Friday, December 30, 2011

On the Good, the Bad, and the Friday Not-Even-Random Ten: Enough With the Bad Already edition

Okay, so so 2011 is drawing to a close, and it's been… a good one? There are twelve months to look back on and decide, and just listing things out, it comes out pretty even. But just in terms of it being a landing you can walk away from, then yeah, I'll say it was a good year, warts and all. And for this TGTBATFRT--just this one--we're going to look past the warts, the failures, the exhibitions of cruelty, and the general stupidity that arises from time to time and makes one wonder about the fate of humanity, and focus on the good things that give the world hope.

I don't want to give any indication that the low points of 2011 aren't worthy of notice. But just for a moment, I want to fill the glass halfway. The good parts number far more than I have room for here, and I'm sure I've forgotten many more and will have to add them in comments as they come up. My mom has a superstition, passed down from her dad, who probably got it from someone crotchety and Slovak, that whatever you're doing on New Year's Day is what you'll be doing all year long. I like to think I'll spend 2012 thinking happily about good times. (And eating Chick-fil-A, and I have plans for making that happen.)

So in the interest of following through with that plan, I give you:

What's good (for the year ending December 31, 2011):

- Readers who've stuck with me. I've been so unforgivably lax about keeping up with this blog, even after crafting myself multiple ways of making it just as laziable as possible. The fact that when I do post, I still get comments, is a real thrill.

- Subway veggie subs, 6", on wheat, with spinach, tomato, cucumbers, green peppers, black olives, a little bit of salt and pepper, and a little bit of mustard. They're a delicious and fresh and crispy lunch for those of us who don't insist that something die for every meal.

- People making good, smart, compassionate choices in Mississippi

- The last episode of The Walking Dead before the break

- Lanacane Anti-Chafing Gel. It turns out the stuff that athletes put on to keep from getting all chafed in their chafey parts--I know, right?--has basically the same ingredients as foundation primers from big makeup brands like Smashbox at one-sixth the price. I started wearing primer when it became evident that my skin isn't, for some reason, the same as it was when I was 20, and this is some good stuff.

- The new gig at Feministe. This one has its good and its bad aspects, the worst being that yeah, I've been really bad about neglecting the readers I have back home. And being beholden to a community that big and that… vehement can be kind of stressful. But it's also pretty fulfilling.

- My family. They're good every year, but they were good this year, so they go on the list. Also good is that not only is it expanding, it's expanding with good people, among them Big Bro's girlfriend whom I dig like the sister I didn't know about until my early thirties. Also, Skipdog.

Monday, December 05, 2011

On Emma Sullivan vs. Sam Brownback: A marketing case study

This post has been cross-posted at Feministe, which is a good place to go for more about Emma Sullivan and her shameful tweet.

Okay, so the biggest screwup out of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's office of late is easy: tattling on an 18-year-old to her high school for some juvenile comment she made on Twitter during a Youth in Government field trip to the capitol. I mean, seriously: Emma Sullivan says, to her mob of 60 whole Twitter followers, "Governor Brownback sucks." Brownback's staff runs to YinG and Sullivan's school to say, "Waah! Your student is being mean!" And supposedly Sullivan is the immature one.

One thing Brownback's office didn't do wrong, although they're taking some flak for it, was monitoring Twitter for mention of Governor Brownback. This isn't creepy or paranoid--it's actually marketing best practice. Online social media offers people, businesses, and organizations unprecedented access to the feelings and opinions of their target audiences. If you hear that people are criticizing you about a certain issue, you're now able to reconsider your stance on it, make a note to address it publicly in the future, or even communicate with aggrieved individuals directly. Or if you see that some high-school student has tweeted that you suck, you can roll your eyes and say, "Nice. Really mature" and move on. (Or show some respect to a constituent and reply, "I'm sorry you feel that way. Why do you think the governor sucks?" Or be silly and reply, "No, YOU #blowalot… for tweeting about the governor when you could just ask him yourself. What can we do for you?" There are a hundred ways to handle it before you get to tattling.)

But there's one comment from Brownback's director of communication, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, that makes me think she's completely ignorant of the functions of her own job:
That wasn't respectful," responded Sherriene Jones-Sontag. "In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect."
1. When someone tells you you suck on Twitter, she's probably not attempting to start a constructive dialogue--she's probably just venting. And/or goofing around with her friends.