Guidelines for Discussing Politics on Facebook

Okay, I’m feeling it. I can no longer count on Facebook to feed me pictures of my friends’ cute kids, kitten videos and pictures of the last thing everyone ate. My friends’ are asking for civility when it comes to political posts. I want it, too.

If you judge me by my Twitter usage, you know that I’m no social media guru, but I am a copywriter. I manipulate words for a living so that they convey just the right sentiment. So, I’ve laid out some ground rules for discussing politics on Facebook. I’m not the first person to do this, but my guidelines are geared to create meaningful conversation via the social media platform, not eliminate political discussion altogether. I have family and friends across the country and, well, social media can make communicating easier. Here are my rules:

  1. Question. Before posting about issues, ask if it’s true (research sources!), respectful and for ultimate good.
  2. Explain. If you post an article, explain why you are sharing it. How does it relate to you or your family and friends? I don’t need you to share every single Washington Post article, I can go to their site on my own.
  3. Reach out. Ask your friends how they are or are not affected by an issue you are concerned about.
  4. Comment. Stay engaged with your friends’ concerns. Kindly, respectfully share your experience and other resources. DON’T play devil’s advocate. Long ago that was dismissed as simply “playing a jerk.” Be genuine and sincere and concerned.
  5. Listen. Kindly and respectfully listen (well, read) about your friends’ experiences and consider them. How do these experiences affect your understanding of an issue?
  6. Do not share sensational memes. These are quotes, gifs, facts, factoids and any alternatives of these that fit into the standardized image size and are rarely attributed to a source. They are obviously created to rack up as many “likes” as possible. Remember, we are on social media where “likes” are more important that accuracy, kindness or good.
  7. Do not clog your friends’ feeds. Sure, you may have a lot of concerns (who doesn’t?), but less can be more impactful if it’s thoughtful, personal and relevant. Remember, too, that if you simply “like” or comment on a post, that post may pop up in your friends’ feeds. (I stopped giving the thumbs up on a bunch of little things because of this.)
  8. Get off social media. This is a problem for me. But, I have recently signed up for my senators’ and congressman’s e-newsletters. I’m trying to visit reputable newspaper websites for my news. In general, I’m attempting to spend less time with my phone in my hand and doing things that I truly enjoy—reading books, crafting.
  9. When in doubt, tell us about your day. Pictures of really, really good dinners used to be annoying. Now, I would love to see what you are eating! Shoot, I’d even take a humble brag now and then! I’m on Facebook, because I want to keep in touch with YOU.
  10. The personal is political. Remember, we’re all in this together and every action (at every level) has a real effect on real people.

Tell me, what did I miss? And, will you join me?

Social Media-Silent Sundays

I don’t know about you, but ever since the beginning of November, the Internet and especially social media has really gotten me down. I’ve known for a long time that I’m addicted to checking Facebook and Instagram, doubly so if I have posted something. (Has anyone liked it yet? Any comments?) Before my second child was born, I bought a clock radio—yes! a clock radio!—so that I could stop relying on my phone as an alarm clock. I was checking my phone (email, Facebook, Instagram) as soon as my eyes opened. That’s not an exaggeration. My phone was right next to my head on my bedside stand. After my son was born, I went back to using the phone simply because for the first few weeks of his life at home, I had to wake up every 2 hours to feed him, if he didn’t wake up himself. (He always woke up himself.) With the ease of setting multiple iPhone alarms, I used my phone each night—I was worried. When he was well out of this phase and prompted by reading that Arianna Huffington escorts her devices out of her bedroom each night, I went back to using my clock radio. 

Right now, my phone resides in the master bathroom charging at night. I want to get it downstairs. But, I have family in Alaska and, apparently, a lot of anxiety here in Ohio, because I worry about getting a call in the middle of the night, which would be 4 hours before the middle of the night in Alaska, that something bad has happened. Can I convince myself that if I get the message hours later and after a good night of rest I will be better equipped to react than if I woke up in the middle of the night? I don’t know.

For about 3 weeks now, I have had “social media-silent Sundays.” (I cheated to upload my Week of Thanks-Giving post, if anyone is keeping a record.) It’s weird because on the couple of days I’ve done it, I have missed checking my phone. I look for my phone. The first time, I checked my email like no one’s business. I even read a few sales emails that I subscribe to for inspiration for my work. I do look at them, but it’s usually before I settle in to write, not when they hit my inbox.

I also noticed that I started taking advantage of the “few” minutes that I would have used to check social media sites. The dishwasher was unloaded-reloaded in the early afternoon which allowed me to spend more time in the evening talking with my husband or reading. Because I love reading, I snuck in a couple of pages from my current book. Or, I started researching the author, trying to figure out age and the geographic locations mentioned or checking out other pieces they wrote. The quality of what I was reading during those minutes went up. Social media posts vs. articles, research, books? The latter, please.

It’s not a complete fix, though, because I find on Monday morning, I’m eager to jump back on and see if I missed something. Of course, I haven’t missed anything oh-so-exciting that I feel the need to ditch my efforts.

A lot of people seem to be paying a lot of attention to dumb social media posts. (And, I’m guilty, too.) I don’t think I’m going to be able to wrangle the phones/tablets/computers out of anyone’s hands anytime soon. So how can I stop this nonsense? Stop reading the dumb posts. Leave the audience. Every turned your back on someone who was saying foolish things to you? Not only does it feel good, but it’s a pretty loud message. Okay, okay, I know it’s just one day a week. But, it’s a start. Will you start, too?

Happy Anniversary!

Thanx for Combsing!

So, folks, it’s been a year since I started this blog. After being away from blogging for a few years, I’ve finally felt like I’ve found a good, sustainable rhythm. There have been surprisingly more people than I thought who have followed and liked some of my posts. I must thank you all! In no particular order: jakesprinter, runtonybobrun, twopurplecouches, alotonyourplate, I am Gerry, justinawei, itsapussycatslife, Mashed Potato Bulletin, lesleycarter, Scott, Where’s Pablo, Moment Matters, redflamefire, 400daystil40, cookiemama, jenmaaninamman, sierralei, virginiaplantation, ookiekayes, Emama, Simply Dish, Soulsby Farm, Lago, oneanna65, Stephanie, urbanwallart, clotildajamcracker, Leanne Cole, Elena, sweetlittlethang, christylynnwilson, homemadewithmess, The Sugar Lump, ellisnelson, Cristian Mihai, and of course my mom, probably my most faithful reader! (Isn’t this true for all bloggers?) Mwhaaa!

Because WordPress’s stats offer it, I’d like to take a look at how people land here via search engines. Boden models, or some variation is the most popular search term. Probably because I wrote this. And, also because of that post people have stumbled here looking for “Eddie Bauer” and “Title Nine.” The town of Bend, Oregon should really start producing more postcards, because people are looking for them. I wrote about my Bend, Oregon postcard here. (I hope all those postcard searchers were satisfied with my single card.) “Budnik model?” Nope, I’m not a model. “Teresa Budnik?” That’s actually Theresa with an ‘h’ and “Combs” at the end now. Probably the most striking search term that has led someone here is “should I bake a cake for my crush.” Hello? Are you still there? Did you read this? Please, oh, please tell me you did not bake for your crush!

Thanks to all of my likers, followers, commenters, subscribers and searchers! There are a lot more Inner Dessert, Cat Parenthood, 30 Before Thirty and other miscellaneous posts headed your way!

Teamwork! Teamwork! T-E-A-M! Teamwork!*

Everyone hates group projects. We are taught to despise them in elementary school and never change our feelings. It always seems like we got stuck with the stinky kid or the slow kid or the cool kid, who didn’t do any work whatsoever. And, it always seemed like we were the ones doing all of the work. Even in college this doesn’t get any better for the few group projects assigned—and we all supposedly were adults!

At Portfolio Center, I was nervous about the first group project assigned. I didn’t know any of my classmates and the project was very open-ended. It was pretty awkward. But I was in the copywriting program and copywriters were often paired with art directors and supposed to work together. So, for the rest of my time at Portfolio Center, I did each project almost exclusively with art direction students. And, it was pretty fantastic.

Throughout the 2 years I worked with art directors, I got to know them and learned their work styles. By the end of my time in school, I had art directors I liked working with and others I knew I’d have to adjust my work habits to be more like theirs in order to make the project a portfolio piece. I’m not a night person, but I’d meet up with a partner at 10pm at the local Starbucks to get work done if that was when they did their best work. Copywriters and art directors appreciated each other’s talent and what we each brought to the table. The art directors depended on the copywriters for zippy copy. The copywriters depended on art directors for splendid visuals. Everyone depended on each other for stellar ideas and concepts.

My portfolio school experience taught me the value of a multi-disciplinary team and I’ve enjoyed working with them in the “real world.” Art directors and designers bring the visuals to the table; writers are the verbal in the room; account managers loan their sharp business sense. The best work isn’t visual or verbal, it’s verbisual. Great verbisual work doesn’t change the world if the client doesn’t buy off on it or it doesn’t answer the business need or no one ever sees it, period.

It’s fabulous to share your work with someone who doesn’t do what you do for a living. Some of my best words have come from non-writers. We all get into creative and work ruts. Creative people are always encouraged to take a break, go for a walk, see a movie, get out and experience something different to find a new direction. Demanding deadlines don’t always allow us to do that, so running our work by someone gives us perspective and how sweet it is to see your words visually or from a business point of view. And how much fun to lend my verbal perspective to others!

Working well with others teaches some hard lessons, though. Trust me, I know. Sometimes, there just isn’t room for the heady copy I desperately want to write. Other times, design suffers because we must have 5 paragraphs of heady copy and, no, it can’t be size 2 type. More importantly, everyone has had an idea that at one point or another has to be taken out behind the barn—and shot. This never feels good. Just pay your respects: say a few words, let your teammates know how passionate you are, and move on. It doesn’t propel the team towards great work to do one of two things: debate or smooth over your or anyone’s bad idea.

Peter Senge talks about the tendency of groups to either debate or smooth over points of contention and thus get nothing done in his book, The Necessary Revolution. It makes complete sense. If you only focus on making your team see things your way, nothing will be accomplished. If everyone is focused on keeping the peace and not speaking up about their passions or interests, nothing will be accomplished—or worse a horrible idea will be presented to the client. My experience has been to champion my ideas within a group, if no one likes my ideas as much as I do, I ask why, so I can ultimately help to create the perfect idea. And then I take my oh-so-great idea out behind the barn and put it out of its misery. (Better yet, I jot down some notes about it, because you never know when it’ll be perfect for another project.)

In the end, work is better when it’s done by a multi-disciplinary team. While we all would like to fancy ourselves knowledgeable of those topics beyond our expertise, we can’t do or know everything. We need each other. We need perspective and the occasional willingness to let go of our pet ideas in order to push our work to greatness. And, it is quite nice not to have to scramble to do everything ourselves (or work with the stinky kid).

*The headline is taken from this little gem. I’m impressed with LeVar Burton’s dancing skills.