Love Thee, Notre Dame

What is it about the University of Notre Dame that evokes such passion?

People who love Our Lady’s University and those who abhor it can rest assured they share one thing — they aren’t sitting on the fence.

I graduated from a state school (Ole Miss — Hotty Toddy!!), so I know about rivals. We had our share of them, and we knew they “hated” us as much as we “hated” them.

But our SEC Conference was the uniting force.

If one of our rivals was playing a football bowl game against a team outside the SEC, why, we’d up and root for our rivals. We wouldn’t necessarily like it, but we’d do it.

Probably because Home and Family are strong concepts in the South.

Kind of like your momma telling you not to make fun of crazy Aunt Lulu behind her back because she’s family and Family Sticks Together.

Notre Dame has long prided itself on its independence. The drawback, of course, is independence equates separateness.

And for many who hate ND, separateness equates aloofness. Haughtiness. Exclusivity.

Anyway, I was poking around Twitter the other evening, the same day as ND former linebacker Manti Te’o held a news conference in Indianapolis. To further explain how he was a victim of “catfishing.”

And the media had a heyday with it. So did Twitter users.

Frankly, I was embarrassed by many of the comments.

What is it about a football player, a 21-year-old kid, that draws such rage? Such hatred?

I guess none of the tweeters had ever made a mistake. Done something that in retrospect they’d have done differently. ‘Fessed up earlier and taken their licks then.

Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the Internet that lures folks to strike out against others, to leave biting, cruel remarks without regard to the consequences.

Don’t they know the Internet is forever? That all their comments can be rounded up and will paint a picture of just who they really are? That someone they’re trying to impress — a potential employer or that cute girl in their Botany class — might just cast them aside when their true colors are revealed?

So while I understand rivalries on the athletic field, I guess I’ll never understand meanness. Hatred. Pettiness.

Or how trying to bring someone else low somehow elevates you.

It doesn’t. Never has, never will.

How do you tame the Social Media Monster?

Are you, like me, sometimes overwhelmed by the proliferation of social media and the expectation that we ALL participate — in everything?

The arguments are persuasive:

  • Writers need a platform, a following, to show agents they’re able to promote their manuscript
  • Businesses need to connect with potential buyers and generate “buzz” about their services or products
  • Nobody in the entire world can possibly connect with as many people in real life as is possible online

But all that connecting can be exhausting, especially for writers (who tend to be introverts anyway and often find it easier to hole up and just write).

And perhaps it’s lots worse on those writers who, like me, can’t write full time right now because they must work at a paying job. Or those with small children. Or aging parents. Or…whatever.

We can all find excuses for NOT connecting online. Yet the reality is, there are only 24 hours in a day and, if you listen to the “experts,” we need to be sleeping 8 of them. That leaves 16 hours. For those who work, subtract 8 more (or 10 if you have a long commute), bringing your total “free” time to 6 hours.

Six hours to do basic personal maintenance (like bathing), run errands (banking, grocery shopping), taxi the kids to and from lessons and sleepovers, kiss the spouse, walk the dog, cook meals, and clean the house.

That doesn’t include time for yourself — to read, soak in a spa, exercise, paint, take up piano, or write.

What’s the answer?

If you look at the history of social media, you’ll find that blogging started in 1997. Facebook debuted in February, 2004, Twitter in March, 2006, and Google Plus in June, 2011. More than 845 million people are on Facebook and at Twitter’s five-year mark, some 350 billion “tweets” are delivered each day. In addition, countless webinars are now available, on everything from how to make your small business successful to how to plot that story lurking in your head.

No wonder we feel deluged!

Some people address this problem by periodically scheduling a vacation from online activities. They fold up the laptop, turn off the i-pad and phone, and unplug from the busyness.

That’s a good idea. We all need to recharge occasionally.

Other people set a timer. When their hour (or however much time they’ve allotted) is up, that’s it. No looking back. No cheating.

Do our online friends miss us when we don’t show up? I’d like to think so because I miss them when they’re absent for a time. But, if we announce that we’re taking a sabbatical, at least we’re letting everyone know we’ll be out of touch.

My suggestion (and it’s more a “Memo” to me rather than something you need!): Remember why you started down the social media path in the first place. Enjoy your time connecting. But don’t feel you have to be connected 24/7!

How have you tamed the social media monster??