The Internet Is Lazy

But you already knew that, right?

This week, the Internet went through its usual paroxysms over the “hot topic” of the moment. This time it was the “First Kiss,” a video purporting to be footage of complete strangers kissing for the first time. My usual reaction to seeing all the You MUST see this video, ERMAHGERD! comments is to completely ignore it, hoping the hype goes down. This time, I bit. And as I expected, the hype let me down. Because truly, who wants to watch people awkwardly mash faces.

I digress. As the social media about the video reached a fever pitch, the other shoe dropped, so to speak. The kissers, gasp, they weren’t only strangers. Apparently, they’re also models. And the video wasn’t just for the sake of showing the intensity of initial physical contact. It was an ad for a clothing line. Color me surprised…

At this point, I’d checked out because nothing is ever as it appears online. But The Internet had other thoughts. Article after article about the “value” of the video, whether the fact that the people were models mattered, were we duped because it was an ad instead of unaffiliated viral content. The next wave of reaction posts were, predictably, folks’ takes on the “First Kiss” – a “real” version with non-models, a joke take on hand jobs, even one with dogs.

Now, I post this all to say that I wish it wasn’t all so predictable. Every five days or so, someone uploads an article or a video or a photo that takes over the conversation. The hot topic isn’t limited to social media, since the traditional outlets trawl social media for their filler content. After the first wave of shares and posts, then the response (#thinkpiece) from everyone with an opinion comes down the pipe followed by the responses to the response. It’s ubiquitous, it’s everywhere, and it’s exhausting. Most of all, it’s lazy.

Knowing how limited our attention spans are when we’re online, and how much information is out there, I encourage everyone to expand beyond their current outlets. Look for new writers, new perspectives and stories that maybe aren’t BuzzFeed-worthy but worthy of your attention. Think for yourself, don’t be lazy like The Internet.

Why I’m Learning to Love Non-Fiction Writing

I haven’t done a “What I’m Reading” lately, mostly because I’m adding volunteer work to my schedule and I’ve found I can’t get through stacks of books like I used to. I did manage to get through “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which, seriously, if you haven’t had a chance to pick it up, DO IT. And not just because everyone discovered who she was due to the sample of her TED Talk on Beyonce’s latest album. The book is beautifully written; I sympathized and related to many of the themes of discovery of self and one’s own and other’s culture in the lead characters. The book is actually the first selection for the “Patton Family Book Club” otherwise known as a way to keep my sister sane after she has her first baby next month (:-)).

Back on topic now. I’ve always been a huge fan of fictional works. I lose myself in the characters, the timing, the unraveling of the story, until there is no more. Then I reflect, inward and quiet. If it’s a truly good story, I may look at myself and those around me differently. And on to the next story and another one after that. I used to always tell myself that I wasn’t a “non-fiction” reader because those stories were so black-and-white, factual and dry. I don’t dislike history or biographies or business books, they just weren’t my thing.

Well, since life is all about change, and change we must, I’m now of a different opinion. When doing my 2013 review of the “best books,” I realized that I was missing out on a lot of new knowledge by avoiding what I thought I didn’t like. List after list of quality reading and insight, and I was in the dark.

So, without further ado, here is what I have on my non-fiction reading list:

For business reading, check out this list of “10 books every digital marketer should read” from PR Daily and “15 books to add to your reading list in 2014” from Mashable. I’d love more recommendations on non-fiction reading, leave your suggestions in the comments. For direction, I want to learn more about Eastern European culture, creativity, Nigerian writers and comedy.

The Four Lessons I’ve Learned Since Getting Fired

Photo via Flickr user C4 BOO
Photo via Flickr user C4 BOO. Image license.

I sometimes manage to miss anniversaries – like when I started blogging – but an upcoming date has not missed my notice. It’s been (about) a year since I got fired for the first time. In those (nearly) 365 days, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, professionalism and coping with personal setbacks.

Make a plan – I saw my fate coming from a distance, so it gave me time to prepare. Once it happens to you, it’s normal to want to sit down and sulk, kick rocks and curse and generally be mad at life. If that helps, do it…but do it short-term. Then you get up, dust yourself off and start making a strategy. Nothing good comes from wallowing in your misery. Most importantly, piss poor planning prevents proper performing (thanks band years!). Takeaway: Always have a plan B (and C), even if you think you’ve found the dream job.

Maintain a network  – As I mentioned, I had a bit of a head start so I was able to reach out to my network before the hammer dropped. The fact that I had kept in touch even during the times I didn’t need anything likely helped move things along when I did need them. When I reached out to them about opportunities, it wasn’t from a perspective of “I need” but “How can I help you?” That subtle shift got me more opportunities and recommendations than submitting dozens of online applications. Takeaway: The most important question someone in need can ask isn’t “Can you help me?” but how “How can I help you?”

Invest in yourself  Losing my main source of income naturally made me want to shut down all “unnecessary” spending. I reconsidered this stance when a work associate, Tawanna Browne Smith, someone who knew my industry and had provided me with great feedback, recommended I link up with Mia Redrick. In the past 10 months, Mia has provided me with a blueprint for entrepreneurship and personal and group accountability. If you’re thinking of coaching, seriously, check her out. Takeaway: Strategic investments in your skills – continuing education, professional development, coaching – is a worthy measure if you believe it will help you get past your current situation.

Brand yourself – During a group session, we were asked if someone had to describe our services or expertise, had we given them enough to do so? A year ago, I’d been blogging but not about my area of knowledge. Since then I’ve launched my own website (where you are now), and I’ve begun using this site and my Twitter account (@VeleisaP) to tell more about myself as a professional. Another investment, but very much worth the price when it comes to search results on my name and my brand. Takeaway: Your name is often your entree into opportunities; make sure you are the one telling your story both in person and online.

That’s my wisdom. What advice would you give to a professional going through the transition that comes from being fired? I’ll share your comments via my Twitter account.

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