To See the Good in People

I made a conscious decision to look into the faces of the people as they checked out and to look for the good in them. I could see the good in people. The good in people lies at the root of our civilization, all order, and the amazing capacity of human beings to live together in large numbers.

see the good in peopleTo see the good in people try this simple exercise 

Find an unobtrusive spot where you can watch people without being noticed.  I sat at a restaurant where I could see people coming out of a large box store.  Okay it was at a Costco.  My friend was taking a phone call, and I was bored.  I made a conscious decision to look into the faces of the people as they checked out and to look for the good in people.

I wasn’t hidden but I was among a large crowd, and none of the customers noticed I was looking at them.  I stared intently at their faces as they left for the exit.  Now there may be something about Costco, or the relief of getting past the checkout, or the delight at getting a good deal.  But I don’t think that’s what it was.

I could see the good in people Continue reading “To See the Good in People”

Writing for the Web

The goal of the writer is to change the reader. But the modern audience holds a mouse and knows how to use it. Writing for the Web has evolved to capture the fleeting attention of readers, e.g., 5 Ways to Slow Down the Web Reader. This phenomenon, to allow the eyes to hijack control away from the fingers, has given rise to a very common blog style and structure.

Writing for the webWriting for the webWriting Alters the Reader

Writing forms a trajectory in the reader’s mind, entering an unknown and nebulous space and preparing it to receive a very specific point.  With words, the reader is oriented, then briefed, then informed, then presented with a point.  Whether ultimately convinced or moved to disagreement, the mind has been altered to prepare itself for a new idea.    As certain as an inoculation, when writing is successful and an idea injected, the mind cannot revert to its former shape and size.   Like a cloud gathering ions in advance of a lightning bolt, writing presents the reader with an organized swarm of ideas directed toward a collision, a conclusion, a spark, an “Aha!”  The goal of the writer is to change the reader.

Writing for the Web Faces a Daunting Challenge

Once upon a time, books were as precious as gold.  The average person had limited or no access to reading material.  Even after Gutenberg invented movable type for the printing press, books remained expensive and remained limited by the productivity of professional writers.   Writing for a mass audience required a publisher willing to press words into print and sell them.   Readers who got their hands on a book had two basic choices:  keep reading or stop.

Unlike a generation ago, readers now have too much to read

Writing is abundant, free and one click away from oblivion.  Readers have choices.  Lots and lots of choices.  The writer who could once take for granted the rapt attention of a reader for an entire winter evening, now has seconds to blurt out a few headlines.

The modern audience holds a mouse and knows how to use it

Writing to alter the mind of the reader must now act with quick, sharp blows to catch the mind as the scroll wheel travels down the page.  Modern reading uses fingers as much as eyes.  Like thumbing through a stack of picture postcards, or comic books, the reader seeks stimulation.  What’s next, what’s next, what’s next.

Writing for the Web has evolved to capture the fleeting attention of readers

5 Ways to Slow Down the Web Reader

1. Place content in a list

2. Rely on the reader’s instinct to read each point

3. Order ideas sequentially

4. Avoid long sentences

5. Prepare the mind for a conclusion

Did you feel that?  Your mind slowed down to read the list while your fingers rested and accepted a new rhythm established by the list.

This phenomenon, to allow the eyes to hijack control away from the fingers, has given rise to a very common blog style and structure.  Take a look at these titles and see if they don’t ring a bell:

Three Remarkable Title Examples:

50 Reasons You Don’t Have to Stay Fat

5 Writing Tips That Actually Boil Down to One (see list above)

25 Celebrities Who Are Dumber Than You Are — Guaranteed!

This artifice has shaped writing into a new literary form:  The extended List.

The structure is very much like headlines of a newspaper except without much in the way of stories in between, since a reader unlikely to go back to read them anyway.  But at some point your reader does feel the pull of the rhythm.  If the lists have been doing their job, reader has slowed to match the pace of the words.

The Reader’s Mind Is Now Prepared to Receive Content

In this space, I could write just about anything and you would read it carefully.  Why?  Because you have read this far.   Your mind has made a commitment to hear a conclusion and a call to action.  Yes, there really are specific Web writing techniques that focus the mind and prepare the reader to make a decision.  Click below to see a classic collection of  free resources that inspired this article.

Free and Very Real Secrets of

Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web

                                       

Be Careful Who You Friend on Facebook

Then something happened that I hadn’t expected

I began to genuinely like my Facebook friends. These were people with big souls, strong minds, and, yes, very, very good taste. That was why I had sent them friend requests. The unexpected part: These were real people out in the real world.

Facebook: A Means to an End

My experience on Facebook began when I learned from Problogger and others that it was useful to connect to “social media” when you begin blogging.  The idea is that you can call attention to your blog.  Boy, was I surprised at what happened next.

Facebook is real people

In the beginning it was hard to meet new people.  No one knew me and I didn’t know anyone.  I looked around, and thought I would try to take the first step and request that someone be my friend.  I saw a picture of a person who looked nice and clicked on it.  Facebook sternly advised, “So and So will have to confirm your request. Please only send this request if you know him personally.” I didn’t know the person personally, so I didn’t send the request.  But then I read some more and decided that a potential Facebook friend could always turn me down.

I took a deep breath

I sent a request to a person I didn’t already know personally.  This person accepted!  I had made a friend.  It was a person who couldn’t speak English.  Our relationship was cordial in the sense that there was never a harsh word between us.  There were no words at all between us!  So I decided to try to make another friend based on a shared interest.

I made another friend

This friend had other friends and I could see their taste in music, film and books.  These people were funny and had good taste.  I foolishly followed my heart and sent a couple of friend requests to people who were, by my tastes, very cool.  I sent requests to more friends of friends.  I posted links to my blogs, too.  In the meantime, I began commenting on music videos my friends posted. Yes, they turned out to have very good taste in music.

I love music

Music is, for me, the closest thing to magic the human race has invented.  Especially rock and roll music, but all kinds of music have deep meaning, and these people knew it, too.  I was reading their comments on what their friends were posting.  Unfortunately, music has nothing to do with my blog.  My friends kept rocking my world with great music and humorous comments.   The songs they managed to find were so good, I was compelled to “like” them.  I kept listening and reading and liking and commenting.  I posted music I liked.  I posted to my wall my blogs, too, despite their irrelevance.

Then something happened that I hadn’t expected

I began to genuinely like my Facebook friends.  These were people with big souls, strong minds, and, yes, very, very good taste.  That was why I had sent them friend requests.  The unexpected part: These were real people out in the real world.  We had met semi randomly, but I would check in to see what they were posting.  And what they were posting was really good music and their memories of when they first heard the music, and their feelings.

They had feelings

I had read about Facebook in the context of promoting one’s blog.  These people I had friended turned out to be expressive, deep, and they loved music.  Something really strange happened then.  I realized how much good was in the hearts of these people.  I didn’t just love the music they posted.

I loved them.

This was not the plan.  These people had ruined everything!  They weren’t even reading my blogs, and why should they? My blogs were about other interests like writing and how to use WordPress blogging software and product reviews.  The basis of our relationship was the sincere love of music, and trivia and jokes.  And now I was on Facebook for all the wrong reasons.

Be careful

If your plan is to get on Facebook to promote your blog, be businesslike in your choice of friends.  If you follow your heart and seek out friends the way you would in real life, you may end up with a bunch of friends that you really enjoy for their own sake.

One day it will happen

All the friendliness will build up.  One of them will post a word or a song that fills your heart past the brim.  And then it will dawn on you.  Facebook is not just “social media.”  It’s a way to receive gifts of beauty and kindness and humor, and witness the genuine love and goodness in people. And on that day you are screwed!  I still post my blogs but love my Facebook friends and love them for being sincere.  And I sincerely don’t expect them to “like” my blogs.  I expect them to like what they like.