Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

A Christmas Newsletter

Every year at Christmas time since 1993, I’ve received a Christmas newsletter from a former co-worker. I’ll call her Becky. Back when we worked together, Becky and I were friendly, but not friends in the traditional sense. We occasionally went out to lunch together, but we rarely visited at each other’s desks, sharing whispered conversations about other co-workers nor did we telephone each other at home or hang out after work.

Nevertheless, every year, while we worked together and even after I left to take another job, I – and I imagine everyone else on her Christmas card list – have received a Christmas newsletter from her. The annual letter, one full-page long, sometimes two, recaps the previous year’s activities of her life, her long-time, live-in boyfriend, Nick, who I met once when he came to the job, and her other relatives and friends who I never met. Through her yearly newsletters, I learn who in the family got married, got a promotion, graduated from college, who’s sick, who died and how many nieces and nephews she has. Becky never had children. I also learned that a few years ago, she and Nick retired and moved together to Florida.

According to, the first Christmas newsletters were written sometime before 1948. The site further states that syndicated advice columnist, Ann Landers, who died in June 2002, “published complaints about the so-called ‘brag rags.’”

The first and only Christmas newsletter I ever wrote was in 1985. I remember that because my Aunt Ida saved her copy and recently returned it to me. “A keepsake,” she said. I was surprised that she kept it for all of these years. Since my computer file, containing that newsletter was corrupted and died long before the old computer did, I was pleased to have the copy. Thanks, Aunt Ida.

Back in the day, copier machines facilitated the distribution of Christmas newsletters. They were usually enclosed in Christmas cards. Thanks to technology the annual letter doesn’t have to be mailed anymore. Although some folks believe that the Internet may be the demise of Christmas newsletters; savvy computer users know that a year’s worth of family news and activities can be just as easily distributed via a website as it can on paper.

If your family and friends are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media, it’s likely that they find out immediately about new developments within the family. They’ve seen photos of new babies and pets, your current girlfriend or boyfriend, the fabulous vacations, the wedding, the new car, or the renovated house. So what’s left to tell? Oh, let’s see, I can come up with a few things.

This will be the first time in 33 years, that I write a Christmas newsletter, but I won’t put it in the mail. Call me progressive. LOL. Since much about my activities and those of some of my family members has already been shared on Facebook, it will be abridged news for some and a recap for others.

This was my life in 2018.

Aside from tri-weekly trips to the gym, my year has been consumed by blogging, feeding my voracious appetite for reading by devouring books, nourishing the activist in me by pursuing non-violent activities, anxiously observing the chaotic political scene, and writing. Speaking of writing, while researching my second book I discovered a significant family secret. No, I will not reveal it here. Maybe I’ll reveal it in the book; maybe I won’t. That teasing statement reminds me of a reflective quote by author, Lisa Unger, (you know how I love worthy quotes), “The universe doesn’t like secrets. It conspires to reveal the truth, to lead you to it.”

Wanderlusts and thrill-seekers may see mine as a rather mundane life. For them, I have two words:  different strokes.

I pulled myself away from routine in September and traveled to the Staton family reunion in North Carolina where I had a good time socializing with over a hundred family members, some of whom I had never met before, and friends. Our time together just wasn’t long enough.

Step back a year to 2017, when I cheered-on my proud Desert Storm veteran son as he participated in his second marathon in two years. As if the Marine Corp Marathon wasn’t a long enough distance, this year he completed the 26.2 mile NYC marathon, the largest marathon in the world. Two marathons in two years. Two medals. Go, son!

Our family had a near tragedy in July when one of my twin grandsons, the adventurous one, nearly drowned on the day after his 25th birthday while vacationing in Miami. Before being released from the hospital, doctors advised him not to fly home. So, he had to endure nearly a 24-hour long bus trip and required a few days more of recovery after that leg-cramping bus ride. Thanks to God and an alert lifeguard he made it back.

Speaking of misfortune, we lost two family members this year. The passing, in February, of my courageous, sky-driving, septuagenarian cousin, Akintunde Kenyatta, and my lovely Aunt Juanita Staton, in July. They will be deeply missed, but they left us with wonderful, lasting memories.

In September, my cousin-in-law, Alton Moore, husband of my cousin Patricia, was elected as Town Commissioner in Williamston, NC. Meanwhile, cousin Velda’s, grandson Justine went off to college.

With US travel restrictions to Cuba lifted, my world-traveler brother, Chico, and his wife, Barbara, took advantage of the opportunity and visited the Republic this year as did Velda and her hubby. Another cousin, Renata, said goodbye to the Big Apple and moved to the Peach State.

One of my most heartwarming experiences this year occurred after my constant postings on Facebook regarding my search for the daughter of a dear friend of mine paid off. I had not seen Phyllis since she went off to college in the 1970s, nor had I had any communication with her since her mother died in ‘83. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected last month, and through a joyous telephone reunion caught up on old times.

There are other family highlights and tidbits that I’ve omitted, but I’m going to make this a wrap and wish all my family, friends and readers a very Merry Christmas! May you also enjoy a prosperous, peaceful and Happy New Year!


Contemplating Blogging?

Blogging 101-1Anyone can start a blog. If you can write, you can blog. If you write well, you can have a loyal readership of your blog.

For you readers who are interested in starting a blog but don’t know where to begin, there are numerous bloggers that will give you detailed and lengthy instructions on creating a blog and possibly making lots of money with it. Google them. However, if you are pressed for time and prefer my two-minute pitch on getting started continue reading.

  1. The first thing you do is find a blogging platform. That’s a service that will publish your content on the Internet. There are several free blogging platforms out there including Blogger, Tumblr, Ghost, and one of the most popular — the one I use for each of my websites — WordPress.
  1. After you’ve decided on a platform, choose a domain name. Your domain name is your web or network address. Think of it as an on-line street address that will help people find you. Choosing a name that is short and memorable is the best way to go, and the name should be relevant to the content of your blog. If you need help selecting a domain name, there are sites like that will assist you for a cost.
  1. Once you’ve selected a domain name, you’ll pay a small charge to register it. You will also pay an annual renewal fee to keep your blog up and running. If you’ve gone that far, then you probably already know what content you want on your blog. So, now decide how you want your blog to look. If you are a new blogger, follow the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Sugar. (I threw you a curve with that acronym, didn’t I?)
  1. Design your blog. You can design your own blog using the software associated with the platform you chose, or you can have someone design it for you. Depending on the purpose of your blog and how you want it to look, you could spend a few dollars to get a practical site up and running or hire a designer who will charge a few hundred dollars for a custom designed blog with impressive bells and whistles.

The amount you spend to set-up your blog depends on your objective. There are countless types of blogs. Do you want one that will promote your business, provide consumer information, inspiration, or guidance, or do you want a figurative soapbox on which to express your thoughts and personal opinions? A personal blogger, that’s me. Keep in mind if you choose the latter and are an opinionated person like yours truly, you may attract followers who enjoy reading your posts, but you will also attract people who disagree with you and won’t hesitate to say so in the comments section. (Virtual haters, begone!).

Remember – it’s YOUR blog. Your blog is your voice; meaning you can rave about things you like or bitch about things you dislike. Providing that you don’t write anything that will have you nervously twitching in court while facing a lawsuit, or land you in jail for a social media offense because you took the First Amendment literally, then you are good to go.

Through your blog, you’ll make contacts that you might not otherwise make. Over the years, I have connected with and become friends with a few good bloggers. I follow their blogs. They read mine. Next thing you know, as a result of our online interactions, we’re exchanging emails, discussing ideas, and even sharing funny stories or other tidbits about our families.

In my opinion, the hardest thing about blogging is coming up with interesting topics. Sometimes I write about current events, and my hot topic — politics. Other times I share more personal thoughts and feelings. Whatever your topic, you cannot be timid about taking a stance on what are sometimes contentious issues. You never know who is reading you.

Two cases in point:

  • In September of 2012, Dr. Sydney Ross Singer, medical anthropologist and author of several health books commented on a post I wrote about how women feel about wearing bras. He emphasized that “chronic constriction from bras is a leading cause of breast cancer.”
  • Last year, my post about not being a bandwagon person brought a tongue-lashing comment from one of my readers who implied that I was a bigot. (That shoe doesn’t fit.) The comment was longer than my post. So be it. I had expressed my opinion. The anonymous commenter expressed his or hers.

If you are determined to maintain your position even though it means going against the grain of prevalent opinion, don’t expect to win a popularity contest. And don’t worry about whether everyone will agree with what you write because not everyone will. Just like on Facebook, you’ll learn to accept flattery with humility and take criticism like a referee booed for making a bad call during a Superbowl game.

Blogging will give you plenty of writing practice. To date, I have posted over 400 blogs. You may also acquire new skills like understanding the difference between a theme, plugin, and widget.

My two minutes are up. If this post wets your appetite, then go ahead and blog. And while you are enjoying it, keep in mind the wisdom of a fellow blogger who wrote, “A blog can help you build a legacy that will outlive you.”




When Lurkers are Lurking

There is a saying, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.” This post has nothing to do with dogs. However, I have a bone to pick with Internet lurkers.

Do you know someone, perhaps a next door neighbor who spends time at home peeping out of the window, from behind the curtains, spying on other people; being careful to see without being seen? Lurkers are much like that curious neighbor except they are online. They spend considerable time observing the content on blogs, in chat rooms, and other social networking sites, but they never make a contribution or interact.

Facebook lurkers are probably the coyest. They read our posts. They look at our

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Exposing the Faces on Facebook

Like and UnLike Thumbs -31207040When I joined Facebook a couple of years ago, it was for a one year research project on which I was collaborating with another writer friend. Nearly three years later, I am still on FB – because I am hooked – in spite of the fact that our study somewhat validates what my anti-Facebook friend often says, “Overall, FB is a platform for narcissists and cowards.”

The premise of our project was to determine whether FB feeds the ego of narcissists and mean-spirited people. Although I documented various examples of subtle disrespect and innuendos among (ahem!) friends, my data reveals that there is much more positive information being shared on that site than negative. However, despite its usefulness in providing a medium for worthwhile information, Facebook does appear to be, figuratively speaking, an online Jumbotron for narcissists – who post pictures of themselves, weekly and sometimes daily; and lessor for killjoys, who enjoy putting others down. Both have an insatiable hunger for attention.

What some FB users fail to realize is that many FB lovers post information

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