Election 2016: Get Out and Vote!

November 8th isn’t really Election 2016 Day; it’s the Election Deadline.

Something like 37 States have allowed early voting, and NPR analysts estimate that up to one third of votes will be cast before November 8th.

It also feels like the final submission date for all the crazy that has been this election cycle. I listen to NPR out of Boston (WGBH) for my US news, and it seems like the insanity has been building up to a fever pitch. As a result, I’m convinced that Election 2016 Fatigue Syndrome is a thing.

Fighting Election 2016 Fatigue Syndrome

Here is my handy-dandy guide to fighting Election 2016 Fatigue Syndrome. It’s super simple. There’s just one step:

vote

If you can’t stand the tension, and you’re sick of the coverage, get it all over with early and vote now.

If you’re registered to vote, and you can vote early, do it.

If you’re registered to vote, but you can’t vote early, get out and do it on Tuesday November 8th.

If you can’t stand the sight of Hillary or Donald, and you’re sick to death of their bickering, get out and vote to shut at least one of them up.

If you can’t bring yourself to vote for either one of the major party candidates, vote anyway. Vote for someone else. Write someone in if you can. But vote.

Vote.

VOTE.

VOTE!!!!

 

You No Vote? You No Kvetch.

Voting is a privilege and a responsibility.

We are privileged to be able to vote. It is our responsibility to get off our lazy butts and do it. There are people elsewhere in the world quite literally dying for the right to vote. Don’t take it for granted.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the major party candidates. You still have a responsibility to vote, either along party lines, or according to your conscience.

If you don’t get out and vote, you have no right to complain about who wins. I don’t buy the, “I didn’t vote out of protest” line. That’s (pardon me) bull cookies. Protest by voting. Rebel by voting.

Just vote.

Why Is It So Important to Vote in 2016?

It’s always important to vote. Not just for president, but midterm elections are important, too.

It seems particularly important in 2016, because one of the major party candidates is an immature, bat-shit crazy, racist, sexist, unhinged, Twitter-trigger happy, wall-building, conspiracy-theorist, repugnant demagogue.

We need to keep this man out of the White House, and prevent hate and fear from taking over our country.

For a great anti-Trump propaganda project, check out @trumplemonde on Instagram, and download the DIY kit for printing up posters and stickers here on DropBox.

Why #ImWithHer

I’ve never been a big Hillary Clinton fan. I don’t like the dynastic trend of recent presidencies (Bush Sr. & Bush Jr., now potentially Mr. Clinton & Mrs. Clinton). I don’t like her economic neoliberal ideas. Historically, she has been much friendlier to big businesses than to working Americans. I lean much more towards Bernie Sanders’ socialistic ideimwithheras. Having grown up and lived most of my life in Europe, it’s only natural.

But Hillary Clinton has experience. She knows her stuff. On social issues, she reflects my values. She has worked successfully across the aisle. I don’t know if she’ll be able to break the deadlock that is polarized American politics, but I firmly believe she has a better shot than any other candidate.

Gary Johnson is, by his own admission, not ready to be president. Admittedly I don’t know much about Jill Stein, except that she is an anti-vaccine physician. That gives me enough pause right there to keep me from voting for her.

I Voted. Please Do the Same.

I sent in my Massachusetts absentee ballot weeks ago. Please join me and vote, too.

losing_faith_in_social_media

Losing Faith in Social Media

Up until now, I’ve been billing myself as a social media specialist. I’ve worked as a social media manager, and I’ve done some consulting work in social media for small businesses.

But the truth is, I am losing faith in social media.

Lately, I’ve felt that social media is used far too much for marketing; it’s turned into an echo chamber (especially Facebook); and its value for providing engaging content has dwindled.

Social Media Marketing

I have written about social media marketing on this very blog. It has been, after all, my métier! But while I practiced social media marketing in my professional life, I find myself being put off by it in my personal life.

Ads are everywhere.

Every time I log into Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram now, I am faced with ads. This, of course, is completely to be expected! How else are these platforms going to make money to develop for their users? But what irks me is the way advertising is done.

Facebook right-hand column ads are notoriously bad. Twitter “promoted tweets” are hardly better. Instagram’s sponsored images are, at least, a little less annoying, since the images are usually nice. But for the most part, the ads are tacky, tasteless, and irrelevant–or worse, tastelessly relevant (one particularly badly timed ad for baby clothes showed up after I had had a miscarriage).

To be fair, that’s mostly because the people advertising have no idea what they’re doing, or how to target their ads. It’s no wonder management are constantly doubting the ROI potential of social media advertising.

Most brands get it wrong.

Then there are the brands that pay so that their content shows up in my newsfeed. There are very few brands that inspire enough enthusiasm for consumers to actively engage with them. Nike and others are the exception to the rule.

For the most part, the promos, Facebook contests, and “relaxed language” that brands try to use in social media fall very flat. It’s artificial, forced, and awkward. All things that are poison to social media users.

The Echo Chamber

This mainly applies to Facebook, due to their filtering practices. As soon as you like one or two baby pictures, wedding announcements, or articles of a feminist nature, that is all that you see in your newsfeed.

Just because I got married, had a kid, and have feminist sympathies, does not mean that I want to see only wedding shots, baby photos and articles about why the heating in my workplace is inherently sexist.

Looking at my Facebook feed, you’d think that breastfeeding mothers are being expelled from dining establishments all across North America. I can tell you that I’ve been breastfeeding in public on a regular basis for more than nine months (and in more than five countries!) and no one has ever asked me to cover myself up or nurse my child elsewhere.

The algorithm of boredom

It seems like Facebook is targeting content at me based on what its algorithms think will delight, incense, outrage, move, and otherwise scintillate me.

On the contrary, I now find Facebook extremely boring. It’s a sad, uninteresting person who only wants to hear their own ideas and opinions shouted back at them. There is no back and forth, no debate (I don’t count people hurling insults at each other and spewing vitriol as debate), and very little room for thoughtful interaction.

I’d much rather have a face-to-face conversation over a coffee, than kill even 5 minutes on Facebook.

So what does that make me?

I’ve called myself a social media specialist. I’ve maneuvered myself into this niche of online content marketing. And yet I find it boring.

The one social media platform I enjoy spending any time on is Instagram, and that’s because my closest loved ones are there. I keep my profile private, and share moments of joy from my daily life with those I love best.

But other than that, I’m over Facebook, Twitter, and the lot. So what do I do now? Career change? I can’t very well market myself as a social media expert when I spend very little of my own time there.

Well for the moment, I cannot be said to have a career. I’ll just have to continue writing (which I do like), trying to read broad and varied content, and keeping up my knitting, which is a great way to meet new, and interesting people.

Is there any way I can make meeting people through crafts my career? Any ideas?

womens_halloween_costume_ideas

Oh Great, It’s Sexy Halloween Costume Time

Hooray! Halloween is coming! That means an over-abundance of candy, lots of carved jack-o-lanterns and, of course, Halloween costumes of extremely questionable taste.

Case In Point

One year, I wanted to dress up as the Queen of Hearts for Halloween. The idea I had in mind looked something like this:

Real_Queen_of_Hearts

You know: the Queen of Hearts character from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Pretty awesome, right?

Well, when I searched online for inspiration and materials to prepare this costume, here’s what I found:

Sassy_Queen_of_hearts

This specimen was labeled as “Sassy Queen of Hearts.” Okay… It looks NOTHING like the actual Disney Queen of Hearts, but whatever.

To my dismay, though, this was not the most provocative version of the Queen of Hearts costume. Oh no. A bit further down the Google search results page, I found this:

Sexy_Queen_of_Hearts

Excuse me, WHAT? What does THIS have to do with the first image? I guess the yellow and the stripes vaguely recall elements of her Majesty’s wardrobe, but the rest? I mean, is this for SERIOUS??

Finally, unable to assemble the parts necessary for the real costume, and disgusted by what I was finding available for purchase for the Queen of Hearts, I settled for dressing as one of her minions:

alice_in_wonderland_Halloween_costume
I know, I’m pretty darn cute.

 

The experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, though. And I asked myself…

Why Does Everything Have to be “Sexy”?!

I realize that some people like to use Halloween as an excuse to dress in a way in which they’d never normally dress. Suddenly, usually modest ladies are breaking out the mini-skirts, form-fitting spandex and/or leather, and plunging necklines (please note that the original Queen of Hearts doesn’t even have CLEAVAGE).

What gives?! Why does “dressing up for Halloween” also mean “dressing like a street-walking prostitute”?

A simple Google search of “women’s halloween costume ideas” comes up with images like the following:

womens_halloween_costume_ideas
How do they trick-or-treat in those heels?!

Okay, I get it: if you’re proud of your body and want an opportunity to show it off a bit more than you would normally, perhaps a slightly suggestive Halloween costume is a solution.

But what happened to creativity?! What happened to coming up with the best costume idea? And why, oh why, do women feel more pressure to look “sexy” on Halloween than to come up with the best costume?

Bring Back the Good Halloween Costume Ideas

I don’t know if I’m living in a fantasy world where once upon a time the most important thing about a Halloween costume was how creative it was, but I say, bring that time back.

To me, the whole fun of dressing up for Halloween is planning the perfect outfit. One year, a friend threw a cross-dressing Halloween party; everyone had to go dressed as someone of the opposite sex. I won’t include photos or go too far into the details (this is a family blog, after all–I think), but I will say that I dressed as a flasher. No, it wasn’t sexy. It was simply brilliant and hilarious. It was the night of my greatest triumph.

Other greatest hits include dressing as a laundry basket (truly terrifying) and as the woman from “Psycho” who gets stabbed in the shower.

psycho_halloween_costume
See? A potentially “sexy” costume idea made simply brilliant (and appropriately warm for Northern England on the 31st of October).

Dressing “Sexy” Is a Cop Out

Frankly, if you have no more creative ideas than to prance around in your underwear on October 31st, then you have missed the spirit of Halloween.

Halloween is a family holiday. Yes, there are often “grown ups only” parties, but the whole trick-or-treating thing and dressing up is all about fun for the kids.

Plus, what kind of example are we ladies giving to young girls who want to dress up for Halloween? With all these sexy firewomen, sexy policewomen, sexy nuns (yes, NUNS), etc., what message are we sending to girls?

We’re basically telling them that Halloween is about dressing in skimpy outfits to try and attract as much (I would argue negative) male attention as possible.

No. Just, no.

Go Out and Get Creative

Halloween is about fun, creativity, and having a good laugh. If you want to dress in a sexy Halloween costume, go ahead. But at least make it inventive. This year, make an effort to come up with a brilliant Halloween costume idea. After all, having the best and most creative–not the sexiest–costume is what usually gets you the prize.

And just for a giggle, here’s this: