Nextdoor Famous

I recently became the number one post on Nextdoor.

I’ll sign autographs for anyone who wants one.

If anyone is unfamiliar with Nextdoor, it’s basically a social media app for your neighborhood with the slightest amount of accountability. You have to put a name (it doesn’t have to be your real one). You have to be confirmed that you live in a certain area (I’m sure there’s easy work arounds for this one). And you can usually only see posts and information in certain areas, to keep it local (again…I’m sure with some savvy clicking this doesn’t have to always be the case).

It is a wild west of social interaction. Some people post pictures just to share. Some people post questions that could be easily Googled. Some people complain about menial or major happenings. Some people write helpful posts about missing or found pets. Others write depressing posts about their dead or dying pets. Some people just want to rant or be heard. Others scream friendly-yet-empty greetings into the void.

I’m obsessed with it in the same way I’m obsessed with French Silk Chocolate Mousse pie. I know I can’t control myself and that it has adverse reactions. But once in a while it’s the best thing in the world to indulge in.

For a little primer and a lot of entertainment, check out the Best of Nextdoor on Twitter.

My story of Nextdoor fame begins humbly enough, with a simply Ring video of a hard-to-describe animal caught in our driveway in the wee hours of the morning.

My post said (something along the lines of) “Let’s play a game: Guess this animal!”

Tons of people responded. Like almost 200 or so in a day…which, on Nextdoor, is basically viral.

What’s funny to me is how many people made this clearly joke game suddenly an aggressive way of finding critiques, either with the other people who responded or with my own video. There were accusations and criticism that the video wasn’t long enough. Or it was too blurry. Or it was too far away. There were people convinced it was one animal and angry that other people were saying it was another. It was a pretty even split between people just having a good time (as intended) or people getting incredibly invested and very quickly angry at the nature of the post.

It was a goofy post about a weird-looking animal. And yet…vitriol from some, and neighbor to neighbor anger from others.

Even with the seeming accountability of the app, this post to me encapsulated so much of what is wrong with communication apps and all anonymous internet interactions.

It’s that we lose sight of each other’s humanity.

And maybe it’s especially intense right now because many of us have been holed up in our homes without too much outside human influence with only the digital creations of tech giants who make money off of our attention (and we give more of it when we’re fired up, especially when we’re scared or angry). Maybe the fact that we don’t actively have to interact with people who disagree with us because we can always find people who agree with us allows our ego to feel even more validated to scream loudly into our echo chambers and dehumanize those who might disagree based on their own just-as-valid life experiences. Maybe it’s a whole number of factors, seen and unseen, that have led us to this point. I don’t know.

But I do know that I’m tired of it. It’s draining. For all of us. It’s not our true human nature. We both survive and thrive largely because we’re kind to each other.

Yet as we feel and get more detached from our communities, we feel more isolated from both mother nature and our true nature.

In short, we’re sad little selfish assholes. And free social media services who promise to help keep you connected and validate your human experience profit from our assholery, our narcissism, and our depression.

So maybe we call them out. And we change our behavior. We get offline and we look other humans in the face. We let go of our need to be right and once again engaged our innate curiosity about others, recognizing elements of our own selves in them. We start remembering that we are actually a part of this earth, and not parasites who can drain it of its natural resources supposedly without repercussions.

We slow down. We calm down. We change our pace and think outside of the box. That way goofy posts meant to be jokes don’t turn into a soapbox where people call each other stupid.

And to preemptively answer everyone’s burning question: The animal has been confirmed as a beaversquirrelracoonfluffyfatcat. You’re welcome.

Thinking Your Own Thoughts

I was on an airplane the other day having a hard time. I’m not a great flyer. The stress of nearly missing the flight did a toll on my body. I hadn’t slept much the night before. I was on a different timezone. The only food I had that day was hotel breakfast, coffee, beer, and some fried mac and cheese balls. I needed real food and space to move. My body was pissed.

I decided rather than trying to work or be productive on this late night flight where I felt like garbage, I’d just watch movies. I normally let a movie or a TV show on a flight be a treat rather than the norm. But on this flight, I needed to just keep my mind distracted from the various (understandable) whining happening in my body.

The only movie that looked interesting was “Leave No Trace.”

It was slow. The acting was great. The writing was refreshing. The cinematography was beautiful. And it was so different than so many blockbuster films I’ve recently seen. I loved it.

More importantly, it kept me from murdering my seat mate out of pure hungry rage. So that was nice.

leave no trace 2

There was a line in the movie that stuck out to me and has been in my head since I heard it (the sign of a really good story). In the film, the father and daughter purposely choose to live on the outskirts of society, wandering in the woods and staying off technology. At one point, their circumstances change and they have access to more technology. The daughter, who has spent more of her life completely off-the-grid, is somewhat anxious about what this means for their relationship to each other and to the world. The father assures her that, even with the distractions presented around them now, they can “still think our own thoughts.”

That line resonated with me. I’m by no means anti-technology. I participate (albeit often begrudgingly) in social media. I have a phone. I take my laptop on every trip I go on.

But I’m part of that older millennial generation that grew up in our formative years without it. I spent a lot of time looking out windows, playing in my back yard, creating stuff for the fun of it.

This is weird, but whatever – you’re here and reading this so you deserve a fun little weird tidbit. I used to love to lay upside down on a recliner and imagine that the world was flipped and the ceiling was the floor and the floor was the ceiling.

Yes, really.

The point is, I spent a lot of time thinking my own thoughts. I let my mind wander. My brain grew up with the understanding that it’s important to be present and it’s important to formulate your own thoughts and choose to spend your time in ways you feel drawn to (rather than are accidentally addicted to).

Like many people my age, I was an early adopter of texting and cellphone technology. I’ve been on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram all almost since they started. I was even part of that generation that needed a college email in order to get a Facebook account.

Stories for another time.

The point is, I’ve let social media and technology interweave and change my brain and my lifestyle without much thought. And now that I’m realizing the repercussions of that, I’m trying to give it some thought. My own thoughts. Not the responses or reactions of other people that the web is inundated with.

When I heard that line from the movie, I realized that, out of habit, I tend to let my mind wander on other people’s thoughts and creations rather than letting it wander on my own musings and observations like it used to. I’ve swung the pendulum far too far in one direction and it’s time to come back the other way.

not a drill

A world without social media or technology isn’t a world that exists anymore. But I can choose to create a world that better balances its existence with my own priorities. I can create a world where I participate in technology but don’t let it control me.

I can choose to create a world where I still think my own thoughts.


Blogger chooses blog over social life

When some friends asked Henry Fetter if he wanted to go partying, he told them “no.” He felt it was the only responsible choice for the dedicated blogger, since it had been twelve hours since his last posting.

Fetter, who keeps a simple personal blog filled with mild and often conflicting opinions on every day people and events, has been dedicated to the project for almost a year now.

“It started because I felt like I needed my opinion to be heard,” Fetter explains. “I wanted to have an opinion on everything- even things that didn’t require it.”

The blog has required a great deal of his time in maintaining, leaving very little time for socializing and making friends. “As a blogger, you have to really dedicate yourself to this online identity,” says Fetter. “Normal people can go out and make friends and maintain relationships. But bloggers aren’t normal people.”

Despite the fact that very few people read it, Fetter is certain it will be picked up by the mainstream media anytime and transform into a sensation. And he wants to be ready at all times for that possibility. Thus he remains in his room, sitting, typing away, and hoping someone in the cyber world will notice.

Sarah Palin joins Fox News cast; her new makeup artist quips she’s now “Going Rouge”.

Despite always wearing heavy makeup along the campaign trail to appear fresh and chipper, Sarah Palin faces a new challenge in a world seemingly filled of them for her. She will be a regular commentator on Fox News. This time around, the challenge will be adjusting to having TV makeup put on her before she gets on camera every single time.

Few people are accustomed to the layers of TV makeup that are required in order to look natural on camera. Palin’s new makeup artist, who has been specifically assigned to her every time she goes on air for consistency purposes, joked that Palin is now “Going Rouge” because of the high amount of foundation she’ll be putting on her skin. When making the joke to the former governor, Palin looked at the artist stone faced and said, simply, “It’s Rogue. Going Rogue.” The artist, wanting to make a connection with her new client, joked back, “Oh right-like the X-men!” Palin, remaining stone faced, repeated, “No, like rogue. Like a maverick.” In one final feeble attempt, the artist responded with, “Top Gun style?”. There was a moment of silence between the two woman, which was finally broken by Palin saying, stone faced, “It’s Rogue.”

Despite the pitfalls, the makeup artist still hopes Palin will understand the joke one day and the two can be friends. “At least she didn’t call me the “L” word,” she said. “That liberal title can mean unemployment around here.”

Palin says she will comment on Fox News via satellites on her front porch, claiming to want to “keep an eye on Russia”

Sarah Palin, Fox’s latest newsroom hire, has claimed that she wants to do many of her interviews via satellite in Alaska rather than making the trek to the continental United States. She claims that she needs to keep an eye out for Alaska, even though she’s no longer governor. She says she protects Alaska now by often staying out on her front porch and staring at Russia.

Palin feels more adamantly than ever, given Russia’s current political changes, that it is really important to guard the home front from the front lines. She wants the entire nation to see what a brave citizen she is by staying on her front porch and watching Russia with “snake eyes.”

“Much like the scouts in the wild, wild west who were sent to watch the horizon, so I sit with my eye on the border,” she said, quickly realizing it was a statement profound and poetic enough to Tweet.

When asked how often she would be seen actually in person on the station, she answered, “I hate going into the lion’s den because New York City has so many liberals. But I’ll do it if that’s what my country needs.”

Until her country calls her, however, Palin remains faithful to Alaska by sitting on her front porch and staring into the distance, simply muttering “Stay off my lawn, Ruskies. I know you’re out there,” as do the other old men in neighborhoods all over the world.

Fox News will replace words with colorful drawings on cue cards for new commentator Sarah Palin

Upon signing Sarah Palin as a regular guest commentator on Fox News, immediate changes began to be made all over the station to accommodate her. Any coffee mugs from Caribou Coffee were immediately outlawed, for fear that the former governor would shoot at them upon first sight. All the stations women workers were given specific Palin-style glasses, whether or not they had a prescription that needed them. And, perhaps most significantly, her cue cards were agreed to be changed from words to colorful drawings.

While the rest of the Fox News commentators will use large words on their cue cards, Palin’s representatives say she does better with more general, abstract reminders of the points.

For instance, if there’s a debate on healthcare coverage, it’s more helpful for Palin to see a stick figure labeled “Democrat” with bloody knife standing over a stabbed senior citizen and a small picture of Obama with a Hitler mustache in the corner. Or if the discussion is centering around the economy, it’s helpful for Palin to see a picture of Obama with a turban and a Hitler mustache burning a pile of bills. Or, if the discussion is about terrorism, it’s helpful for her to have a picture of Obama with a Stalin hat on top of his turban and a Hitler mustache in a treehouse with a label of “Secret Meeting! No Republicans allowed!” sitting next to Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton, Osama Bin Ladin, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Hitler himself. All of those people would have to be labeled for clarification, but the general gist should be clear enough to give Palin room to riff on the subject matter for a while.

The colors also help keep her attention span, which has been known to wane on occasion. When called out on her inability to stay on a single subject matter for longer than a few moments, she sighs and simply explains, “I am such a woman!”

Fox News admits using different camera angle on new commentator Sarah Palin, in order to accommodate both her legs and her hair.

New Fox News commentator Sarah Palin is known not only for her hard-line stances on many controversial issues and simple expressions that attempt to reach all Americans. She’s also known for having both brains and beauty. Especially the beauty.

Not since Condoleezza Rice has a person shattered so many stereotypes about what it means to be a woman and conservative. Both Rice and Palin have an extraordinary ability to speak and think like wealthy, old, white men. But, their appearances are quite different.

Palin is what some consider traditionally pretty. She has moderately nice features and puts herself together well. A former beauty pageant contestant, she knows how to hold herself with poise and speak when spoken to, two traits conservative men love.

And conservative men also love her toned legs, which she shows off in both heels and skirts, and her non-threatening updo. For many men, it reminds them that as much power as she might garner, she still cares about what the opposite gender think of her enough to keep her hair long and take time to put it up every morning. And for many conservative women, she is the epitome of retaining elements of your femininity in a liberal world that wants everyone to wear flannel and convert women to lesbianism.

That’s why Fox News will be catering to Palins unique look by creating a very specific camera angle that encompasses both her legs and her hair, to remind viewers why it is they listen to her. That way, they can have the station on mute and still glean all the information from her that they could possibly glean.

When asked to describe this camera angle and how they could possibly always be sure to feature two distinctly different parts of her body, Fox News representatives simply said, “You’ll have to watch and see.”

While speaking directly to the American people on Fox News, Sarah Palin pauses uncomfortably long, apparently awaiting response from the masses

During her first major network commentary on Fox News, new hire Sarah Palin was adamant that she speak directly to the pubic through the cameras. This tactic, which she perfected during the McCain/Palin 08 campaign, is a choice she has become well known for.

This time, however, rather than simply saying what she wants to say to the American public and moving on, she tried a different approach. She waited patiently as the cameras continued to roll. When asked what she was doing, she gave a slight wink and said simply, “Waiting for the American public to respond.”

It was a good two minute pause in the newsroom before anyone could convince Palin that she could not hear directly back from the American people so she needed to move on with the rest of the commentary. She only acquiesced after one of the producers pretended to be a member of the general American public that wanted to tell her everyone was on vacation and couldn’t talk right now, but they’d be back later.

Convinced she had gotten the response she wanted from her pause, she looked around the room and simply said, “Told ya.”

Fox News finally admits not caring about being “fair and balanced”

After days of explaining how their slogan of “fair and balanced” can be justified with hiring of new commentator Sarah Palin, a near demigod to neoconservatives, Fox News representatives have finally admitted to not actually caring about the truth behind their slogan.

“She’ll make us money and attract more of the types of people who watch our programming,” says Rex Freeman, a representative of the station. “Plus, for the types of people who already agree with the overtly biased news we put out, it will seem ‘fair and balanced’ which is all we really care about.”

Fox News came up with the “fair and balanced” slogan after accusations that their news had a clearly conservative bias and spin to their stories. It was their way of saying “nuh-uh!” to many other news stations who went above and beyond to find out all sides of a story before presenting it.

From the beginning of the slogan’s implementation, there was worry that people would think they were a little too over-the-top about it. Like a schoolgirl who blushes and gets flustered when asked if she has a crush on the football team’s captain, adamantly denying that she has any feelings for him at all, Fox News wanted people to know-at least on the surface-that they care about providing good news, not just pandering to a very specific segment of the population and playing up on their fears and worries to make more money.

Despite admitting that the slogan is not exactly the station’s top priority, there is absolutely no talk of getting rid of it. Freeman explains, using the schoolgirl analogy, “You can’t just start saying ‘no comment’ if people ask you if you like somebody. They’re going to assume you do. You have to stay adamant that you don’t, even if it’s obvious the opposite is true.”

Sarah Palin, joining Fox News, redefines meaning of “fair and balanced”

Since exploding onto the political scene as John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 Presidential election, Sarah Palin has been a influential, often-controversial and polarizing figure for many Americans. Her extremely conservative roots and belief systems, combined with her candid and more simple vocabulary, have catapulted her to the forefront of the neo-conservative movement in the Republican party-especially in the wake of a Democratic sweep in the elections of 2008.

Such a strong political figure commands some sort of strong reaction in the gut of many Americans. Those to the right of center tend to love her, those on the left of center tend to hate her and those in the middle tend to ignore her.

Fox News has hired her on to be a regular commentator and part of their political team. The news outlet, which maintains a slogan of “fair and balanced,” believes that she’ll make a great asset to the team. Both Palin and representatives of the news outlet seem to believe that if you repeat something enough times, even if it has no truth behind it, people will start to believe it. Hence, their repetition of how “fair and balanced” their news source is despite hiring the controversial figure.

“The thing about ‘fair and balanced’ is that its meanings are constantly changing,” explains Rex Freeman, a representative for Fox News. “People think they mean giving a full, and unbiased perspective on a story…and that could be accurate. But we like to think of it as meaning we’ll give a partial and biased version of our perspective of a story so people think we’re smart and like to watch us. That way, we get more ratings and more ratings means we can charge more money for commercial time which means, in turn, our station ends up making more money, which means pay increases all around,” he adds.

Having Palin on the station, a woman who has become notorious for saying rather outlandish or indecipherable things, will be a seeming gold mine for the news station. And working to get more money, to Fox, is the current definition of “fair and balanced.”