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?

How to Move Across the World and Stay (Relatively) Sane

Pardon my silence, dear readers! It has been a hectic couple of months.

In September, Chico, Bug and I picked up and abruptly left Montreal, headed back to the old country (or at least the old continent). We are still very much in transition, but one thing is for certain: we will not live through another Montreal winter. Huzzah!

We will miss a lot of things about Montreal, especially the good friends we’ve made there.

Since our move was pretty quick, and quite an adventure, I thought I’d tell you a bit about it and give some helpful tips for how to move across the world and stay (relatively) sane.

Selecting a moving company

Friends of ours who left Montreal in the summer had a devilish time with their moving company. It was such a fiasco, we were determined to avoid such a mess.

In an earlier life, I worked for an international company, managing expatriates’ moves all over the world. So I felt like I had a handle on how to approach this.

First, look up moving companies. I did a Google search of moving companies in Montreal and then read online reviews. I ended up choosing AMJ International and Westmount Moving for estimates. They got pretty good reviews, and they also responded quickly to my calls.

They each came in to do a survey and estimate the volume for the move. The key is to make sure both companies estimate the same (or similar) volume. If not, you’ll want to figure out where the discrepancy comes from (did one company forget to look in the basement? etc.).

After that, it’s a matter of comparing the quotes, and picking the one that seems most reasonable. Compare the “origin services” and “destination services” offered to see that they’re comparable (parking permits, crates for special items, etc.), and then pick your company.

We chose AMJ, simply because we knew people who had worked with them and were happy. Either company would have been fine, though.

A word on scheduling

Never, ever, EVER schedule your move for the same day you fly out.

Have I made that clear enough? Good. Here’s why: THINGS GO WRONG.

We were lucky; our movers were great. But we had friends who weren’t so lucky. They had scheduled their move for the same day they traveled, with packing and moving on the same day. It was a nightmare.

If not otherwise specified, ask that the movers come in one day for packing, and a second day for loading. Also, ask that yours be the first move of the day. That way, they’ll arrive early and finish early, leaving you time to do other things.

Some organizing tips

Make notes:

The movers are professionals, and they work FAST. They’ll make notes on the boxes, but you might want to make your own. If you can get in fast enough, make a note of which boxes contain the essential items you’ll want to unpack first when you arrive.

Move out before the movers arrive

I recommend booking a nearby hotel room once the packers have come in. They can leave your bed and some linens unpacked if you like, but you’ll probably be more comfortable in a hotel.

That also allows you to leave whatever suitcases you’ll be taking with you out of the way so they don’t get packed up.

We actually booked a hotel room for the night before, since they were arriving early in the morning and we needed to get the Bug set up with a baby sitter outside of the house. That leads me to another point:

Arrange daycare for children.

You’re going to need to focus on the movers, answering their questions, making notes on the boxes, etc. That’s why I recommend getting your kids out of your hair.

We were lucky enough to find a babysitter to stay with our Bug for two whole days while the movers did their magic. She even came in and babysat on our last evening in Montreal so we could enjoy a fabulous dinner at la Fabrique with friends!

Whether they’re at daycare, school, or with a babysitter, you don’t want to have to worry about keeping your kids out of the way of the movers.

This might sound easy, but…

Reading this, you may think, “Wow, it sounds like Jane really had things under control.”

There you’d be wrong.

For a couple of weeks leading up to the move, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, always thinking of just one more thing to do.

They say that next to divorce and a death in the family, moving is the most stressful thing in a person’s life. That is entirely true. There’s always last-minute details to iron out, people to say good-bye to, and a suitcase that’s waaaaay over the weight limit.

We managed to pull it off in three weeks, and if we can do it, anyone can. Just organize yourselves as you do best (I am a notorious list maker), and know that sooner or later it will be over.

Once the container is sealed, things are out of your hands, and all you can do is look forward to the new phase in your life that is to come.

 

 

Necchi_sewing_machine

Learning a New Skill: Keeping the Brain in Shape

In a post early this year, I wrote about how useless New Year’s resolutions are and how I wanted to forgo traditional resolutions and replace them with goals. I talked about either learning German or taking a creative writing class.

Having been foiled by scheduling conflicts for the creative writing class, and having ruled out the German class, I find myself turning to other options.

Enter, my grandmother Frances’ 1966 Necchi sewing machine:

Necchi_sewing_machine
Talk about vintage, baby!

My mom mentioned this spring that she wanted me to take the machine and put it to good use. As it was, it was sitting in our house in Massachusetts, rusting.

A senior citizen learns quilting in order to keep sharp. Source: NPR.
A senior citizen learns quilting in order to keep sharp. Source: NPR.

Earlier this year, I read an NPR article discussing how research shows that learning a new skill helps to keep your brain sharp. The more challenging the skill, the better. So I decided that sewing would be a good skill to pick up!

My girlfriends from the Montreal Stitch n’ Bitch were delighted when I mentioned this to them, and they plotted together to give me a kit for my birthday that would draw me into the sewing world.

See that book on the table by the machine? That was one of my gifts. The other was some fabric and a little sewing kit, as well as a “gift certificate” for one sewing class to learn to make a baby’s bib.

A long, rainy Sunday afternoon later, this was the result:

Okay, so it's not quite straight, but it's a start...
Okay, so it’s not quite straight, but it’s a start…

Thanks to Taloline, PerrinPimPim and OuakiDou for the lesson!

All this has combined to lead me to contact the Zig Zag sewing school here in the Plateau to enquire about sewing classes this fall. Today, my enrollment was confirmed and starting on the 15th of October, I’ll be taking a beginner’s sewing class!

My goal is to start quilting, as I just love the designs I’ve seen, especially from my sister-in-law’s twin sister on Instagram (here’s a link, though she might be private). We’ll see where this goes!

Trouble Sharing My Post?

News flash!

Facebook seems to be struggling to share my last article. If you’re having some trouble but you really, really, REALLY want to share my previous brilliant post about how NOT to accept compliments, you can copy and paste this link:

www.thebraininjane.com/how-not-to-accept-compliments

Let me know in the comments below if you’re having trouble.

Amy’s Baking Company Goes Ballistic UPDATED

If you’ve been on Facebook (or the internet, for that matter) today, you probably heard about Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona and how they went absolutely bat-shit crazy on social media.  They were featured on Gordon Ramsey’s American version of his show: Kitchen Nightmares, and boy was it EVER a nightmare.  Read on to learn why the internet exploded with fascinated delight at the train wreck, as Amy’s Baking Company went ballistic.

Amy's Baking Company
Owners Samy & Amy

It started back in 2010 when a local food lover decided to give “ABC” a go on a Saturday.  He wrote a review of his experience on Yelp, and let’s just say it wasn’t glowing.  I linked to Yelp just there, but because of the enormous volume of reviews that have been posted since this fiasco began, here is where you can read the original 2010 review that sparked Amy’s first tirade.

Yeah, if you read it, Amy Bouzaglo actually did call her reviewer “ugly” and a “moron”.  But if you think that’s bad…

Gordon RamseyEnter Gordon Ramsey.

Known for his foul-mouthed straight-talking, Ramsey is famous for telling failing restaurant owners exactly what’s wrong.  He does not mince words.  Considering her track record of receiving criticism somewhat poorly (to put it mildly), it’s amazing Bouzaglo invited Ramsey in in the first place.

If you watched even a glimpse of the video clip linked to above, you can imagine that things turn sour mighty quick.  The entire show was a fiasco, and for the first time in one of his television programs, (SPOILER ALERT) Ramsey actually gave up and walked out on a restaurant.

The show aired on Friday, 10 May.  Cue: The it-shay itting-hay the an-fay.

It began with a post to their Facebook wall protesting the accusation that they withhold employees’ tips.  If you visit their Facebook page now, you won’t see everything else that went on, because it has all been deleted.  BuzzFeed does a pretty good job of summing it up (and those are real screen shots of posts they actually made – I saw them myself earlier today).

Facebook RantWhat went on?  Ranting, raving, LOTS OF ALL CAPS, invocations of God’s support, defensive responses (in once choice response they called the commenter a “slut”), and sheer madness.  They blew up at Yelp and at Reddit (thread now taken down).  Kelly Clay at Forbes very helpfully drew some social media lessons for brands out of the whole experience.

But I would argue that another lesson could be drawn from this: This is sheer GENIUS!

Amy’s Baking Company has gone viral.  People who have never set foot in Arizona are writing reviews on Yelp.  They reached an enormous TV audience with the show, not to mention they set Reddit alight.  Some commenters and reviewers are even saying they actually want to go eat at the place to see if the owners are really as insane as they seem.

And that’s why this is genius.  They say no publicity is bad publicity, and if these people are smart (that’s a big if) they’ll recognize this as a golden opportunity.  I’ve heard of restaurants that are known for an “act”: a tyrannical manager, perhaps, who entertains the guests with his belligerence, or (more banal) singing wait staff.

They’ve already got the publicity, now they just need to milk it.  If they embrace the crazy and really go whole hog, they may actually carve a niche for themselves – but only if the quality of the food makes up for the terrible dining experience.

I say go for it, Amy and Samy.  If it was all an act: well done, keep it up!  If it was real: God help you, but don’t change.  You’ve dug Amy’s Baking Company into a hole and you’re so far in you might as well just keep digging.

 

Update, Friday 17 May 2013

If you head over to ABC’s Facebook page, you’ll see that they’ve announced a grand re-opening on Tuesday, 21 May at which they plan to tell their side of the story.  I get the feeling that things are just going from bad to worse.  Have fun digging to China!

Charles Ramsey is the Hero of the Day

Yesterday, three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were rescued by pure chance after 10 years of imprisonment. Charles Ramsey was the neighbor who heard Amanda Berry’s screams and helped her break out of the house where she and the other women were imprisoned.  Charles Ramsey is the hero of the day, and this week’s Twitter #Hashtag of the Week.

As you can see in his interview, Mr. Ramsey’s actions were the result of what, to him, were perfectly natural reactions to a call for help.  Twitter is abuzz with talk about Mr. Ramsey for two reasons: First, though he assumed he was overhearing a case of domestic abuse, he refused to ignore a call for help.  Second, his concluding comments in the interview above have sparked some conversations about race in the United States.

Amanda Berry and Gina Dejesus
Amanda Berry (left) and Gina DeJesus, two of the kidnapping victims.

Domestic abuse is a tough issue for a stranger, sometimes even friends, to address.  Social delicacy often dictates that we turn a blind eye, or that we only breach the topic when friends bring it up.  We see what happens between two people in a relationship as none of anyone else’s business, which sometimes means that we pretend not to see, or refuse to see, violence or other kinds of abuse happening in front of us.  Governments and police departments around the world are encouraging people to break the silence and report cases of domestic abuse.

Mr. Ramsey, it would seem, did not even stop to think about whether or not he should assist what he assumed was a victim of domestic violence.  Instead of pretending not to hear the screaming behind the wall, Mr. Ramsey went to Amanda Berry’s aid, and helped her break open a door that her captor (or captors, as there are three suspects in custody) had rigged to stay shut.

McDonald's Tweet to Charles Ramsey
McDonald’s tweets about the rescue, becomes the official restaurant of every day heroes everywhere (right?).

His immediate and unhesitating reaction is exemplary.  Mr. Ramsey’s actions were heroic precisely because he had no thought of their being so.  From his perspective, he simply responded to a call for help.

The other cause of Mr. Ramsey’s celebrity, and one that makes us feel less warm and fuzzy inside than his bravery, are the comments he made at the end of his now-famous TV interview.

In response to a question from the reporter about the girls’ reactions when they got out of the house, Mr. Ramsey said, “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms.  Something is wrong here.  Dead giveaway.”

That drew awkward laughter from the crowd surrounding him and prompted the reporter to end the interview in a hurry.

Tweet from Sarah Kendzior
A reaction to the reaction to Charles Ramsey on Twitter.

I have no doubt that Mr. Ramsey’s comments came from the heart.  As to whether he was meaning to lighten the mood and insert a joke, or trying to bring up the topic of racism in the United States, only he can say.

But the result of his comments is twofold: the conversation is moving away from the disturbing reality that three women were held prisoners for ten years (and apparently one was made a mother, though that is yet unconfirmed); and Charles Ramsey is now being made into an internet meme, which sadly dehumanizes him and puts him into the entertainment category.  As Gene Demby over at NPR’s Code Switch notes, Mr. Ramsey has now joined Ted Williams, Antoine Dodson and others in sudden, and arguably condescending, internet celebrity.

While Mr. Ramsey should absolutely be lauded, thanked and recognized for his good deed, we do well to remember that he is a man.  He is not a superhero, and he does not need to be made into a flash celebrity who we worship for a brief time and then rip apart when we find that he is less perfect (as are we all) than we want him to be.  His privacy is just as important as that of the women he rescued.

We also do well to remember the reason for his sudden fame: He unwittingly liberated three women who had been all but given up for dead by investigators.  Questions about as to how that happened, how Michelle Knight’s case was so entirely overlooked, and how the three suspects were able to conceal their location for so long must be answered.  And so must Mr. Ramsey’s closing comments be addressed.  We have lots to do.

Twitter #Hashtag of the Week: Margaret Thatcher

Margaret ThatcherAs a non-British child, born outside of the UK in the mid-80s and completely unaware of Margaret Thatcher’s existence until after she was out of power, my life was largely untouched by her policies and actions–at least, not directly.  (Then again, perhaps my tuition at the University of Leeds was affected…  But never mind.)  The same is not true for millions of others of my generation and the ones before.  The #Hashtag of the week, coming rather early on this Tuesday, the 9th of April, is Margaret Thatcher.

On Monday morning, the 8th of April, Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87.  Since the news of her death broke, reaction to her legacy and her life has poured forth, in the form of editorials, demonstrations and, of course, tweets.  In a commentary published Monday by The Guardian, Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999, says:

The pre-eminent attribute in politics is courage; the moral courage to hold to the things you believe in. And this, like her or loathe her, she had in abundance.

It is because of her convictions, and her fierce determination to always stick to what she believed in that Margaret  Thatcher was so influential.  Her courage, or stubbornness as it can be seen, is why she remains a larger-than-life, legendary figure to this day.

If they weren’t well-known before today, the reasons Margaret Thatcher is such a divisive and polarizing figure are definitely clear now.  She believed in small government, and fought to move many public services into the private sector in the UK throughout the 1980s.  She was famously inflexible on her policies on labor unions, Northern Ireland, privatization, the economy and foreign affairs.

During her tenure as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, she was both praised and despised for leading the UK into the Falklands War, and her refusal to negotiate with labor unions saw unemployment rise to a record 3.3 million in 1984 (ref: The Independent, via Wikipedia).  She, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev are credited for ending the Cold War; and she is roundly criticized for “flirting” with South Africa’s racist apartheid government.

The Times of London: Celebrations in Glasgow upon Margaret Thatcher's Death
People celebrating Thatcher’s death in Glasgow

With the news of her death, people are writing tributes of praise for being a formidable woman in politics, while at the same time crowds are gathering in public places to celebrate her death.  For some (including myself) the idea of celebrating a person’s death (be that person other than say, Adolf Hitler or Satan incarnate) is horrifying.  But it only goes to show how deeply divisive Margaret Thatcher’s legacy is, and how the wounds inflicted during her tenure have not yet healed.

A clear example that Lady Thatcher regretted nothing about her policies came in 2009, when delivering a speech in Glasgow, Scotland (where the revelers above are pictured) she stuck to her conviction of the poll tax, and for cutting funding to curtail “the culture of dependency, which had done such damage to Britain.”

Even 19 years after leaving office, she held absolutely to the conviction that she had done right.

Some, like Mr. Ashdown, call this courage.  Others may call it stubbornness.  Was it a desire to prove that women are just as capable as men of getting things done?  Probably not.  I doubt Lady Thatcher worried too much about proving herself to be worthy to lead as a female.

From the little I know, and the research I’ve done on this post, I think her character simply did not allow her to compromise on what she thought was right.  Call it courage or stubbornness, it is a polarizing characteristic in anyone, most of all a politician.  But this must be said for the Iron Lady: She got things done.

Perhaps her courage, stubbornness, drive, and absolute certainty that what she was doing was right are things that politicians today should strive to emulate.  I am ill-qualified to judge whether her actions as Prime Minister were positive or negative for the UK, but she did take decisive action, to great effect.  That’s more than can be said for many politicians today.

It is certainly something to think about.

game-of-thrones-season-4

Game of Thrones is Taking Over My Life

Second Update, April 6 2014

game-of-thrones-season-4

Season 4 is starting tonight and Chico and I don’t get HBO here in Canada. So we’re patiently waiting to be able to watch it by some other (TOTALLY LEGAL) means.

Please, please, pretty pleeeeeeeease, say nothing!

First Update, May 9 2013

I feel it necessary to inform you that the madness has only intensified.

A colleague offered to put all of seasons 1 and 2 on my external hard drive.  Chico went away on a long business trip, but when he got back we delved back into the world of Game of Thrones and polished off season 2 in short order.

Now we’re catching up on season 3, though we’re experiencing less of a sense of urgency this time.  We’re just as hooked as ever, but I suppose we have managed to discipline ourselves enough not to rush our viewings.  Pretty soon we’ll have caught up and we’ll have to wait a whole week for a new episode, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

In other news, this morning I dreamed about Game of Thrones again.  This time it also involved the blonde chick and dragons, but I was the blonde chick and I was threatening everyone with my dragons.  Sounds like something I would do.

Game of Thrones is Taking Over My Life

I can’t do anything.  I cannot blog, I cannot read, I cannot SLEEP.

I must watch “Game of Thrones”.

I have been sucked into the vortex of addiction to this TV series.  Chico and I had never seen it.  Then, in anticipation of the new season, ShowCase started showing it from the beginning of season one.

We didn’t get ShowCase, and in a move that sealed my fate, I went online and switched it for some useless channel we never watched.  It was showing at 10:00pm on Fridays (way past my bedtime) so I set it to record.

What.  A.  Mistake.

Game of Thrones Has Taken Over My Life
Yes, I already know. DON’T YOU SAY A WORD!!!

I invited Chico to watch with me, and pretty soon we were hooked.  For a few weeks, we watched the episodes as they aired, enjoying it but not feeling sucked in.

But then, one fateful night, we finished an episode (I cannot even remember which one now) and Chico said, “Shall we see if we can watch another episode online?”

That question was what led to our downfall, and I blame my Chico entirely.  He started fiddling around on the iPad and located the next episode.  It was already late, and I said, “We can start watching it but I need to go to sleep” (I really do need my beauty rest).

Bah!  Fat chance!  We watched the whole episode, of course!  By the time we finished it was past midnight and I don’t know about you folks but I REQUIRE a good solid 8 hours of sleep.

 

Game of Thrones Khal Drogo
That there is some serious eye makeup.

Since then, we have watched one episode per evening (it’s been three days), but that’s only because the links take forever to load on the iPad.

The other night, I HAD A DREAM ABOUT GAME OF THRONES.  It featured men in eyeliner riding horses and blondes and swords and dragons and perhaps more but I can’t be sure.  It was like the story continued in my sleep and I woke up muddled between what had actually happened in the series and what had happened in my dream.

The madness will only stop when I have seen all of seasons one and two, and somehow caught up on season three (we don’t get HBO… Yet…).

In the meantime: IF YOU SPOIL ANYTHING, I WILL CURSE YOU TO AN ETERNITY OF DIAL-UP INTERNET CONNECTION.

 

Twitter #Hashtag of the Week: #PopeFrancis

As I’m sure pretty much the entire world knows, habemus papam!  We have a pope!  Or, well, as a non-Catholic I suppose I should say, “Habent papam.”  They have a pope.  This was hands-down the most tweeted papal conclave ever, so this week’s #Hashtag of the week is #PopeFrancis!

Pope Francis I
Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

If the news reports from yesterday and today are anything to go by, this pope has already become something of a media darling.  Though he didn’t out-tweet Barack Obama upon the occasion of his re-election, the pope did get 132,000 tweets per minute at the height of the frenzy, according to Mashable.com.

Francis I won hearts from the very moment he chose his papal name.  A Jesuit, he took the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy.  St. Francis is also known for his life of poverty, a lifestyle the new pope emulates.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio reportedly refused to live in the bishop’s residence.  He took public transportation to work, cooked his own meals and maintained a simple lifestyle.  Apparently there’s no need to put these facts in the past tense, because according to the New York Times, he seems to have no intention of changing those habits as pope.

So why does all this matter?  Why was #PopeFrancis a trending topic on Twitter?  And why should anyone care?

Well, frankly, because 1.2 billion people in the world are Catholics, and because this man is now their religious and spiritual leader.

Another reason people should care is because the Catholic Church, whether we like it or not, is a powerful institution.  Its doctrines and teachings guide the beliefs and practices of many of those 1.2 billion.

Is #PopeFrancis, therefore, likely to be a great reformer?  No, probably not.  As everyone now knows, he opposed the legalization of gay marriage in Argentina in 2010.  He seems to take a traditional stance on women’s roles in the church and the celibacy of priests.

But maybe, just maybe, this man’s humility, honesty and down-to-earth mentality will help move the church a step forward.  One hopes he will address issues of corruption in the Vatican and the sexual abuse scandals.

One also hopes that his new perspective on these issues will add a little oil to the rusty old machinery of the Church and help crank it slowly into the 21st century.  Preferably before the 21st century is over.

Twitter #Hashtag: #ObamaSciFiQuotes

The #Hashtag for the last week of February is #ObamaSciFiQuotes, inspired by President Obama’s apparent SciFi reference gaffe.

During a press conference about the impending sequester President Obama said, “This has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s floating around… Most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal” to Republicans. “The fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.”

Cue: OUTRAGE!!!!!

There is no “Jedi mind meld,” Mr. President!  It’s a Jedi MIND TRICK (actually a quote from the first Star Wars prequel which should be erased from all our memories), and a VULCAN MIND MELD (do I have that right?  I’m not really sure).  The president did the unspeakable: he mashed together Star Wars and Star Trek, two science fiction segments that have famously warred over which was the “original” or the “best”.  (George Takei said it best when he begged for “star peace” in the face of a greater threat: “Twilight”.)

Apparently, mixing up Star Wars and Star Trek is a grievous sin, because since the “incident” the president has been mocked in social media.  If William Shatner and Carrie Fisher spend time arguing over which is better, then you can be sure that hundreds of thousands of other web denizens out there spend plenty of time obsessing over this kind of thing.

President Obama (or his team, whichever) had a clever response to the outrage and sarcastic #ObamaSciFiQuotes trending topic:

Obama Jedi Mind Meld

In a brilliant move, the president took his blunder and ran with it: thus getting more people than he could possibly have dreamed of talking about his “mistake” and actually talking about the sequester. This is good PR: take a faux pas that could potentially alienate some (crazy) folks, and make it a coming-together point, a kick-off for conversations on a topic that needs to be discussed.

Someone else who is getting some good press out of this is the guy who sat down and wrote about why the president’s reference was actually accurate.  Chris Peterson of MIT wrote a blog post in which he explains exactly why Obama’s reference is correct and how it proves that the president is, in fact, more of a nerd than anyone ever thought.  His article was referenced on TheVerge.com and has since been tweeted and retweeted with the #ObamaSciFiQuotes hashtag.

Brilliant.  It keeps the debate and conversation going, and gets Mr. Peterson some good visibility while he’s at it.  His article is funny and so well timed as to make it go viral.  One expects something the president says or does to go viral, but the secret formula for a viral post, video or tweet is elusive and no one is really sure how or when it’s going to happen.  So congrats, Chris!  You have successfully done what all online marketing managers are dying to achieve: you went viral.