ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

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Tuesday

3

April 2018

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COMMENTS

Social Media Reset

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Earlier this year I read a book about phone usage and have been actively working on reducing the time I spend on my phone. I deleted all casual games as well as all social media apps except Slack, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which means I need to actually log into Facebook and Twitter to post or view. It’s been a pain at times, but it’s also forced me to be a bit more intentional with my words and my time.

I know that in the past couple of weeks many people have deleted their Facebook accounts due to the data collection, use, and abuse by among others Cambridge Analytica (among others). I absolutely respect that, although it does make me a bit sad. Facebook is a nightmare, but it’s also the way I see pictures of your children, or find articles of interest, or learn about events to attend. Having moved yet again, it keeps me feeling connected to friends who may not have time to Skype or send long emails on a regular basis. Plus, it’s a way for me to promote How Not To Be A Jerk When…

Same with Twitter. It’s basically my news aggregator (RIP Google Reader, which was the best), as well as a way to share little jokes with friends.

However, I’ve found that for the most part,* I don’t need a running history of my life available for public consumption. So over the past week, I’ve taken my own steps. I’ve deleted everything I posted on Facebook prior to 2018 (yes, everything), and deleted all tweets I’ve ever made from my personal account, and all but a handful of writing-related posts from my public account (more on that below). I’ve also changed up some names.

What this means going forward is that I’ll probably not be liking your Facebook posts or Tweets as often. I’ll be reading them, and possibly reaching out to you via other means if the post shares particularly awesome (or not awesome) news. I’ll likely still engage, but there won’t be a record of it for long, as for my personal Facebook and Twitter, I’ve set it up to only keep 3-4 months of history going forward.

For Twitter, that means I’m using a third party website that deletes tweets that are more than 93 days old. For Facebook, I have a recurring task at the start of each month to go and delete any Facebook activity from the previous month.

This doesn’t mean I think what I’m doing is the only or best way to do social media; it’s just what I’m trying out to see if it works for me. The only reason for posting this is in case you notice that something I’d posted on your awesome profile pic disappeared, or you wonder why I didn’t react to the news you posted. Of course, I’m not under any illusion that any friends just sitting there waiting for my like or retweet (we all have lives), but I didn’t want to just disappear either.

So! Going forward:

Personal (history retained for three months or so)

Public (history retained indefinitely)

Finally, if you have any questions about how I did what I did, including apps or sites I found helpful and ones I found to not be helpful at all, drop me a note.

*I’m not deleting Instagram, because I love those pictures, and I do like having that little history available.

Wednesday

24

August 2016

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COMMENTS

What Does A Word Cost?

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About six months and a whole lot of money, if you’re Hope Solo, and the word is ‘coward.’ US Soccer has terminated its contract with Ms. Solo for the comments she made after losing to Sweden during the Olympics, and suspended her for six months.

On the one hand – she isn’t what some people seem to want in a female athlete. She gets in trouble, she doesn’t always apologize, and she has an attitude. I like her more than I like Clint Dempsey, but that seems to be a comparable player. Both are really good, both seem to have giant chips on their shoulders, and both don’t seem interested in apologizing for who they are.

On the other hand – really? Six months for that? It seems … excessive.

(Maybe those are both the same hand? I don’t know.)

Also, as some others have mentioned, it’s super convenient that she was only suspended for 30 days after the van borrowing DUI / fight with her nephew , which meant she missed no real competition. But now that the world cup and Olympics are over, US Soccer cares about her attitude?

That’s a bit rough to even pretend to believe.

More info here: http://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2016/08/24/uswnt-hope-solo-suspended-us-soccer-six-months-olympics-sweden-cowards

 

Friday

13

November 2015

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COMMENTS

Paris, je t’aime

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I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris six times in my life; I was just there again in March. It is one of my favorite places to be – I even spent my 30th birthday there, eating and drinking my way across the arrondissements.  What is happening there today is breaking my heart.

DSCN1275 DSCN1289 DSCN1620

Friday

30

October 2015

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COMMENTS

What’s Up?

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I need to get back to writing. For the most part this blog has consisted of Cannonball Read reviews, weekly lists of articles guaranteed to depress the heck out of folks, and the occasional rant about losing my hard drive (update to that: I paid a bazillion dollars and everything was recovered!). But I love to write, and I love policy and social justice, so instead of ranting into the wind, or in 140-character bites on Twitter, I think it’s time to get back to the blog.

Before I take an in-depth look at something horrible (the Republican primary contenders? police violence? racism? people who insist on incorrectly pronouncing ‘.gif’? SO MANY OPTIONS) I thought I’d share what’s been distracting me lately.

This fall has been challenging; there was a two week stretch there that was downright brutal. We put in an offer on a house (and lost), I went through three rounds of interviews only to come in second to a job I’ve wanted since college, and it all culminated in the Aurora bridge bus collision.

 

But things are looking up. I’ve got a plan to start looking for other work, and to also kick up my writing. I’m in my second round of edits to my book, and hope to start pitching it soon. And there is promising news on the house hunt front.

So, long way of saying: watch this space for more than book reviews and weekly wrap-ups.

excited-cat

Thursday

10

September 2015

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COMMENTS

Facebook Break

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quitting facebook

This weekend I went back and deleted everything I’ve ever posted onto Facebook, with the exception of a handful of pictures, save the most recent round of birthday well-wishes. I hid every status update Facebook wouldn’t let me delete, un-tagged myself in a bunch of photos (I really wish there were an option for un-tagging that didn’t make it seem like the person who tagged me did something wrong. Why isn’t “I’d rather not be tagged in pictures” a choice?), hid my various page likes from my timeline, deleted all my comments on other posts (so sorry if you go back and it looks like you’re having a conversation with yourself). Basically, according to my Facebook page, I was born 35 years ago, and nothing has happened since.

I did this because I think I’ve been using Facebook as a way to share information with people who might not really be interested in seeing it. I can see the usefulness in posting a major life event for a couple of days (‘we’re getting married!’ ‘I’m starting a new job’ ‘we’re moving!’), but I’m hoping that if friends are interested in seeing my thoughts on a political issue or pop culture, they’ll follow me on twitter, or visit my blog. I feel as though I have more control of those than I do over Facebook.

So why not close my account? Well, because I do want to know what’s going on in the lives of folks who I don’t see regularly. Also, it remains one of the easiest ways to invite folks to an event, and I know other folks use it for that (so not being on Facebook could mean missing out on the occasional event). So I’ll still RSVP and even post the occasional event. But future birthday wishes are coming via email or text, and anything interesting you post on my timeline will get responded to in a message, not on my wall.

For now.

Wednesday

18

March 2015

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COMMENTS

Cleaning House. Literally.

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After finishing the Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, I decided to actually try it out, and Austin agreed to join me. I started with my clothes, as suggested, and between the two of us we worked out way through the house, area by area. Electronics, books, photo albums. Kitchen stuff. All that is left is a drawer and nook in the office that Austin needs to look through, and a tub of holiday decorations.

We probably could have sold many of the clothes and books we decided we didn’t need anymore, but we donated everything instead. Someone else will enjoy these things, and hopefully the money will help some folks who need it more than we do.

Our house is lighter now. Our bookshelves don’t have as many items, and our closets aren’t stuffed full. There’s something pretty cool to know that everything in our house either brings us joy or serves a real purpose.

Some items were hard to part with. Clothing that I purchased when I was fitter than now was especially challenging, as part of me feels like I’m accepting that I might not get that fit again. But there’s no point in taking up space in my closet – or my brain – with items that I don’t love and don’t need. Same with some books. I can appreciate the idea of holding onto items that I want to read, or projects I want to start, because I like the idea of them.

At the same time I think part of growing a bit wiser is recognizing the difference between an aspiration that I want to do for me and an aspiration that I want to want to do, if that makes any sense. I have limited time when I’m not at work or sleeping, and I want to choose to do things that are meaningful to me. It might seem odd, but this really helped.

Wednesday

11

February 2015

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COMMENTS

Monday

26

January 2015

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COMMENTS

A Promising Update to my Navient Experience – It WAS Partly on Me (but also on them)

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If you read my post from this weekend you know that I expressed concern about the fact that the only information available on my Navient page is about my current loan, not my loan that I paid off last year. Mostly I was concerned that I might have missed out on important tax documents. From what I could tell, it appeared to be both a function of the loan being paid off and a function of it being a Department of Education (as opposed to Federal) loan.

A little before 9:30 this morning my phone rang, and the number that showed was Sallie Mae Client Services. I have that number in my phone because of a situation in 2011 where Sallie Mae double-debited my large monthly payment after switching bank accounts and raised enough of a stink that someone from their office called me. Now that Navient is managing things, they must have transferred the number to them.

Anyway, I answered the call and it turns out that the woman calling had read my blog post. Coming on the heels of my post last week about social media and the public nature of it, this did weird me out a bit. I realize that my real name is on Twitter, but I think I would have preferred the method other customer service reps have followed before: send me a DM asking if they could email me for more information.

The woman I spoke with was very polite and said that I was emailed something on January 9th that said I’d be getting my tax document for interest under a certain amount soon, and another email telling me I’d be getting my tax document for interest over that amount after that. I’m not sure why the complicated process, but either way I don’t have a record of those emails. However, in looking for that email I did find a different email from a week or so ago that has a link to my Department of Education Loan tax document. Because the subject line was identical to the one for my Federal Loan I deleted it. That’s definitely my oversight.

However, the woman I spoke with also said that I should have been able to access information about my Department of Education from my log-in page regardless. I gave her permission to view my account page, and when she got in she navigated a bit and then put me on hold. After coming back she asked if she could put me on hold again, as she thought this might be an issue she’d heard them talking about with respect to these DoE loans. I had to get to a meeting and so could not hold, but I was able to share with her that regardless of the system, people should be able to access paid loan information from the site and not have to find old emails to access a link that is specific to my account. My log in to their main site should be sufficient.

I think that message got through; we’ll see. But in the mean time I do appreciate that they took my comments seriously.

Friday

23

January 2015

2

COMMENTS

Warning if you paid off Department of Ed Loan via Navient in 2014 – Maybe It’s Just Me?

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We’re starting the process of gathering up our tax documents for 2014. Both Austin and I paid off the vast majority of our student loans in 2014 (I still have a tiny one from NYU); it was an exciting fall. We both also just got our “your tax docs are ready” email from Navient this week, so we signed into our accounts to check one item off the list.

Austin’s was fine and as expected. Mine, however, was surprisingly low. Given the giant interest rate on my LSE loan (why hello, 8.25%, how are you), you can imagine my surprise when my Navient 1098-E showed I’d paid less than a Seahawks ticket’s worth of interest in 2014.

I clicked on every link on Navient’s website, trying to find the paid off loan graveyard, or a link to Department of Education Loans (my LSE one was a DoE loan; my NYU one is not). I even tried going back to Sallie Mae but they wouldn’t even let me sign in. Yikes.

Luckily, I still had my “Congratulations!” email from November, announcing the loan was paid off. From a link in there I was able to access my DoE loans documents page, which had a link for a 1098-E form. Which showed nearly a month’s rent worth of interest paid.

Now, we probably aren’t going to be able to deduct any of this. However, if I hadn’t remembered that my loans were two different types, and if I hadn’t gone in search of that email, I have no idea how I could have found this pretty important tax document. And because people sometimes do searches (I know a couple people have found my blog searching for Navient issues), I thought I’d share what worked for me.

Ugh. So needlessly complicated.

Thursday

22

January 2015

0

COMMENTS

The Weirdness of Social Media

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The past few days on social media have just been … odd. It started with the State of the Union, where I found myself getting physically tense because an author whose book I was reading (and at that point enjoying) starting tweeting some really problematic items. Things that disparaged people with low incomes, people who need childcare, people who need healthcare. Then I continued reading the book, got to a really disturbing part, and had to figure out how to write a review that would go up on a public blog that expressed my anger but that wasn’t over the top. Once I did post the review, a friend asked if I’d thought of contacting the author to see why she seems (to me) to have this huge disconnect in her writing, and I responded honestly that I can’t do it on Twitter because who knows what kind of responses such a public figure would elicit, and I won’t do it privately because I don’t trust that she wouldn’t put it on her blog and mock me.

Then, last night, I made a mistake and deleted everything from the 2 Do app. If you use it, you’re probably familiar with the interface. Each tab is a category, including one that says ‘all’ and one that says ‘done.’ While there are many steps to delete items, if you are in the wrong tab, there could be 100 steps and it still wouldn’t matter, because you’re already in the wrong place. Anyway, user error, I deleted everything from the ‘all’ tab instead of the ‘done’ one. But 2 Do allegedly has multiple back-ups, including to Toodledo and one on the Android itself. Both Austin and I jumped into action, but neither backup system worked. And that was not user error – that was the app not functioning as advertised. I posted a (surprisingly not snarky) tweet mentioning the issue. They responded with those same fix options (which I appreciate), and I thanked them but said neither worked, so I was going to have to switch apps.

Then things got weird. Whoever manages their social media decided that it would be funny to get snarky and question why I would change apps due to “human error.” They even included a smiley face. I said if they mean human error as in the humans who programmed both back-up systems that failed, then yes. I, too, included a smiley face. After that I stopped responding, as I was at work. But I the next time I checked Twitter I found something like eight messages from the 2 Do account (I can’t confirm, because I’ve now blocked them) essentially trying to call me stupid.

Look, I freely admit that the initial error was mine. But since the back-up system the app claims to have (multiple ones, actually) didn’t work, I think the less reasonable thing to do would be to stick with them. If I make an error again – or the app itself freaks out – I don’t want to lose everything a second time. I didn’t choose to engage, because I got a brief taste of the attitude that comes with engaging with someone who isn’t happy with you on social media. The repeated tweets brought with them someone who thought it would be fun to @ me and join in the snark. Which, dude. I don’t know you. You get blocked. And now so does 2 Do. It was the tiniest of tastes of the kind of bizarre entitlement that social media brings with it, and I did not like it. And I starting thinking about what kind of entitlement I feel when I’m on social media.

Somewhere in the middle of that, I chose to tweet on the #7in10forRoe tag related to the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. It was a pretty basic tweet, but it ended up retweeted by NARAL and Huffington Post (their ‘women’ account, I believe). Which then brought many more favorites than I’m used to, and a few new followers. Yes, I’m on social media in part to interact with others, but coupled with everything else it just struck me as … weird.

Apparently, despite writing a public blog, and maintaining two public twitter accounts, I’m really not comfortable with public social media interactions. It was a good reminder that there are people (like me) behind these accounts, but also that sometimes the people behind those accounts act like giant assholes. Did I include 2 Do in my first tweet in the hopes of getting a response? Definitely. Although for once I wasn’t trying to shame a company who fucked up – and yet I ended up getting treated poorly all the same. Not sure what the lesson for me here is, other than maybe it’s time to cool it with the #ing and the @ing for a spell.

Or not. Something might REALLY piss me off tomorrow.