Social Media and Baby Boomers

I surprised a young man the other day when I knew how to create a desktop shortcut for Microsoft Outlook 2010. It took about 5 seconds. I then set up folders and re-arranged some things within the program. That, too, took very little time. Furthermore, I knew exactly what I was doing.

His surprised reaction got me thinking about the way my generation is perceived. We’re at the tail end of the baby boomer generation. We were in Junior High during Watergate and in High School during the end of the Vietnam War. That means we’re the generation who learned that people make a difference in this world and that world can become a better place because one person took a stand.

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I’ve got news for everybody: technology hasn’t passed us by. Just because we remember what a 5-1/4 inch floppy looks like doesn’t mean that we can’t learn all about the cloud.  As a writer, I can appreciate the luxury of storing my documents someplace safe and not dependent on the physical universe.

Just because we (barely) remember when the most efficient business tool was the telex machine, doesn’t mean we can’t embrace social media technology. I happen to like Twitter and I’d be completely lost without my Iphone. Writing can be a lonely profession but it’s nice to know that I can still be connected to my friends and colleagues as we work in our own spaces and in for us fiction writers, our own worlds.  Literally. One hundred and forty characters is just about right to stay in touch without getting too distracted from the fictional reality I’m currently creating.

I’ve been looking for a day job and it’s as brutal out there on the job market as you’ve heard. I’ve got this impression that employers are looking for the perfect person, the one who matches their job description 100%, even down to the proprietary software program that they may be using to conduct their business. How can any person be 100% perfect? I commented to a friend the other day that if dating was like the job market today then nobody would get married because we’d all be looking for the perfect mate, the one that matched every quality we’d listed, the one who didn’t need any training. That doesn’t sound very realistic when you talk about dating, how is hiring an employee any different? I’ve learned –  and forgotten – any number of computer programs. I can learn one more. But too often I don’t even make the final cut for the applicant pool.

I guess this post today is something of a rant. So be it. Maybe the teenage girl who saw how two people who wanted answers to a few questions managed to bring down a president isn’t dead after all. One person can make a difference. Today, with this post, I hope it’s me.  Social media technology is the way we communicate with the world right now. Embrace it. No. My generation must be permitted to embrace it. Please don’t assume that we’re not!

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

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Misplaced Modifiers – A Source of Entertainment

Let’s start with a quick definition:

 A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is improperly separated from the word it modifies 0r describes.  A dangling modifier is one that is not immediately followed by the subject which it is modifying.

Any writer knows that modifiers can enhance and clarify the subject of the sentence. A misplaced modifier can also turn an otherwise intelligent memo into a string of gibberish, becoming an unintended source of endless entertainment at the expense of the writer.dog with umbrella

Here are a few examples.

She went to the store in the rain to buy food for her dog with the blue umbrella.

Now surely her dog was not the one with the blue umbrella. Or was it? Completely re-writing this sentence is the best way to fix it.

Because of the rain, she took her blue umbrella with her when she went to town to buy food for her dog.

When you begin a sentence with a modifying clause, then the subject should immediately follow. If not, you could give your sentence an unintended meaning.

While taking the long way home, a raccoon ran in front of the car.racoon drive by

 

Who was taking the long way home, surely not the raccoon? Giving the sentence a better subject is the easy fix, so your reader isn’t left with the wrong idea.

While we were taking the long way home, a raccoon ran in front of our car.

Avoiding passive verbs is the easiest way to steer clear of misplaced or dangling modifiers. In our small town paper, I’ve read similar items to this in the police blotter column.

A house on Main Street was reported broken into by the police yesterday.

Did the police really break into that house on Main Street? How awful!  Eliminating that passive voice is the fix.

Somebody broke into a house on Main Street yesterday, the police report.

In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by an unseen or unknown agent or object. This is great when you don’t really have all the information or when you want to call attention to the action.  The bill was approved. The driver was cited.

Putting the modifier as close as possible to its subject is the easiest solution.

With their brightly colored feathers, people are drawn to keep parrots as pets.

Feathered people. Who knew?

With their brightly colored feathers, parrots make attractive pets.

Be careful when writing recipes or instructions.

After chilling in the refrigerator for 5 hours, you should be able to eat the salad.

I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in chilling in any refrigerator.  That’s not my idea of a good time.

Chill the salad in the refrigerator for five hours before serving.

And here’s my favorite.

She recognized the man across the street with the cane named Bob

A cane named Bob? How would you fix this sentence?

You can read more about the passive voice here at a great website called A Guide to Grammar & Writing. Check it out.  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index.htm

My thanks to the artist, Cassidy Hollan for her illustrations. I can put you in touch with her if you’d like to see more of her illustrations.

SeaTech Connect – Downtown Seattle

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If you’ve ever sought an opportunity to get inside some of Seattle’s top interactive and creative agencies, on June 6, 2013, you can get your chance. POP, Banyan Branch, Wexley School for Girls, Admosis/The Makers Space, HasOffers and POSSIBLE will be participating in the kickoff office crawl event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Here’s the link to register, or learn more about this event:

http://www.meetup.com/SeaTech-Connect/events/121621062/

SeaTech Connect is presented by the 2013 Seattle Interactive Conference, coming this October. You can read more about the conference at this link:

http://www.seattleinteractive.com/

photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

Social Media Protection for Job Seekers in Washington State

It hasn’t happened to me, so far, but I’ve heard stories about social media savvy job seekers who have had to turn over their platform passwords to prospective employers as a condition of employment. Or they’ve experienced the interviewer who wants to “watch while they log in”. The intent, of course, is to view the candidate’s private profile, the one nobody sees unless invited in. For what purpose? Most likely to mine information that could be used to disqualify an otherwise perfect candidate.

This won’t happen anymore in Washington State, because Governor Jay Inslee signed S.B. 5211 into law last month. Under this new law, employers may not “coerce an employee or applicant to disclose login information for the employee’s or applicant’s personal social networking account.” Neither can they be coerced to login to their social media account in the employer’s presence in such a way that permits the employer to view the account.  The employer may not take adverse action if the employee or applicant refuses to hand over social media account information.

Washington State is now the eighth state to offer social media account protection to employees and this is a significant victory. The law also outlines penalties for violating the law and allows for filing grievances. There are exceptions, and an employer can monitor intranet social media and the law does not prohibit an employer from seeking login information for an electronic device provided as part of the employee’s relationship with the employer.

Wise use of social media is perhaps the best remedy. Google searches can find almost anyone, unless that person takes great pains against being discoverable. This means it might be a good idea to think before you post that picture of you and your friends at that party Thursday night while you were on that business trip. You have to ask yourself if you really need to have people know that particular bit of information about your private life. Double check your privacy settings!

The other states are Maryland, Illinois, California, Michigan, Utah, Arkansas, and Colorado. New Mexico has a similar law but it applies to prospective employees only.

If you would like to read the text of the legislation, you can find it here:   http://1.usa.gov/10HuPLs