A Tale of Two Critiques

Donald Trump has obviously become a very polarizing public figure. Every public comment or tweet is subject to disection and dirision. Deserved or not will depend on your politics, but last week I was struck by two critiques: both their similarities and how divergent they were.


The first was the photo of Kathy Griffin holding a bloody head that resembled Donald Trump. The photo quickly went viral, then a whirlwind of backlash ensued. (Then there was backlash to the backlash, as seems to frequently be the case on social media.) There were opinions that she’d gone too far; a line had been crossed; and she was inciting violence. It reached a crescendo when Donald himself weighed in:


Meanwhile, over on Facebook just after the United States removed itself from the Paris Climate Accord, Ben and Jerry’s Canada posted a link to a post entitled: “6 Reasons Pulling Out of the Paris Climate Agreement Was Totally, Definitely the Right Move“. Ben and Jerry’s has always been a little quirky, but their six point take on climate change was sarcasm at its finest. Not surprising (maybe a bit) it didn’t reach the viral level of the Kathy Griffin photo.


Both were a criticism of President Trump. Both were an attempt at humour. I would guess that the only one you heard about last week involved Kathy Griffin. To be heard above the constant noise of social media, do you have to be shocking? Is the fall out worth it? Ms. Griffin basically said it wasn’t for her with loss of employment and friends. How do we move beyond the lowest common denominator to a place where ideas not people can be debated?


Until then, I think I’m only going to follow ice cream companies…and maybe their trucks.

I Knit Where I Want

A few weeks ago during the hockey playoffs Twitter was a twitter when this photo started making the rounds:

Not being a hockey fan, I stumbled across it inadvertently when someone I follow (an avid Pittsburg fan) tweeted about her.

I’ve written before about the challenges of knitting in public, particularly at work. She fell into a hole I’ve carefully tried to avoid: people thinking that you were not engaged while holding needles and yarn. Clearly it’s easier to make that connection in person as opposed to a nationally televised sporting event.


While there have been many traditional media articles written since the initial tweet, what has struck me is how she has responded on Twitter.  It is a lesson in how social media allows people to voice their response immediately in conjunction with more in depth coverage from traditional media. While both have their roles in telling the story, I believe that without her quick and informed responses, the initial reaction of the twitter post might have also been the tone of the traditional media stories. Instead she has articulately made her case that because you are knitting doesn’t mean you are not paying attention.


At a time when news stories are questioned on a daily basis, it is an interesting lesson on how you can control your own narrative.



What Melania Trump Taught Me About Instagram

A month or so ago I read a post analyzing Melania Trump’s personality based on her Twitter photos. It’s a bit of a scary concept, people judging your motives and psyche based on the photos you post. It made me wonder what conclusions someone could draw from my Instagram photos. Like most people using Instagram, I curate what I post (blurry photos or those with 6 chins need not be shared) but what do the photos that I do post say? I’ve mostly just treated it as a visual online diary of what I’ve seen on any given day. After looking back through my photos I realized a couple of the Melania theories hit close to home and in the unlikely event that my posts are used to analyze MY personality, I’d like to offer a few comments and explanations:


The view from my window

There’s about 40 photos I’ve taken looking out 2 of my windows. While the angle changes slightly, they are mostly the same view of the same things:

What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: I never leave the house.

My explanation: While I can sometimes border on being a recluse who doesn’t want to leave my house, mostly it’s because it’s early or stormy and I don’t want to go outside in my pyjamas.


The view from above

I’ve posted over two dozen photos from the air of a variety of places:


What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: I see myself as above others

My explanation: I love the fact that I get to travel by air and the different perspective on the world it provides. I’m trying to share that excitement.


Through the glass

A Caesar is my favourite drink as you could tell from the dozen or so photos.

What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: I have a drinking problem.

My explanation: I love to try different variations on the drink. (I was slightly shocked by how many were taken at home and am going to have to rethink this one.)


On the plate

I’m guilty of taking photos of my food before eating. I could not even count the number of food photos.


What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: I’m a follower.

My explanation: I’m a follower.



My photos of myself are mostly of my feet.


What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: I have an obsession with feet.

My explanation: My selfies turn out like this:


It’s quite a yarn

At least 25% of my photos involve yarn or knitting, mostly of the sock variety.

What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: See the foot obsession concern above.

My explanation: I knit and take photos when I’m bored/have free time. Naturally they coincide.


Gone to the dogs

There are dozens and dozens of photos of my dog.


What I’m worried it could be interpreted as: I’m a crazy dog lady.

My explanation: He’s really cute … and I’m a crazy dog lady.


I’m wondering what your online photos say about you?


My Facebook Anniversary

The weekend marked the tenth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, so I wasn’t surprised this morning when I had a notification that today was my tenth anniversary on Facebook.  It’s odd to connect the two events, but I remember so clearly in the aftermath of the shooting the discussion about how students received information and updates from something called Facebook.


I’m not sure I’d heard of Facebook or if I had, I certainly didn’t know much about it. I was intrigued and confused by what it was exactly, so much like Pokemon Go*, I decided to give it a try. I remember very nervously signing myself up, not really sure if I was “doing it right”. I apparently became friends with 3 people that day (one of whom was my sister) and all of whom were either still in or just out of university/college.


A decade later, it’s hard to imagine not having Facebook. I know some people do and reportedly live happy and full lives. Some Facebookers like to claim they don’t really pay much attention to it (Their up-to-the-minute knowledge of what has been posted recently tends to undermine those claims). Others seem to be perpetually frustrated by what other people are posting.


I’ll freely admit – I like Facebook. I check it frequently through the day. It has allowed me to stay in touch with people I know I would have long ago lost touch with. Prior to Facebook, I wasn’t good at being a pen pal or sending email. Now I know what my far flung cousins are up to; I know where friends from various academic endeavours ended up. As for people who live in the same place – I know more about their lives than I would without Facebook updates. I find it amusing to “watch” a Blue Jays game with a group of friends without having to change out of my pjs or move from couch, particularly when it’s 1 am and there’s an outpouring of excitement at a game winning home run (well last year anyway).


Yes there’s things about it that annoy me; I’ve hidden posts from some people that are just too much. While much of what is posted is the happy shiny version of life that people want to be seen I’ve also seen brutal honesty from people in tough times that is a reflection of life in a way that overly filtered photos will never be. And if my mishaps and missteps make people laugh a little then it makes it a little better for me too.


I’m a Facebook user. Here’s to another 10 years.


*My Facebook experience has been much more enduring than my one week obsession Pokemon Go.

Beginning of NaBloPoMo

November is traditionally National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo).  Last year I participated and enjoyed it. This year, it’s after 9:00 pm on the first and – I’ve got nothing.  A couple of ideas; nothing close to being ready and with the time change: my bed is calling.  While I’m not sure I’m going to do everyday this month, I do know I’ll be kicking myself if I skip today but manage to post for the next 29.  So for today, I will remember this quote:

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.
William James

And tomorrow: I will try to be more optimistic about the possibilities.

Knitting on the Job

My entire adult life (and really some time before) I’ve worked for a non-profit fishermen’s association.  That’s over 22 years, plus a couple of summers as a student. Clearly it’s something I enjoy, at least most of the time.  A colleague says you have to have “a fire in your belly” to do this type of work for any length of time.

The fishing industry is predominantly a male industry, though it is changing with more and more females getting involved. Nevertheless, it is not unusual to walk in a room and be one of the few, if not the only female in the room, especially on the non-government employee side of the table.  As a young 20-something year old, it could be very intimidating to “lean in” at the table. Now, seeing the same faces over the years at meetings, it really is its own little community.

Thinking back, I can’t remember exactly how I started knitting during industry meetings.  It probably was a science meeting in an effort to keep my mind from wandering (science is SO not my strong suit). I remember keeping my hands under the table to be less obvious about what I was doing.  I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t paying attention.  Oddly, it’s actually had the opposite effect.  In my efforts to prove I’m engaged even if I’m knitting, I’ve ended up participating more.  And for someone who’s normally quite shy, that’s definitely a good thing.

It’s had another side effect as well.  In an industry full of men, having a girl come in and sit the table and start knitting has been an ice breaker.  If they can’t remember my name, they know I’m “the one with the knitting”.  There’s always a joke about what I’m knitting for them; it’s a conversation starter like talking about the weather.  People tell me they can tell how interesting I find the discussion based on the speed of my knitting. Apparently I slow down when I’m really involved.  I’ve also been told when I slap my knitting down on the table they know I’m ready to argue about what was just said; and me, I find knitting needles make excellent pointers.

That’s not say I knit all the time at work.  It’s about knowing when you should, and when you shouldn’t.  I’m fortunate to have that flexibility and I want to make sure I don’t take advantage of it.