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The Many Faces of Facebook Users

June 16, 2015

Facebook — People either love it or think it’s the spawn of the devil. I love using Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, or seeing what my people and their kiddos are doing. (The first and last day of school photos get me every year.) And as an introvert, I especially like that it fosters communication without me needing to talk on the phone.

But over the years of using the social media giant, I have come to realize that Facebook users come in many different types. And several of those folks have some habits that can drive a person a bit batty. Let’s take a look at the different faces of Facebook users. Do you recognize a few on the list?

someecard_Leah Singer
Those who share memes and quotes as subtle messages
 – Let’s call this the passive-aggressive Facebook poster. You know the one — the person who posts those “deep thought” quotes that are actually directed at specific people. I’m all for a good quote now and then, but when they’re quite obviously directed at a person, go ahead and keep your opinion to yourself.

The “Vaguebooker” – Or more commonly known as the bater. The person who will hint at something, but will never come out and say what the situation really is. But it’s just enough to garner sympathy or for the “comment” section to fill up with messages of concern.

The “Happy to my Jewish, Christian, Gay, Mother, Whatever You Are Celebrating Today” – I understand the intent behind these posts are genuine and well-wishing messages. But it comes across as very “othering.” Can we agree that we are all humans and we all celebrate different things? And just say “Happy Hanukkah” instead of “Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends.”

The medical “experts” that post links about the cure to cancer and autism from unscientific publications – Here’s the deal: If there really is a cure for cancer, or a development in the cause of autism, it will be on CNN or in the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, or Scientific America. Not some fringe website with articles full of misspellings that cite universities by incorrect names (most recently I saw University of California David).

Someecard_Leah Singer2The Lurker – The lurker is the person who never or rarely posts anything, but you can bet they are looking at everything you’ve posted. My favorite is the lurker who then commits the social faux pas of saying to you in person, “I saw your kid doing that on Facebook.” If you’re going to lurk, do yourself a favor and play down your stalker tendencies.

[SIDE NOTE: It’s okay to lurk (we ALL do it). But for goodness sake, throw out a like, comment or status update every now and then so it’s not so creepy when you talk about in person what you read on Facebook.]

The person who only posts memes and photos with no personal information – This is similar to the lurker, but instead of not posting anything, they opt for posting funny photos, Mashable quizzes and memes. There’s not a personal photo or shred of originality anywhere on their profile.

Debbie Downer – I feel the life being sucked out of me every time I read a status update from these people. EVERY SINGLE status update a “woo is me” message. They are always being wronged and life is SO hard.

someecard_Leah Singer3Chain letters and the “I don’t think anyone is readying this but …” status update – This is the person who posts the chain messages and the “Sometimes when I’m alone, I put butter all over myself …” and then if you comment or like, you are tagged and have to do the same. To quote Seth and Amy, “Really!?!” Do you think I’m going to share that I lather myself in butter?!

The television show spoiler – There really should be some cardinal rule that you can’t talk about television show plot twists and turns the night the show airs, because us West Coasters always get screwed. Even the well-intentioned “Spoiler Alert” preface doesn’t do much when you go on to say, “I am devastated over tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.” Spoiler alert: We can tell from your update that it’s going to be bad.

People who hate on Facebook – Here’s the simple truth: If you hate it so much, don’t use it.

What type of Facebook user drives you crazy? Did I miss any types here?

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What It’s REALLY Like to Work From Home

May 29, 2015

Three years ago I made the decision to leave a full-time job outside the house to be a freelance writer and run my own business from home. It’s been an amazing three years and I continue to be blessed with new opportunities and challenges every day.

One thing I find fascinating about working full-time from home is how so many people have opinions and assumptions about what I do during the day. For my own amusement – and to dispel all the rumors – I’m taking a few minutes to address these assumptions and tell you what it’s really like to work full-time from home.

1. Don’t you get lonely all day by yourself?
NO! I’m an introvert, so I NEED alone time! I recharge by being alone. I wish I had more alone time.

And the fact of the matter is that I am around people quite a bit. I attend networking events. I chat with parents when I drop off and pick up Sophie at school each day. I teach 23 college students about marketing and brand development once a week. I participate in a weekly Skype meeting with one of my client teams. And I interview people for feature stories I write. Plus I have an extroverted daughter to keep me company every afternoon. That’s about all I can take.

2. It must be nice to have all that time to volunteer at Sophie’s school and go on field trips.
Yes, that is a perk of working at home. However what you don’t see behind my Facebook posts and Instagram photos is me working until midnight the night before or later that evening making sure the work is done. Because my workload is a full-time job, I have to make sure it’s complete on time and deadlines are met. (even if that’s not during daylight hours). You can often  find me on the computer after Sophie goes to bed.

disney checkin
3. You get to attend so many cool events!
Because I am the editor of Red Tricycle SoCal, we do attend a lot of events. And yes, it’s pretty awesome. But as I said earlier, for every hour I spend not sitting at my desk during the day, the work gets done in other hours. And the results of all those awesome events I attend are the feature stories I write for Red Tricycle (like this, this or this one) and other publications. And sick days? Forget it!

4. You get to work in your pajamas all day.
Okay, I’m not going to lie. This is true and a huge benefit. But for me, it’s typically yoga pants, flip flops and a shirt since I take Sophie to and from school.

5. Don’t you get distracted being at home all day?
Working from home is not for everyone. In order to do it well, you have to be disciplined. Luckily for me, I’m a very disciplined and focused person, and I don’t get distracted easily.

I also have my own pressure system every day to get the work done while Sophie’s in school. This isn’t to say that I don’t work when she’s home. But it’s harder to do larger jobs and writing when I want to be present to help Sophie with homework, make sure she practices piano, and take the dogs for their walk.

laundry
6. It must be nice to be able to do a load of laundry, clean the house or watch television during the day.
I think my husband can attest to the fact that the house is not magically cleaned when he comes home each day. And laundry? Yeah, no! That happens once a week on the weekends. I can’t waste my precious work hours sans child doing household chores or grocery shopping (no matter how tempting it is to shop without Sophie).

I think it’s difficult for some people to understand what I do all day is my job. It’s NOT a hobby. It’s exactly what I’d do if I was working full-time outside the house. And just like working for someone else, if the work isn’t done, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, my clients aren’t happy. That means my mortgage, household bills, credit cards, life insurance and everything else doesn’t get paid. I don’t have the luxury of being someone who doesn’t earn an income.

7. Do you get to take summers off?
I’m not a teacher, Supreme Court justice or member of Congress. So no, I don’t get summers off. (And this is not a diss at teachers. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve more than summer off!)

8. You can relax on Fridays.
I wish! I sometimes long for the the Furlough Fridays of my past job.work at homeA view of my desk. (Yes, it’s clean and organized. Clutter gives me anxiety.)

9. You’re a writer, so writing must be really easy for you.
I make my living writing; so yes, I am skilled at it. But it’s not easy and it takes a lot of time.

10. It sounds like you’re really busy! I haven’t heard back from you.
Okay, these comments are not just directed at people who work from home. This type of statement is universal, and it bothers me! Yes, I am very busy and I don’t have a lot of extra time. But we are ALL busy. And as I said before, this is my full-time job where I earn a salary to support my family.

And by the way, I’m not that busy every moment of every day. I just don’t post photos of me in my pajamas, wearing glasses, reading on the couch all weekend, and binge-watching Law & Order: SVU reruns!

—-

I hope you don’t think of this post as a complaint or rant. I absolutely love what I do and that I earn a decent living doing it. But sometimes it’s important to dispel the rumors so people know what it’s really like for me to work full-time from home.

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Erika Robuck is Back With Her New Novel “The House of Hawthorne”

May 12, 2015

I think it’s safe to assume that every reader of American literature has read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter at some point. I remember so clearly reading this masterpiece in my junior year high school English class. I love the story of Hester Prynne, and am still drawn to the story today. It’s fascinating how the references to the novel have continued to penetrate popular culture, movies and literature since it was published centuries ago. I think that’s the sign of a great story, for which we have an equally talented writer to thank.

house of hawthorneI haven’t read many other of Hawthorne’s works, but I’ve always been interested in him as a writer. So I was thrilled that Erika Robuck’s latest novel, The House of Hawthorne, was a personal story about Hawthorne himself.

You may recall I’ve written about Erika and her previous books on this blog. I loved Call Me Zelda, Fallen Beauty and Hemingway’s Girl. She has an incredible knack for creating fascinating stories around these literary giants. I am so lucky that I’ve gotten to know Erika through the wonderful world of social media and blogging. So of course I jumped at the chance to read The House of Hawthorne for this blog.

I know I’ve said this before of her books, but I really think Erika’s novels just keep getting better. And this story stands out for another reason. With her other novels, Erika created a fictional character to tell the story. In The House of Hawthorne, she told the story in the voice and perspective of an actual person, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Nathaniel’s wife.

Here’s a look at The House of Hawthorne (from Penguin):

The unlikely marriage between Nathaniel Hawthorne, the celebrated novelist, and Sophia Peabody, the invalid artist, was a true union of passion and intellect.

Beset by crippling headaches from a young age and endowed with a talent for drawing, Sophia is discouraged by her well-known New England family from pursuing a woman’s traditional roles. But from their first meeting, Nathaniel and Sophia begin an intense romantic relationship that despite many setbacks leads to their marriage. Together, they will cross continents, raise children, and experience all the beauty and tragedy of an exceptional partnership. Sophia’s vivid journals and her masterful paintings kindle a fire in Nathaniel, inspiring his writing. But their children’s needs and the death of loved ones steal Sophia’s energy and time for her art, fueling in her a perennial tug-of-war between fulfilling her domestic duties and pursuing her own desires.

Spanning the years from the 1830s to the Civil War, and moving from Massachusetts to England, Portugal, and Italy, The House of Hawthorne explores the tension within a famous marriage of two soulful, strong-willed people, each devoted to the other but also driven by a powerful need to explore the far reaches of their creative impulses. It is the story of a forgotten woman in history, who inspired one of the greatest writers of American literature.

I highly recommend you add The House of Hawthorne to your “to be read” pile. It’s a fascinating story and really gives you an understanding of the man behind one of America’s most popular and pervasive stories. Thanks, Erika, for another amazing read!

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The House of Hawthorne to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

Teach Your Children Well … Words to Parent By

April 10, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenthood lately (the status of being a parent, not the television show). Even though I’ve had so many things to write about, I haven’t been writing about the parenting journey has much as I used to do on this blog. It’s not that I don’t want to share my thoughts, or worry that Sophie will read this one day (she probably will and that’s fine with me). I think the reason is because as Sophie gets older, it’s harder to put some of these parenting struggles and thoughts into words.

The milestone moments Sophie had in her early years were easy to capture: putting away the baby monitors, moving to a “big girl” bed, finally becoming potty-trained, and entering kindergarten. Those things were universal, easy to articulate and joyous celebrations, if you will.

My parenthood struggles of late are not as simple. As Sophie gets older (7-years-old now!), the issue constantly on my mind is whether I’m raising a good human being. Things like making sure my daughter is respectful, isn’t absorbing attitudes she sees on the playground on on television, and has the life skills necessary to survive in this world. These are not subjects taught in the Common Core curriculum. And they are not milestones like losing the first tooth. These are ongoing struggles that are exhausting and often leave me feeling like I’m failing as a parent.

no moms allowed

The biggest struggle for me lately revolves around issues of respect and listening. More specifically, being assertive is a great skill to have (and Sophie certainly has it). But there’s a line between assertive and continually asking for things from other people (especially after mom has said no). What I mean by this is Sophie asking another parent for a playdate when I’ve already said five minutes before the playdate can’t happen that day. Or asking a relative for money or things when I’ve already told her not to ask for that. This is something that really bothers me. I find it rude to others, and I feel like I’m not being listened to or respected. We seem to have these issues on a regular basis; and when it’s really bad, she loses a privilege.

I try to be proactive and talk about expectations and being really clear before we get into the situation. And that does work occasionally. But I guess with kids (this one in particular), emotion overpowers logic. She does recognize her behavior and knows why she’s getting the consequence she does. So I guess that’s a good step, right?

Sophie and I are very close, which is probably why these struggles are so hard for me. It truly breaks my heart when a conflict arises between us, or the time she told me she doesn’t want our relationship to be like Merida and her mother from the Disney movie, Brave.

sophie and butterflies

I can already hear the voices of the dissenters:

But they’re just kids!

They don’t know better.

Don’t be so rigid!

If that’s all she does, you should be grateful for what you have.

And yes, they are kids and sometimes they don’t know. But that’s exactly why it’s up to us as parents to teach them what’s appropriate and what’s not.

I want Sophie to know she can always be honest with me. I tell her it’s okay for her to be angry at me, and that it’s normal for her to feel like she hates me at times. What matter to me is treating people respectfully. Listening to our words, and acknowledging our hurt or anger. I truly feel if you don’t set boundaries and expectations now, it will only get worse as they grow older.

I do feel like Sophie is a good person, has a heart of gold and values honesty. She cares for a backyard pillbug with as much tenderness as she does our cat. And I’m so grateful for that. But the respect and listening is an ongoing struggle, and it’s something we’re working on. Some days it’s really hard for me. But all I can do is appreciate all her wonderful qualities and hope I’m doing something right.

Leah and Sophie

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Books on the Shelf and “The Traveling Tea Shop”

March 19, 2015

I think it’s safe to say that my TBR (to be read) is a bit out of control. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. There’s nothing I love more than a big stack of books by my bed. It’s almost like having a comforting friend who is always waiting for me.

The last time I posted a photo of my book stack, I had requests for a close-up so readers could more easily make out the titles. Clearly I have many bookish blog followers. Since you asked, here you go!

Here are the hardbacks. Yes, they have their own table.

bookshelf3

And the paperbacks.

bookshelf 1

What I Just Read
I recently finished reading The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones. Here’s the description:

traveling tea shopLove isn’t always a piece of cake…

Laurie Davis has always followed her passion. After escaping family drama to start a new life in New York City, she’s up for whatever challenges life brings. So when an opportunity arises for her to use her travel industry expertise and serve as an assistant and tour guide for her idol, Pamela Lambert-Leigh, star of television’s Tea-Time with Pamela, she jumps at the chance.

But Laurie’s exciting adventure ends up entailing a lot more than scouting locations for the cake queen’s new cookbook when Pamela’s sassy mother and sulky, rebellious daughter tag along for the trip. As they cruise around bakeries in New England trading local delights like Red Velvet Cake and Whoopie Pies for British specialties such as Victoria Sponge and Bakewell Tarts, more secrets than recipes are revealed.

Now, in between rediscovering romance, learning to forgive family, and finding the best dessert on the East Coast, Laurie, Pamela, and the gang might find there’s nothing a nice cup of tea, a sweet treat, and a little bit of friendship can’t heal.

—–

I really enjoyed the “lightness” of this book. And what I mean by that is many of the books I read lean more toward drama or memoir than dramatic comedy. The Traveling Tea Shop had a great story coupled with humor and comedy. If I were to describe it, I’d say it was a cross between the Shopoholic series and The Devil Wears Prada.

I also thought Jones’ writing was quite descriptive as I was able to really visualize the double-Decker English bus and tasty treats. One word of “warning” — don’t read this book on an empty stomach because you’ll soon be craving baked treats like never before!

What are you reading these days? Any good books to recommend? Have you read any in my TBR pile?

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Traveling Tea Shop to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

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