blackgirlinmaine Archive

It’s all about getting that cash

I have been using various forms of social media now for well over a decade now. In the late 1990’s  I discovered discussion boards, I was contemplating making some life changes and was in need of a supportive community and at that time the net was small enough that I hooked up with a couple of online communities that met my needs. Over a decade later, I have met some amazing women many who have become real life friends.

When I packed up my life in 2002 and left Chicago and landed in Maine, it was those same online communities and friendships that sustained me until I reached the point of having some local support in Maine. I guess what I am saying is I have been online for quite a while. My first husband was and still is a computer geek, back in 1991 when we married he was going online using BBS (bulletin board system) I remember back then thinking what the hell is he doing, little did I know how much that early exposure to making connections online was going to impact my life.

In the past 5-6 years we have literally seen social media go mainstream, I remember just a few years ago before sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter became household names explaining my online activity to real life friends and being looked at like I was insane. After all who communicated on a computer with people they didn’t know? By the way this was in the early 2000’s…many of these same real life friends now use sites like Facebook and others as staples in their daily life.

I stumbled onto blogs probably about 4-5 years ago, many of the early blogs I read were true labors of love. Often folks sharing amazing tales of their life, awesome writing. Back than folks often just started blogs to have an audience, another way of making connections. Take bloggers like the very popular Pioneer Woman, she just wanted a way to stay connected to the folks in her life, she had no idea that one day she would be writing books and last I heard there is talk about a movie about the story of her life. I think many women particularly mothers gravitated to blogs as a way of making connections. In Maine we have Amanda Blake Soule of the blog Soule Mama. Her blog chronicles her life here in Maine with her 4 kids and their creative endeavors.  Her daily life and adventures became the basis for the 3 book deal she later landed but from what I have heard (Maine is small, while I don’t personally know Amanda, I have friends who do) she didn’t start blogging with the intent to land a book deal. She did something she liked with no expectations and well good shit happened.

 Initially when I started this blog, I had my eyes set on achieving some level of fame that would translate into a paycheck but over the two years I have been blogging, now it’s about my process. For me it’s about strengthening my skills as a writer but also having a voice, lastly as a woman of color its about connecting with others. This blog has allowed me to connect with folks in Maine as well as outside; I have met some fellow bloggers and readers that one day I would love to sit down with and share a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

I also think that when I let go of dreams of turning this blog into a cash cow, it allowed me to stay true to myself and my creative being. I also use social media such as Twitter to promote this blog but even Twitter allows me to connect with others especially some of the most creative and free thinking minds in Maine. Just yesterday I caught lunch with a young lady of color who recently moved to Maine. So yeah money might be nice, but making human connections is even better.

I say all this to say that as a long time user of social media in all its forms I see some disturbing trends developing. More and more I read blogs or see Twitter users turning themselves into a brand…the brand of me. Twitter for many is about promoting oneself, one’s business. Look there is nothing wrong with promotion if you have a legitimate product to promote but in many cases I see complete and utter bullshit being packaged in a slick glossy package and well its empty as hell.

The problem with this new trend of self promotion is that it takes away from authentic connections. How can we truly connect if at the end of the day you are more concerned about sealing a deal and getting paid? Look maybe that works with the youngsters but for an old head like myself its a huge turnoff. I think about some of my ex favorite blogs, ones that landed the book deal or through blogging landed a great job and then the original blog lost its spark.

There is a fashion blog I have followed for a while and when the blogger initially started off, it was great. You as the reader connected because you saw a regular person putting together articles of clothing that were accessible to the masses and rocking the hell out of that shit. Year down the road, this blogger blows up, to the point she quits her job, now she attends Fashion Week, has corporate sponsors up the wazoo and basically her blog reads like an advertisement, a glossy magazine.

Funny thing is this particular blogger is one of the biggest influence in my returning to my love of vintage clothes, she gave me some great ideas. Yet now I occasionally visit her blog and feel much the way I feel when I read a fashion magazine. That what she is hawking is inaccessible, furthermore as a follower of hers on Twitter, the constant promotion of herself as a brand is making me reevaluate whether or not I should even continue to follow her.

The thing is we have a zillion books and consultants who all for some cash will tell you how to market the brand of you, giving away so-called secrets that will make you into a social media superstar and of course earn you some cash. Look, and can I be frank most of what they are telling you is bullshit. You don’t need to have a brand called you because guess what? You are you! I admit as a graduate of a masters level organizational management program, I am well familiar with consultants and having even done a brief but successful stint as an organizational management consultant, I am here to tell you most of what these folks say is designed to earn them money and leave you wondering.

I admit occasionally they may give you a nugget of truth but I believe that much like real life relationships the only key you need is to be your authentic self in all that you do. Folks like The Pioneer Woman and Soule Mama achieved a high level of success in the social media world by simply being themselves, no gimmicks or special conferences needed. When we lose our authentic selves even in an electronic medium we risk becoming a mindless automaton who is programmed for one thing, getting that cash and really aren’t we more than that.

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Is it harder now?

Technically I am off of work this week but that is really just a technicality as my phone is still ringing, emails are still being sent and basically no one seems to have gotten the memo that I am closed for business despite the fact this is my week to decompress before we hit the busy season. It also happen to be the week between preschool ending and day camp starting so I get to pretend I am a stay at home Mom rather than a work out of the home Mom. Can I tell you that I am plain fucking exhausted! The kidlet has the energy of triplets rolled into one body. To say I am exhausted is a understatment but hey what can you do?

Yet I find myself wondering if modern-day parenting is harder than it was say 30 years ago? I was taking a stroll down memory lane yet without my Mum around to ask questions of, maybe I am wrong but I swear my Mom didn’t work nearly as hard as any of the Mamas’ that I know. Play just happened, no dates to arrange, I was mostly left to my own devices. If we played together it was the occasional board game but she never spent hours on end in the floor with me, perhaps it’s because one puzzle and multiple games of dominos later and both the Spousal Unit and I are sore as hell after playing on the floor. So this stuff is on my mind. Yet its in these moments I long for the days of yesteryear in parenting , when I felt less like the manager of child activity and more like a parent.

Today I ended up talking with a woman who initially thought the kidlet was my only child until I explained that I also have an adult child as well and it turned out she had a similar situation though in her case her kids were 17 years apart. We had a good laugh talking about how our parenting evolved, in some ways it was the type of discussion I needed as the woman I was talking to was also African-American. She instinctively seemed to get how with the kidlet I had flipped my parenting script 180 degrees to the point even elder boy has told me that if he tried half of what his sister does the old me probably would not be as gentle as I am now.

Yet lately as I see my girl grow as much as I love her I admit I now question some of the parenting choices we have made but more importantly I wonder if parenting these days is simply harder than it once was? We have so much more as far as activities, technology and the list goes on…you would think our parenting lives would be easier yet it seems we work so much harder to parent than our parents and grandparents ever did. Why is that? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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Unjobbing..what the???

Last night I was wasting time on the interwebz as I am prone to do, when I stumbled on an interesting new term that I just had to share with you. Language is a funny thing; there are so many ways to say the same thing, so I suppose I should not be surprised to learn this term. Yet I think its one of those terms that who is saying it is what makes it somehow seem special.

So if you find yourself unemployed and unable to find a permanent job that meets your needs whatever they may be, ultimately most of us would find a way to cobble together a living. Hell, that’s what I did a few years ago when I spent 18 months as a self employed non profit consultant. I looked at what my strengths were and started marketing the hell out of myself. Turned out I wasn’t half bad but having a spouse who is already self employed, I tend to feel more comfortable having a traditional employment situation.

Well if for whatever reason you find yourself needing to cobble together a living, well you can just call yourself an unjobber. Yes, you read that correctly, unjobbing. In a nutshell unjobbing is described as “Unjobbing is a method to sustain a chosen lifestyle without the primary means of sustaining that lifestyle being a sole occupation in exchange for wages. Unjobbing is a creative choice.”  In other words earning a living however you can without benefit of a single job or jobs.

Now much of the literature that I found in my quick search of unjobbing is related in part to the unschooling movement. I got no bones to pick with the unschooling movement, I know a few folks who have made that choice for their families and for most of them it seems to work. I admit it’s probably not a path I would ever take in part I know myself and I know my kid. We both need a certain amount of structure but I digress.

Let’s get back to this unjobbing thing. For starters how the hell is unjobbing any different than folks who hustle together whatever work they can find to keep a roof over their heads and food on the tables? Really, I am not trying to be snarky. I suppose one could say it’s more of an intentional choice and that people who unjob probably make a conscious life choice to seek fulfillment outside the work world. I can dig it, most folks who unjob generally live outside the primary economic system, many living in the cash economy from what I can tell. Um….folks in the hood often do the same thing but it damn sure is not sold as a lifestyle choice, its survival.

Hell, at various times in my life maybe I should have claimed the unjobber status rather than saying I was trying to make ends meet. I got to be honest, the only difference I see here is that it’s more likely that white folks who hail from a certain background may gravitate to being unjobbers. Whereas persons of color who lack permanent employment for whatever reason might say they are getting their hustle on.

I know this piece might bring out the wrath of the PC police, hey lighten up! I admit discovering this term was enlightening to me. Who knows, I am dealing with some discontent in my world of work, maybe I will become an unjobber. All jokes aside for more information on unjobbing check out this link. By the way what do you think about unjobbing? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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