Sunday, June 3, 2018

How Social Media Killed The Blog (But Not This One... Sorta Kinda)

When I started this blog in the dark ages (circa 2007!) the objective was simple: I wanted to share opinions with people far and wide, and most importantly, I wanted them to share their opinions on my opinions. Because a blog with no readers is just a diary.

While I definitely took some inspiration from other blogs that I frequented, once I found my voice he content began to pile up. I basically just wrote about what I liked, from sports, to music, to social commentary. While things started slowly (I mean "me and my sister-in-law were the only readers" slow) I caught some fortunate breaks along the way that fueled by an unexpectedly popular post called AverageBro Blogs Live! From Jena, LA. In it, I posted some very contrarian thoughts about the Jena 6 case in which I noticed some distubing behavior amongst those who descended upon the sleepy Louisiana town to protest the unfair jailing of six black men for the beating of a white classmate. The story was, in many ways, the embryonic stage of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The first social justice case of the social media age.

My critique was mostly about the performance art nature of all the protests and some of the high profile media members and civil rights icons to ran the protest. Much about that (not the undue treatment of the kids) irked me, and I said so. It was not a very popular opinion, but it's one that I stand by and which oddly made me a go-to voice for people who agreed and disagreed with me.

From there, the blog grew immensely. I got some special co-signs that really increased my exposure. The collection of regular commenters was well over one hundred, which made AB.com a community in and of itself. International media outlets started to quote me. Daily hits reached the 10,000 mark with regularity. I got opportunities to do national radio, guest podcasts, and perhaps most importantly, make good money writing pieces for other far more reputable sites thanks to an enterprising editor who saw the value in my "tell it like it is" style and brought me along with her as a freelancer as her career advanced. The whole thing culminated with a truly bewildering interview with ESPN because some nitwit at Reuters picked my story about Diddy's kid getting a football scholarship to UCLA on a slow news Friday.

I had officially arrived.

At this fork in the road, I could have really really dug in more and probably turned writing into a full time job. I have a great career as an engineer that I love (and which pays well) but who wouldn't wanna make money talkin' shit if it in theory paid somewhere in the same ballpark (and I'm not sayin' it would, but thinking out loud here)?

Among the many reasons why I didn't is because by this same time, social media (specifically Twitter) had become the go-to location for instantaneous sharing of thoughts. While I always prided myself on being someone who could take a story idea and turn it into a fully sourced, well written blog post in under 20 minutes (a quality my editors loved), nothing beat the interactive nature of a snarky tweet.

I continued blogging, although for many reasons unrelated to writing my frequency dipped (as did admittedly the quality of my posts) but found myself spending far more time on Twitter for very aforementioned reasons. It was like an Easy Button for sharing thoughts, and eventually I found myself spending so much time on it that I'd go weeks without updating the blog beyond putting an "open discussion" post for the regulars who hadn't left or followed me to Twitter themselves.

And then, an odd thing happened: I quit Twitter.

The reasons are many (and yes, unrelated to writing) but I realized I was spending far more time in a virtual world talking with people I didn't know that those in physically surrounding me everyday. While leaving Twitter cold turkey is easy, doing the same to a blog you'd spend over a decade regularly penning long form thoughts for wasn't. Plus, there was the small matter of me hosting plenty of ads here, which gave me a little pocket change on the side. It didn't make cents (see what I did there) to shut AB.com down, so I decided I'd keep it here and reap the periodic benefits of a new ad. Why not?

That said, I owed my (still visiting) readers an explanation. And just like that, the blog was comatose. With the exception of a few new posts when I really had to get something off my chest, the only new stuff here for the past couple of years has been ads. I've moved on to periodically sharing thoughts on Facebook, which I've found to be a far less engaged community than what once existed here, but otherwise I get my fix by talking to real people now. It's just better that way.

I'm not saying there's no value in social media, or that it's the sole purpose for me ending this blog. There were plenty of life related reasons (ie: a 3rd child, a day job that grew exponentially more complex and time consuming, etc.) for this. Likewise, many of my contemporaries who began blogging around the same time have since graduated on the real, full paying media gigs. While I'm happy for all of them, that for many economic reasons was never my end game.

Do I miss having a blog? Yes, I do. Sometimes I wish I'd simply chosen to use whatever energy I had maintaining this community instead of splitting it with Twitter (although that was certainly the case with most bloggers). We had something special here, and I in many ways regret just abandoning that. But life, as they say, doesn't have a rewind button. Most of the regulars have long since left, and the blog seldom gets more than a couple hundred hits a day.

But if there's one thing I don't regret, it's keeping the blog alive. Sometimes I'll wonder "what did I think about" whatever random event happened in 2011, or how I reviewed a movie when it came out. And lo and behold, since I wrote about basically everything for a full decade, there's a good chance I penned a post about it that I can just pull right up. It's like a time machine into your thoughts. It's sorta kinda cool, and the kinda thing you hope your kids might wanna read someday.

So while the blog is dead, the blog lives on.

- AB

Monday, April 23, 2018

3 Incredible tricks you can use to teach a dog how to potty

Puppy potty training is one of the most important and hardest trainings you need to perform with your dog. While there are numerous tricks you can teach a dog, only a handful of them have any purpose. Some people like to train their dog to do practically everything; in most cases this is unnecessary and can even be considered a waste of time. However, it is completely different when it comes to pottying.

As the basic hygienic training, this is something that needs to be prioritized over everything else. In the end, you cannot allow a dog to potty on your carpet. Because of this fact this will probably be the first thing you teach your puppy. It is something that is crucial and will stay with it forever.

Loving touch

Like with any other training, you have to be patient. Proper pottying isn’t something that occurs over night; it is a process of trials and errors and it will take a while until dog understands it is not acceptable to potty at home.

The first and most important thing to have in mind is that every training needs to be done with lots of love. This situation is no different. Dog shouldn’t be forced to do anything. Instead, you need to persuade it with love and treats. If you use violence or god forbid physical violence, dog will become scared of you, it will not understand the point of the training and ultimately, it may even jeopardize your relationship.

Instead of scolding a puppy it is much better if you do things with love. Try communicating and take your time.

Creating a proper situation

Lots of times, training can be performed by putting a dog in a proper situation.

What do I mean by this? Well, if a dog needs to potty and you’re already outside, you’ve done half of the work required. In a way you are the one that needs to set up the tone and lead a dog, not the other way around.

Make sure to predict dog’s needs and act according to them. It’s much more natural for a dog to relive itself outside than inside so make sure to put it in a right position so it can follow its natural instinct. Have in mind that small puppies have small bladders and act according to their instincts. They won’t have the discipline to hold it in. That being said, make sure that you don’t excite the dog as this is a recipe for disaster.

If you wish to build discipline within your pet, you can put it in its box prior to pottying. As dogs will try not to soil their bed, they will hold it in for as long as possible. However, this strategy has a time limit.

Creating habits

Initially, it is crucial to create a situation. Later on, you need to create habits and build up discipline. You need to go out each day at the same time. This will ensure that dog’s metabolism gets accustomed to pottying at the same time.

The same thing goes with meals. Make sure they are exactly the same in size and given during the same time of the day. By doing this it will be much easier to predict dog’s bowel movements and “program” its metabolism. Eventually, dog will start waking you up and coming to you when it needs to potty instead of other way around.

Conclusion


Even though potty training can get a bit messy, it is one of numerous things that you will do with your puppy. It might not be an ideal situation but it is a part of growing up together. It also sets up the field for all other trainings, it builds up your relationships and in a way, it will be an important part of dog’s life.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

So, About That H&M Monkey Ad...

So, while this blog was on an 18 month-ish hiatus, a lotta shit's happened. We have a new President. Rappers now are judged solely by how many bright colors they have in their hairstyle. 7 footers in the NBA routinely pull and pop 3 pointers. It snowed in Charleston, SC. For Christmas.[1]

One thing that hasn't changed is racism. America's Original Sin[2] still persists, and it shows up in some of the most unlikely places. Plenty of people were rightfully enraged earlier this week when an a photo on the H&M website went viral, showing a little black boy wearing a hoodie with the words "The Coolest Monkey In The Jungle". People questioned why a multinational apparel company would do something so utterly dumb in 2018. Where the black folks in the room were, assuming there were any when this decision made, and why they didn't say anything. But one question was most pervasive... "Where in the hell were this boy's parents?"

Turns out, the boy's mom doesn't have any issue with the image, and thinks everyone outraged is "crying wolf".
The mother of a black child featured in a photo shoot slammed as racist has said that those outraged by the image of her son are “crying wolf,” according to reports.

Swedish clothing giant H&M was forced to issue repeated apologies after the page for a hoodie available in Europe featured an image of the boy with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” on his chest. Social media users took note that a white child in a similar hoodie was a “survival expert” and decried the company as insensitive to the history of “monkey” being used as a slur against black people.

“Stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here ......... get over it,” a woman who said she was the mother of the boy claimed in Facebook messages published on social media.

She said that she was at the shoot and that everyone is entitled to have an opinion about it, but that outrage was “not my way of thinking.”

The comments were reported by multiple news outlets, though the woman connected to the account, who lives in Sweden, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily News.

After originally sending the News a terse apology saying that they were sorry if people took offense to the image, H&M has stopped selling the hoodie and said it will do “everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
This entire story has me conflicted in a million different ways.

First and foremost, I love H&M. It's trendy, good quality clothing at great prices. A solid percentage of my wardrobe is from there. I'm wearing a damn H&M hoodie right now as I type this. So when black folks were calling for widespread boycotts of a clothing store most have never even visited, I was like "nah breh, I'm good."

On the flipside, there's no doubt that the imagery was bad, especially given the long history of the use of the word "monkey" in derogatory manner here in the US. I wouldn't put my kids in that hoodie, regardless of how awesome a sale price it would be offered at.

That said, this mother doesn't live in the US. She's Swedish (yes, for those who don't know, there ARE black people in Sweden. I've been there, I've seen them firsthand. They aren't in large numbers, but they exist). Perhaps the phrase "monkey" doesn't carry the same connotation there, or maybe it does and this mom doesn't feel offended by it. The way that people jumped on this story and talked about the child model in paternalistic phrases like "Young King" as if this child was somehow an orphan who stumbled into a photo shoot and was exploited by Evil Yakubians rubbed me the wrong way. As a parent with kids who have done such work, I know that's seldom the case. There's always a parent or guardian present, and those parents do have a say so in how their children's images are being used. This mom had to issue, and in the grand scheme of things, her opinion should matter more than anyone else's.

Should H&M have been a bit smarter? Sure. Would black people in the room (or God forbid a focus group) have maybe given them some valuable insight? Probably. But ultimately, there's one person (two if his Dad, who wasn't mentioned, is around) who's responsible here.

Question: Was this mother wrong? Do you get her rationale? Are you happy the blog is back?

[1] Maybe it was slightly before/after, but still, IT SNOWED ON THE BATTERY!

[2] Is the Original Sin slavery, or racism? I forget. It's been a minute.