Tag Archives | twitter

why i can’t quit facebook

The other day (okay, last month) I read this piece on the fantabulous Arnebya’s blog (she of the Chipotle story, among others) and read what she had to say about all the various ways we have to “communicate” with each other.  Think about it: we have endless iterations of social media “contact,” from tweeting and pinning to vine-ing; we can google+ (although I don’t know what that really is) and get linkedin; we can email and IM and DM and godknowswhatM. It’s stunning.

Letters, actual mail? Like with envelopes and stamps and stuff? That’s so twentieth century. I don’t write letters any more and no one writes to me, really (yes, I see the causal link there), but I remember how nice it was to open my post-office box at college and see letters. Do any of us get that same little bubbly feeling from an email inbox? Methinks not.

But I’m not going to wax nostalgic in this post. Reading Arnebya’s post made me think about why–despite annoying ads and strange video clips of cats and squirrels and the pesky and constant changes that facebook keeps imposing–I can’t quit facebook or twitter (I tried to quit last year. And it totally worked.  For like an entire hour I was tweet-free).

Here’s the thing: my job demands a lot of computer time. I write, I answer student emails, I put together lecture notes. I’m old enough to remember doing these things without a computer — when I taught high school, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was still using a DITTO MACHINE.  Brief pause here while those of you of a certain age remember the giddy inhaling of freshly dittoed worksheets.

Anyway. I spend a lot of time starting into the computer under the best of circumstances but since we’ve moved, my screen time has become something akin to an addiction. (And right there is why I don’t let my children read my blog. I spend too much time yapping at them about their own screen time to let them know about my own sickness.)

I have days where I look at the “likes” that other bloggers have on Facebook and wonder how they got so many thousands of people when I can’t even crack a second hundred; or why I too don’t have entire herds of twitter followers; or parsing the analytics on my blog like some kind of twenty-first century soothsayer, hoping that somehow overnight I’ve turned into The Bloggess. I wonder about “monetizing” and “branding” and syndication.

Yes. That would be a lesser-known use of social media: social media as self-flagellating device. How to make yourself feel bad in three easy clicks.


But then I realized the real reason I loves me some social media, and it goes even further back in time, earlier than the use of the ditto machine.


Yep, that’s right: “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play?”

That mirror she’s gazing into? That’s social media for me, over here in this half of the world. I look through my little facebook mirror and wait to see what’s happening in the world. Sometimes it’s as if I’m seeing things like those time-lapse photographs from space of the sun moving across the surface of the earth: I see the East Coast talking about their morning routines while the West Coast talks about their after-dinner drinks; the news rumbles in from points in the Mideast while the US sleeps; my brother in LA is going to the gym before work while my sister in NJ picks up her daughter after school. And my magic tweeting mirror offers the paradox of feeling utterly involved in the immediacy of people’s lives, even though I’m nowhere nearby.

There you have it. Social media may not be doing much for me professionally but I am no more capable of putting down my magic mirror of facetwitter than I am of putting my hair in that magnificent, Marie Antoinette-esque beehive.



(Of course, if you’d like to like Mannahattamamma on facebook, I’d be delighted to have you. Romper, bomper, stomper boo…)

Continue Reading · on May 31, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, expat, pop culture, tech life, writing

social media success on the Chinatown Bus?

Yesterday I went to a talk by three social media Big Guns: Chris Brogan, who writes and blogs about social media as well as runs a consulting company called the human business way; Alexis Ohanian, who embodies Brooklyn DIY in a way I haven’t seen since…well, since I lived in Brooklyn, and who invented a little company called reddit right after he graduated from college, when most of us are still waiting tables and wondering what the hell we’re going to do next. And oh, yeah, the third speaker started this little company, maybe you’ve heard of it–it’s called twitter? Yes, folks, Dom Sagolla, the man who co-invented 140-character crack, was part of the line-up too.

The talk was sponsored by the Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nayhan Foundation, which promotes education and the arts in the Emirates, particularly for girls and women.  Most of their events (perhaps even all their events) have evening sessions and sessions during the day, which are just for ladies.  I went during the ladies-only session and am still digesting its dynamics: the mostly abaya-wearing audience listening to these three digital dudes (none of whom I think was wearing a tie), who were all with the irony and the insider jokes about US culture, as well as advice about the power – both present and future – of social media. Even with all the complex contexts swirling around, the ideas these guys were talking about were fascinating, and it’s worth finding the hashtag #muntada to see what people had to say about the talks.

But. This post is not about how women in the UAE hold the keys to social media power in their well-manicured hands.

This is about the Chinatown bus. One of the Big Guns told a story about a friend who planned to do a lot of work on his laptop while he rode one of the (in)famously cheap busses that leave from New York’s Chinatown and run to Boston or DC.  He got on the bus and realized he’d forgotten his flash drive, which made him think that there had to be a better way to share files and documents between computers.

Maybe you’ve heard of Dropbox?

So I tweet this

A little later in the day, I find out that my tweet has been retweeted, which is always flattering, I guess. Or sort of. Or maybe, upon reflection, not at all, at least in this instance:

Yep. I’ve retweeted by Chinatown Busses.

Who knew busses could read, A; and B, when Alexis Ohanian said that the world isn’t as flat as Thomas Friedman said it was, but that the world wide web is, I’m not sure this is the sort of thing he had in mind.

I mean, what’s next? Being favorited by John Deere?


Continue Reading · on November 27, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, NaBloPoMo, NYC, pop culture, tech life, UAE

a love affair

She was new to town, and lonely.

Alone in the apartment, she found attractive strangers, willing to talk, willing to listen.

There might have been some dancing around “real” identities but in the long run, no one involved cared much about actual names or addresses or employment. They were just all there together, looking for some kind of connection.

There were long conversations, there were short notes; there were shared stories; there were exchanges of information; there was laughter; there were sighs of recognition.

The relationships nurtured her, gave her companionship during those lonely times, until… she found herself stalking the source, waiting for Something To Happen.

She noticed that she couldn’t do anything without checking to see if there’d been a note, a word, a nod in her direction.  She felt jittery when she didn’t know for sure about the next encounter; she became compulsive, double- and triple-checking to make sure that all her systems were “go.”

The relationship had taken over.

She knew it had to end when she found herself paying more attention to the words coming her way than to her son’s music recital. She thought about a twelve-step program but then decide that was too dramatic. With the love and support of her family, she’s taking action, reclaiming her life:

she’s breaking up with twitter.



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Continue Reading · on June 24, 2012 in tech life

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