Monday, November 24, 2014

Staying Relevant - The Best American Hashtags 2014

It was a frigid November evening, but my digital daughter, Amanda, and I were wrapped in a blanket of storytelling at New York City’s Symphony Space. 

Hosted by Matthew Love of Selected Shorts, it was a night to celebrate “The Best American Short Stories 2014,” with selections by Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Jennifer Egan.  Egan offered insights into this edition’s common themes – despair, hope through the support of others, wild animals – along with her own list of prerequisites for inclusion, most notably an ability to engage the reader in surprise and current truths. I closed my eyes and escaped into worlds created by Lauren Groff and T.C. Boyle – and performed by actors Amy Ryan and Dylan Baker, respectively.  

(Golden rule: You are never too old to be read a story.)

Matthew Love was all wit.  As part of his commentary, he riffed off of what other, more modern-day writing collections, might look like.  He postulated that in our short-take society we might want to see, “The Best American Paragraphs,”  “The Best American Sentences,” or even “The Best American Tweets” – adding that maybe they would be pamphlets instead of tomes.   I thought I could contribute another trilogy, “The Best American Hashtags,” “The Best American Emoji Sentences,” “The Best American Selfies.”  I bet they would sell (attention any agents out there wanting to get it on this, l’m #allears).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The “100 Club” – More “Likes” Equals More Popularity Points

Your daughter comes home from school declaring that she wants to be part of the “100 Club.”  You are thrilled as you think she is talking about her academic aspirations, but after further discussion you discover that she is instead anxious about her popularity on Facebook/Instagram, and desperate to ALWAYS get at least 100 “likes” on her posts.  You...

a) Admire her goal at achieving popularity on social networks.
b) Decide that you too would like to be part of the “100 club” and ask if there are adult members?
c) Sit her down and talk to her about the fleeting, meaninglessness of popularity in general, and on Facebook/Instagram in particular.
d) Get rid of her Facebook/Instagram accounts.

Another conundrum faced by our digital daughters. 

As girls enter their tweens and teens, friends become the end-all, be-all of social life.  And, when you put smartphones - and the social networking channels that ride on their backs – in the mix, you enable a powerful, sometimes insidious, level of social phenomena.  Yes, social networks are great when they facilitate new connections, a sense of community and empowerment, but the angst that can ensue when it comes to a post with a mortifying lack of “likes” and that awful feeling of being left out, can turn a girl inside out.