Humblebragging


I suppose I can’t really get to the context of this post without a backstory of my own, so here goes.

Back in 2001, I was managing a one-hour photo lab – kids, go ask your grandparents – when the events on 9/11 unfolded. Naturally, like most people, I was shocked and wanted to do anything I could to help in any way I could.

A few days later and with the owner’s approval, I printed out a bunch of 4×6 color shots of an American flag, stuck a magnetic backing on the back of each of them, and sold them for $1 each with 100% of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. (The shot was mine – see image above – so there were no releases or anything involved.) I then put them on the counter with a small sign so customers could see them when they picked up their orders.

We raised a modest amount in cash which I delivered personally to my local Red Cross chapter, where they asked for the company’s information so that they could send a thank-you letter. I obliged so that the owner could have some kind of record should there be any tax implications.

When it arrived, and thinking it was the right thing to do, I displayed it on the counter as proof to customers that the money raised was delivered and not used for a Burger King lunch.

Until that one customer came in and saw it. They scolded us left and right, up and down, for “making a big deal” about raising and donating the money. They saw the letter as nothing more than a pat on the back during a time of crisis and turmoil when my intention was to simply inform them that the money raised went exactly where we wanted it to go. They just weren’t buying it. If social media was around back then and I had posted the letter, some might have considered that move a case of humblebragging when it actually wasn’t. Totally different circumstances.

Flash-forward to today. As I get older and seemingly more cynical and less tolerant of things that get under my skin, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing people go out of their way with the aforementioned humblebrag. Granted I’ve done my share in the past when it comes to my workouts but as of late, I haven’t and I’m not going to anymore. I’ve come to realize how incredibly narcissistic they sound are and have decided to put a stop to them for my own good, along with other forms that might fall into the same category. (As a side note, I have pretty much scaled back posting anything personal on social media. We’ve all got problems but I don’t think they all, if any of them, need to be shared.)

But there’s some bragging, of course, I don’t mind.

Finish your first marathon? Great! I’m happy for ya. Hold that medal high – you’ve earned it! Finishing your 11th marathon in 3 months, with each one setting a new PR, and proudly stating that this will get you ready for your 12th in a few weeks? We get it, Achilles.

Win Employee of the Month? Awesome! Winning it again and again and again and saying “another one for the wall”? Let’s not be so modest, mmmkay?

Y’all gotta know when to quit. But there are others that simply want to make me punch my phone/monitor/etc. The one that really drives me insane is when people make it a point to post on social media when they donated to charity or partook in a charitable act.

Here’s where my qualifying story makes more sense. Posting the letter from the Red Cross was done in order to clear the air from a business standpoint; no malice was involved or intended. The letter proved everything was on the up-and-up and all but one customer understood why it was posted. Fine and well.

Trust me, I’m all for raising awareness if it encourages others to be proactive and give themselves. No problems there.

But when you post a smug, unshaven Instagram selfie from Skid Row, one of Los Angeles’ most notorious homeless neighborhoods, and say that you’re “making a difference…out of my own pocket” to feed others, I think you’re fucking insane and frankly don’t give a shit about what you’re doing, if you’re doing anything at all. The proof is that picture of your lunch that you were eating from the comfort and warmth of a Skid Row restaurant posted minutes before that damn selfie.

Also, along with the selfie, posting a picture of someone’s makeshift alley home is just as disturbing. “Look at me, I’m really here. I want everybody to see.”

Seriously. I can’t think of enough awful things to say about that or ways to put you down for being so goddamn insensitive.

(I wish I was kidding about the story above but I’m not. I’ve seen it – more than once.)

Wanna really make an impact, Rich Uncle Pennybags? Then get your pad and pencil – it’s gonna be kinda right.

First, turn off your fucking phone because you won’t be needing it.

Second, with those deep pockets of yours, go back and buy several bowls of that delicious orange chicken, take them out in the alley with the homeless, and sit and share a meal with them. In fact, give yours to someone – you just ate. Don’t just throw them a buck and walk away; get to know these people and listen to them. They are human and most likely haven’t had any positive interaction with an outsider for a long time because most won’t give them the time of day or any kind of respect.

Talk to them, smile with them, help them. Look them in the eyes and try to feel and understand their sorrow. You might learn something – one of them could be a veteran, a father, a musician, or all three of those. They may have incredible stories to tell so shut up, listen and learn.

Finally, when it’s all said and done, and with your phone still off, humbly walk away with the satisfaction of knowing you did something out of the kindness of your heart to help your fellow man and not to raise your social media standing with friends.

Charity is never about you and not everything has to be a Facebook status. It’s about others, and the best way to keep it about others is to not blast your face and tell your stories all over your social media accounts because, believe it or not, people are much better at sensing bullshit than you might think. And once they do, they’ll never look at you the same way again.

And before you ask what I’m doing to be charitable, well, you don’t need to know. That’s the whole point of this post.

Need some attention? Hey, fine. Go buy a puppy. But wanting the exposure at the expense of those living on the streets isn’t just wrong, I think it’s the sign of someone who is completely disconnected from reality and has only their ego in mind, not the act itself or who it will benefit from it.

Do it for reasons, not the “likes” and accolades.

And for shit’s sake, be humble about it.

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Blogging Is Dead 


Me and blogging are in a relationship — and it’s complicated.

In a time when social media and viral videos are still king, it looks as if blogging — personal blogging at least — is all but dead.

I remember a time when I could write a post and get a reasonable number of interactions/hits/visits coupled with an occasional comment or even a discussion. But then again that was when “blogosphere” was a media buzzword and before Twitter and Facebook were on the radar. I’ve been at this in one form or another since 2004, just months after Facebook was founded, and years before Twitter would arrive. These days it’s much easier to post a blurb on Facebook and wait for the usual suspects to start clicking that reaction button to show their approval, disgust, etc. Or type “Amen” to send prayers up because…never mind.

And this has never been a profitable venture for me. If anything, it costs me to run this dog-and-pony show in the form of domain ownership, mapping and, of course, my own time. While I do have ads here, I’ve yet to reach my $100 threshold to cash out the revenue they generate and they’ve been in place for years. I’m still nowhere near that threshold.

Maybe it’s because I’m not smart enough to do something stupid enough that will drive the traffic and revenue up (look up any “YouTube sensation/star/personality”). Or maybe it’s because personal blogs just aren’t a thing anymore.

So with all that said, you might be glad to know that I’ve once again ponied up my annual fees to keep this here blog alive for at least another year.

Why?

I like owning a domain and having an email associated with it (send one to dave_at_holographicmeatloaf_dot_com and I will reply unless shit gets out of control). I’ve owned it for years and don’t want to lose it. And it looks much more legit having your own address rather than  an unsightly [username_dot_host_dot_com] URL. Even if you have readers, nobody will want to remember all that crap.

I also like telling an occasional story, with pictures, that nobody on Facebook would bother reading if I had posted it there. Anybody can write a blurb about something stupid that happened in the Costco parking lot but not everyone can tell a cohesive story,  and my stories sometimes require more than 140 characters.

Plus, this year marks my 10th year using WordPress as my host having moved from Google’s Blogger platform, which is as ugly as a website built and hosted by Geocities or Tripod. Look those up, kids.

So even with the doom and gloom of not being what it used to be, I’m still keeping the faith.

And if you’re reading this, thanks for being a part of it.

Composed on my iPhone with the WordPress app because I was too lazy to clean off the stuff from my desk 

 Quality Not Quantity 


As my restraint from posting on Facebook continues, I’m realizing that I’m not missing it a whole lot. That’s mostly because I grew tired of idiotic stories that local media thinks I should be paying attention to, like the woman who took a selfie in what she thought was her daughter’s dorm room — only it wasn’t.

That’s apparently “news” in this day and age. Before social media and the importance of taking a selfies, it would have just been a campfire story handed down from one generation to the next.

“Did I ever tell you what your great-grandmother did when I was in college?”

There’s a lot to be said about having a personal story to tell rather than watch it become a viral sensation that shifts our focus away from more important matters of the day.

You now, like the Running Man Challenge.

But meaningless stories aside, I’ve also come to realize that there’s a good chance that my friends probably don’t really care about what I’m eating or where I am at the moment. Many of us have become so focused on the immediacy of sharing the moment rather than taking the time to live and enjoy it.

That’s the point I’m at now. We no longer need Big Brother because we’ve become him.

For example, yesterday we went for a little road trip to the local beach community of San Clemente. That’s the birthplace of Rainbow Sandals, a high-quality flip-flop that will last you longer than you’d ever imagine. I own about four pairs and ended up bringing home another pair today as did Ann.

After buying our Rainbows, we did some shopping at the new outlets around the corner.

And during that whole time, I didn’t use my phone to take a single picture. That’s because I brought my camera with me.

My reason for doing so was simple: instead of just instinctively (and more often than not, thoughtlessly) taking a picture with my phone, the camera makes me think harder about the composition and in turn keeps me focused on, and honest about, the moment.

I find my subject. Compose the image. Check my shutter speed. Zoom in as I see fit. Grip the camera tight, hold my breath, release the shutter.


The moment, captured, with me in the middle of it.

There’s no “Share” button. No hoping I have a strong signal on my phone. No selfies with cans of chili in the grocery store. Just me and my camera taking the time to enjoy life and, of course, me writing about it hours later.


The moisture on this flower didn’t go unnoticed. It adds detail to the image. Was it hit by morning dew or did the sprinklers do this? Who knows for sure.


The Rainbow Sandals store has natural light beaming throughout which makes for excellent shooting conditions without a flash. Just a picture of footwear? Not really.

In the end, yes, I did share these moments after all. But it was much, much later in the day.

Because to me, being a part of and savoring the moment is much more important than having them posted to your timeline seconds later.

While I’ll still visit Facebook for pages I follow (that I have mostly in my Feedly feed anyhow), it isn’t for an extended period of time. Along with those “news” stories, there’s only Snapchat videos and/or face-swaps I can handle.

Blogging 365, Day 62: I Got Praise!


Don’t let this dog-and-pony show of a blog mislead you – I actually do have what it takes to create effective social media buzz that will drive customers to your door.

At least that’s what the people at Pizza Today have said. Here’s why.

Every now and then, I will write Facebook posts for my friend’s pizzeria advertising their current or upcoming specials and for the most part, they are written and forgotten. That’s not to say that they are worth forgetting, no. I collaborate with him, come up with a few ideas, then send him the draft to see if he likes it.

Then the agonizing begins over what sounds best and why, talk pricing if applicable, delivery or take-out, etc. There’s much more to it than what’s going on here at this blog, something I make no money from and pay into by means of annual domain mapping fees and name registration.

But I create the Facebook posts free of charge because I simply like to do them and love getting down and dirty with the details of what can’t be said and why. The blog? Oh, anything goes here as you can probably tell.

And apparently, it’s that kind of attention to detail that caught the eye of the people over at Pizza Today.

On Friday, I got a text from my buddy to let me know what he saw in the latest issue:

IMG_20130301_165436.jpeg

It’s a little hard to see so here’s a clip from their website:

ciceros

We created this post to promote their 12/12/12 special, something that they also did on 10/10/10 but with results that were…well, they were beyond what we both expected. Let’s just say ovens are limited to their capacity and when you advertise a $10 pizza with no limits on quantity or size restrictions, things will get ugly.

But this was a good thing and something we both thought about for the 12/12/12 promotion (there was no 11/11/11 special). We got together and brainstormed to come up with an idea that would prove both beneficial to he as the owner and the customers as well.

The Facebook post you see about was the result and from what I know, it was not a bad day for his business.

It may be long gone and down at the bottom of their Facebook page now but according to Pizza Today, this post hit the marketing nail on the head in terms of everything – and I’m glad to have been a part of it.

My First Celeb Retweet: @pennjillette


I’m pretty jazzed about this.

I’d been following Penn Jillette on Twitter for a few months because I think he’s an interesting guy: magician, outspoken atheist, musician, and a great storyteller. And after listening to his Penn’s Sunday School podcasts today at work I came to the conclusion that the man knows everyone.

Shortly after being enthralled by the second podcast, I had to tweet about it to let the world know what a great show it was. It’s funny (especially if you like monkeys and Clay Aiken), thought-provoking and a little crazy at times. This is especially true when listening on an iPod at 2x the speed, a speed at which the Monkey Tuesday theme sounds even better.

It was a simple tweet:

Enjoying @pennjillette Penn’s Sunday School podcast. He’s an interesting guy. Check it: http://bit.ly/yK82rS

With the show still in its infancy, Penn is still trying to get more listeners (of which I will continue to be as I have subscribed on iTunes). Of course, the best way to get the word out these days is via Twitter – and that’s exactly what he did with my tweet:pennRT

That’s pretty sweet. With the Twitter being so popular, a simple RT by a celebrity is the equivalent of an autograph in this day and age. It’s your confirmation that they saw what you said, thought it was worthy of telling their followers, and sent it out to all of them. From this tweet I gained quite a few followers, too: the man does have 1.7 million of his own.

So thanks, Penn Jillette, for the RT and making my day. I’m a fan of the show and can’t wait for more episodes, even if I have to grab the podcast following the day of the live show.

The Pato Lucas discussion was hysterical, by the way.