Friday, January 26, 2007

Step away from the keyboard. No really.

I've had about 3 or 4 different rants bouncing around in my head for the last week. Each of them is equally worthy of space on my blog as a means to explore the issues affecting the world around me. I had high hopes of imparting my opinions about the American health care crisis, the impending anti-war rally that is taking place in DC this weekend, Iran and their fruitbasket president, and the massive aid donation made to Lebanon yesterday. Sadly, all of these pressing situations have been overshadowed by my burning desire to teach all 2000 people employed by my firm worldwide the basics of email etiquette.

Let me preface this by saying that I truly feel for those members of our society who woke up one morning and were caught completely off guard by this revolutionary thing called "the Internet". I know it's been a tremendous shock to the many people who have been forced to learn the ins and outs of all things Yahoo!, YouTube and Google. I see firsthand the havoc that AOL can wreck upon people of my mother's generation. It's heartbreaking. Really, it is.

The funny thing is, most people who don't know how to use the Internet well, like my mother, stay about as far away from it as humanly possible. And then there are the people I work with. While I generally don't advocate an isolationist approach to modern technology, I feel justified in this situation based on the sheer fact that small test group I am exposed to every day from 8 to 6 seems incapable of grasping the basic concept of Outlook.

As a favor to me and the rest of the thinking, functioning world, please exercise something resembling judgement if and when you feel compelled to send emails to others while in the workplace. If you learn nothing else today, please remember that it is important to consider your audience when corresponding via email, especially if that audience happens to be your entire behemoth of a firm - partners, associates, contractors and all.

A corollary to this principle : If you're making an inane comment to the secretary around the corner from you, are too lazy to get up and actually speak to her, yet feel compelled to send her an email, it might be best to start with a fresh email (you can find this under the "New" tab at the top of your Outlook screen) rather than simply hitting "Reply All". By recycling old correspondence that was initally directed to the entire *expletive* firm, you not only create a 2 hour long spam session consisting of "Why am I on this email string?" emails from other employees around the world, you also run the risk of letting everyone around you in on the secret that you really are THAT inept.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Germs You Know

... might be worse than the germs you don't know. Studies have shown that the average personal cellular phone carries more germs than a toilet seat. So do keyboards. And just because they're your germs doesn't mean they're safe for consumption. It's flu season. Do yourself and those around you a favor and invest in some Lysol, because while sharing is caring, the rest of us don't want your gross cooties.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Profound Thoughts

"My line between 'fashion' and 'hooker' are a little blurry."
- as overheard in a conversation between two women behind me on the Dupont Circle metro escalator

Sunday, January 7, 2007

And now, for your laugh of the day...

Cocaine is God's way of saying that you're making too much money.
Robin Williams

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Voyeurs Playground

Humans have the uncontrollable tendancy to be nosy. Our need to know everything going on around us is why we stare at car accidents. It's why we eavesdrop on people arguing in public, even as we're making a concerted effort to pretend we don't notice and not stare. It's why there's so much interest in the Saddam hanging video, despite the fact that deep down, no one truly wants to witness the business end of an execution, even if the intended target is a despot. We demand knowledge, even if subconsciously we know we're going to end up getting a good, long look at carnage we didn't really need to see.

This basic fact is what makes the whole MySpace phenomenon so interesting to me. For a certain age group, it's a great way to stay in touch with people you haven't seen in years, as well as catch up on your friends' debaucherous activities from last weekend. It also has an amazing practical use for artists around the world as a way to market their talents to audiences they might not reach otherwise. For a lot of people, though, it's a great way to air more information than you ever truly intended. From my teenage cousins who think it's funny to put up incredibly inappropriate pictures and quotes that I really hope they don't mean, to the random person I haven't seen since high school who makes rather rude comments about people in a public forum without considering the potential audience, the MySpace community lives their "online lives" like the guy in the car next to me - he's picking his nose like no one else can see him through his windows, and the rest of us are staring in wonder/amazement/absolute horror (pick one).

I got sucked into this whole MySpace business last Christmas. I went home for the holidays, and while catching up with a few of my favorite high school girlfriends over lunch, our conversation turned to the topic of "what everyone else was up to". I got more gossip in that 30 minute conversation than I had in the 6 years since I graduated from high school. Where did all of this come from? Surely they hadn't kept up with every single person whose name came up in that conversation. Of course not. They were all on MySpace. It apparently eliminated the need for the typical 3 day email binge with a friend to catch up with them about the last decade of their life - you can usually figure most of what's gone on in their lives just by reading the details of their profiles. I was completely intrigued, and rushed home to create my own fantastic MySpace profile. But that's not enough. You need friends. After all, how much fun is it to air your laundry if you don't have anyone to read it? So the quest began to find friends from high school, church camp, choir camp, college, semesters abroad, EVERYONE I've ever known. With pictures, no less! It was addictive, and I was hooked.

And then I started to notice some aspects of my new obsession that made me uncomfortable. I started hearing news reports about people losing jobs because of pictures they posted or comments they left on MySpace. And then came the pedophiles and perverts, which I assume is a given wherever online communities populated by young people with pictures exist. And then I started hearing the REALLY good stories. Like the one from one of my close friends who was in an undefined, romantic-ish relationship with a member of the armed forces stationed half a world away. The soldier started "acting strange", and they stopped communicating as frequently. He clearly wasn't in any grave danger because he logged on to MySpace daily. Then she found out about his girlfriend from a message posted on his page. Ouch. Talk about carnage.

I don't want the world knowing that much about me. I don't want people to be able to think they can guess what I've been up to based on how often I've been on a website, or who I've left public messages for and when. Privacy is a beautiful thing. A very wise friend of mine once said "The worst thing you could ever tell me is that I've become predictable". I've laughed to myself several times that the ex-boyfriends I'm most curious about are the ones who are smart enough not to leave an internet trail behind them. My favorite one is the guy I haven't spoken to in 3 years who I can't even find on Google. I think he might be on to something.

Monday, January 1, 2007

2007 : Where have you been all my life?

Before I eulogize 2006 and extol the new year, I have to share a little about my New Year's weekend with my other family members. A good portion of my mother's side of the family descended on the Boston area for the holidays, and my mom, a friend of mine and I joined them for New Years'. I have a family that tends to gravitate towards kitchens when we're all together, so the weekend was filled with excessive amounts of incredible food, dancing in my aunt's kitchen and so much laughter my sides still hurt. I honestly can't remember ever having such a wonderful time with my own relatives. Between all the cooking and storytelling, I got to watch my mom be the happiest I've seen her since before we lost my dad. What a great weekend.

So 2006... wow. Yeah, that about sums it up. Next?

But really, I have to say I'm quite excited about the new year. If the last 23 hours and 42 minutes are any indication of what the next 364 days are going to be like, holy cow. I even had a great time recovering from our New Year's debauchery - naps punctuated by Papa John's and 8 hours of mindless television headlined by the Wedding Crashers and Garden State have an amazing way of rounding out a day. That may have been the most pleasant hangover experience I've ever had in my life, even with the it's-so-early-in-the-morning-I-might-still-be-intoxicated-car-ride-to-the-airport-beside-my-mother-in-the-back-seat-of-my-aunt's-Montero factored in. If everything works out right, I might even recover from the ridiculous party bus experience and be able to hear out of my right ear again by spring.

About this time last year, I was busy overanalyzing Dave Matthews songs. I have since reformed, and while Dave will always have a special place in my heart and I'm still willing to bear his love children, I've decided to start overanalyzing Corinne Bailey Rae instead. Much happier music, much easier to dance to. I have so many things to be thankful for in my life and so many exciting things in store for me this year that the thought of wishing my days away horrifies me. It's a really great feeling to be so excited about the here and now - I guess I just needed to let loose a little.

Happy New Year!!!!