I should have made a tumblr.

I made a WordPress, because I wanted to engage with people. I’ve made three or four wordpress blogs for classes before–not even particularly trying to garner engagement, just filling class requirements–and I’ve always had plenty of views and at least a comment or two. From what I can tell, however, in the mere year and a half since I last blogged, WordPress has changed. The “pro” version seems to have really taken off, judging from all of the non-profit websites I’ve been viewing for my internship running on it, and I just suppose that means no one really sees it as a place for casual blogging anymore..So no one is looking for blogs like mine.

Also, my audience is probably all wrong for wordpress. I had a feeling going in, but I though I would at least get something…But everyone my age probably uses tumblr.

I didn’t make a tumblr, because I’m just not familiar with it. Somehow, the tumblr bandwagon passed me by without me even noticing until it was too late to learn with everyone else. I might be young, but I’m already afraid of the “new” thing, of change that I don’t understand well. I’m already getting stuck in my ways. Which is so bad for someone who wants to make a career not only in technology but also in researching and discovering that next new thing–idea, community, entertainment–and sharing it with other people. So I’m afraid of tumblr, because I’ve never used it before.

Of course, the same thing was true of Twitter, before I started this internship. But I think I’m doing pretty alright on that now. I think I’m capturing the “twitter” voice, and my engagement rate for my tweets has been pretty high. But going in to it, I didn’t even know that if you start a tweet with @ it doesn’t show up to your followers and you have to do the “.@” thing…

So that was difficult too, but I learned. I don’t know why I get so nervous about things I don’t understand well. It’s literally a part of my personality–it’s also what makes me so interested in research and immersion. I just feel like people don’t have a grounds to talk about something unless they really become a part of it and make an effort to understand the perspective of those people from an experiential point of view. (Of course, this can create a high barrier for me to engage in anything, because I always feel like I don’t understand it enough yet). Also…This is the whole reason I wanted to make a blog to begin with, so that I could actual talk to members of the online LGBT community in a casual setting so that I could better inform my methods of publicizing the stories in a more formal setting.  But nobody uses wordpress anymore…

I should have made a Tumblr.

Guys, am I bad at headlines?

One of my major duties with I’m From Driftwood this winter is to help prep the new video story for weekly release–BTW, new stories every Wednesday please watch if you want! Or even better, subscribe to the Youtube channel! Or follow the Twitter, where I desperately try to be engaging three days a week!

Anyway, part of this entails coming up with a couple options for titles for both the website and the youtube video (and even for HuffPost, where the story eventually appears).

Three weeks and three stories in and none of my titles have made the final cut. Guys, am I bad at titles?

I think a lot of the problem comes from my experience as a newspaper editor in high school. I was in charge of the middle pages, the ones no body cared about, read, or wanted to write stories for. So like every week 20 percent of the layout had to be headlines to make up for the totally lazy/disinterested writers who would always come up a good 200 words short of their guideline. In other words, in my mind, headlines are long–almost always the double line kind, and my favorite is Catchy Phrase: Long explanatory sentence. But my supervisor doesn’t seem to have the same taste in headlines…Like at all. The ones he likes are things I never would have thought of no matter how long I stuck with it.

Which I mean, is fine.

He definitely knows better–He’s been running this website by himself pretty much for so long now and he definitely has a feel for what appeals to his audience. And my last experience is almost four years old and for a print-based high school audience–totally different. So in other words I need to get better (or just learn how to write it the way he wants, the way that’s best for this situation.)

So okay. I already pretty much learned how to do the Tweeting in about a week (doubled my Tweet engagement rate even) so how hard can this be? It’s like basically the same thing even. And yet, for Twitter I was so easily able to find what basically amounted to a formula–put the link 1/4 through, end with 10 characters to spare, always include an @–yet I find all the advice blogs for writing headlines is just plain bad. 

For example. I saw one blog that claimed to offer me the formula I sought, but in the end it amounted to “5 easy ways you can save 20% on car insurance!” And I’m like really? That’s a scam. That’s literally all I think when I see a headline like that–and they’re always the ones that are sneaked into the awkward corners of a website with a fakely smiling stock image of an old lady. The whole thing just feels gross.

Am I wrong? Is this what headlines are now?

One of my major concerns comes with this idea of “Genuinity.” Like, capturing the true voice of a community and engaging with it in a way that is respectful and comes from a place of understanding. Not simply appropriating words and pretending I understand what they mean, but actually speaking/engaging in  conversation in a way that makes sense to the community that owns that conversation.

So, my question is, do I have to sell out to do it? What if the community represents something I don’t believe in–what if one of the core values is the idea of “fake?” Of putting a glitzy glam on things? Like buzzfeed or upworthy–are those bad communities just because they represent the desire to dress up reality? Is it a compromise of the genuine?

I’d say my supervisor doesn’t fall into that with his headlines–He consciously has made the decision on where to draw the line between “click-bait” and self-respect. And yet, even one of his headlines, this one about a Sikh man choosing to leave behind his religion, has drawn criticism, especially on Youtube, for the way it seems to equate his religion with his decision to come out and his anxiety in doing so. And I have to admit, coming from a privileged, white, Western mindset, that idea appeals to my brain–Oh, it was the turban that made him feel oppressed! This reaffirms my beliefs about turbans and conservative cultures, I should click it! When in reality, maybe I don’t know anything about Sikhism at all and I just want to feel like I can make some kind of knee-jerk judgment like that from the brief statement of a headline.

I wonder, is anything genuine in the digital age, or are we just hungry for the most exaggerated version of events we can produce in 140 characters or less? And what does that mean for me?

On the concerns of Millennial Interns: An introduction

So as it says in the about, this blog exists in part to fulfill assignment requirements from my college. But you know, beyond that I am a “media communications” or something like that major, so consider this blog my communication to you, other Internet people.

One of the “before you begin” bullet points was, “who is this blog for?”

A lot of people use this to mean fellow Bennington students, using it to connect with and share unique experiences for this brief period while we are all apart. But I thought I might do something a little more fitting to the things I study (?) and make this blog an outreach to anyone out there who might be college age, looking for an internship, facing the various crisis of our millennial generation, LGBTQ (As that is what my internship deals with…more about that in a sec), and in this way connect and extend my FWT (that’s what we call this mandatory internship period) experience, while I perform my own mandated self-reflection.

For my fellow interns/internship seekers/college students/college seekers, think of this blog as an advice portal. Hell, I’ve managed to somehow do this three times, maybe I have something to offer?? Also they let me into college for some reason maybe I know things about it?? Probably not. Oh well, we can chat anyway.

For the LGBTQ community, I am interested in hearing your voice. The things I claim I study, besides being overly big-headed and partially inane, entail something I call “Communication Spheres,” aka the communities we create, especially online, based on interests (anime or video games), commonalities and shared experiences (LGBTQ), and the like. What I want to be able to do with this kind of mindset about how connections work, is understand that all collectives are created and controlled–that they have their own rules and mutual understandings that are determined, actively and interactively, by members of the group, even if they aren’t aware they’re doing it.

Anyway, the point is this thing called “social languages,” which is used to describe how groups uniquely communicate within themselves (ie, how you can tell a person is super into Tumblr by the way they write comments), and also concepts along the lines of social psychology: Group norms and mores, how people interact, etc.

My study aims to understand these things through research and observation, and then convey them to people outside the group who have a vested interest in connecting with the members of that group. So nonprofit work, like I am currently doing, that seeks to engage diverse members of a loosely connected community, or some kind of new age advertising (sorry, using my powers for evil?? If you care to know, if I’m going to be super honest, my career goal is totally to work for SVU researching topics/communities/trends that they can dumb down and turn into one of their beautifully ridiculous episodes…Don’t judge me. <3)

Anyway, what does all this have to do with you, the members of the LGBTQ community?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I am currently working for the nonprofit org I’m From Driftwood, self-described as “The LGBTQ story archive.” In other words, I am striving to connect with members of this community. Wonderfully, IFD is already narrative focused, so I am already participating in the perpetuation of the kind of dialog I wish to craft, but I see no reason this blog can’t be a learning opportunity (as well as reflective) of its own.

Engage, if you so please, in narrative creation with me. Comments are open, you don’t even need to give an email, so please comment away! Ideally, nice little discussions can craft themselves out of the comment section (though I feel this probably doesn’t happen on WordPress very often), and perhaps I can pull out comments and incorporate them into my ongoing dialog of reflecting as an intern, creating a more rounded learning experience for myself. Of course, this is just a (very long) introductory post, so I don’t know if there’s anything much to say, so that’s okay too, I’ll try to be more interesting next week.