Tag Archives: social media

Who is My Neighbor?

Sure, the title of is a line from a parable Jesus used in teaching his disciples a lesson in treating even strangers with dignity and respect. But this blog piece isn’t really a religious lesson. It’s just an observation.

Pharmacist handing medication to customer

In today’s world, do we really know who our neighbors are? I’m not talking about the strange guy up the street, the one who talks to himself while sweeping the front walk. I’m talking about those people we cross paths with every day while going about our lives. You know the ones, like the little old lady in front of you in the grocery store check-out; or the young man walking along the side of the road, heading to who knows where. With the popularity of internet sites like Facebook and Twitter, we can connect with people all over the world. We can log on and learn that Reggie in West London ate crab cakes for dinner tonight, Tanya is Los Angeles broke up with her long-time boyfriend, and Danny in Sydney recently had his first novel published. We friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and make a connection on LinkedIn, but we never really meet these wonderful people.

And what of that little old lady in the checkout line in front of us? Chances are we won’t get beyond a polite smile or an insincere “Have a nice day.” The young man walking along the side of the road? We’ll ignore him—he might be dangerous.

young handsome bearded hipster man

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe social media is vital to those of us looking to promote our work while building an audience. It’s a great way to meet interesting people in corners of the world we’re not likely to ever visit in person. But the cost of this technology seems to have had a negative effect on how we treat the people around us. We don’t have an instant profile to pull up telling us that the young man walking along the side of the road is a father on his way to work so he can support his wife/girlfriend and their newborn baby; or that his car no longer runs so he has to make that 5 mile trek both ways each day. We couldn’t possibly know the little old lady in front of us in the checkout line is struggling to make ends meet since her husband of 56 years passed away last fall. Without that profile, we won’t bother finding this out the way we as social human beings once did—before the internet.taxi

One of my favorite episodes of the classic American television show Taxi has character Elaine Nardo receiving an invitation to a high-class party. She needs an escort. The obvious choice would be her co-worker and friend Alex Rieger. He’s a level-headed guy, understands proper behavior and good manners in these situations. But, for reasons I’ve forgotten, Alex is unable to attend with Elaine. So, after failing to secure a proper substitute, Elaine finds herself saddled with Jim Ignatowski, played brilliantly by Christopher Lloyd. Jim had once been a bright and near-genius young man—until LSD trips during college left him slow and somewhat addled. The Reverend Jim (he was ordained through a mail-order school) was prone to goofy observations and embarrassing behavior at times.

The thought of attending this high-class shindig with the likes of Jim proved too much for Elaine, so she lied and told the man she wasn’t going to attend. Jim eventually caught on and, despite having his feelings hurt, suggested Elaine attend alone. In the end, Elaine brought Jim along, having discovered a true fondness for her fellow cab driver.

screen-shot-2015-05-28-at-4-48-13-pmWhen the entertainment fails to show up for the party, Jim volunteers to fill in on the piano. Imagine Elaine’s shock and horror over what is surely to be an embarrassing moment, most likely barring her from future invites.

Jim sits at the piano and immediately begins playing “London Bridge is Falling Down” quite poorly. The room full of snobs begins murmuring complaints. Jim stops playing, says “Oh, the hell with it!” and launches into some beautiful classical playing that soothes the room. He stops again and says, “I must have had mmm music lessons!” before continuing his solo concert.

Elaine worked with the man and had no idea he was so much more than the college dropout with a fried brain. We’re all guilty of this on some level. We know more about the guy on the other side of the world than we know about those in our own neighborhood. While social media might bring the world together, it can also contribute to pushing people apart.

So take the time to get to know those who are closest to you. You’re bound to learn something.

Beware The Techno-Zombies

A mobile couple

They are everywhere. In restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and banks. They can be found wandering the streets of big cities and small villages alike. I’m talking about the walking dead. No, I don’t mean flesh-eating zombies in search of a slow-moving meal. I’m talking about smartphone junkies. You know the ones, those brain-addled folks who cannot function more than a few minutes without looking at the electronic device that’s literally stealing their souls away.

We’ve all seen the videos on the internet; the ones showing those clueless clowns who plunge into water fountains inside some shopping mall because they can’t bear to look away from the smartphone long enough to save themselves from disaster.

file4421234854056

Just sit inside of a restaurant—any restaurant in any city in any country—and watch all the sagging, drooping heads. These brain-dead techno-zombies won’t even bother to socialize with their lunch or dinner companions. They just can’t spare the thirty minutes or so for simple human to human interaction. Their smartphone just won’t allow it.

This is the new society we live in. This is the curse that technology has gifted the human race. How many lives have been lost due to smart phones? I see these fools texting, surfing the internet, and checking emails while at the helm of fast-moving vehicles. I watched one idiot fly through an intersection before T-boning an unsuspecting motorist who had the misfortune of passing through that intersection at the wrong moment in time. The guilty party was texting or checking messages. The rest of us were stopped at the red light. I guess you’re not likely to notice a thing like a red light with your nose buried in a smart phone.

P1040394

During a recent visit to a local burger joint, I witnessed a grandmother completely ignoring her young granddaughter, because whatever her smartphone offered far exceeded anything the little girl could manage. The girl, no more than five, practically pleaded for Grandma’s attention before finally realizing the futility in her effort. The grandmother acknowledged the girl twice during the thirty-odd minutes they were in the restaurant. And both times, the woman hollered at the girl to quit pestering her.

selfie

Don’t get me wrong; technology has been amazing—especially for writers. It’s something of a miracle to be able to write a short article like this, and have it read by people all over the world with just a few keystrokes. But look at what’s been replaced by this technology. Social interaction is now mostly carried out over Facebook or Twitter or texting or any one of a dozen other social media sites. Very few of us actually sit down and write letters to friends and family anymore. Why bother when a text message is quicker and easier? Most schools here in the States don’t even bother teaching students proper handwriting. Cursive has been placed on the endangered species list. And books? Who has time to read books when there are video games, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and emails on which to catch up.

IMG_2322

I’m not against technology; I use it daily. I just think we’ve lost something vital to being human beings. And the deeper we fall in with technology, the more likely we’ll never recover.

Twitter As A Marketing Tool

Marketing in this modern world of indie publishing has afforded authors a wide array of options. Among these choices are blogs, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. I personally prefer Twitter. Twitter allows for quick messages and immediate feedback. With generous retweets, the audience potential is virtually unlimited.

Twitterlogo

On Twitter, I’m known as @voiceofindie (though I’ve recently added @BeemWeeks). Those who follow me know this account isn’t just a self-promoting entity. I promote the work of others more so than my own. Writers, bloggers, musicians, artists, and photographers often benefit from shout-outs and retweets. But I don’t do this expecting retweets of my own stuff. I do this for one simple reason: A stronger indie movement is good for everyone treading this platform.

When we indie writers, musicians, and artists work together, we strengthen an up-and-coming industry. This tells the mainstream: Hey, we can do this without you. It lets the world know we exist, that our work is of the highest quality, and we’re only gaining in power.

About_logoUsage

I’ve discovered many new and talented writers through this process. I’ve also been turned on to great music from some seriously amazing musicians. Bands like Argentinian rockers Amoenus and Nashville-based The Bloody Nerve are reaching the world with music that, in most cases, sounds far superior to the auto-tuned nonsense seeping from the major labels these days.

@voiceofindie is growing each day. The only drawback is that I may not be able to get to every retweet every day. There are just so many wonderful participants involved in my little experiment. And that’s exactly what it is: an experiment. I set out to see if creative sorts from across the world would come together in the twitterverse to share what they’re reading or writing or listening to or recording. And it’s working. So why not join in and support indie! Tweet for tweet is the cheapest way to spread the word.