Category Archives: Politics

Social networking: Diversion during a down and out economy

Out of work? Join the crowd. No really. Join the crowd. Online. It’s where we’re all hanging out. 

According to a report earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, surfing the net is how we’re keeping ourselves busy, occupied and out of trouble.   

It also keeps us from going off the deep end. 

The article quotes a psychologist who contends there is evidence that Internet games, blogs and social networking sites provide a “psychological benefit because they prevent a downward spiral of rumination.” In other words, it keeps us from drinking ourselves into a stupor.     

Here’s why I think this article is spot on:  Social networking is the lifeboat on a sinking ship for me. To the critics who suggest I’m wasting my time or avoiding reality, I say: Aren’t you lucky to still have a job to go to everyday.

Just as people flocked to the movies during the Great Depression, today’s out of work workers are flocking to the Internet. They’re doing it for a number of reasons but mostly because it’s so damn diverting.  Last week, I spent an entire day writing “25 Random Things About Me.” I admitted to the world that I go weeks without changing the sheets on my bed and that I’m addicted to scratch tickets.  It was absolutely cathartic. Who needs a therapist? (Hell, who can afford one?) I may have avoided looking for work that day, but no way was it a waste of time. It lightened my mood and energized me. Sometimes, you just have to know when to escape. 

Probably more important, the Internet keeps me from feeling isolated. From the minute I was laid off nearly two months ago, I was communicating with co-workers and friends who were in that sinking ship looking for a life raft, too. Because the company cut off my networked email, the only way I had to communicate those first few days was through Facebook. It’s how I found out what was happening; how I found out about others who had lost their jobs, too. It helped diffuse anger, fear and helplessness. 

A bond was formed during those first few weeks and that connection sustains me day after day as I build a business while looking for full-time work. It’s like a support group.

Social networking allows me to socialize with more friends more often, sometimes on a daily basis. The first thing I do in the morning after pouring myself a hot cup of tea is check my Facebook news feed. It’s like meeting my girlfriends for breakfast. 

Could I go out? Go to the movies like they did during the Depression? Sure. And I do. Social networking is just a different kind of diversion. 

I agree, what we do with our day is much different than what we would have been doing 10 years ago or 70 years ago if we found ourselves out of work. Are we better off because of the Internet? For me, I don’t know how effective I would be with out it. Searching for full-time work, building my content development business, writing my blog and doing volunteer work keeps me busy, but it would be a lonely kind of day with no one but myself to talk to. I need the social interaction that the Internet provides. And, frankly, I’m grateful for it. 

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Filed under Careers, Politics, Social Media

Why no sassy boots, Michelle?

Without question, watching Barack Obama be sworn in as our 44th President of the United States was an experience I will never forget. We spent the day at the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum in Boston (aka Dorchester for you locals) and I can’t think of a better place to spend it. It had much of the same excitement and jubilation of being in Washington, D.C. but without the cold. His speech was rousing, poignant and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything – including a dumb ass company meeting.

This outfit so could have used a pair of sassy boots.

Her outfit so could have used a pair of sassy boots.

 

 

But really, can we talk about something more important than this historic peaceful transfer of power? The First Lady’s outfit. I admit, I’m disappointed. After all, she’s a classy woman with a tall lean body. She had SO many choices. So what was with her outfit? The color, ick. What color was that? Gold with a touch of Lime? The style? It looked like a mother-of-the-bride outfit, didn’t it? Is she so tired of people comparing her fashion sense to Jackie Kennedy that she wants us to be afraid to look? And what was that thing at the neckline? Metal? You don’t wear metal outside in the middle of January, duh! You’d think being from Chicago she’d know that. Perhaps she wasn’t cold. That would explain why she walked around with her jacket open. I wanted to scream, “Button up your coat, Michelle, for Heaven’s sake! It’s 20 degrees out there! And where’s your hat.” I’m surprised her mother let her go out like that. Flat pumps? Please. I would have forgiven the choice of outfit had she worn a pair of  sassy boots, tall black leather. *sigh* Such a wasted opportunity to look totally smashing. 

A white wool mid-length coat with faux fur collar in soft brown would have been my choice. Oh, and sassy boots. Can’t wait to see what she’s wearing tonight.

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Inauguration Day: Using hope as a strategy

As our 44th President is sworn into office this morning, I, like much of America, and the world, am hopeful for a better future. As the economy continues to spiral downward it’s a tough mantra to follow, but for many, hope is the only strategy. 

For those of us who have lost jobs as a result of the economy, hope has to take on a new, or at least more poignant, meaning. As we send out resumes, make calls, figure out how we’re going to pay the mortgage after the severance runs out (if we were lucky enough to get one), hope is the rock upon which we all stand.   

So today as I watch the news and listen to the stories of faith and renewal, I’ve posted my view of my lay off experience and why  I’m betting that hope will see me (and all of us) through.  

In mid-December, I become one of the millions of laid off workers in this country. The company cut 76 workers, 12% of its workforce. They say they feel bad but it has to be done. It is not about performance, they tell us. It is not that our skill sets are no longer required. It is because times are tough and they believe consolidating positions will help. dsc09279a

The phone call is well scripted and rehearsed. They offer me 18 weeks severance and an extension of my health care. I know this is a good deal and I don’t complain.  Within three minutes of hanging up the phone, I am disconnected from the company network. A month later, my job is posted on the company’s website. Executive Editor. I hear the salary is considerably less.  

We are told to come into the office to collect our things on the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. No one is there except a company executive who opens the door. It makes me sad that nine years of my professional life fit into two small boxes but I’m relieved there’s not so much to carry out the door. I feel like I have a disease and no one wants to come too close. The executive never looks me in the eyes. I want to say “Fuck You” as I leave, but I don’t.   

I get messages on Facebook for the next several days. Many people say they’ll pray for me, which makes me laugh. I think this is a bit over the top. I’ve lost a job, not a child. I suspect they are relieved their jobs have been spared but secretly think it is because they are better than me so I “defriend” them. One former colleague calls and shouts: “Congratulations!” when I answer the phone. I think this is a much better thing to say. 

The package that details the “terms of my job termination” arrives via special delivery. My package is bigger than some of my colleagues’ packages because my package also includes information about age discrimination. I can’t help it. I think this is funny, too, but in a pathetic ‘if you don’t laugh you’ll cry’ sort of way. Not only am I out of work, I am old. 

I attend a job fair recently and am interviewed by the press. She refers to me as a victim of this economy. I tell her I am not a victim. I have been given an opportunity to redirect the course of my life. Some of this is bullshit, but thinking of yourself as a victim doesn’t help the situation. 

I make a conscious decision to approach the job search with confidence and enthusiasm and I do it so well, it feels like an out of body experience. I get calls from friends who ask how it’s going. “Great, I say. Really, really great.” And I mean it. I start a blog. I join a local freelance writers group. I take a masters class. I get freelance work. I contact everyone I know and have ever known. I have lunch with friends. I change the trajectory of my professional life. I have a blast. 

I am determined to keep my energy up even though responses to applications have been rather pitiful so far. I have applied for eight positions for which I am perfectly qualified, but I have only heard back from one. I had an interview on Tuesday. I thought it went well, but they have not called me back. It’s hard to be patient. 

I am just one among millions caught in the crossfire of a crappy economy. I am a sobering statistic, I know. Still, even though I don’t believe for one minute that this had to be done, it is what it is, and I move on. Instead of a barrier, I see a challenge. More important, I say it’s OK to hope. If hope can motivate a nation, it can motivate me personally. Yeah, I do believe hope is a strategy. 


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Watch Obama be sworn in at your local library

As much as I would love to be at Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, the fact is, I cannot handle the crowds. I took my daughter to the Million Mom March in Washington, DC years ago and if there’s one thing I learned that day it’s that being in the middle of 100,000 people is way out of my comfort zone.  Plus, there are no hotels available  within a 200 mile radius.

Spend Inauguration Day at your local library

Spend Inauguration Day at your local library

 

 

So this morning I looked online to see what kind of inauguration parties I could get myself invited to (sadly, I was not invited to any of the some 100 balls given around the country on Tuesday night). Harvard Book Store  looks like it’s hosting a pretty cool event but space is limited. I’d go if I thought I could get there early enough and not have to wait outside in subzero temperatures. (A DD coffee and a pair of Cuddle Duds can only keep you so warm.)

I also came across an article that said some local public libraries were hosting events, free and open to everyone.  Some were even serving food, which is always a big plus for me.  As an active advocate of public libraries, I was impressed that our libraries would play host and encourage people to witness this historic event. But I was not surprised by the heated, angry comments posted to this short little article by readers. Upshot: some  people are just not as excited about our 44th president as I am. But there’s also this: People get pissed off when a public institution gives forum to something they don’t agree with.

Why wasn’t this done for Bush (file this under ‘I’ve been living in a cave for 8 years’) and why should taxpayers pay for any of it were the top complaints. First, let’s be clear. It wasn’t done for Reagan, Bush Sr., OR Clinton, either. I suspect it was because there wasn’t this level of interest. This is an historic event. People are pumped. The libraries are leveraging that enthusiasm, as they should. Second, as far as I can tell taxpayers are not footing the bill for these parties. In most communities, it’s funded (and hosted) by local volunteer organizations, such as the Friends of the Library or the League of  Woman Voters.  Hooray for volunteers.

In cases such as these, too many people think they’re justified in protesting an event because they find the topic personally offensive  and use the “taxpayer dollar” as a scape goat.  Get over it. Obama is in and I’m watching it at the library.

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