Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Surfing Again: Kindergarten Controversy, Jello Shots, and More From the Mommy Wars

As usual, there are many interesting discssions taking place in the parenting world this week.  Here are just a few that I think are worth reading about.

  • Lisa Belkin at The New York Times Motherlode blog writes about the issue of redshirting, in light of the recent decision made by the state of Connecticut to consider changing its cutoff date to keep 4 year-olds out of kindergarten.  The age at which children start kindergarten has never been without controversy, but the topic always makes for an interesting debate where issues of academic vs. emotional preparedness, gender differences, and socioeconmic inequalities come into play.
  • It's only May, but 2011 has already been hailed as the Deadliest Year For Twisters Since 1950.  It may not be the best time to live in tornado alley, but at least we can do our part to help, and take the opportunity to teach our children about the importance of helping those in need.  You can donate items like clothing, toys, and toiletries at many local St. Louis malls, or check out articles like Ways Kids Can Assist Tornado Victims for more ideas.
  • A post from Amy at Just West of Crunchy found tremendous popularity on Facebook and Twitter.  Top 10 Things Breastfeeding Advocates Should Stop Saying seems to have hit a nerve among both breastfeeding and formula-feeding moms everywhere ... 
  • The FDA is seizing birth pools, for reasons that are a complete mystery to me.  But if you're interested in having a home water birth in the future, you may have to use your bath tub or invest in a kiddie pool from Toys R Us (which I've actually heard is a great option).  At first, I thought this was just an internet rumor, but it appears that Barbara Harper (founder of Waterbirth International) is involved, so I think the story is legitimate. 
  • And last, but definitely not least, I have three words to kick off your Memorial Day celebration:  Strawberry Jello Shots.  As in, jello shots that you make inside of fresh strawberries.  The pictures of these things over at My Thirty Spot (my new favorite non-mom blog now that I have officially accepted my status as a thirtysomething) are absolutely mouthwatering.  Seriously.  Go. Read. Make.  You won't be disappointed.
Happy Memorial Day!   

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Social Media Meltdown: Can An Introverted Writer Conquer The Internet?

I am, without question, an introvert.  I'm not the life of the party (well, unless there are several margaritas involved), I'm not the one organizing playdates and mom's nights out, and I'm not the one chatting up somebody I've never met at the park just because our kids look to be about the same age.

If I don't know you, I'm probably not going to talk to you.

It's nothing personal, it's just my nature.  It's not that I don't want to talk to you or get to know you, it's just that I find the whole putting myself out there thing kind of exhausting.

And it turns out that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

What Is An Introvert? defines an introvert as a "reserved or shy person."

According to the Myers-Briggs' definition, an "introvert derives energy from his or her internal world of emotions and ideas, while an extrovert draws from the outside world of people and activities for spiritual sustenance."

I even found one site that described an introvert as a person who "is drained by social interaction."

Is that me?  Um, yes.  Check, check, check.  And a lot of other people too.

The Introverted Writer  

Writing has, historically, been an excellent profession for introverts.  As a writer, it used to be that you were left alone with your own thoughts and ideas.  You didn't have to converse with other people or listen to what they had to say in order to put your own thoughts on paper.  I know, paper, right? 

You could publish what you wrote in a magazine or a book and then let your work go, let your voice float around the world without ever having to truly engage with the people who heard it.

The beauty of the system was that you could say what you wanted to say without ever really having to talk to anybody.   

Or at least maybe that's how it used to be.

Apparently, it's not like that any more.

Online Writing And The Rise of Social Media 

I've discovered recently that writing is not just about writing any more.  Maybe it never really was, but I can't help but think that the rise of socia media has fundamentally changed the writing profession to the point that it isn't so introvert-friendly.

These days, you have to aggressively market yourself and your work through every available social media outlet - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and I'm sure others that I don't even know exist. 

You have to interact with "friends" and readers on a daily basis, posing questions, responding to their thoughts on your work, and constantly trying to cultivate an interesting image that's going to keep people coming back for more.

As writer and media consultant Lela Davidson writes in her post Social Media: Not Just For Social Butterflies: 

"if you’re working online at all, or offline for that matter, and you’re not using social media you’re going to be left behind."

Introverts Struggle With Social Media

For introverts, social media is problematic on a number of levels. 

Case in point: me.

I enjoy writing about many different aspects of parenting.  I've written blog posts on a variety of topics and in a variety of styles, from simple how-to posts like How To Hold A Family Meeting to informative posts on hot parenting topics like Disney Develops New Marketing Campaign Aimed At Newborns to opinion pieces like Report Cards For Parents? No Way! and The 3 Things Pregnant Women Need More Than A Birth Plan.  

But whether I enjoy writing, or write well, is largely irrelevant these days.  Because online writing is all about getting people to read what you've written, and, thus far, I haven't managed to market my writing, or myself, very well. 

I should be sharing everything I write with all my friends on Facebook, and seeking out new contacts via Twitter.  I should really upload a picture so people can see what I look like.  I should be putting it all out there.

I should be the social butterfly that goes against everything that is my nature.

Sure, the constant social interaction might be draining, but it might also be a positive step in coming out of my shell and facing the world head on.

So, if you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm @stlouismartmama.  I promise there will be a picture soon.  And I'm also thinking that there will be an upcoming post here on social media for introverts, as I wade out into the water and figure out how to take advantage of all that social media has to offer. 

Ten Steps To Embracing Social Media For The Socially Challenged, maybe?

I'm thinking it will start with a tip to invest in a few bottles of vodka or tequila to get the party started. 

Or would a drunk social butterfly be a bad thing?

Photo credit: sahlgoode/Flickr