A MinD in MoTown

Drumroll please…!
June 2, 2010, 9:13 am
Filed under: Yet another girl in the blogosphere

After two months of anticipation – on my end anyway – the time has come to finally debut my new blog. That’s right, “A MinD in MoTown” will be no more as we give way to …

With some MAJOR help from LiLu*, “Behind the Byline” was born on Memorial Day and I’m 110% ready to transition onto my own domain! So change your subscriptions – yes, all three of you, please follow me over! – and click the link above, and find out the whole story behind my latest bloggy adventure.  =)

* Really, there was no way I could do it without her, so thank you immensely hun!


Moving on up.
May 27, 2010, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Yet another girl in the blogosphere

Within a week – I hope – “A MinD in MoTown” will be no more. After more than two years here*, it’s time to call it quits and move up into the big leagues.

That’s right, my own domain.

And with that domain comes a fresh look at yours truly. Will I be staying the course, sticking to my over-opinionated blog rantings and the constant sharing of interesting news items? Of course. But I’m also hoping that the new site provides readers with a bit more insight into the person behind the words. No, that doesn’t mean I’ll be sharing the details of my day-to-day life, but at least offering little tidbits here and there.

With that said, I’d love to know what those four of you who might regularly read would like to see. Is there something I could be doing better as a blogger? What kind of postings do you wish I’d write? Do I complain more than necessary? Ha. I would love for everyone to be honest – yes, I can take constructive criticism – and tell me what changes I could/should make as I dive into this latest project. After all, this blog-relocation probably provides me with the best time to do so.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more information about my new space on the Internets. As soon as it’s ready to roll out, I’ll be sure to let you know!

* And I just realized I never even celebrated my blogoversary nearly two months ago… Oops!

I tried … and failed.

The warning was very clear: Keep blogging and I’ll be forced to hit the little “mark all as read” button that often taunts me and my overwhelming Google Reader.

I wanted to avoid that option. Truly, I did. But with my Reader over 500 posts*, knowing that so many new posts would keep that number from drastically decreasing, I had to give in the temptation. And with one click of my mouse, the Reader was empty.

I thought I’d be relieved, even excited that I could freshly start this week without those blog postings looming over my head, remaining unread. But instead I’m left with a slight remorse for all I’ve missed in the blogosphere by ignoring each and every written word between last Wednesday and today from so many fabulous bloggers. I’m a bit saddened that I took the easy way out, succumbing to the knowledge that I’d never forge my way through those posts rather than taking on the challenge.

Sure, I made a brief attempt to read through a few blogs, but guilt swiftly overcame me as I skipped one blogger for another. I honestly felt a bit remorseful picking and choosing among the many amazing people whose blogs I’ve subscribed to. It was that feeling which forced me into my decision.

Am I the only one who has noticed this guilt-ridden feeling when surrendering to the “mark all as read”? Am I completely alone here in my meager regret? Perhaps I’m just that kind of gal who hates missing out on anything, who loathes falling behind. It’s sadly both possible and plausible that I’m the sole individual to give in to that button’s tempting ways and feel genuinely a bit sorry as a result.

Does this mean I may never again mark each and every posting as “read”? Not at all. I have done so before, and I’ll likely do so again – down the road, of course. But I have to at least hope I’m not left with this guilt after doing so.

If I’ve overlooked something absolutely worthwhile on your blog recently, now is the time to let me know. Delving into the archives is a rarity for myself, so your post faces never being read if you don’t flag it for me.

And if ever you need a guilt-free pass when marking my humble blog as read, consider this my approval. I wouldn’t want anyone ever feeling remorse for overlooking my words when an overwhelming Reader emerges.

* To some of you, 500 might not be that many. However, this was after I skimmed through “Awkward Family Photos” and marked several other threads as read, as well as any shared postings. This number was solely individual blogger-generated posts. Eep! Way to many for me to adequately peruse before the weekend when I go “computer free” yet again (I do that every weekend).

Better late than never.

So… I caved and participated in 20 Something Blogger’s Vlog Day, albeit I was a day late filming, and now I’m two days late posting. (My bad!)

Yes, it was an awkward experience, and yes, I rambled and majorly talked with my hands (what? I’m Italian, cut me some slack), but I tried. That counts for something, right? Oh, and it’s six minutes long. That’s clearly much longer than I anticipated, and longer than you’d likely care to hear me chit chat, so move on. Nothing to see here.

There’s a point mixed in there somewhere, among all the babble. I swear it!

Also – and I just had to include this – here’s an outtake where Sophie decided she wanted to be in the spotlight. I can’t even count how many times she was in another room, completely distracted, until she heard my voice and came running. Personally, this was too cute to not share.

So there you have it, my very first vlog. I make absolutely no promises I’ll ever do this again, ha.

Fighting the addiction.

Like most other days, I turned off the alarm and grabbed my cell phone. A few clicks later and I was on mobile Twitter, seeing what the world was up to before I threw off the covers and rolled – literally – out of bed. And, like those other days, I decided to save my first tweet for the office, which I’d stumble into an hour and a half later after walking the dog, a 15-minute date with my hair dryer, some makeup and the routine struggle to decide what to wear.

But this day – today – was different.

Twitter was down. It was 9:30 a.m. and I was convinced my work computer simply decided to hate me until I attempted the mobile version, which also refused to load.

“No big deal,” I said to myself as I meandered over to Facebook, only to discover error message after error message invading my computer screen. It wasn’t just Twitter escaping my grasp; it was Facebook, too.

After several repeated attempts to successfully browse each site this morning, I realized my attachment to these social networking devices – an attachment most of us bloggers tend to have. Sure, I somewhat acknowledged this beforehand, especially during moments where my boyfriend would harass me for tweeting through dinner, but it wasn’t something I took any more seriously than a joke. However, with this morning’s duo of downed sites, I can accept my position as an addict.

Whether it be Twitter of Facebook, these sites are the first I check in the morning from the comfort of my bed and the last I view before slumbering each evening. To count how many times I wander their direction would be nearly impossible, but I’d venture it’s at least several dozen times a day*. I tweet while driving, while working, while watching TV, while shopping, while eating, so on and so forth**, and I’m regularly checking Facebook just to discover what my “friends” are up to each minute of the day. Clearly these sites have become more than entertainment; they’ve moved into a pervasive element of my daily life.

And what’s worst of all? I know I’m not alone here. Since social networking became “all the rave,” so many of us have jumped onto this bandwagon, refusing to let go. We tweet, we update our statuses, we retweet and we play dumb games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars***, all while blogging our lives away when free moments arise. I almost can’t help but wonder what “real life” things we’re missing out on by engaging in these Internet activities.

Yet each element has become such a common piece of our generation’s existence that most of us – few of us, I’d imagine – stop to think about it until one site goes down and we wander the Web lost, trying to find something else to fill the void. That’s what I did this morning, after all. With Twitter and Facebook incapable of working properly, I read a bit more news than usual, made a few phone calls I otherwise might have waited to complete and skimmed through my Google Reader, all because two pages I frequent were beyond my fingertips.

Is being a social networking/computer addict a natural part of being a 20-something in 2009? Or are some of us taking our Internet lives farther than need be? At what point, if any, does succumbing to this world – the blogosphere, the Twittersphere and countless other sites – invade reality and keep us from completely enjoying a life without the clicking of keyboard keys and mouse buttons? For us addicts, is there truly a time when we’ll have to say “when”?

* An assumption of 25 each per day seems accurate, yet only approximate.
** I may or may not tweet from the bathroom, too.
*** I am only guilty of the first of those two, thank you very much.

Walk the plank.

I think the New York Times summed it up best when they said “When the Thrill of Blogging is Gone…” in a recent article.

To those of us who run in the same (or nearly the same) blogging circles, the disappearance of many popular bloggers is becoming more and more noticeable. Others are changing the way they blog, simplifying their techniques and sporadically posting rather than regularly providing readers with quips and banter.

The amazing Arjewtino called it quits in early April, saying he “just didn’t have it in” him anymore. At the same time, the ARW (…the almost right word) said she’d be back “at some indeterminable time,” yet few of us had heard much from her since, quite unfortunately. And most recently, SO@24 bid farewell to his loyal readers earlier this month.

And then bloggers like RS27 and Chris from Surviving Myself are reformatting their blogging methods while others – such as GoLightly’s MegKathleen, Wild ARS Chase’s Andy and Kendall from The Odd Duckling – have stepped away from their keyboards and taken “temporary” leaves from their sites, much to the dismay of readers who hope they return to the blogosphere in time.

Has blogging become our generation’s 21st century version of pogs or the Tamagotchi? Is this just another trend that us 20-somethings flock toward then swiftly ditch within a matter of months or years? Will our blogs be little more than a “phase” in our lives, just like those toys of our prepubescent days?

I’m beginning to think so, although I’d love for someone to prove me wrong.

As the aforementioned NYTimes article notes, some people seem to board the blogging ship with dreams of treasure and fame. The moment those distant hopes turn to ill-fated desires, bloggers abandon the deck and swim toward land before drowning in a sub-par-writing sea. Others remain at the hull, braving the storms and riding through, until boredom arises and life on land, away from the blogosphere oceans, seems more appealing*.

Regardless, many great bloggers are departing this Internet-world for a variety of reasons and most of us are likely wondering “who’s next?”

Will it be that blogger you check daily, soaking up every written word, wishing his or her life was your own? Will it be that person who rarely has much to say, but when he/she does, it’s extremely thought-provoking? Or could it be your favorite photo-blogger, fashion-blogger, news-blogger that says farewell? It could be me**, it could be you, it could be Joe Schmo, but someone else is bound to fall victim to blogger-death sooner than later.

And because of that, I’ve compiled a few tips for anyone who feels that demise is imminent:

  • Write for yourself. Once you start shaping your blog around the opinions and thoughts of others, the writing becomes contrived and you won’t necessarily feel as happy with the words you’ve shared.
  • Creating a blog in the hopes of it becoming a book/movie/anything else is ridiculous (really, this goes back to the first tip). The NYTimes article notes that, according to Technorati, “at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet.” Of those, less than 100,000 have a sizeable audience. That’s a very small margin of hope in making a blog more than just ramblings on the Internet.
  • Vowing to blog every day is unwise. Personally, I think people are more likely to continue blogging if they do it when/if inspiration happens. Forcing yourself to write something each day, whether or not you have anything to say, could potentially make for less appealing postings, thus a slow demise.
  • Quality over quantity. Sure, TONS of readers are great. But sometimes, a few dedicated readers who actually enjoy your work is better than hundreds of readers who comment only because they want you to “follow” their blog, too. Don’t get bogged down or frustrated by lower-than-preferred readership (again, back to the first tip!). Just because the hoards aren’t flocking to your blog doesn’t mean what you have to say is any less interesting than someone who regularly receives 1,000 hits. Maybe that person networks better, has stirred more word of mouth or simply make his/her presence known on more blogs than you currently do. It’s a combination of factors, if you ask me.

So if you’re reading this and thinking about jumping ship, maybe I helped talk you into riding the waves a bit longer. Personally, I’m finding this an enjoyable and rather cathartic ride and I hope to keep trudging through with my 12 readers intact, ha.

What, if any, tips can we add to this list? Because really, none of us want to turn around and watch another beloved blogger disappear any time soon. Maybe, just maybe, we can prove this blogging-trend will hold out longer than our Tamagotchi digital pets did.

* I may have overdone the “pirate ship/sea” analogy just a wee bit.
** No worries, I have no plans of “peacing out” yet.

Under lock and key.
May 14, 2009, 4:46 pm
Filed under: News Girl, Yet another girl in the blogosphere

Today, for the first time, the line between “Mindy the blogger” and “Melinda the journalist” blurred a bit, forcing me to step back from the issue at hand and decide the best means of remedying the situation.

I’ve only been blogging through A MinD in MoTown for one year, but I have remained fairly selective of the material I post because of my occupation, which I’ve made zero effort in hiding – hell, I’ve even discussed and named my very own newspaper. But for some reason, keeping the same moderation over my Twitter account never occurred to me. After all, I jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon long before it hit mainstream media, so I underestimated the reach even my own personal account would have.

Until today, that is. One quick look at my followers and I notice that my Twitter wasn’t only being followed by fellow bloggers and a variety of businesses hoping to earn my dollars. But rather, a local Mooresville resident – a man my editor was able to swiftly identify in the community – found @mskut as well as a regional congressman who has appeared, more than once, in the headlines of my paper as election season approaches. It didn’t take much thought, or much discussion with my editor, before I realized how detrimental their tweet-readership could be to my job.

My Twitter updates aren’t exactly overly explicit or revealing nude pictures of myself. However, they aren’t always entirely work-appropriate either, so a decision had to be made: Self-edit my tweets consistently and review my previous updates, removing anything deemed “too much information,” or put my account on lockdown, removing all local entities and continuing to tweet as I chose.

I swayed toward the latter.

I’m 23 years old and while I often assume others understand that notion, I realize I can’t exactly expect them to do so. It’d be rather foolish on my part to believe anyone should take my age and the immaturity I still possess into account at all times, especially when I’m at the job and attempting – note: attempting – to maintain a level of professionalism.

Likewise, for those Tribune readers who have never met me, the likelihood is low that they’re even aware of my youth. As a matter of fact, people are often shocked by how young I am when they do meet me for the first time. Thus, when they stumble upon my Twitter account – both my Facebook and MySpace have been friends-only for years – they could be completely unaware that my frequent cursing, my discussion of alcoholic beverages or my rants about work are the musings of a girl who still can’t rent a car.

While I’d like to hide behind my age, using it as an excuse for whatever I might say or do, I’m clearly propelling myself into the local limelight, at least in some regard. And with that, there has to remain some level of professionalism in anything others might find about me on the Internet, be it pictures or my blog or even Twitter.

It’s one thing to act with little to no concern and plaster the Web with the ideas and rants, photos and images, of my choosing; it’s another to get caught in the act and lose my job or even the respect of others within this small community. Doing the former is simply not worth the consequences. So although the line was temporarily blurred and my two worlds collided, it was only momentarily and I have remedied the situation, at least for now. But really, what other option did I have?