Turning Off the Firehose

turning-off-the-firehose

As I listened to one of Rob Bell’s podcast episodes the other day, Episode 120 Wisdom Part 5, How to Think About the News. I couldn’t but let ¬†turn off the firehose, as Rob put it.

And that’s exactly how I feel whenever I open Twitter, Facebook, or turn on the television. It’s all so overwhelming but really, it’s my own fault. I’ve been confusing media with journalism. Journalism is truth-seeking, storytelling, and shining light on what needs to be exposed. There is a standard by which journalists are held to. There is a level of respect for story and for sharing what’s important.

Media is a whole other beast. As Rob explained so perfectly, media is like a firehose shooting us at point blank range of information all day long. It’s via television, Twitter, YouTube, Vines, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. that floods us constantly with random bits and pieces, like the rapid fire Kim and Kanye nonsense, the latest political scandal news, to a viral video of a child singing in his car seat. While at the time, the trickle of information seems harmless but as we keep clicking our mouses, remote controls, or notification buttons, the trickle becomes a firehouse to the face…if we let it.

We can choose to let the firehose run, blasting us in the face with every possible scrap of information that media can point at us or we can choose to turn it off and only give attention to the things that matter to us.

We can turn off app notifications or simply go into airplane mode if we need some focus time. I totally do the whole Pavlov’s dog thing whenever my phone dings or I see a little red circle on my phone screen. It’s insanity in the making. Why would I ever choose to live life reacting to everything and not creating the life I want. But that’s exactly what I’ve done and chances are, the majority of the first world does the same.

Believe me, I’ve been there and I’m still fighting the withdrawals but hearing that podcast really put what I was feeling into words. I had been feeling truly overwhelmed and honestly, slightly depressed about everything I was trying to keep up on. ISIS, this scandal, that tragedy, climate change, claims that climate change is a myth, etc. It makes me crazy.

So part of the freedom I’m creating in 2017 is turning off the media firehose:

-I’m checking email only twice a day, noon and 8 p.m. and unsubscribing to all unnecessary newsletters, not yours, of course! ūüėČ

-Switch off all notifications on my phone.

-Engage in social media via scheduled time and not whenever I’m bored or trying to avoid a task.

-Give my time and attention to sources with integrity only.

-Curate what will bring value or positivity to others.

This is a non-negotiable. My heart and spirit can’t take the constant barrage of negativity and shallow crap that spouts from mainstream media today. It’s killing any chances that I can truly believe that people are inherently good and that our society isn’t going to hell starting tomorrow. Because after a while, if I just keep taking what the firehose is spraying, I will no longer be able to breathe. And if I can’t breathe, well…that won’t the happy ending I was planning on for my life story.

Before I put anything out into the world, I must ask myself, “Is it helpful to others or is it part of the firehouse?” Sure, I like sharing a funny video like the next person but that has to be the exception and not the rule.

What about you? Have you been able to turn off the firehouse or are you still gasping for air?

If you’re still gasping, I hope you make a pledge to yourself that you’ll hit the shutoff valve once and for all. I would love to hear how it’s going and what changes for you by doing it.

******

P.S. Connection can’t happen without comments or shares so I hope you do at least one! You’re the best.

Sharing is Caring

Writing at computerI have this blog because I want a place to share my thoughts but, more importantly, connect with others. In my “real” life, I’m a talker. As much as I love¬†hiding from the kids my¬†alone time, I don’t consider myself an introvert. I like to¬†share my favorite books, products, ideas, life hacks, embarrassing moments, news, memories, funny stories, and daily struggles with whomever is willing to listen. This blog is an extension of that.

As shocking as this may sound, I spend a lot of time working on my blog posts. No really, I do. It’s the reason why I only post about once a week. Twice if I’ve got my shit together and if WordPress decides to cooperate. (Today he was an asshole and didn’t save my post. I’m still bitter about it.)

It starts with an idea that’s had time to simmer. After some time in the think tank,it still has any meat left, I scribble out the bones of the post in my notebook or type out a rough draft on my computer. My next step is to go back and connect my ideas like a dot-to-dot puzzle, hoping to make something legible out of my tangled words.

Then I’ll go back through it again, reading it out loud to myself, adding and deleting, cutting and pasting text, and possibly contemplating if I should just delete the entire post because it’s total crap.

But then I realize how much time I’ve already spent on it, so I commit to making it better, again re-reading and revising, editing and fixing my punctuation which is still probably wrong. But when the writing is done, I search the internet for picture(s) to perfectly illustrate my post which causes major derailment when I start following other shiny, sparkling words/posts/anything.

When I finally pull it together, I must choose how, when, and where I want it to appear on social media after I’ve added my necessary keywords and hashtags. Then I’ll schedule it to go live, click save (WordPress willing)¬†and let it go.

All of that could take an hour or a couple of days depending on if I’m in the zone and if I keep on task.

My hope after writing each blog post is that someone–ANYONE–will read it and be affected by it. It doesn’t have to be life-changing; just something others can understand, relate, laugh or even cry along with me.

I love when readers comment because that lets me know that my words mattered. However, many people are shy about leaving a comment and I completely understand. But there is something else that you can do that will show that you care about not only about the words I wrote but all of the other blogs, authors, art, or other creatives you enjoy…just share.

I may not have a great comment to add to a blog post but if I appreciate the words and want to show my support for the work the writer did, I share their work, either through email, Facebook, Twitter…whatever I can. Those little icons at the bottom of a post are there to make it as easy as possible!

As much as I’d like to say I am only write for my own pleasure, I’m can’t. The more my work is shared and the more connections I make, the more I want to keep writing.

If a blog post gets written but no one reads it, did it really exist? 

No one wants their work to go unnoticed so here are some ideas:  

  • If you’ve just read a great book, find the author’s email through their website or in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Tell them what you loved about the story and how it affected you. Or simply thank them for writing the book.
  • If you purchased artwork from a local artist or an Etsy shop, share their site with others or let them know where you bought it.¬†
  • If you liked a blog post that you just read, share it through social media.

You have no idea how these simple gestures help the writer/artist keep going.

If you care, share. 

I promise that gesture won’t go unnoticed and it will mean the world to the person behind the work.

THANK YOU!

~Hallie

 

{photo credit: Unsplash/Thomas Lefebvre}

Now for a Bit of News

 

 

Since I’ve been sort of a Donna Downer this week, I’m going to end the week on a positive note. A few actually.

First off, at 2 pm CST today, Great New Books is having a Twitter chat (just like your normal book club talk-just online). You can follow along or join in by typing #GNBchat in your search field and following the conversation. If you want to join in, just make sure you add the hashtag at the end of your tweet. If you are looking for a much simpler way to join in the discussion, go to Great New Books web site and click on the Twitter Chat page under the logo. I have posted three links to explain how to use Tweetchat to make things much easier for you.

Second, about what I’m reading now. I’m hoping to finish The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier. I’ve had to start and stop because of book club commitments and really want to get to the bottom of Elizabeth’s little box of secrets.

I’m anxiously awaiting my mail for Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio. I’m part of She Reads Blogger Network and this is their October pick. It was just released a couple of days ago so it is hot off the presses. Also, in October, I will be reading Shine, Shine, Shine¬†by Lydia Netzer for Great New Books’ next book pick.

 

Third, I’ve got some exciting news about a new venture I’ve joined. Sharon Bially, whom many of you know, has started a fantastic PR company for authors called Book Savvy PR. Click the link to go check us out! Since I’ve done a lot of pro bono work…ahem…via Twitter and blogging talking about authors and their books, she invited me to join her to help with the social media side of things. I’m thrilled because it is something I love to do and she is going to teach me what she knows about book marketing/PR. I consider it invaluable and am very grateful she asked me. (Love you, Sharon!!!!)

I had a very cool opportunity this week to get some first hand knowledge of pitching to the press. She asked if I would be interested in doing some press pitches for a teen anthology to be published soon via Grub Street Writers. This was voluntary because it was for Grub Street rather than Book Savvy clients but I couldn’t pass up the chance like this. Can I just tell you whom I called this week?! Publishers Weekly, Time Magazine, Huffington Post…I KNOW!! I had ginormous butterflies but ¬†I overcame those flutters after the first call. I got a bite so I must not have sounded like a complete idiot.¬†Sharon has been sooooo great. It has been fun getting to know her better as well as learn what it takes to market a book. She is a genius and look forward to soaking up what I can.

 

And last, I want to share this video I saw yesterday. It was like a slap in the face. A nice slap, if there is such a thing. It’s based on the Jewish teaching of giving 100 blessings a day ¬†and even though I may not be Jewish, this is something I can definitely do more of.

Thanks for being here.

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Have a great weekend–mwah!

Hallie