Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lessons Learned

Earlier this month, friend and fellow broadcast journalist Jim Walker, who ascended to great heights in the tv news industry by way of Bakersfield, launched a no-holds-barred blog - a thought-provoking look at everything from politics to fitness, and anything else imagineable in between. This week, in the wake of so much teen violence, he writes about the importance of instilling discipline in our young people.

We all have our ah-ha mistake memory from our childhood. In Jim's case, it was a pack of chewing gum. His recollection is another reminder that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children isn't a brand new car or ipad, but good, old-fashioned discipline by way of reinforcement and structure. No belts, spankings or tar-and-feathering need to be used as they will be no match for standing your ground, being consistent, providing structure, setting limits and making sure a lesson served is a lesson learned. Give it a try. It 'Manners' A lot! And read Jim's post at

Friday, April 6, 2012


In this digital age, it is almost unfathomable to think that Facebook, that great social media vortex of distraction, was once just someone’s quirky idea. Ten years ago no one had any ‘Pinterest’ nor gave a ‘tweet’ about spending absurd amounts of time engaging with complete strangers while pretending the friendships had any real significance.
The only farm that mattered was the ant farm for the science project, not the cartoon plantation where one can amass corn acreage one stalk at a time on Farmville. But today, Facebook, and its spawn social networking sites, are as essential to daily living as food and water if some studies are to be believed. According to Pew Research Center, social networking among adult Internet users has more than doubled since 2008. They have changed the way we live, interact, and do business. Such sites have also cost people jobs, relationships, and reputations.
Just ask former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
According to another Pew study, 11% of adult responders said they had posted something they later regretted. That’s all? I suspect that number is probably much higher. Who doesn’t know of someone who was inexplicably fired or never hired for a job after some questionable status updates or photo shares?
All the crops, pokes, tags, friend requests and deletes are a permanent snapshot of you. Your digital signature engraved in the public domain can come back to haunt you. There are no erasers, just the perma-marker of potential sins serving as cautionary tales.
So absent social media’s Moses, and our inability to live with or without it, here's a tongue-in-cheek guideline of commandments to help prevent social disgrace of biblical proportion.
After all, ‘It Manners A Lot.’

1. Thou Shalt not post pictures of any body parts other than the face. It’s Facebook, remember, not breastbook or bootybook. If you want to remain employed or gain acceptance to that prestigious university, don’t share the photographs of last weekend’s wild party. What you post can be held against you!

2. Thou Shalt not covet thy friends’ friends. No one likes a facebook poacher. If you want to friend someone you and others have in common, include a message introducing yourself. There is no obligation to confirm a request either. If the number of your facebook friends exceeds the enrollment at the local junior college, consider pruning or taking a break altogether.

3. Thou Shalt not drag your newfound ‘family’ of acquaintances into your real-life relationship drama. Remember, public domain and privacy don’t mix. Ever. Case in point: The now infamous facebook-ranting, laptop-shooting Jordan family of North Carolina.

4. Thou Shalt avoid being a ‘Debbie Downer’. No one likes a complainer. If you are a daily dose of lemons with your updates and not one soul so much as ‘likes’ your status, it’s time to change your tune.

5. Thou Shalt not post everything you are doing. If you are having your first cup of morning coffee, guess what? So are millions of others. If you are tired and going to bed, just do it! It’s not like we’re going to jump in our cars and drive over to tuck you in! Even in facebookland, there is such as thing as Too Much Information. If you seriously think I will find it interesting that you changed the litter box, we have no business being friends.

6. Thou Shalt not post everything you are thinking either. Profanity and racial slurs have no place here or anywhere else. If you can’t temper your gutter mouth, private message your ‘friend’. The old rule of thumb about avoiding heated discussions about politics and religion at social gatherings applies here too. Sharing something of political interest to you could trigger a ‘comment’ firestorm of opinions from the left and the right. Avoid the mine field of mudslinging.

7. Thou Shalt not be vague or cryptic. You may just simply be at a loss for words when posting ‘thanks for everything’; your 1372 friends may fear for your well-being.

8. Thou Shalt not bombard with challenges. We all have our special projects, and the occasional request for prayer or contribution to a worthy cause is certainly no reason to de-friend someone. But week after week of asking others to repost the color of one’s undergarments or middle name spelled backwards for the sake of cancer research or just because it is second cousin week will be a surefire way to go from ‘friend’ to ‘scroll on by’.

9. Thou Shalt pause before posting, sending, or sharing. Jostens, the national yearbook and graduation company, has launched the public service campaign ‘Pause Before You Post’. So ask yourself, who will be able to see the post, will anyone be embarrassed or hurt by the post, are you proud of it and how would you feel if someone posted it about you? If wouldn’t want to see it on a billboard or the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper, don’t do it!

10. Thou Shalt Profile Prune from time to time. Just like spring cleaning, deleting unwanted friends, comments and photo tags is growing in popularity as the sites become the main communications channel for most. One study suggests two-thirds of profile owners have dropped people from their network, a number that has doubled in the last three years. Remember, it is still YOUR wall, and
'It Manners A lot'.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Red-Eye Flying No Slumber Party

This blog had a completely different itinerary, until it was hijacked two nights ago by the gentleman behind me in seat 42B aboard a Delta red-eye flight bound for an airport two time zones away. For a moment I wondered if perhaps this middle-aged man was on his first airplane ride. Doubtful.
Flying in the middle of the night used to have its own set of unspoken rules. First and foremost: Take your seat, buckle up, and call it a night! But somewhere between SFO and JFK, those rules went the way of complimentary on-board meal service to the land of lost luggage. My thoughtless seat mate to the rear decided to descend into the dark night with his overhead light on for the duration of the trip, as if his row was going to help navigate us onto the tarmac safely. Then he engaged his poor companion in non-stop conversation which sounded more like a deposition. He completed his cruel triage on the rest of us by playing with the wrapper of his purchased food, every crinkle, tear and peel like his own concierto of incivility.
Some people like meeting strangers, but after 10 p.m., forget about it. Save the small talk for the landing when everyone will be awake in the predawn darkness whether they like it or not. When the interior lights have been turned off, that signals slumber-time. Of course, not everyone , no matter how many sleeping pills or mask or cocktails, can nap on an overnight plane flight. If you're one of them, it is still no excuse for disregarding the public air space of one's neighbors. If you must read, or work, opt for a personal book light instead of the overhead beam. Everyone around you will thank you in the morning. And honor that code of silence - literally. If you think extending this basic courtesy to your fellow passengers is impossible, next time, book a midday flight, or take the train. And remember, 'It Manners A lot'.