worry about it because the repairman was going to be here by 8:30 on Monday morning.

That made her smile and me too because even though I like the heat it doesn’t lend itself to a good night’s rest.

You Don’t Need 98 reasons To Defenestrate People

The repairman didn’t show first thing in the morning as promised but close enough for me not to be particularly concerned.

Since it was still morning and we hadn’t yet reached the heat of the day I  figured all would work out just fine.

I was wrong.

Wrong because the damn thing worked perfectly for the repairman. I could tell from the questions he asked and the comments he made he thought the problem was user error.

Truth is I wondered a bit about it too and tried to figure out if maybe I had made a mistake.

But the thing is I couldn’t figure out how or what.

I have been using this thermostat for more than a year now and the unit has done what was supposed to do.

After the repair guy left I shrugged my shoulders and didn’t think about it again until somewhere around 2 I noticed it was getting hot.

So I turned on the air conditioning and it worked just fine until the early evening came.

That was when I discovered it was blowing hot and not cold air.

And now at almost 11 it is again more than 80 inside and the fans just aren’t cutting it which I suppose is why defenestration sounds so attractive.

Apps Can’t Do Everything

I see this experience as another reminder about why I talk to my kids about developing a list of things they can do without relying on technology.

For example I want them to know how to read a paper map and not rely upon the GPS and I want them to know how to do basic match without the use of a calculator.

But I also want them to remember that YouTube can be used as a giant search engine and there are people on there who can teach you how to do a million different things.

Repairs of appliances, household devices and all sorts of electrical and plumbing advice can be found there too.

If you have some basic skills and are relatively handy you can use YouTube to help figure out how to do some of these things yourselves.

I like that and it is not unusual to find me tinkering away at something while watching a video.

Mind you I am very conscious of my skill level and understanding so there are some tasks that I save for the professionals.

And tomorrow I will call the professional that came out to visit today and ask him to come back because even though I like to kid around about living inside a sauna it is not part of a life long dream.

That item on the old bucket list is officially crossed off.

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98 Things You Blame Upon A Flatulent Dog http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/15/98-things-you-blame-upon-a-flatulent-dog/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/15/98-things-you-blame-upon-a-flatulent-dog/#comments Sun, 15 Mar 2015 08:38:13 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4811 Neither of the boys in the picture above look like they did then anymore but the little guy has changed far more than I have. That little Monster is far bigger than he was then but tonight he learned that his old man can still handle an average size teenager with one arm. We had […]

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DSC00623
Neither of the boys in the picture above look like they did then anymore but the little guy has changed far more than I have.

That little Monster is far bigger than he was then but tonight he learned that his old man can still handle an average size teenager with one arm.

We had some father/son bonding time this evening that included sub sandwiches, pie for Pi day some good conversation and a healthy dose of wrestling.

Now he is almost asleep in his bedroom and I am left with a flatulent dog who has unleashed copious amount of biological weaponry upon me.

When the stench hit me I turned and looked at the fur beast and asked him why he opened the gates of Hell upon someone who feeds, plays and walks with him.

I swear he smiled and unloaded upon me again.

It was enough to make me threaten to grab a gallon of ice cream so that I could retaliate except he wouldn’t care.

Damn dog sticks his nose in the crap other dogs leave behind so my threat was useless. I couldn’t even use the time tested and proven line of “I don’t make threats, I make promises.”

98 Things You Blame Upon A Flatulent Dog

That is the kind of headline you probably don’t see every day but I can’t say whether it is more likely to make people read than another.

Sure I could give you the same old story you have heard a million times about why your headlines should tie into what your readers want to learn about.

I could talk about SEO and even turn this post into a discussion about whether it would be advantageous to have the top result on Google for dealing with a flatulent dog but that is not the point of this post.

It is well past when I wanted to go to sleep and 22 pounds of beast is releasing something so foul it would make a toilet beg for mercy so you’ll forgive me if I play with this a bit.

In between the words you are reading here a cousin of mine in Israel and I are going back and forth on Facebook in a mix of English and Hebrew.

My Hebrew isn’t as good as it once was but thanks to the magic of Google Translate I think I am keeping up, or at least I hope to.

You never know if the translations come off as you hope they should so it is possible he is scratching his head and wondering what the hell I am saying.

That is probably a good reason not to play is straight on Google Translate and not try to make jokes, especially when some jokes fall flat when you are writing in your native tongue.

Still we are family and we have met each other a few times so I am hoping some of that familiarity will carry through.

If it doesn’t it will be ok because it is personal and not professional.

One Father’s Advice

Right before my son decided that tonight was a good night to see if is finally big enough to pin me we had another conversation about school.

There are about three months left in the school year and then his time in middle school will come to an end. Three months plus summer break is all he has left before he starts high school and has to be the new guy again.

He is more excited than nervous about starting a new school and that makes me happy. It is a clear sign of maturity and growth on his part but it didn’t stop him asking me for advice.

I  told him there wasn’t a point in worrying about school because we don’t know where he is going to be going yet and even if we did it is months away.

That’s too much time to waste on something that is unlikely to be a problem. After all he is not going to be the only new person, every freshman in school will be new and they’ll all get to start over together.

He has never had a problem making friends and I have no reason to believe he will this time either, but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about one way to help him.

If I can figure out how to bottle this fur beast’s biological weapon I could send some to school with my son. If any one messed with him all he would have to do is open the  bottle and he could clear the room.

But then again if I could bottle this I’d contact our armed forces and offer to sell them bottles of it and in a short time I would be man who made a million bucks because of a flatulent dog.

It wouldn’t make the sexiest product to sell but it would make for some fun marketing.

And that my friends is the segue into how your friend Josh always listens for the sound of opportunity knocking.

Can’t say I hear opportunity there but I can say I hear my bed calling my name. It is time to end this silliness and try to grab fifty winks.

See you in the morning.

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Why Do We Ask People To Subscribe To Our Blogs? http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/13/why-do-we-ask-people-to-subscribe-to-our-blogs/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/13/why-do-we-ask-people-to-subscribe-to-our-blogs/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 05:08:17 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4795 My vast and mighty legal team once asked me to concentrate on writing the kind of blog post that would never get me into trouble because some people look for the opportunity to be offended so they can sue you. I smiled and told them I am confident they are correct in their assessment that […]

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greatest dad bloggerMy vast and mighty legal team once asked me to concentrate on writing the kind of blog post that would never get me into trouble because some people look for the opportunity to be offended so they can sue you.

I smiled and told them I am confident they are correct in their assessment that some people look for offense and that some of them will try to use that to their advantage.

It took all of five seconds for me to wipe the smile off of their face because I said I was certain the only benefit in writing bland and uninteresting content is to cure insomnia.

I suppose if my sole motivation was to monetize the blog and I thought there was a legitimate chance to use this joint as a substitute for sleeping pills I would do so.

It might not be a great way to promote my skills as a writer but the money I could earn by offering a natural and drug free solution to insomniacs would likely serve as adequate compensation.

How Do You Build A Subscriber Base?

There is an ongoing conversation among bloggers about the best way to build a brand and to make it work on as many social media platforms as possible.

You can throw a stick without poking 983,292,833 bloggers in the eye while they read or write posts about the most effective tools for building a subscriber base.

Sometimes it feels like I can’t click on a blog without being hit by 98 pop-ups asking for me to subscribe to the blog and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and every other social media platform they can think of.

Many of those pop-ups and or overlays make me crazy because they ruin my reading experience.

Sometimes it is because they don’t work with responsive design and or aren’t mobile friendly so instead of serving as an accessory to reading they are an irritant.

It almost always leads me to ask the same question.

Why Do We Ask People To Subscribe To Our Blogs?

If you look at the most recent posts here it is obvious I am on another social media kick.  I like shaking the bushes and not just to see what happens.

I like exploring and trying to understand what we are doing and why. I like figuring out if the puzzle pieces I try to assemble work together or if I just blowing so much smoke into the breeze.

Those of us who spend significant amounts of time in the blogosphere sometimes forget how many people are clueless about it because they are uninterested or haven’t spent much time within it.

Sometimes we forget that being a big deal online doesn’t always translate into terms someone else understands.

I am jaded about personal blogs being used as tools for passive income, book deals and or fame.

Been doing this for so long I am skeptical about the numbers people throw out regarding how much they earn from writing a few words about parenthood, technology, sports and or entertainment.

Doesn’t mean someone isn’t making a buck but the low barrier to entry and saturation makes it hard for me to believe that more than a few are getting the kind of dough that the passive income professionals hawk as being standard.

It is not like Field of Dreams and there is no guarantee that if you write it they will come.

Some of that is because of chaos and noise within the blogosphere and some of it is because some of the blogs are simply…awful.

And all of this makes me ask myself and others why we ask people to subscribe to our blogs.

Why Would You Have Children?

The discussion about blogs and subscribers always makes me think of a conversation I had with a family friend when I was a newlywed.

He asked me to explain why I was interested in having children and suggested if it wasn’t for religious reasons it had to do with ego.

His motivation wasn’t based upon trying to encourage me to become more religious or to discourage me from becoming a parent.

It was he said ‘a philosophical discussion.’

Maybe that is how I should pose the question of why we ask people to subscribe to our blogs. Maybe it is ‘a philosophical discussion’ or maybe it is something else.

Either way I see merit in asking ourselves the question for the same reason I asked What Would Happen If You Stopped Blogging?

I see knowing the answers to those questions as an opportunity to strengthen the blog.

What do you think?

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Has Social Media Made Us All Liars? http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/11/has-social-media-made-us-all-liars/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/11/has-social-media-made-us-all-liars/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 00:26:15 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4776 The talking heads who label themselves social media gurus have instructed me to spend extra time cultivating a killer headline so that readers won’t skip over my blog posts to go look at cat pictures. I understand where the experts are coming from and as a content producer I relate to the fear of not […]

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trvelsvnzoy-josh-felise

The talking heads who label themselves social media gurus have instructed me to spend extra time cultivating a killer headline so that readers won’t skip over my blog posts to go look at cat pictures.

I understand where the experts are coming from and as a content producer I relate to the fear of not having my very important work read by the people.

Those of you who know me will read that last paragraph and wonder if I it was served with a double dose of snark and insouciance or left plain on a plate.

You might do well to remember or learn this about me.

I am a child of the seventies a time of bad fashion and silly television shows.

We were harder and meaner than the kids today. I would have gone Sweathog on you and told you to shove a hose up your nose or some such thing.

Our playgrounds toys were made of metal and you played on them regardless of whether it was cold enough to make polar bears cavort with joy or hot enough to cook a steak upon.

There were no tears shed in either circumstance, at least not in public.

Don’t get me started on how much second hand smoke we inhaled, how we played outside unsupervised and rode in cars without seat belts.

Just trust me when I say you don’t want to mess with a seventies kid because if you get our way we’ll cut you and then hop back onto our 10 speeds and Big Wheels and ride home because we can hear 87 moms screaming ‘Dinner!’

Has Social Media Made Us All Liars?

A while back some friends and I were talking about what it would take to make something go viral online and I told them I was torn about it.

Torn because if I create something that goes viral I want it to be special and meaningful. I want it to be something that I was proud of and would present me in a proper light.

Torn because I don’t want to be so controlling that I only produce content that I would be proud of if it went viral and frustrated because it doesn’t feel honest to me.

I teach my children to not worry about what others think and tell them to live a life that let’s them go to sleep at night feeling like they did their best no matter what happens.

Yet I also know we live during a time when you need to use your judgment about what you put online because you can get yourself in a significant amount of trouble.

If you go around chanting racist songs and or promoting hate speech you are asking for trouble but I am not really talking about the obvious stuff.

It is the inside jokes and off color content that doesn’t always render well because it’s questionable and or easily misunderstood.

How many times have we read/heard apologies from people saying they made a terrible mistake and or were misunderstood.

Some of those apologies were delivered by people who really did make a mistake and some by people who deserve to be taken to task.

The net result of this is I know people who significantly limit what they will post online because they are afraid of the consequences.

You can say that you have nothing to hide and that may be true but there is some truth too in saying that sometimes people misunderstand what you have posted.

Honest misunderstandings can go all sorts of different directions.

Flotsam and Jetsam

A point of clarification, I am not worried that my as of yet unwritten viral post/photo will be offensive or embarrassing.

I am more torn by wondering why I spend any time worrying that this unwritten thing will be considered Kardashian Lite and not War and Peace.

It makes me think of a Mark Twain quote and how sometimes it can be advantageous to produce content that everyone can consume.

waterYou can tie that into my general philosophy about communicating be it for personal or professional reasons.

The best way to do so is to tell a story that is easy to understand.

Sometimes we are inclined to write our stories as if we are still in a college setting and are trying to impress our professors with how strong our understanding of the topic is but the thing is we aren’t in college any more.

So maybe it is not just easier but better to use plain wrap and not the fancy $588 gift wrap we could paper our words with.

Got to run now, after my Sweathogs reference I ‘Googled’ Welcome Back Kotter and remembered half the cast is dead and those that are alive look ancient.

It makes me feel older than I know I am.

Maybe I’ll go on Facebook and swap out my profile picture with one that is about 10 years old. Better hairline and fewer wrinkles.

It would make sense wouldn’t it, Facebook is where we go to see if we are aging better than our friends and relatives. Or would that make me a social media liar…

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Just Another Shiny Object http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/08/just-another-shiny-object/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/08/just-another-shiny-object/#comments Sun, 08 Mar 2015 18:01:15 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4756 I try to make a point to find resources like those in this link that provide free stock photos but not because I hope that picture will make people more interested in sharing my post with others. Don’t get me wrong, I want people to share my stuff as much if not more than the […]

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ship-wreck-652598_1280

I try to make a point to find resources like those in this link that provide free stock photos but not because I hope that picture will make people more interested in sharing my post with others.

Don’t get me wrong, I want people to share my stuff as much if not more than the other guy but I like pictures because of the old saw about them being worth a 1,000 words.

The point and purpose of the images in my blog post is to help tell me tell a story and or make a point. It is not to be just another shiny object.

Remember when I asked what would happen if you stopped blogging?

I didn’t ask just because writing about blogging always generates more engagement. Nor did I ask because I was trying to position myself as an authority figure.

I asked because I was reminding myself to pay attention to the words I put on the page and to my goal to be more than just another shiny object.

greatest dad bloggerThe blogosphere and the Internet are filled with shiny objects that do a damn fine job of distracting people but I am not interested in being a distraction.

I don’t write to be just another shiny object.

What is the point of writing words that don’t move people to do or feel something.

Every time I write something I think about whether it is going to make someone smile or think. Every time I write I wonder if it is going to resonate with people.

And every time I write I pay attention to whether I am bored or interested in what I am writing about because if it is boring me how I can expect you to want to read it.

That busted up ship in the picture above caught my attention because shipwrecks interest me. I look at the pictures and wonder about what stories it could tell.

Remember I am the guy who likes knowing the backstory.

That brings us back to our discussion about what purpose I want the pictures in these posts to serve. The first is always to complement the story I am trying to tell followed by whether it will help make it easier to share.

Why do I Care?

I care because I want people to be interested in consuming my content. I care because I want people to come here because they want to see what I have to say.

The focus on marketing our material is important but if you aren’t providing substance it won’t matter. Your readers will point and click there way out of here as fast as they came in.

There is no benefit in being just another shiny object.

Ask my kids what dear old dad says when I edit their school work and they’ll tell you I always say to give their teachers a reason to read.

What do you think?

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78 Ways To Use Social Media To Insult People & Create Enemies http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/05/78-ways-to-use-social-media-to-insult-people-create-enemies/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/05/78-ways-to-use-social-media-to-insult-people-create-enemies/#respond Fri, 06 Mar 2015 02:46:52 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4733 Someone asked me about The Great Facebook Purge of 2014 because “I don’t have time to read magazines, newspapers and certainly not blogs so it would be helpful if you told me what it was about. I told them since it was clear they were far too busy to deal with trivialities like Facebook status […]

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enemies
Someone asked me about The Great Facebook Purge of 2014 because “I don’t have time to read magazines, newspapers and certainly not blogs so it would be helpful if you told me what it was about.

I told them since it was clear they were far too busy to deal with trivialities like Facebook status updates not to worry about it and immediately unfriended them.

That might be be an exaggeration but aren’t most Facebook status updates exaggerations in which we portray a perfect life or am I the only one who only provides updates that make you wish you were leading my life.

Or maybe not.

Those of you who are actually Facebook friends know my status updates lean towards the silly because we spend way too much time focused on the serious.

78 Ways To Use Social Media To Insult People & Create Enemies

I suppose this is a good time to tell you I am not really going to provide you with a list of 78 ways to use social media to insult people and create enemies.

It is not because I can’t come up with a ridiculous list of things you can do to achieve that goal. Hell I wrote a post called Is It Really More Fun To Be Evil?

That was sort of tongue-in-cheek as was My Facebook Confession but the general message I have been focused upon for a while wasn’t.

One of the biggest disappointments in my life now are the number of people I know who don’t understand that Different Is Not Wrong.

It is ok to disagree with people. It is ok to challenge your beliefs and ask yourself questions about why you believe as you do.

Except it seems many people don’t like to have their beliefs challenged and find that your doing so is offensive.

I teach my children to stand up for what they believe in and work with them on trying to figure out how to determine what merits fighting for and what doesn’t.

Not everything is worth having defending or fighting for.

What Do I Need To Know

I try to be cautious about whom I hand out my email address to because my inbox has been inundated with important information that is useless to me.

When I receive useless information I make a mental note about how and why I responded that way because as a writer/marketer I never want my target audience to react like that.

That kind of response is generated because the copy is poorly written and or the targeting is poorly constructed. It generally leads to unsubscribing and or marking newsletters as spam.

The thing is some of the content might truly be important but it is a question of to whom.

Earlier today I read that Ohio is opening up Adoption records that had previously been closed. If you are around 50 years old or younger and were adopted there you might have an opportunity to find out more about your birth parents.

I am not adopted and I am not from Ohio so my need to know this is limited but I receive emails that have as much relevance in my life as that information all the time.

As it happens I know a bunch of people from Ohio and some of them read this blog so including that information in here might actually be of interest and or useful for them.

And those of you who are long time readers know that I am a big proponent of trying to write posts that useful, interesting, educational and or interesting.

Hit those marks and your readers will always be happy to read your content but only if you hit more than you miss.

What Do I Need To Know- A Comment About Homework

A thousand years ago I sat in my Algebra II class and asked my teacher to justify why we had to learn certain things. I don’t remember his exact response but I remember it being tied into my grade and the irritation I felt afterwards.

It is not particularly hard to irritate a teenager and I was an easy mark because I knew better than most adults who were too dumb to recognize that we could do all the work on calculators.

Save the comments about how obnoxious that was because I can see it now and fortunately I did grew up.

That being said I am now on the other side of the homework fence and I often find myself asking why my kids seem to constantly be overloaded with significant amounts of homework.

But I am still asking the same question as I did then, albeit in slightly different fashion.

What are these teachers asking my children to learn about? What benefit will learning this provide and is it a good use of their time?

That is obviously not something that can be answered in 14o characters, a Facebook status update or a short blog post but that doesn’t remove the value and importance of the question either.

Maybe it just shows that even when I am acting in my civilian role as a parent I am still thinking about content and how to make it interesting, educational and entertaining.

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National Grammar Day Ain’t a Joke http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/04/national-grammar-day-aint-a-joke/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/04/national-grammar-day-aint-a-joke/#respond Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:58:39 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4724 I have a love/hate relationship with technology and its impact upon communication. There has never been a time where it has been easier for people to communicate their thoughts, ideas and dreams to a large audience than now. Social media platforms have made it simple to send a thought 10,000 miles but technology has not […]

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right word
I have a love/hate relationship with technology and its impact upon communication.

There has never been a time where it has been easier for people to communicate their thoughts, ideas and dreams to a large audience than now.

Social media platforms have made it simple to send a thought 10,000 miles but technology has not solved the challenges presented by misunderstanding caused by spelling and or grammatical errors.

While I don’t have any issue with the occasional error I won’t lie and say I am ok with it either.

The reason being it feels to me like our standards are slipping and even though we have more tools to help prevent these mistakes we don’t seem to use them.

This troubles me and it is not because I am a writer.

Poor Communication Leads To Conflict

It bothers me because poor communication leads to conflict.

I can’t tell you how many fights I have seen develop between people because a poorly written email, post or status update led to a giant misunderstanding.

It is unnecessary and part of how I am trying to help out is by promoting National Grammar Day.

You are invited to join me by taking the quiz below that was kindly provided by the fine folks at Grammarly.
Grammarly Grammar Nerd Quiz Feature Image

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