Poem: Expectations


Anyone may “find” a text; the poet is he who names it, “Text”.
–John Hollander [1] [2] [3]


The very heavens
rupture — news of Pontiff’s decision
to abdicate.


Somewhere in America,
for nearly a week, film and
fiction collide — Rambo-like
manhunt ends as expected.


She sings, When you get
to Asheville send me
an email…. 

Will she tell me that
the President is
coming to town?

Will a hollywood
celebrity greet
him when he arrives?

Will he retire
to the Paris of the South
after this whole
presidency thing


Whether it comes from
above or snakes its way through
the dark depths below,

the number one regret on
the lips of the dying is
to have lived true to one’s self

rather than by the
expectation of others.

[1] From the archives of this blog.
[2] The poem was composed from and of news headlines and related blog posts. John Hollander wrote in Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form that “anyone may ‘find’ a text; the poet is he who names it, ‘Text’.”
[3] Annotated version of this found poem was published Feb. 15, 2013 and originally titled “The courage to live”.

Quote: “Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder…”

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition contains definitions and diagnostic criteria for every mental disorder you can imagine…. In 2008, the Journal of American Psychiatry argued that “Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder that merits inclusion in DSM-V.” …. The following pathologies run rampant on the ‘Net:

  • Generalized Trolling Compulsion.
  • Comments Derangement Syndrome.
  • Manic Confirmation Bias.
  • Fanboy Disorder.
  • Delusional Capital Exchange Disorder.
  • Narcissistic Market Prognostication Imbalance.
  • and more

Link: Beyond Internet addiction: Ars diagnoses your online maladies

How much time do you spend on Facebook?


In a GTD[1] effort to increase productivity, I studied my online activity this spring using time tracking software. Currently self-employed, I wanted to make sure time is not wasted but used wisely.

For the most part, social media is out. Same goes for video games and online audio and video streaming sites (not that I ever play video games online anyone, but I do allow myself to listen to music and audio podcasts while working).

A couple times during this period I noticed that the weekly report showed that I spent four hours on Facebook. I was shocked. Maybe I left the computer on while running an errand (which could take hours due to my current rural location) and left the internet browser window open during that whole time. I made immediate efforts to close that open loop of un-productivity.

Those reports intrigued me and I wanted to find out how many hours most Americans spend on Facebook per day. According to a 2011 source, the average American spends

“15.5 minutes … on Facebook every single day.”[2]

But, as you know, three years ago is a century ago in the digital world. A 2013 study reports that an

“average user spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting and using social media and other forms of online communication.”[3]

23 hours! That is a lot of online time. But that statistic does not surprise me. As a professional graphic designer, I spend at least 40 hours a week in front of a screen. And now, most design and communication applications are cloud based or at least supported online. So, as you can see by the screen shot at the beginning of this post, much of my time is designing books, book covers and other marketing and print materials while listening to podcasts or music.

A month ago a new report says

“the average American now spends 40 minutes a day checking a Facebook feed.”[4]

That is a huge increase from three years ago — 280 minutes a week spent on Facebook. 4.6 hours a week. 18 hours a month! I can layout a 240-page book in that time and maybe have time left over to design the book cover (of course, that depends on editor and author changes and corrections, but I digress).

I am sure there is a lot of news from family and friends that I miss by avoiding Facebook. But when you are self-employed those 18 hours can be used resourcefully and effectively to provide for your household — and to secure and maintain future clients. Or, at least, that is the strategy.

[1] GTD, or Getting Things Done. http://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-getting-things-done-1551880955
[2] “You Spend 8 Hours Per Month on Facebook” by Ben Parr, September 30, 2011, accessed August 22, 2014, http://mashable.com/2011/09/30/wasting-time-on-facebook/
[3] “Americans Spend 23 Hours Per Week Online, Texting” by David Mielach, July 2, 2013, accessed August 22, 2014, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4718-weekly-online-social-media-time.html
[4] “Americans Now Spend More Time on Facebook Than They Do on Their Pets” by Joshua Brustein, July 23, 2014, accessed August 22, 2014, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-23/heres-how-much-time-people-spend-on-facebook-daily

Quote: “I use the Internet intensely….”

I didn’t foresee that my whole little life was going to revolve around this object, this computer. That’s worth exploring to me, not simply being critical of it. If you’re going to have a movie about people my age in L.A., they’re going to have to be online a lot of the time or it’s not realistic. But for anything to happen, they have to stop being online. All of those little moments throughout the day when you’re like “What am I doing? Who am I?” I just check my e-mail, or I go online. That sort of mini-lost feeling isn’t new, but I’m curious what happens when you don’t really have to see it through, ever. There is always a distraction.

Miranda July, on the characters in her new film, The Future (via thesalinasvalley)

Quote: “Our brains are affected … by the media we use”

I’ve always been suspicious of those who seek to describe the effects of digital media in generational terms, drawing sharp contrasts between young “Internet natives” and old “Internet immigrants.” Such distinctions strike me as misleading, if not specious. If you look at statistics … the average adult has spent more time online than the average kid. …. And the idea that those who grow up peering at screens will somehow manage to avoid the cognitive toll exacted by multitasking and persistent interruptions is a fantasy contradicted by neuroscientific research. All of us, young and old alike, have similar neurons and synapses, and our brains are affected in similar ways by the media we use.”

Nick Carr, from the afterword of the paperback edition of The Shallows (via wwnorton)

Found poem: The courage to live [annotated]

POET’S NOTE: As an exercise to try something new in composing a poem, I wrote this short piece as a found poem based on news headlines and related blog posts. John Hollander wrote in Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form that “anyone may ‘find’ a text; the poet is he who names it, ‘Text’.” With that introduction, I offer this found poem.

The courage to live


It seems like the very heavens [1] rupture [2]
with news of the Pontiff’s decision [3]
to abdicate the Holy See.


Somewhere in America, for nearly a week,
film and fiction collide with a John Rambo-like [4]
manhunt [5] that ends as expected. [6]


She sings, [7]
When you get to Asheville
send me an email…. 

Will she tell me that the President is coming to town? [9] [10]
Will there be a hollywood celebrity to greet him, [11]  when he arrives?
Will he retire to the Paris of the South [12] after this whole presidency thing[13]


Whether it comes from above [14] or snakes its way through the dark depths below, [15]
the number one regret on the lips of the dying is
to have lived true to one’s self rather than the expectation of others. [16]

[1] Phil Plait, “BREAKING: Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Sonic Boom Shatters Windows [UPDATED],” Slate, Feb. 15, 2013 accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/15/breaking_huge_meteor_explodes_over_russia.html
[2] CBS/AP, “Meteorites slam into Russia as meteor seen streaking through morning sky,” CBSNews.com, February 15, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57569551/meteorites-slam-into-russia-as-meteor-seen-streaking-through-morning-sky/
[3] Mark Memmott, “Pope Benedict XVI Is Resigning,” NPR’s The Two-Way, February 11, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/02/11/171680715/pope-benedict-xvi-is-resigning.
[4] “Christopher Dorner manhunt: police hunt ‘Rambo’ cop killer” The Week, February 8, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.theweek.co.uk/us/51429/christopher-dorner-manhunt-police-hunt-rambo-cop-killer.
[5] Halimah Abdullah, “L.A. manhunt reminiscent of D.C. sniper case,” CNN, February 9, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/08/politics/lapd-attacks-dc-sniper/index.html?iid=article_sidebar.
[6] “Dorner manhunt: Charred human remains found in burned cabin,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/dorner-manhunt-charred-human-remains-found-in-burned-cabin.html.
[7] Jennifer Saylor, “New single from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell: ‘When you get to Asheville’,” Ashvegas.com, February 14, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.ashvegas.com/new-single-from-steve-martin-and-edie-brickell-when-you-get-to-asheville.
[8] Alec Wilkinson, “EDIE BRICKELL AND THAO NGUYEN,” The New Yorker, February 5, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/02/listen-to-new-albums-by-edie-brickell-and-thao-nguyen.html.
[9] Jeff Willhelm, “Obama in Asheville,” The Charlotte Observer, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/02/13/3852979/obama-in-asheville.html.
[10] Jennifer Saylor, “Obama in Asheville, Part 1: Fourth visit,” Ashvegas.com, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.ashvegas.com/obama-in-asheville-part-1-fourth-visit.
[11] James Franco, “Obama in Asheville,” Yahoo! News, January 21, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://news.yahoo.com/president-obama-in-asheville-a-james-franco-poem–231846640.html.
[12] Jennifer Saylor, “Obama in Asheville, Part 2: President says he might retire here,” Ashvegas.com, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.ashvegas.com/obama-in-asheville-part-2-president-says-he-might-retire-here
[13] Donovan Slack, “Obama on barbecue, life ‘after this whole presidency thing’,” Politico 44, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/02/obama-on-barbecue-life-after-this-whole-presidency-156963.html.
[14] Joel Achenbach, “Asteroid’s pass near Earth a close call in cosmic terms only,” The Washington Post, February 14, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/asteroid-to-pass-near-earth-but-you-dont-need-to-duck/2013/02/14/615d5848-73cb-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_story.html.
[15] Mark Wilson, “Infographic: The 550,000 Miles Of Undersea Cabling That Powers The Internet,” Co.Design, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671777/infographic-the-550000-miles-of-undersea-cabling-that-powers-the-internet#1.
[16] Susie Steiner, “Top five regrets of the dying,” The Guardian, February 1, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.

Why share your work in social networks?

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

“Why share our work in social networks?” was a question recently asked on a professional forum. My reply: two reasons: 1) promotion and 2) personal brand. It was a Malcolm-Gladwell-Blink response and I clicked the “add comment” button without much thought (which is not my usual practice). My thoughts still linger on that question, “Why…?”

A few months ago I came across a few articles asking the question “Does social media promote or enable narcissism?” [1] [2] The article that impacted me most was from a source I never read. In the post, the author, Dodai Stewart, reflects on piece in The New Yorker and her comments are stinging and self-revelatory.

Just look around: Between Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, the whole ME ME ME thing has swept the nation. Here are MY thoughts, MY pictures, MY shopping wish lists! We call it sharing, but it’s just egoistic self-indulgence, usually. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I WANT. But wait: Enough about me… what do you think about me? [3]

Hm, narcissism and self-absorption. Herein rests the lingering thoughts of a week or so ago.

As a professional, promoting my goods, services and whatnot help to grease the gears of capitalism, right? Conventional wisdom (or at least American business wisdom), purports that if consumers are not aware of your product/service, customers will not purchase from ME. So, I am advised by business owners and other professionals to promote MY skills, services, products, etc. And not only that, I need to establish MY personal brand (so that consumers can be more emotionally and psychologically invested in the products/services I provide).

Maybe social networks are not promoting narcissism and self-absorption as much as one might think. There may be a greater systemic issue that only social networks magnify.

NOTE: [1] Tara Parker-Pope, “Does Facebook Turn People Into Narcissists?,” New York Times, May 17, 2012 accessed January 2, 2013 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/does-facebook-turn-people-into-narcissists/ [2] Steve Tobak, “Social networks and the narcissism epidemic,” CBSNEWS Money Watch, August 29, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57502035/social-networks-and-the-narcissism-epidemic/ [3] Dodai Stewart, “Self-Absorbed Is the New Normal,” Jezebel, June 26, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://jezebel.com/5921468/self+absorbed-is-the-new-normal.

What does a goat and a mule have in common with social media?

There’s an old proverb that goes something like this: one should avoid the front of a goat, the back of a mule, and every side of a fool. If you don’t want a private message, comment or opinion printed in 60 point, bold type headlines on the front of The New York Time, you shouldn’t email it, tweet it, post it to Facebook or your blog. That’s what prompted the following advice to job seekers:

1.) Don’t post inappropriate pictures or make any comments on the web that could be offensive to anybody.  If they’re already up, delete them now!

2.) Mark all of your settings on any type of social media as private.  Don’t let people who aren’t connected to you view your pictures or read your comments.  If friends posted a ridiculous comments, delete them now!

3.) If you want to share your personal beliefs, call a friend.  Don’t share them through social media.

4.) Google yourself because future employers will.  If you find things that you don’t think a future employer would like, find a way to get rid of it!

5.) I’ve shared all of the negative things about social media but don’t forget that there are a lot of positive things too.  If you’re actively volunteering, fundraising, running a marathon, or writing a motivational blog these are all things that can help you get a job.  Make sure these are public to future employers.


It’s just common sense and good business practice. Yet it seems missing from the American culture as people display their most private details and opinions. If you truly want to maintain private details avoid the internet entirely. But if you are using the internet for social media and emailing, remember that the internet is immediate, permanent, and global.

Blog Breakdown

Blog Breakdown

newyorker: Cartoon of the Day. Don’t forget to enter this week’s caption contest. (Source: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/caption/)

Remember when you didn’t use your real name on the Internet?

Facebook is ubiquitous. In many ways it has replaced blogging. As an individual who has been blogging, well, since before the advent of Facebook, there were certain silent codes to blogging. Local bloggers like Edgy Mama, Ashvegas and Modern Peasant (who I recall may have been blogging before the advent of the internet), maintained a thirdtier level of intimacy with blog readers. In other words, there were third-tier personal details that were disclosed on blogs, but other more intimate personal details that may or may not be disclosed in real life at local blogger meet ups. It appears that Facebook disregards a third-tier relationship between content provider and content consumer. Here’s a couple of articles I’ve read recently about Facebook.

Some excerpts from Gizmodo: Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

10. Facebook’s Terms Of Service are completely one-sided: Facebook’s Terms Of Service state that not only do they own your data (section 2.1), but if you don’t keep it up to date and accurate (section 4.6), they can terminate your account (section 14)….

9. Facebook’s CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior: According to BusinessInsider.com, [Zuckerberg] used Facebook user data to guess email passwords and read personal email in order to discredit his rivals. These allegations, albeit unproven and somewhat dated, nonetheless raise troubling questions about the ethics of the CEO of the world’s largest social network…

8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy: Founder and CEO of Facebook, in defense of Facebook’s privacy changes last January: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.” … Essentially, this means Facebook not only wants to know everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to everybody.

3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account

And here’s an excerpt from Wired: Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative

So in December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto.

This spring Facebook took that even further. All the items you list as things you like must become public and linked to public profile pages. If you don’t want them linked and made public, then you don’t get them — though Facebook nicely hangs onto them in its database in order to let advertisers target you.

This includes your music preferences, employment information, reading preferences, schools, etc. All the things that make up your profile. They all must be public — and linked to public pages for each of those bits of info — or you don’t get them at all.

[Read More: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/facebook-rogue/#ixzz0nY6uIYRD]

  • How will you remember anybody’s birthday?
  • How will you hear about parties?
  • You don’t care about privacy anymore. Remember when you wouldn’t use your real name on the Internet?
  • 80 million of you are addicted to Zygna’s Facebook game, FarmVille.

The Internet has allowed access to volumes of data. Yet, some personal details should be maintained behind firewalls or offline. I’m not sure if it’s entirely Facebook’s fault. Facebook users willingly surrender intimate details to the Internet gods. A good, old school blogger rule is this: the Internet is immediate and permanent; only post stuff you want to remain permanent and searchable.