Thursday, January 10, 2013

The seduction of the sound bite

Something weird happened this week.  I said this sort of mildly funny thing on facebook, and a lot of people “liked” it.  By a lot, I mean about 1/3 of my 240ish fans.  Given that facebook has stopped showing my fans the stuff I post, that’s not bad.  (If you don’t know, facebook now only shows each of my posts to somewhere between a quarter and half of my fans because they want me to pay them to show it to all of you.  Grrr. If you don't want to miss anything, like, comment, and/or share some of my facebook stuff!)  Anyway, someone suggested that my little humor nugget was ecard-worthy.  And I thought, hey, yeah, someone writes those.  I can do that. 

So I went and figured out how to do that.  Here is my ecard: 

Ecard created on

I stuck it on my Pam-a-rama ding dong facebook page, and this funny thing happened.  As of this writing, it has been shared over 900 times and viewed by almost 10,000 people.  I have a bunch of new fans, more than making up for the fans I lose every time I post anything about religion. Now I know that 10,000 is not, like, viral viral, but for me with my little blah blah blog, that’s as viral as I get with my clothes on.  The bikini stuff went viral-lite (tens of thousands), but me just talking with my clothes on?  No. For most of my posts, I’m thrilled if I get one or two people sharing the link. 

Then along comes this silly little sound bite, and it is being shared the crap out of.  I’m totally seduced. 

I understand why something like an ecard is so easy to share.  By sharing a link or image on facebook, you are asking your network to commit some amount of time and energy looking at that thing.  The payoff had better be worth the commitment.  If you’re posting a 20-minute TED talk, that had better be the best damn TED talk ever, because 20 minutes of video is the facebook equivalent of War and Peace.  I have posted one TED talk ever, the BrenĂ© Brown vulnerability one, because I feel confident that what she has to say is worth your 20 minutes.  A five minute video also has to be pretty good, because five minutes is still kind of a long time, especially for video.  You can read a blog post on your phone in line at the grocery store or while sitting at a park watching your kids or whatever.  But video requires either earphones or the acceptability of sound.  That’s a commitment! 

I snark, but I also mean it.  Of course it’s ridiculous that five or even twenty minutes is considered a long time.  But it is.  We are bombarded by information all day every day.  If every piece of information took twenty or even five minutes to absorb, we would have time for nothing else.  Maybe I prefer blogs and text because I am a fast reader.  Nothing takes me twenty minutes to read. 

The time to absorb an ecard is measured in seconds.  Like, less than five seconds.  I am a fan of a few facebook pages that pretty much just share ecards and other funny stuff.  They scour through all of the dreck on the internet and curate a collection for my amusement.  On any given evening, they might post five or ten doodads, adding up to less than a one minute commitment on my part.  And maybe I’ll laugh.  Laughter is good.  Maybe I’ll feel less existentially alone when I chuckle and think to myself, “Yeah, totally.”  That’s a pretty good payout for a few seconds of my time.   

That is all to say that I get why ecards are easy to share.  But here’s why I’m seduced.  I want to get my ideas “out there.”  I want to reach people, connect.  It’s part of the reason I blog.  And ecards… so easy… so instant gratification… so many people reading something that I created.  That’s so cool.  Maybe they will chuckle to themselves and feel less existentially alone.  By the thousands.  Sexy.

But here’s why it feels like a seduction and not true love.  I have more to say.  More than can fit in a 5-second ecard.  When I write a post and people email me to tell me they cried when they read it, or that it touched them or changed them, that’s the juice.  That’s the true love.  The idea that something I say or do could touch someone deeply… that’s what nourishes me and makes me feel genuinely connected. 

I started this blog thinking it would be a humor blog.  Sometimes it is.  I am occasionally funny.  But the stuff that gets me excited is the serious stuff.  The peeling away of my layers of self-protection until I stand before you all in authenticity and self-acceptance, with the hope, the deep hope, that my truth will help someone else see or accept or navigate their own. 

There’s nothing sound-bitey about that.  Widespread light connection is good.   It feels good.  Maybe a bunch of people laughed just a tiny bit more in the past couple of days because of me.  That’s good.  I’ll make more ecards if I ever have another amusing thought, because more laughter in the world is good.  But I’m content with my couple of hundred fans if I can continue to be this real and this exposed (and this excessively wordy), in the hope that the connection we make will be deeper.  That not only will we feel less alone, but maybe we will actually be less alone.

Update: Four days after posting the ecard, It has been shared 4,500 times and viewed by 35,000 people.  I have 57 new fans on the blog facebook page, which is something like a 20% increase.  I know it's not true love, but it sure is fun while it lasts!

Update #2: Did I say viewed by 35,000?  As of today (5 days after posting it for the first time), it has been SHARED by about 35,000 people, probably more that I don't know about.  I have 50% more fans than I had a week ago.  I'm thinking of instituting ecard Fridays.  My blog pageviews are way up too, like 5 or 6 times higher than usual.  I don't want to dilute the blog with a lot of fluff, but I'm extremely curious whether I can make lightning strike twice.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Laser hair removal: The after post. (No, no photos.)

So you may all recall that several months ago, I began a groupon-prompted round of laser hair removal.  Here are lessons from my six sessions at the medi-spa:

1) Don’t be shy.  If you want them to go “all the way back,” you might have to tell them that, even if you paid for a Brazilian.  Now, you would think that they know that Brazilian means everything, but apparently, some of the techs wait for you to tell them how much you want done.  Practice in advance.  You’ll be able to feel where they’re doing and where they’re not.  Think about what you will say to get them to do the areas that they’re not doing.  It’s not easy to do delicately.  Even if you say, “Please go all the way back,” they might not go all the way back.  Be ready with either a euphemism or a vulgarity if you’re hoping to… um… tidy up the back porch.

2) No pain, no gain… or, loss.  I was treated using the Isolaz broadband light treatment (not laser per se).  It is advertised as painless, one of the most painless hair removal options out there, so I wasn’t surprised when the first few treatments were, well, painless.  Turns out those first few treatments weren’t doing much.  The painless version got the coursest of hairs, so I had fewer ingrowns, but other than that, no noticeable reduction.  Then I got switched to the sadistic technician, and things changed.  She kept turning the machine up until I flinched, and then turned it down one notch and did the treatment at that level, uncomfortable but do-able.  I lost a lot more hair after her sessions than I had in the earlier ones.  If you don’t feel anything, ask them to turn the machine up.

3)  They will try to up-sell you.  If you get your treatments using Groupon or Living Social or some other deal site, they will try to get you to become a full paying customer.  The longer you spend in one of these medi-spas, the more you start to feel like maybe there’s some other stuff about you they could fix.  In my case, the tech started talking to me about my skin, suggesting some kind of aggressive peel.  You know what?  My skin is fine.  Well, no, it’s not.  It’s a mess.  But I have a dermatologist who deals with my very real skin problems (rosacea and eczema).  I don’t need to be peeled any more than my sweet lovably-crazy dermy does for me already.  The tech also tried to tell me that some laser technique called “cavitation” would supposedly reduce my belly fat and, get this, tighten the skin left behind by my twin pregnancy.  Honey, if there were some non-surgical way of getting rid of twin skin, I would know about it.  There isn’t.  You’re full of shit.  Now stop making me feel like crap about my body and just finish lasering away my pubic hair, OK?

4) You will start to want longer eyelashes.  Three-quarters of the women in the waiting room and every woman who works at the medi-spa will use Latisse.  They will all have very long, very lovely eyelashes.  You will want those.  I didn’t ask how much it cost, because I was afraid it would be reasonable and I would start paying someone for glaucoma medication to spread on my eyelashes like mascara.  My eyelashes are already pretty nice.  I once told an aesthetician who was doing my makeup that I was considering eyelash extensions and he laughed at me and asked, “How long do you need your eyelashes to be?”  I don’t need Latisse.  But ooh, pretty.  Unless you have the most amazing eyelashes ever, you will probably at least briefly consider Latisse.  (While I do not need my eyelashes to be longer, I do need them to be darker because I pretty much despise mascara.  If you have blonde or light brown lashes and want to ditch the mascara, look into lash tinting. It’s awesome.  If you’re local and know me in actual life, message me.  I have a friend who comes to my house and does it.  And sometimes we have wine after.)

5) You will still have to shave.  Remember when I was all freaked out about “what if I shave crooked and then my pubes are crooked forever?”  Yeah, no.  Maybe if you have coarse black curlies, that would be an issue for you.  But with what I would describe as sort of light brown and not extremely coarse body hair, no.  Six treatments made a noticeable dent, but I still have plenty of hair.  Here’s what I will say.  At $329 for six treatments of Brazilian, I would do it again.  I had serious problems with ingrown hairs from shaving. And even if I didn’t shave, I used to get painful cyst-like ingrowns that scarred.  Those are gone.  Money well spent.  The hair that remains is the mellow hair.  I can shave that easily with minimal regrowth discomfort if I feel like being all smooth.  I mean, I won’t… but I could.  Like, on my anniversary or whatever.  Or not.  My armpits did a bit better, as the hair there was courser.  I can now get away with shaving my armpits every other week or so.

So that’s the story from the trenches.  Isolaz… relatively painless.  Does something.   If you get painful ingrowns, it might help you.  If you want to stop waxing or shaving, that will probably not happen unless you have coarser, darker hair than mine.  And, most importantly, beware the culture of the medi-spa.  Get what you want done done, and then get the hell out of there.  There are an infinite number of things that they might try to convince you that you need to fix.  You don’t need to fix anything.  You’re beautiful just as you are.