Monday, January 19, 2009

Change You Need

Obama is moments away from taking office. Already there are naysayers criticizing his lofty promises or accusing him of being an extension of the crooked politics that abound in Illinois. Even many who voted for him and currently support him are somewhat sceptical about his immediate ability to attack all the the problems his administration will inherit.

Regardless of how you feel about the new President, there is something to be said about his promise for change and the bold willingness he has to lead the United States. Considering the great social strides that have been made between the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. and the historical magnificence of what is to occur tomorrow, there is amazing hope and possibility in change.

But what about personal change? Perhaps circumstances in your life are troubling or even overwhelming to you. I have seen a lot of people who have had difficulty finding work or finding work that is enough to provide sustenance for their families. I have worked with those that hate their jobs, but still continue to stay in them. The first thing I try to remind these people (as I sometimes must remind myself) is that although our efforts to improve our lives or solve our problems are not always met with success, real change and improvement are only possible with effort. Complacency and denial are far worse enemies than the problems we face themselves, because there is little hope that the problems will go away if they are never faced.

To make this point while also acknowledging the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and the pending inaugural history, I quote the great writer, James Baldwin, who wrote powerfully for the social change that he believed in an age of institutionalized racism and segregation:

"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced."

Now, being the time of the new year and the time of a new executive administration is a good time to reflect on the changes you would like in your own life. Be bold and face the areas in your life that need to be changed. Courageously face areas that need to be improved. Face the things you would like to change today, and hopefully the result you will have is being able to face a better tomorrow.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Facebook Insanity

It took quite a while and a whole lot of resistance, but three weeks ago, I signed up for Facebook as an additional means for me to expand my network and general branding. I had avoided Facebook because I was worried its application was less professional and sophisticated than what I was already using. Moreover, already on Twitter and LinkedIn for sometime, it did not make sense for me to add anything else because I really did not want to be too preoccupied with social networking management.

Nonetheless, one of my best friends entreated me to try it—and I have to say I have really enjoyed the experience so far and am amazed at its potential. But I do have some warnings about the pitfalls that one (including me) can easily fall into. I think I can assume that most professionals are aware that it is not advisable to post anything questionable because employers will do background checks for anything dubious. Scrupulously, I naturally only posted my professional profile picture and some of my favorite pictures of me with the kids. Still I could not anticipate what happened to me once I did sign up. The majority of my Facebook friends were old high school friends from twenty years ago. In high school, I was a prankster—and it was not long before I allowed myself to regress to my high school mind set in my Facebook interactions. There are countless silly applications on Facebook. You can pass around a drink, throw snowballs, invite others to play online games, kidnap others, give hugs, kisses, and somethings that I think are unmentionable. And in the three weeks that I have been on Facebook, all of these things happened to me. So much for maintaining a professional image. This in part was the inspiration for me to do my last post on being as mad as hell--a voice that was certainly more alive in me as a teenager.

Fortunately, one can do a few things to escape this miry mess. I have included a few that I am aware of:

  • Create more than one profile, and have one profile that is strictly professional, restricting access to your other profiles.
  • In the Facebook controls, you can control what information gets posted on your wall and broadcasted to others. If you do not want the rest of the world to know that you completed a drug deal in the game Mob Wars, simply deactivate the posts so that this information is not broadcast. Additionally, all posts can be deleted—so if you forgot to exclude an inappropriate post, you can still erase it before it becomes damaging.
  • You can “hide” from individuals who you do not want to associate with your Facebook profile.

Now if only someone could advise me on dealing with the present addiction I have with some of these games my friends relentlessly invite me to.