Flipflops in the Rain


you say goodbye, and i say hello
July 17, 2012, 2:05 pm
Filed under: geek chic, obscure pop culture references, perfectly impossible

Good news: I’m going to start blogging again!

Bad(?) news: I’ve been dragging my flipflops on this decision for awhile, but I’m moving to a new site. If you want to follow me on my new adventures, you’ll have to update your favorites bar and resubscribe at http://achicknamedcarl.wordpress.com.

 

 

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Community Through Blogging

Editor’s note: I wrote the following essay for a class about social dynamics through communication technology, which is why it’s a bit longer than normal. If it’s not your cup of tea, my feelings won’t be hurt, but since it’s about the community I found through blogging, I’d recommend giving it a read. If you still don’t want to read it, then go watch a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon instead.

The world is becoming a smaller place, thanks to computer-mediated communication (CMC). Although some researchers argue that CMC may lead to superficial and less-inhibited relationships (Thurlow et. al, 2004), I believe it actually strengthens our bonds with other people. With CMC, we can just as quickly chat with our friends 3,000 miles away as we can with those sitting three feet away. We can even create live diaries, or blogs, that live on the Web and allow people to read our innermost thoughts, breaking down distance boundaries by building up emotional connections.

According to Baker and Moore, “Blogs can bring together likeminded and supportive communities and thus provide opportunities to relieve feelings of isolation” (2008, p. 747). This paper will expand on that idea and demonstrate how personal blogs build cohesion and encourage interaction, leading to a deeply engaged and enthusiastic online community.

Building Cohesion

Four years ago, I was living in Washington, D.C., where I hardly knew a soul. My previously active social life was nonexistent, and I was desperately homesick for the West Coast. So, using an alias, I created a blog, which I shared with my friends back home. Many of my early posts were painfully honest, expressing feelings I wouldn’t normally share with anyone, but the lack of face-to-face communication made me feel somewhat anonymous and free from the restraints that usually accompany offline communication (Thurlow et. al, 2004). At the same time, my vulnerability and self-disclosure helped my faraway friends feel a relational closeness that we may not have felt over our typical CMC methods, such as email or Facebook posts (Griffin, 2009).

Research has shown that blogging can have many beneficial effects on one’s well-being (Baker & Moore, 2008), and through consistent posting, I began to notice a change in my overall disposition and offline confidence. My writing began to morph, as well, and chatty musings and anecdotes replaced my diary-style therapy sessions, eventually leading to a much more diverse audience. “For many young people, keeping a Web journal is less about soul-searching than about keeping in touch with a circle of friends and perhaps expanding it” (Gallagher, 2002).

Encouraging Interaction

I soon discovered readers from all over were visiting my mundane little corner of the world. Even though I was posting for people back home, strangers with similar interests commented on each post, leading me to realize that the Internet could help me interact with new friends while still reconnecting with my old ones. Using my blog as a networking tool, I soon discovered other D.C. bloggers with similar interests, leading to several offline friendships I may not have otherwise found.

Personal blogs are an easy way for people to create new friendships because the authors are voluntarily disclosing personal information to the masses, which leads to social penetration among peers (Griffin, 2009). The potential for intimacy increases because readers feel a relational closeness to an author who reveals private details about his or her personality. The blogging forum allows readers to engage directly with the writer by posting comments at the end of each post. Many blogs also include email contact information, allowing shy readers to communicate with the author in a less-public domain. These interactivity options provide a desirable advantage for building relationships and maintaining open dialogue (Thurlow et al, 2004), which helped me communicate with bloggers both inside and outside of the D.C. area.

Online Community

My personal blog and new blogging friendships motivated me to seek out 20-Something Bloggers (20sb), a network with only two requirements: “Be in your twenties. And have a personal blog” (20sb.net, 2011, para. 3).” The network was created in 2007 and has since grown to more than 10,000 members, all looking for an online space that connects them with like-minded people around the world.

20sb provided me with a sense of belonging almost instantly, since I was interacting with individuals who also wanted to fit in as members of a cohesive group (Thurlow et al, 2004), especially one tailored to those finding it difficult to adjust to their impending adulthood and their “age 30 deadline” (Henig, 2010, p. 2). The network attracts many who feel that “the 20s are a black box,” (Henig, 2010, p. 1), and I soon formed bonds with other 20-something bloggers with whom I could commiserate and celebrate our major (and often unsettling) life changes through CMC, even though we had never met in person. By connecting its members, 20sb has become an online community with highly engaged members who feel passionate about their inclusion and often feel more connected with their online friends than those they know offline.

Conclusion

My time in D.C. may be over, and my blog may lie dormant most days, but the community I found through blogging will not soon be forgotten. It helped me maintain friendships from 3,000 miles away, as well as cultivate new ones, through a unique method of CMC that encouraged self-disclosure, cohesion and interactivity. Many of the friendships I found on 20sb are the best I have today – even though we still communicate primarily online. More research stands to be done, but my personal experience supports the idea that blogging can build an enthusiastic and engaged online community.

References

Baker, J. R. & Susan M. Moore. (2008) Blogging as a social tool: A psychosocial examination of the effects of blogging. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(6): 747-749. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0053.

Henig , R. M. (2010, August 22). What is it about 20-somethings? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.

Gallagher, D. J. (2002, September 5). A site to pour out emotions, and just about anything else. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.

Griffin, E. (2009). A First Look at Communication Theory. Boston: McGraw Hill. 7th Edition.

Thurlow, C., Lengel, L., & Tomic, A. (2004). Computer mediated communication: Social interaction and the Internet.London: SAGE.

20 Something Bloggers. (2007-2011). The bloggers with the most to say. Retrieved from http://www.20sb.net/page/about-20sb.



that 2011 list again
August 28, 2011, 11:40 pm
Filed under: a few of my favorite things, perfectly impossible

so, i’ve actually checked off some boxes on the ol’ 2011 not-really-resolutions-but-pretty-much-resolutions list. someone should probably buy me a beer for that accomplishment alone.

i have:

run my first half marathon — check!

gone back to europe — check!

been an adult who keeps her apartment kinda clean — check!

so, what does all this goal-accomplishing mean for me? honestly, not much. accomplishing goals is never as noteworthy has you expect it to be. it just leaves me craving more, planning more.

i’m not a big planner, so i find this unsettling. sure, i like checking things off a list every now and then, but i prefer spontaneity even more. now, i’m like, “oh, now i can run two more half marathons — and i can run them from anywhere in the world! instead of visiting europe again — LIVE in europe! why be an adult when i can act like a carefree kid!?”

this really does not bode well with the version of me who signed up for grad school and moved back to seattle. how can i crush these stir-crazy dreams so i can focus on just being here and now?

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these are a few of my favorite (girly) things
August 25, 2011, 10:32 pm
Filed under: a few of my favorite things

as i anxiously squeezed out the last of my origins facewash, i realized, “dear god, i can’t live without certain luxuries.”

when did i become so high maintenance? (answer: i always have been. oh, the joy of having terrible skin as a child.) i’ll admit — i was a dior whore for many, many years. but when your favorite brand repeatedly breaks your heart by discontinuing your favorite products, you need to find a more reliable product.

i always love hearing about other women’s go-to products, so here’s a list of mine:

- origins never a dull moment face cleanser.  like i said, dior crushed my loyalty. so I went to origins. i have acne-prone skin* — or at least i did before i used this face wash. i seriously haven’t had more than two teeny, tiny breakouts since i started using this product. (knock on wood.) i change up my face lotion regularly, so this is the only constant in my skin-care routine. because everyone’s skin is so, so different, i will preempt this recommendation with the note that i have oily/combination skin, and i use it twice a day.

- kiehls olive fruit oil nourishing conditioner. i have terrible hair. no, seriously. it’s thick and wavy in that really ugly way that makes you feel sorry for it. this conditioner? FIXED THAT. honestly, i’m obsessed. i lather it on a few times a week for five minutes at a time, and it has softened, tamed and prettified my unruly mop top. it doesn’t even matter what shampoo you leave in — THIS WORKS. (capitalization necessary, i love this product THAT MUCH).

- l’oreal hair dye. [before you say anything, yes, i realize this might contribute to my thick, wavy, unruly disaster show of a mane, but i don't care. now that i use the right conditioner (see above), it all balances out! please don't tell my hair dresser friends i said this] so, i’m cheap. i would much prefer to spend my money on happy hours and new clothes. so spending $200+ to dye my hair every few months is just not an option. i’ve been dying my hair with l’oreal for years, and it hasn’t fallen out yet! (note: i will always shell out the money for a professional when i go lighter. blonde is NOT better when it comes to box dye. trust.)

- nars makeup. i’m lucky enough to have a friend who gives me free makeovers and samples whenever i want. and she’s lucky enough to know that i will drop the money for good makeup when i can find it. nars has the best eye shadow duos and foundation. go try it.

- mac eye kohl. the first non-liquid eyeliner i’ve used since high school — and i haven’t gone back.

- opi “lincoln park after dark” nail polish. yes, it’s almost a cop out to put this on my list since it’s so popular. but honestly, i have yet to find a color that looks this good on so many skin tones.

*honestly, Dove soap is where it’s at if you can’t find anything else that works. it’s gentle and CHEAP. try it before you try something ridiculously expensive.



and then she wrote

i journal a lot now. (and by a lot, i mean way more than i blog.) nearly every entry references how much “i just love to write, but i never do it!” or how “awesome it feels to just free write!”

i don’t want to do that now.

let’s talk about the future of innovation.

(just kidding. no one wants to read about that.)

let’s talk about teenage girls.

(not so much with the kidding, although that came across super creepy.)

i have a beautiful, smart and talented 14-year-old niece. (I also have beautiful, smart and talented 12- and 9-year-old nieces, but their stories are for another time.) she, since the day she was born, has been a little emotional. she cries at the drop of a hat, and she cares about everyone’s feelings a little more than she should. she also is only truly happy and confident in herself when she’s running up and down the soccer field, cheering and kicking butt alongside her teammates.

she tried out for her high school freshman soccer team today… and she did not make the cut.

about 13-some-odd years ago, i knew another little emotional girl who went through the exact same rejection period. and she was a wreck for weeks, and her self-esteem dropped for years. today, she’s fine. she’s accepted that minor setback and moved so far on from it that no one would guess that scar was still faintly intact on her ego.

teenage me is alive and well, buried under this calm, cool and very cynical exterior of mine. she comes out to play when we’re alone in my car and alanis morrisette comes on the radio. she stares cruelly and critically every morning in the mirror. and she particularly seeps into my writing after a beer or two and tells me i should be upset about the past. but honestly, i just don’t care what teenage me has to say anymore. i’ve grown past those insecurities, and i genuinely believe that i’m better off because of my failures.

but how do i tell today’s little girl that it will all work out in the end? how do i put into simple terms, with current pop cultural references, that she won’t always be the best at what she thinks she should be the best? and that she will learn to be happy and confident in ways she doesn’t even realize yet? and that, although screaming girl-power anthems can be a fun way to pass the time in your car, she will not always hate the people who try to hold her back?

i guess the moral of the story is, the only way we can truly understand today’s youth is by remembering our own painful and not-so-pretty pasts.



procrastination is the fear of failure…

and i am the princess of procrastination.

in my pursuit of becoming a better person (and because of my lifelong habits of throwing money i don’t have in the garbage), i applied to grad school. within four weeks, i was accepted and registered for masters-level courses.

i don’t know what i was thinking. i’ve forgotten how to be a student. and i’ve quickly remembered how to get by on extremely tight deadlines. i’m surprisingly good at half-assing my way to an A. i’m three classes in, and doing pretty well on five-hour-energy-fueled, last-minute writing sessions — which is so not the point of getting a higher education.

i wish i could turn off the internet and just focus. oh, look! best video ever!



one year

one year ago, i moved back to the west coast.
i lived with my parents.
i started a new job.
i turned a long-distance relationship into a very short one.
i turned short-distance friendships into very long ones.
i rekindled long-term traditions with my childhood best friends.
i had big expectations.

today, i’m not moving anywhere.
i live alone in the city with my loyal fluffball.
i love my job.
i have moved on from the relationship i thought was meant to be forever.
i miss my east coast friends every minute of every day.
i love my west coast friends even more every minute of every day.
i have no more expectations.

in one year, i have learned to take risks.
i will go back to europe in five weeks.
i will run a half-marathon in three months.
i will probably adopt another fluffball in six months.
i will graduate with a master’s degree in 18 months.
i will learn to create a decent meal in 24 months. maybe.
i will take each day one step at a time.




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