Eight Tips For People Who Like To Share Lists Of Tips About Other People

Fishing - courtesy Gary on Flickr

Fishing – courtesy Gary on Flickr

People love lists. They’re handy for both remembering and reference, and they feel like efficient, compact, helpful things to have around. Shopping lists, for example, are super handy.

Unfortunately, lists have taken on dark side. A big trend on Facebook and the rest of social mediaville is to share lists of things other people do. “Ten Habits Of Highly Organized People“, or “Seven Habits Of People Who Are Disgustingly Rich,” or “Eleventeen Habits Of People So Happy You Want To Slap Their Smug Faces Ever Time You See Them.”

If you do this, or know someone who does this, here are some valuable tips on this practice.

1. Habit Lists are just wimpy self-help books

Self-help books are an easy replacement for actually doing work. If they really had the solution there would be one in each category and call it done. Instead people buy them over and over. They’re mental snacks, like a Twinkie. But lists aren’t even a full Twinkie. They’re Twinkettes.

2. You have no idea who wrote that List

Look at the byline. Do you know this person? No. Don’t give them any credibility just because their list looks pretty. Trust me, any idiot can pull together a bunch of points on a list.

3. Lists never have enough info

They’re supposed to be short and sweet so people share them. Truly valuable information is complex and takes a while to read and understand. These lists always stop short of telling you what you really need to know. There’s a way to fix this, but I’m out of space to explain.

4. The art is often better than the List

Ever noticed all these lists have an inspirational picture attached of someone climbing a mountain, watching a sunrise, or eating hundred dollar bills for breakfast with their coffee? Some of them are actually quite good, even though they have nothing to do with the list. Save the picture if you want, because it’s often the best thing on the page.

5. Nobody reads the whole List anyway

Once, Lulubelle the whale decided to ride a bicycle. But she couldn’t because she has no legs and would crush the bike to pieces. But really she was safe from being embarrassed by a horrible bicycle debacle because nobody reads all this text anyway, especially in the middle of a list. It just looks good to have a lot of items, but people just skim them. You owe me twenty bucks if you actually read this.

6. Lists never changed anyone’s life

All the Smart, Sexy, Strong, Rich people that are quoted on those lists… have you ever seen one say “I got here because of a List I read on the Internet?”

7. Wisdom isn’t in Lists

Habits follow action. We are what we repeatedly do. To become better at something you need to get out and do it. Experience it. There is no shortcut or quickstart guide. There may be great books to help you learn new things, but they’re not in bullet form on a website.

8. Follow your path, not theirs

If you look at the most successful people in any of these list categories, from Happily Married to Rich, rarely did any of them get there the same way. For any rule one of them followed ten others did it entirely the opposite. They’re successful because they followed their own path and discovered what works for them. Do the same.

There you go! I hope my list has been at least as helpful as some of the other lists you have seen out there!

Stay tuned for my next installment: Ten Popular Social Media Article Title Trends That You Have To See To Believe But Will Restore Your Faith In All Of Humanity One Person At A Time As You Weep Openly!

Star Trek’s descent into marketing spam darkness

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Spam Trek: Into Darkness

I was a Star Trek fan when Shatner was the only Captain the Enterprise had ever known, so it’s sad for me to say I’m so disgusted with Star Trek right now I’ve lost all interest in seeing the new movie.

The first problem was the lack of a new story. I liked the 2009 reboot overall and took some of the changes to “Star Trek history” (aka canon) as part of what J.J. Abrams needed to do to tell his own stories. So when I learned that Into Darkness was still borrowing from the original series and the original movies I was a little disappointed, but not fatally.

The second problem was this esurance ad. There have been product tie ins before, but this one somehow felt like all pretense of connection to the spirit of the original show had been abandoned. The original Star Trek was radical for promoting racial equality and peace, and the new movies were radical for their low, low insurance rates? A little more disappointed, but still I hadn’t given up.

What killed it for me is their spam marketing campaign. Star Trek: Into Darkness launched a promotion push called Are You The 1701, with the relevant hashtag #IAmThe1701. I signed up for the promotion because I thought it might be interesting, and I’m always curious to see how different companies run promotional campaigns.

It started out poorly with emails to win passess to screenings I couldn’t attend (I don’t live in Los Angeles), then got worse as the emails began coming in daily. After about a week I’d had enough and tried to Unsubscribe.

Nope. The Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails doesn’t work. It says I’m not on their list so they can’t remove me, yet the emails keep coming. Then I tried replying to the email directly, but it bounced back from an unmonitoried address. Since Paramount continues to send me email I don’t want, and have tried to stop, they are technically spamming me.

I was getting mad but I thought maybe someone else involved might be able to help. I tweeted @StarTrek and @StarTrekMovie asking for assistance. Nothing. They don’t care, and/or don’t appear to do any listening. Paramount’s only interest is pushing as many people to their theaters and car insurance tie ins as possible.

Fans? They can boldly get lost.

Digital marketing campaigns are designed to get people excited about a product or event, but if you do them poorly they can have just the opposite effect. If my reaction seems overkill, remember that for the past nearly two weeks the bulk of Star Trek mentions I’ve seen were a source of increasing frustration. Even something you like can get annoying in a big hurry if the business contacts you excessively with offers you can’t use, doesn’t give you any way to make them stop, and ignores you if you ask for help.

Paramount, I am sure that Star Trek: Into Darkness will makes gobs of money for you at the box office without my support, even with your rehashed story ideas, discount insurance, and spammy, incompetent promotion. But as a life-long fan that you’ve managed to annoy so thoroughly that for the first time my life I’m avoiding something with the name “Star Trek”, let me just say: Screw you.

A Grinch’s Tips to a Nearly Tolerable Christmas

Godzilla: King of the Tannenbaums

I don’t like Christmas.

I grew up in a Roman Catholic household so had it in full force as a kid, but as I grew up it started to feel made up and silly. Now I become increasingly anti-social as the 25th approaches, and have resigned myself to simply enduring this time of year and not trying to understand it any longer.

As an admitted Grinch who knows there is no way Christmas will ever disappear, here are my Three Tips To A Nearly Tolerable Christmas…

Stop worrying about that Jesus guy so much

I am no longer a Christian, and not even religious at all, so do you know how pissed off I get when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas?

Not even a little bit.

Someone is wishing me good tidings in a way that’s meaningful to them. How can I get mad about that?

What drives me bonkers is the endless bitching about the “right way” to say things. Some Christians scream “Keep the Christ in Christmas!”, while non-Christians get bent because someone wished them anything other than a generic Happy Holidays. I’ll take everything from Happy Chanukah to Frolicking Festivus with a smile.

Tip 1: However you celebrate this time of year, be gracious in accepting how others do it.

Stop buying crap

No other activity of the year brings out hateful, mean, rude behavior in people like Christmas shopping. From pepper spraying shoppers over Black Friday deals to fistfights over stolen parking places, it’s revolting. I avoid malls entirely between Thanksgiving and New Year because I can’t stand the madness.

Now “Christmas is too commercialized” is a popular drum to beat, and maybe you’re even nodding at this point, but here’s the thing… if you buy any Christmas gifts you’re part of the problem. Every year people lament how commercialized Christmas is, but they still buy crap they don’t need to fill manufactured expectations and Black Friday projections.

Things aren’t what make us happy.

My wife and I stopped giving each other presents years ago. Instead we pool the money we would have spent together, buy as much food as we can at Costco, and take it to a local Food Bank. Black Friday gets no help from us.

Tip 2: Find something you care about this Holiday season and invest part of yourself. Invest in time with people you care about, or people who need help.

Make your own celebrations

My first year in Arizona I lived in Manzanita Hall at ASU, on a floor entirely populated by 18 to 19 year old boy-idiots away from home for the first time. Our community room TV was programmed by majority rules, which meant it was generally football games and juvenile garbage that I was rarely interested in.

As a result, my hopes were slim when I rolled in an hour early to try and commandeer the TV to watch the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Charlie Brown Christmas specials. This was kid stuff, and I figured I’d be laughed off the floor if anything more interesting was on. I was wrong.

When other people trickled in over the next hour, every single one was relieved when I told them what I was planning to watch. Every one. By the time Rudolph started not a square inch of floor or wall space was unoccupied. A SWAT team could not have changed that channel without casualties.

Several dozen instant friends all cheered the Bumble, laughed at Charlie Brown, and a few even tried the Snoopy Dance.

As a result, my best Holiday memory that year didn’t come from all the traditional dinners or present wrapping. It came from a group of strangers all sharing their favorite TV shows.

Tip 3: Ignore convention. Find the things you really love about the Holidays and genuinely share them with someone. Maybe family, maybe friends, maybe strangers, maybe someone down on their luck.

My heart of unwashed socks

(cc) Pro-Zak on Flickr

That felt good. My heart didn’t grow three sizes or anything, but a nice venting is good for the digestion.

Now I’m going to dust off my copy of Bad Santa (NSFW), chase some kids off my lawn, and get back to being an anti-social crank.

I hope however you do spend this last 5% of the year, you find untarnished happiness, humor, and fun somewhere in the mix.

 

Dear Italy, there IS A FREAKING INTERNET!

I just have to rant on how hard it is to get on the Internet over here.¬† It’s nuts. You can pay tons of cash for phone access, but we’ve put on miles… sorry, kilometers… trying to find a place with a WiFi zone. Many are broken, or only have terminals. We finally found a small “cafe” we can use, so hopefully we can catch up on posting…