A Lesson in Social Media From Teens

Once upon a time, a friend of one of my kids friended me on Facebook. She immediately told my child that I didn’t know how to use Facebook because I posted too much. My child gave it an eyeroll. I laughed because well–social media is one of the things I get paid for at work. I probably have read more white papers, case studies, best practices than most people on the Internet. I know how to sell a link.

So, what could a bunch of teenagers accidentally teach me about social media? A lot. You see, as I have already posted, my youngest child turned 16 today. Her father did a lovely tribute on his wall with pictures and comments. But, the real meat happened on her wall.

I look at birthday wishes on people’s walls ALL THE TIME. Happy Birthday Ann! Have a great birthday Jennifer! I hope your hubby spoils you Maxine. There is sometimes a variation. I try to say something about my wishes for their year ahead as an example. Goodness knows when you have someone or three having a birthday every day, it becomes part of your routine.

Then I read these kids’ birthday wishes for my daughter. It wasn’t just junk or Happy birthday Elly! These kids talked about how they met, mentioned a special time or two, talked about what they liked about her. They shared a picture of the two of them together. Yes, there were some “Your cute {sic}! HBD” types of comments. But most of them offered more. I have a friend or two that will go with a line more than happy birthday. But, how many go above that? None? How often do I go beyond that? Erm…not much. I will write a birthday post or something for family. Maybe. I sort of expect people to know they are loved and appreciated.

These posts weren’t extensive for the most part. Yes, one of them was a long ramble. (but it was touching and interesting) It wasn’t anything that would ADD a whole lot of time to a birthday greeting. It adds so much as a gift to the birthday person though. It also gives a gift to that person’s community. How many times have you known a person for years through one aspect of their life and never realized they had a hobby you found interesting? I bet that’s happened. Or you know something cool about a friend that maybe her other friends don’t realize.

So, there you go. I am going to try to say a bit more in my birthday wishes. I feel like it will be a big part of building community among my friends and family. I feel like it also will just make a difference to a single person. As adults, we have so many less than stellar birthdays. This is a way to give back.

Think about it. And thank you to the youngest child’s friends for taking me down a notch even if they don’t know they did. She’s the child that has always taught me I don’t know everything…and this was a reminder of that.

Sublimely Sixteen

Elizabeth is sixteen now. It is easy to get lost in thought while trying to come up with something coherent to say about her. I’ve pondered talking about her birth story. About her active nature even in the womb. I want to talk about how she knew how to get the attention on her from the very first minute of her very first day.

You see, Elizabeth bears herself with power. She owns that power and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Yes, she’s sixteen and has her angst. She also cuddles like a fiend. She is beautifully active–from riding her bike to school and everywhere else to swinging from some silk at the top of the Actor’s Gymnasium.

She’s lively. I see her light up a room with a smile. I see her stick up for the underdog. As she get older, I see more and more empathy for the disadvantaged and care about the forgotten. Yes, I still tell her to check her privilege–but not as much as I do the other children.

Elizabeth combines her confidence and power with extraordinary intelligence. She sometimes hides that in her efforts to spite people she does not respect. Yes, of course, that is cutting off her nose to spite her face, but it is how she does things. You are left in no doubt that she COULD do something if she chose to do it.

An example: Elizabeth, like her siblings before her, like her mother, chose to learn to play an instrument. Unlike her siblings and mother, she actually set forth and practiced for hours. She taught herself entirely–no lessons, no class, no “you need to practice if you want to be any good.” She decided to play. She looked up how to do what she wanted to do. She keeps at it. That strength and determination will get her far.

Even though you might think this house is a battle zone sometimes, with all the kids willing to blame Elizabeth for being a “hellspawn” and a “brat” there is also an intense love for her. Part of that is because she very much typifies “I am allowed to say and do everything I want to my family, but say one word truly against them and you are done.” There is a lot of love in Elizabeth. She is fierce in that love.

Lizzy and RJ Cuddling

Speaking of love, she has her first “real” boyfriend this year. She seems to be handling the relationship with far more maturity than I had at her age. She is clear on her limits. She didn’t freak out when I gave my standard know why you are having sex and do you remember how and what and when you need to use birth control. She brings the boy over and exposes him to her family. Not only that–he seems to have the character to not only tolerate it but seems to enjoy it. That is far rarer than you might think. By the time you’ve raised five out of six kids to young adulthood, plus some strays, you see a lot of love interests come and go. It does my heart good to see that raising a confident, smart, young woman can mean attracting kids who have some of the same values.

Elizabeth also loves the dogs with a passion. She will yell that they are wild. Crazy! Eat her stuff. She tells me we have too many and in the next breath she says “we should rescue more.” She’s also a big fan of cats, hedgehogs, oh, pretty much every animal.

Yes, Elizabeth is challenging. She is hot-blooded. She is sometimes the child that makes me laugh and cry at the same moment because she is right–but not right. I want to scoop her up and keep her cuddled next to me always…but also know that of all the children–she is the one most uniquely qualified to take the world by storm, on her own terms, and be the amazing change we all want in the world.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. I love you Little Bit.

 

Nudity? What my kids think drives traffic

So, in light of my desire to increase traffic to prove I can do it–I surveyed the kids, actually just the 18 yo and 16 yo, about how to increase traffic. These are their ideas:

  1. Nude Celebrities (maybe photoshopped with food?)
  2. Nude Food Bloggers
  3. Female nudity should just be “boobies” because “no one” wants to see nether regions.
  4. Me nude interviewing celebrities and/or chefs
  5. Me nude interviewing nude food bloggers

Considering these are children who freak out if I am changing my shirt in my own bedroom when they barge in, they seem to think I need to get naked on the Internet in order to get traffic.

This makes me wonder what they are looking at on the Internet. It also makes me wonder why they believe traffic is always about nudity. Remember–these aren’t young children. These aren’t children who grew up without a view of the Internet.

Little do they know that most of my traffic is to a post about Brim Coffee. No nudity there…just a lost product that helped people who didn’t like acidic coffee.

Brim

Numbers Game

Challenge AcceptedToday Google reminded me I have analytics. I have pretty much ignored these since the beginning of my blog. I sometimes peek if someone asks. Mostly though, only Denise asks. I roll my eyes and say that Google Analytics doesn’t work on my blog. I don’t want to login to Bluehost to look. Whatev. Today Google reminded me as I said. By email. I forwarded it to Denise. She replied asking how many page views. I went and looked. Erm. Ok. More than I did 5 years ago.

I don’t reach superstar status though. Apparently that is only in my mind. Ree and Elise love me…so what more could I want? Those are AUTHENTIC. Or just because we get stuck in an elevator together a lot.

This blog has long been about a love song and not so much about the rest of you. Did I say that out loud? Oh well, you know it anyway. You like to watch The Flamingo House Show.

Now there will be a show.

You see, during the series of email exchanges, Denise said I needed more page views. 50,000 more a month. Why? Because she was being sassy. Because she likes to challenge me. Because she spends time with the superstars of the blogging world. Because in our world, a challenge works like flirting. You have seen the story of my first website. You know the story of this blog.

So here I am, once again, forced to prove what I have always said: “I know HOW. I just don’t.”

Of course, the problem is: I haven’t. I have ignored the “Build Your Traffic” and “Take Your Blog to the Next Level” sessions at BlogHer for years. I have been happy where I was with blogging. So, I will be doing my homework.

You will be seeing more posts. More Retro Goodness. I am going to throw in a bit of green blogging, frustrated city dwelling homesteader to be blogging, some grandma blogging, maybe even some blogging about what it means to be a lesbian mother of six, including a transgendered young adult and another GLBTQAI or whatever duck soup letters they choose young adult, a lovely married daughter with a child, a teen dating for the first time, and some other quirky young adults finding their path. (Lesbian mother of College Student Queers, Young Adults, and a Teen. ThatGrandma to one! Light Green. Hound obsessed. Plotting to move to the country and grow a lot of peaches!)

Not only that…I want to make this a love song for YOU.