Friday, April 25, 2014

"I don't Twit."

As most of you are aware, I find social media a pain in the ass but am, oddly enough, responsible for it at work.

I know it has value for my advocacy organization, because of its immediacy (e.g., we post information about a bill that's being voted on and encourage people to  contact their legislators) and because we can connect with people that we wouldn't connect with otherwise.

So I get Facebook. We post legislative and other news, event information and anti-discrimination messages. I am having a harder time understanding the point of Twitter. Perhaps because there is not one. Mind you, I am not a patient person. There are lots of things I want RIGHT NOW. But immediacy has no value if it's not meaningful.
I think Twitter is probably the perfect vehicle for someone with poor impulse control and a strong desire to communicate multiple things to the world. I mean, what, of any consequence, can you share in 140 characters?

Twitter annoys me for many reasons, but a few of those reasons are:

1. It encourages bad grammar. I know someone who is running a media campaign for an organization and her professional - I should make that "professional" - emails says things like "u r welcome." Yes, I am a grammar snob. There's not excuse for not having a dictionary. Computers practically force proper grammar down your throat these days.

2. It's constant noise. There are people and organizations who are on it All. Day. Long. And really, without anything important to say. Can we amend the quote about not saying anything at all if you don't have anything nice to say? How about, Don't say anything if you don't have anything a. interesting, b. of consequence, c. grammatically correct, or d. impactful to say.

3. It's a constant game of "tag, you're it." I was venting about this to one of my coworkers today. He asked, "Why do you have to respond right away if you get tagged on Twitter?" I started to reply, "Because in order to keep up a social media presence..." and found myself trailing off and thinking, Well, really, why? This is bullshit. He said it best: "I don't know. I don't Twit."

4. It's a distraction. You remember how I wrote that I had my phone out on the table, on silent, in case one of our speakers at the luncheon had issues, and to keep an eye on the time? And I kept getting notifications from people at the fucking luncheon, about the luncheon? Our program was packed. How great can their experience have been if they were typing away the whole time? Couldn't this have waited until later? No, everything has to happen RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

5. Twitter is a FUCKING DISASTER if you have someone in charge who doesn't a. know how to spell, b. know how to use hash tags, c. know how to use ampersand tags. I am currently volunteering for an organization whose social media person was hired, I believe, because the previous person in charge wanted to sleep with her, and I am FUCKING TIRED of cleaning up after this Twit. This week, she accidentally put a hash tag in front of the word "please" and tagged herself. Ooops.

Well, if I were any grumpier, I'd be a cat.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Forgive my lack of daily participation in the blogosphere - it's a month out from our event and now, en masse, people who have been signed up since January are all seeming to say, "Oh fuck! We need to get going on this and get our shit together!"

So what happens is I get a flood of calls, emails, even texts from colleagues who apparently think that they have a hall pass to my cell phone, and everyone wants something RIGHT FUCKING NOW. This includes people I have been trying to work with for months at our local chapters, who have ignored all of my communications and offers of help, but now, suddenly, they feel it's time to panic.
Since when did technology allow us to become so pushy? I'm in a meeting and when I am meeting with someone one-on-one I think it's rather rude to pull out your phone to check email, so I don't. Three emails to my office from the same person. A phone call in my absence. Then texts. Then another text, "Are you in the office today?" All in the space of 45 minutes. 

One of my friends told me last week, "You don't want to believe this, but there are some people who are just stupid. Even if they are employed."

But you do expect - or at least I did expect - some level of organization and thought from some of the people I'm dealing with. I'm not trying to be a bitch. But we typically have 3,000 people at the event. I am a one-woman show. You do the math.

Example A: Someone signs up for the event and I send her a personalized email with a link to the event FAQ. She calls me and asks a question that is answered in the FAQ AND is right on the website that she used to register. I ask politely, "Did you read the email I sent you?" She said, "Oops, I do need to go look at the FAQ, don't I?" Then she proceeds to email me another question that is also in the FAQ.

Example B: A participant calls me and says, "The website isn't user friendly." I ask why. She replies that she is trying to make donations from other people using her credit card and doesn't understand why the other peoples' names aren't showing up as the donors - only hers.
So for instance, she is Amy (not really, but just the first name that popped into my head) and she wants the donation to show up as coming from Bob, but uses her own card and is then shocked that her name shows up as the donor. Has anyone heard of fraud? Do I really need to explain this?

Example C:  I tell everyone every year, over and over, that someone who isn't good at computers shouldn't be signing up an entire team of people online. Guess what they do? Guess who they call to unfuck things?

Anyhow - several people have told me after reading these that they'd never want my job, but it is really a wonderful gig to be able to go agitate for the good and get paid for it. There are just a few times a year it gets challenging...for some.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

And now we kick ass

As you know we had an event this week and as you know, weird shit happened! I got good feedback with the exception of one petty (IMHO) email from someone I have helped professionally. Yes, she came and ate the $30 lunch, didn't donate, and proceeded to write an 800-word email to me and my boss bitching about everything she didn't like about the event.

Everything else aside, it was her reasoning that made me hurt and angry - and that actually inspired this post.

In the mental health advocacy world, like every other civil rights movement, there are factions of people who don't think others unlike them belong, or should have a seat at the table. And it is why, as my keynote speaker noted at the event, we're not even at the back of the bus with mental health - we're under the fucking bus. It is a civil rights battle that we are waging right now, and with the petty infighting, we are crippling ourselves.

This person said her comments were from "a peer's perspective" - a "peer" being someone who lives with mental health challenges - and among many other pointed comments, she said the event had too many family members speaking. Our emcee has nieces with PTSD; one speaker has a son with major depression; one speaker lives with multiple mental illness diagnoses and has a son who does as well.

And that is what I reacted (privately) somewhat viscerally to.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, right? Or in my case, if you don't want to use the word fuck in a work email, don't write back. So I haven't - yet.

What I wanted to tell her - and maybe one day, calmly I will - is that her attitude is the biggest thing holding us back from progress. That the us vs. them attitude gets us exactly nowhere. That so many of us are both peers and family members - and even if no one identifies as either one, we still need their help. We have to stop labeling ourselves and others if we want to fucking get anywhere.
No civil rights movement has ever accomplished anything without allies working together. Mental illness touches all of us in some way - 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children lives with it. There is no "outsider." There is no "other." There is no "them" - only us.

Only when we come together and stop worrying who is in the front row of the debate will we move forward and truly convince people that just because the illness is in your brain, it doesn't mean you should be ashamed. That it is OK to ask for help.

Only then will the super high, heartbreaking suicide rates in this country begin to plummet.

Only then will people no longer feel alone, isolated, hopeless.

I took a helpline call at work this week from a sister advocating for her adult brother. He has been shuffled around by the system, has no health coverage because of a bureaucratic SNAFU, and his mother said, literally, "I guess we are just helpless." And the sister said, "No, we aren't."

So she called my organization. And we are advocating for them. Amazingly, I have been assured that the state's insurance program will rush his application this week.

Does it matter how she identifies? Or how I identify? Or does it matter that we are fighting for this person's right to proper treatment and human dignity?

So there is my elevator speech. Next month is our biggest event and I'm raising money again. If you feel inclined, please help me kick ass. No donation is too small and everything is appreciated.

Because we are literally all in this together.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Don't kiss me!

I thought that title would catch your eye.

We had an event today for work. Three different men grabbed me in hugs, and kissed the top of my head. THREE! I kid you not.
Um. What the fuck! Is this a new fetish I don't know about? They like the smell of my shampoo? Sociologically, I wonder what this signifies. So, boys, enlighten me. What does this gesture mean?

And to make things interesting, some highlights from the Book of No Manners:
  • The multiple people who grab me in the midst of managing this formal event with 300 people and say, "I know you're busy, but..." and proceed to ask questions that have nothing to do with the event.
  • The volunteer who asks me a question I specifically have told her to ask the volunteer coordinator, then gets huffy when I redirect the question to the volunteer coordinator.
  • The person who confirms that she will have chicken rigatoni a week ago. Then today, she freaks out because she didn't know rigatoni was made of pasta. (Guess who got a last-minute special entree?)
 The local celebrity who made a grand gesture of writing us a check...that turned out to be for less than her lunch cost. (There was no charge to attend.)
  • The person who kept emailing me at work knowing I was setting up for the luncheon, asking questions about something completely irrelevant and unimportant.
And then there is the sweet older lady who is mostly deaf, who moved up to another table and then looked at my boss and said, "The microphone doesn't work! I even moved closer to try to hear better."

It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard not to laugh at that...but I managed. She even wrote us a check.

And I have to say - having a smart phone is pissing me off. Here I was worrying that things kept popping up on it, and they were all notifications of people Tweeting from my event! I will never understand Twitter. The first four letters sums it up for me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


My pal Ms. Crabby Pants has summed it up once again!

After the debacle with the company trying to snatch our sponsorship benefits, they came back and asked for more free shit. No kidding. So Ms. CP suggested this:

Maybe you should remind whoever is in charge over there that your non-profit isn't in the biz of being a public relations firm for their use.  First they want advertising then they want T-shirts. Heck, why quit like NASCAR sponsors.  Get a car with their name plastered all over it and drive around town.  I have attached a possible plate to put on the car as well. 

Note to self: I must appear to have this plastered on my face as well. In one day this week, all of the following happened:
  • Another for-profit enterprise tried to send more people to my luncheon, which is free for guests but costs us $30 a pop, than they offered to give us for sponsorship. I said no. They offered to pay the cost of their meals. (So there wasn't enough of this money for sponsorship, except that there apparently was.) Again, no. Kind of brings to mind that book about Marvin K. Mooney, doesn't it?
  • One of my friends took me out for coffee and being in the car with her freaked me the fuck out. She was in and out of other lanes, laughing at shit that wasn't funny. If I didn't know her better, I'd have sworn she was on drugs. Turns out that she is taking a new diet supplement. "But it's not that," she said, "It's all natural!" No, dipshit, the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, so they can say whatever the hell they want. Turns out her supplement is full of ephedra compounds. "So she is on drugs," my doctor friend said, "just legally."
  • I call my doctor's office after reading the summary of my visit to refill the happy pills, and according to them, unbeknownst to me, 1. I am 100% white, and 2. I have anemia. 
After not finding me in their system several times and asking if I was a new patient even when I affirmed that I have been going there for two years, the clinic's receptionist had no problem canceling out the anemia. But she couldn't grasp the concept of being biracial. Which is an option on their demographic chart. The one, in fact, that I remember checking.

"I'm not Caucasian only," I said. "I'm biracial. Caucasian and Native American."
"Biracial means Caucasian and Native American?" she asked.
"No. Biracial is more than one race. I happen to be those two races."
"Oh, I see."

What she didn't know is that I am on a quality advisory council for that hospital system (oh, the fun things that happen when you work for an advocacy agency!) and that we're meeting again next week.

So I am going to bring it up, but I have to come up with the wording. Do you happen to know another phrase meaning dumbfuckery?