Thoughts on Facebook

Confession # 1: I admire people who don’t use Facebook.

Confession # 2: I will probably never be one of those people.

I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve deactivated my account on numerous occasions. But I always come crawling back. It’s the thrill of the snoop, the thrill of catching up with old “friends”, and the thrill of projecting the very best image of Natalie that I can.

I admire people who don’t use Facebook for one simple fact: because they don’t need it. I bet if you surveyed a group of non-Facebook users you would come away with one common theme: they are secure enough and satisfied enough in their real life relationships that they don’t try to get affirmation from the online ones.

I’m not saying that the friends you have online aren’t real friends. But I do have to ask, if you didn’t have Facebook, would you even invest in half of those friendships? Do you even invest in half of those friendships? A quarter? A tenth?

I really believe that those who dwell in the realm of no Facebook enjoy rich and meaningful friendships and wonder why they would add the time and hassle to their lives of “connecting” with people that they actually wouldn’t really choose to connect with.

So why do we do it?

I think it’s in part because it gives us a place to share who we are (just like this blog). But this can quickly transform into a place to share who we want to be. The beautiful one. The smart one. The popular one. The one who gets all the chicks. The one who has the most “friends”, or the one who gets the most “likes”. We start to market ourselves on Facebook.

There is difference between shameless self promotion and sharing something that is actually good and beneficial to the public. I used to always post my new blog entries on Facebook, but the truth is,  I can only count a handful of times when I felt the “conviction” to share what I had written with my Facebook “friends.” The reality is that I loved the way it felt to post a new blog and then see how many likes and comments I could get. I was addicted to checking my WordPress stats.

I have shifted to a place where it doesn’t really matter to me who reads my blog anymore.  I write because I love to write. I don’t write because I get busy. And if I don’t feel like writing, well…that’s a problem that I have to fix. And to those who have remained faithful readers – even after I stopped including blog posts in status updates – thank you!

So even though I may never get rid of Facebook entirely, I hope that my attitude towards it will become like this blog: that I’m not trying to impress and that I am true to who Natalie is. And if that happens, then maybe I’ll actually go through my list and remove those people who aren’t really my friends anyway… ;)

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Tik Tok Tik Tok

No, that is not a reference to Ke$ha. That’s the sound of the kitchen timer reminding me that I still have another 7 minutes to go before I can check the text message I just received.

When it comes to writing my mind often wanders. Sometimes I’m so focused on crafting that perfect prose that I fail to write anything at all. And then I usually end up on YouTube. I learned the kitchen timer trick from Don Miller’s blog. I used it last year when I was participating in NaNoWriMo and it did wonders for my attention span.

Once I set the timer (for 10, 20, 30 minutes – depending on the day) I will do nothing else but write. No email, no Facebook. No getting up to get more coffee, because I always convince myself that coffee helps. Just write!

Full-WhiteKitchenTimer

This process proved helpful when undertaking my first project with ECPAT: to edit and assemble a 40+ page quarterly report. As an international NGO, very few of the regional officers are native English speakers. This meant that I had to read the report, understand the report, rewrite the report, and then edit the report down from 10 or so writers into one seamless voice. Never mind the fact that I was jet-lagged and at that point knew little about the 81 groups operating in 75 countries.

Ergo, my kitchen timer. I knew I brought it to Thailand for a reason. Working on those reports became a bit like a game to me, and I like games. I worked in 10 minute increments and took 1 minute breaks, and once I had worked for 40 minutes I was “allowed” to either a) listen to a song on my iPod, b) go to the bathroom, or c) get a drink/snack. Believe me, the system worked!

This process is proving helpful once again today, as I churn out resumes and cover letters. I left  my trusty kitchen timer at my parents’ house, but the timer on the microwave works just as well.

Alas, it’s time to work again. This blog post is one of my “rewards.” If you’ve never tried this method I highly suggest it. If you have, what did you think?

Under Construction

Much like my life, this blog is currently under construction.

I thought that when I moved out I could maintain the title of the blog, because even if I don’t live with my parents anymore, sometimes it feels like I’m not moving forward.

However, that’s not the kind of attitude that I want to have as I navigate through this season. That’s why things keep changing (layout, header, tagline, etc.) on “Living with my Parents” as I figure out what my “brand” is. I have lots of thoughts, but for now, I’ll keep the title and change the attitude.

A few weeks ago I found a quotation from Oswald Chambers that describes perfectly how I feel about letting go of the past (as in the negativity and self-pity I possessed when I lived with my parents) and moving forward.

“Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.”

Oh yeah, with the recent engagement of my roommate, it is very probable that come January I will be living with my parents once again. Look for an attitude shift in the upcoming edition.

And after that? I’m hoping that “Living with my Parents Goes to Thailand” will make a comeback.

Time will tell.

STOP Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People

No doubt you’ve been to The Body Shop. Even if you’re just passing by the store you can’t help but be drawn in by the soothing fragrances. I’ve been shopping at The Body Shop since the days when bath beads were popular and the “Extinct is Forever” Against Animal Testing t-shirts were a huge trend (circa 1995). Ever since its launch as a public company in 1985, The Body Shop has been committed to effecting social change. To learn more about their campaign history click here.

In 2009 The Body Shop launched a new campaign, partnering with ECPAT International to STOP Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People. Since its launch less than 2 year ago the campaign has gained the support of more than 40 countries worldwide. Proceeds from The Body Shop’s Soft Hands Kinds Heart hand cream was donated to ECPAT International and other organizations that fight trafficking.

In 2010 the campaign launched a petition calling upon governments to implement strict anti-trafficking policies and legislation, and to dedicate more resources to help victims of trafficking. The objective is to join hands with thousands of other signatories around the world by taking the petitions to the United Nations in 2011.

To date, the campaign petition has collected nearly five million signatures globally. The STOP campaign has overtaken The Body Shop’s iconic petition against animal testing. Wow!

If you haven’t already, you can make a difference by signing this petition and become a part of campaign history!

If you have already signed the petition, thank you! You can still help by sharing the link with your friends and family. Just click on the above link to take you to The Body Shop campaign petition website.

In response to this growing trade, The Body Shop has launched a global campaign to Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People. Working alongside ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) the campaign aims to raise awareness and vital funds for victims or those at risk of trafficking. 

Since its launch in 2009, Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People has gathered support in more than 40 countries worldwide. In New York and Toronto, hundreds of people rallied to the cause with organised marches. In Thailand, The Body Shop customers wrote personal messages of support to victims of trafficking at the ECPAT Foundation Shelter. And in Denmark, store staff raised awareness by handing out leaflets in the city’s red light district.

2009 also saw the launch of The Body Shop® Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream. Proceeds from each hand cream sold* are donated to ECPAT and other organisations that support victims of trafficking and help to fund prevention programmes. With one sold globally every 30 seconds**, Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream has already raised a staggering £1m for charity.

So what’s next? This summer we’ll be launching a petition calling upon governments to implement strict anti-trafficking policies and legislation, and dedicate more resources to help victims of trafficking. It doesn’t end there. Because this is a global campaign, our objective is to join hands with thousands of other signatories around the world by taking our petitions to the United Nations in 2011.

On Loneliness

“Turning the front door knob, it came to him that maybe he could sponge away the look of loneliness that he’d seen in Susan’s eyes – and John was now pretty sure it was loneliness he’d seen, despite the smiles and the confidences. If he’d learned one thing while he’d been away, it was that loneliness and the open discussion of loneliness is the most taboo subject in the world. Forget sex or politics or religion. Or even failure. Loneliness is what clears out a room.”

– Douglas Coupland, Miss Wyoming, 114

******

I saw her standing in the rain at the bus stop. I never took the bus. It was my pre-car days living in Abbotsford. My roommate always dropped me off at her place of work in the morning, which was about a 10 minute walk from mine. For some reason I decided to take the bus that morning.

I had a strong sense that I was supposed to talk to her, but I didn’t, because I didn’t know what to say. I thought walking up to her and making a comment about the weather would be lame.

But then she walked up to me, “Would you like to share my umbrella?” she asked with an accent. “Thank you!” I said. Moments later the bus pulled up and we took a seat on a bench beside each other.

I asked her where she was from. “Laos,” she responded.

“Wow! That’s so cool!”

“You know Laos?” she asked. I did. A week before I had interviewed a Khmu couple about the work they were doing in Laos and in a Laotian community in California.

I asked her what she was doing in Canada, and she said that she was part of an international volunteer exchange program. She had only been in the country for about two months. “How do you like it here?”

Tear sprung to her eyes immediately. “I’m very lonely,” she said.

I instantly felt compassion for her. I remembered the intense loneliness I felt in the months after moving to Germany. Culture shock, language barriers, the knowledge that you are so far away from home.

I gave her a side hug and listened to her talk about her family and life at home. “I don’t have any friends here,” she admitted sadly.

“We can be friends!” I suggested in an almost childlike manner. We exhanged phone numbers and email addresses and made plans to get together soon. She hopped off the bus at her stop and waved goodbye.

*****

What makes loneliness the “most taboo subject in the world”? Why is there so much shame attached to being lonely? Why is it so hard to admit to one another?

When I read the above quotation from Miss Wyoming I had to put down the book and think about the topic of loneliness for a while. I’m positive that everyone has felt lonely at some point. I know that I have, and I know that I fear loneliness as I prepare to enter a new culture in the coming weeks.

I haven’t really come to any conclusions about this topic. All I know is that there is a huge stigma that’s attached to loneliness, and I have to wonder if this stigma has been perpetuated by the fact that our culture is increasingly finding ways to create connections (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs), yet these connections inevitably remain superficial unless we choose to take them a step further.

We should feel connected, but we do not. Instead we are connected to our computers. Connected to virtual selves. Connected to those flat and one-sided versions that we create of one another.

Regardless, loneliness strikes those with and without internet connection. But if we all experience it, why is it so hard to talk about?

Alternative Facebook Slogans

“Do you know his last name? Look for him on Facebook!”

That’s what I told my friend Erin last night during our phone date. Seems her financial advisor has been flirting with her through phone and email, but since he works out of a different city the two of them have never met. “He could be 50 for all I know!” she said. And since Facebook gives us such an easy vehicle to access other’s information, I suggested looking for him on this beloved social networking site. “I tried!” she said, “Can’t find him!”

Fast forward to a conversation I had later in the evening with my friend, Miss Jennifer Keith. I told her how I shouldn’t know certain information; that I only do through “research.”

“Research?” she asked. “You mean ‘stalking!'”

“Crap. Facebook has created a culture of creepers. ‘Facebook. Turning normal people into stalkers on a daily basis.’ THAT should be their new slogan,” I said.

“You should blog about that!” said Jenn.

“About how I’m creepy?”

“No, about alternative Facebook slogans.”

And then she started. And they kept coming! Most of what you are about to read are compliments of Jenn. I think they are hilarious and so true! Enjoy!

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facebook
Falling in love with yourself was never so easy

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Measuring your worth based on your birthday wishes.

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The reason you take photos.

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Inflating the ego since 2004.

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Helping you make it through the work day.

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Where reality becomes fantasy.

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It’s not who you are, it’s who you want to be.

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The reason you’re socially inept (Lord have mercy).

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Where changing your image is like changing your underwear.

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Voice your deepest longings through song lyrics (that’s totally me).

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Where the lonely become increasingly isolated.

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Compare yourself to the friends you’ve lost touch with.

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The reason you’re “not finished” yet.

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A place to make extravagant claims about your life with no fear of follow-up because inspirational quotations are a dime a dozen.

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Become your own biggest fan.

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Develop a crush in 30 seconds or less.

**********

What about you? Have any slogans you’d like to share? It’s not hard to come up with a few!

Search Engine Terms

WordPress rocks. It has so many great features, and it even keeps track of your site statistics (which, for a goal setter like me, means I can become slightly obsessed with how many hits I get per day/week/month).

Another great thing about WordPress is I can see what search engine terms link to my blog. For example, a lot of the time people end up on my blog by searching “Being Erica,” “Alice and the cat,” or “unemployed live with parents.”

The search term that popped up in my site stats today, however, made me laugh out loud. Take a look at the second one:

Whoever you are, I love you. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you liked it:)