Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Only Screen for Summer?

Day two.  Post an awesome sleep-away camp adventure.  And, along with my two-shades-browner, one-inch-taller son, I find myself once again disturbed by familiar unwanted guests in the house, albeit of the virtual nature.

Two days ago we made the hike up to New Hampshire’s breathtaking white mountains to pick up my fourteen-year-old, Jake, and already I am yelling at him to turn off his video game.  I know many of you have been wrestling with those oddly realistic animated sports stars and beckoning monsters for weeks now (weeks = eternity), and are desperately seeking some kind of remedy to get your kids off the screen, outside and on the move.  If only there was a Vitamin O (“Keep in reach of children”) that would mentally orient our kids O-ffline and O-ut the door.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average kid, ages 8-18, spends more than seven hours a day looking at screen media.  Yikes!  Of course, I am no Luddite, but for summer, the only screen kids should really use is sunscreen.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Like, Hire Me? Why the Way We Speak Matters and What We Can Do About it

In the words of Joan Rivers, can we talk?

This week’s print and social media tsunami over whether the way women speak affects how they are perceived made me want to post #SayitLikeYouMeanit all over Twitter (which I actually did a bit of)!  It was instigated by former Google employee Ellen Petry Leanse's commentary for Cosmopolitan over the “permission word” “just,” and a piece in Fortune, “Like, Totally Don’t Talk Like This to Get Ahead in Business,” The coverage has been passionate, dissenting and informative.

The fact is, for better or worse, the way we speak does affect we how we are perceived.  Verbal habits including filler words, up-talk, vocal fry and incessant apologizing (See Amy Schumer’s "I'm Sorry" parody) can weaken our speech, making us sound unsure, and yes, maybe uneducated.  Whether you are giving an oral presentation, interviewing for a summer internship or a job, meeting with a college recruiter, or engaging colleagues at a meeting, sounding self-assured and speaking articulately is paramount to being taken seriously.

The good news is that none of these disfluencies are pathological (although hearing five “likes” in your colleague’s or child's every sentence may seem so).   The way we speak - women and men alike - is behavioral and we could all use a little more awareness and intervention.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

“My Mom is Like…Whatever!” - Life, liberty and the inherited teenage right to speak with conviction (but can we reduce the number of “likes”? And, are we to blame?)

It is the right of every teenager to find their parents exceedingly annoying and embarrassing.  And, as parents, it is our duty to have a thick skin and to stay the course, giving them the assist, the emphatic push, the knowing advice when they need it – and even when think they don’t.  But nothing is more irritating, and met with more eye-rolls – on both sides – than the verbal correction.  

I have two teenagers of my own – one independent, tolerant soul, and one green with mortification at my mere presence in the company of his peers – and both with their own verbal crutches.  I often have to bite my tongue to not constantly correct their likes, ahs, ums and ya’ knows.   (e.g. “Ya know, mom, I can’t even believe you brought the dog to my soccer training and had to have every player like pet her?”)

The truth is, teenagers make for enlightening and heady company.  I love being around them, even if they’d rather I made myself scarce.  But the way teens communicate with all of those “likes, ya knows, totallys and whatevers” gives me pause.  Where do they get this post “Valley girl” lexicon and why is it so pervasive?