The five things that matter

I’ve been feeling a little ancient lately, but Halley Suitt reminds me that’s not one of the five things that matter. Five for five.

Some days, I feel so so so so old. I feel a bit like Methuselah, who, if you recall, lived 900 years. Being old, you forget sometimes what it’s like to be young. You just don’t get it.

I feel old when I talk to people who are something like 18 or 23 or 36 and they are all caught up in stupid stuff that doesn’t matter and once you’re a little aged like me, you want to tell them … “but, that thing, … that thing you’re worrying about, … see, you don’t get it yet, … but that doesn’t matter. Just doesn’t matter at all.”

Of course it would be rude and annoying to say that kind of comment, so you keep it to yourself.

So the good part of being old is knowing what really doesn’t matter. And that what does matter, you can count on the fingers of one hand. You know they would have given us hands with 17 fingers if all that stupid stuff counted.

There really are only about five things that matter:

Thumb: You love someone.

Pointer: Someone loves you.

Middle Finger: Your work: you have the bravery to do what you love and really become yourself and screw what anyone else thinks about it.

Ring Finger: Connection to people, family, friends

Pinky: Eat, drink, be merry.

I’m a screaming teenage girl at a Beatles concert

Back in March I posted –somewhat giddily– about being added to Halley Suitt’s blog roll (I’m still there). Ms. Suitt was kind enough to say she stopped by smays.com from time to time. I suspect she was being kind, but still a thrill.

While he’s far less sexy than Ms. Suitt, Jeff Jarvis orbits in that same blogosphere firmament. His BuzzMachine is #49 on Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs (if you go in for such rankings, and Mr. Jarvis is not the sort to do so).

Today, while reading his latest post, I came across a quote that sounded strangely familiar. Mr. Jarvis attributed the quote to “A media exec even older than I…”

Good news: Jeff Jarvis read something I wrote and thought it worth pointing to (or someone sent him a link).
Bad news: I’m older than Jeff Jarvis.

As I emailed Jeff (He’s just a kid, I can call him Jeff), this is like being in the audience at a Bruce Springsteen concert and hearing the Boss shout out, “Steve Mays is somewhere in the house tonight!”

Halley Suitt on class reunions

Within one week, two fairly nice, rational, reasonable guys I know told me about 1. (first guy) attending a college reunion and loathing the experience and 2. (the other) told me how he was dreading attending an upcoming reunion.

I’m sorry, but what the HELL WERE THEY THINKING?

Why put yourself through such a thing?

Remind me why people even bother going to reunions? If you’re doing a lot better than the people in your graduating class, surely you have something better to do than go rub your former classmates’ noses in it. If you’re doing worse, that’s reason enough not to go. If you still see and like your college friends, have a party at your house and invite them over.

Aren’t reunions just a wallet-cleaning activity for the alumni fund-raisers?

Wait, wait, do guys go so they can see who ended up with what woman? This might have some logic to it, but what a waste of time!

—  Halley’s blog

Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario

“In the April 4 print edition of Advertising Age, columnist Bob Garfield laid out a sweeping vision of an advertising industry caroming toward chaos and disruption wrought by the digital media revolution. Boiled down, his theory goes something like this:

The marketing industry is currently whistling past the graveyard and largely ignoring signs of massive, fundamental changes in how the business of mass marketing will be conducted in the near future. The broadcast TV model is working less well each year and will eventually cave in on itself as it reaches ever-fewer viewers with a fare of low-quality programming and mind-numbing clutter. Marketers will increasingly abandon it. But despite their glitzy promise, the aggregate of new digital technologies — from Web sites and e-mail to cell phone content and video on demand — lack the infrastructure or scale to support the minimum amount of mainstream marketing required to smoothly sustain the U.S. economy. The result, as the old systems are abandoned and the insufficient new systems struggle to carry an impossible advertising load, is what Garfield calls “The Chaos Scenario” — a period of serious disruption moving like a tsunami through the marketing business as well as the economy and the broader society itself.”

I’ve been unable to find the full article but did find a report about the article (audio – transcript) at OntheMedia.org.

I might have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. My dad was a radio guy for 30+ years and I’ve been at it –in one form or another– for 33 years. Radio has been “berry, berry good to me.” And during the dozen years I worked in local radio, I estimate I wrote and/or produced 60,000 commercials. And I believed they “worked” for the advertisers who paid for them. And they believed they worked. And many of them did work. But I now wonder if wasn’t a little like believing the wine turned into blood. A matter of faith, based on… faith. Commercial transubstantiation.

Word of mouth was probably always more effective than radio or TV or newspaper ads. But how many people can one person talk to in a day? Not so many in 1955. In 2005… with a website… you can reach a lot of folks. And when Doc Searls says he likes this IBM Thinkpad, I believe him. Or Halley Suitt recommends an author. Or Chris Pirillo tells me he likes his iRiver mp3 player… I believe them. Because I “know” and trust them.

When I’m shopping for a (fill in the blank), I go online and read the reviews of real people. And yes, some shrewd marketing type could spoof me with a bogus review, but a hundred (a thousand!) others would have a different opinion. It’s getting hard to lie/exagerate/bullshit your way to a sale. Bob Garfield said it much better:

“The total democratization of media, combined with ultra-targeted ads consumers actually opt to see. We, the people, cease to be demographics. We become individuals again.”

Blogging, journalism and democracy

“The technology — that is, the software is democratic in and of itself. What were witnessing is a shift of power and prestige. Journalists have been accustomed to being powerful. Most people don’t like giving up power. It used to be cool and MEAN SOMETHING to be The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or NBC or CBS or CNN … now it means less and less.” — Halley Suitt on blogging and journalism and democracy.

Everything.

I don’t know Halley Suitt but I’ve been reading her blog for a few years and, well, I feel like I know her. Last week she wrote about a cancer scare. Today she reported that it was just that, a scare. And added: “Gives you a whole new appreciation for…everything.”

This small, common incident seems so…out of balance. On the front end is this awful, hellish possibility. At the other end is a nice, normal mammogram. Everything’s okay. Normal life resumes. Does the good news really balance the bad? I hope so, for Halley.

Bed and Breakfasts

“Bed and breakfasts are “honey, let’s go away” punishment detention camps for men who owe their extremely furious wives some stab at romance every few years. It’s a way station for dead marriages trying to get it up one last time before that long deep dive into marriage counseling.” — Halley Suitt

The freedom to choose

“If I got pregnant and could not have another child, it would be my choice and my partner’s choice, nobody else’s, to decide what to do. My business, not someone else’s. Just as it’s not my choice to tell someone who is against abortion that they shouldn’t be against abortion. It’s none of my business. That’s why we live here. That’s why we can jump in the car and go see Plymouth Rock today. We can just go there. Nobody can tell us not to go there.”  – Halley Suitt

Life in a box

“…about how we all spend so much time having a life that seems to be the kind of life other people have — get up, get breakfast, get dressed, go to work, get there at 9:00, leave there at 5:00 or 6:00 or whatever, come home, eat dinner, watch TV — and I suddenly found this really sad. That we come to this earth and that’s all we can come up with for a life. I don’t want to be the fire-eating woman in the circus or something, but I think I want more of a life than a person who lives in a box, leaves their box in the morning, gets in their box-with-wheels, drives to another office box, sits in that box for 8 hours, their butt spreading a little wider every day from just sitting there, goes home to their box, sits in front of the box, eats a frozen dinner out of a box, goes to sleep on their mattress and box spring.”

Halley Suitt