The Near Miss

Social media is addictive. One of my biggest fears in life is that I might miss a great experience or opportunity. So I spend too much time consuming social media for fear of missing something. But sometimes missing something can be a good thing.

Last week, I was driving home when a car pulled out from behind a parked truck and almost hit me head on. The tires screeched and my adrenaline pumped. We didn’t crash – it was a near miss. We paused, looked at each other in relief for a moment, then went on our ways. But what if we’d hit? How would life be different right now?

Sometimes near misses happen in business too. I once found what I thought was the perfect career opportunity. The job description fit my skills and it was just what I wanted. The interview went well and I liked the big boss. I thought an offer was just around the corner, then suddenly . . . nothing. Pure silence. The opportunity fizzled out and I was left empty-handed. A few months later, a friend in the know told me that I’d had a lucky escape. It seems it was just another form of the near miss. My life might have been miserable working for that big boss.

I remember a time of great disappointment when I didn’t get a new client signed on. He seemed so eager to work with me that I started writing his blog before we’d sealed the deal. In a couple of weeks, he replied that some unforeseen circumstances had come up and the timing wasn’t right for his digital media strategy. Was it a lost opportunity or a near miss? Maybe he would have been a difficult client. I may never know.

Can you experience a near miss in the world of social media? Have you ever thought of posting something negative about someone? We all feel this way sometimes. Maybe you want to post a rant on Facebook about your mother-in-law. Or how about a slur against a co-worker on Twitter? Ever want to ridicule a celebrity or engage in a flame war with a stranger? If you did post it, think of how your life might be changed for the worse.

Do yourself a favour. If you write it, count to ten and read it again. Put your tolerance filters on and revise it before hitting the share button. You might just find you’re grateful for a near miss.


3 Easy Steps to Divorce with Wunderlist

Trying to become a social media guru means trying every new app you find out there so I sign up for just about everything there is, including the latest personal organizer and list-making miracle, Wunderlist.

Wunderlist App Logo
                                                    Download the Wunderlist app here!

Well, maybe it’s not new, but it’s new to me and TBG (The Big Guy). We were really entertained by it and tried all the features. You’ll probably love it since it’s one of the easiest personal organizers we’ve found. The main features include shared lists, notes, conversations and reminders.

TBG and I are always going out and buying things on our grocery list at the same time causing duplications in our reserves. This is not that much of a problem unless the universe is coming to an end. But since we like to think of ourselves as master and mistress of the universe, and must conquer all things digital, we think this app is just the cat’s pyjamas.

Step 1: Create a grocery list with Wunderlist

We hung around during cocktail hour one night figuring out how to use all the cool features (nerd city here, chez nous). We caught on quickly due to the intuitive nature of the app and, loving it immediately, a shared grocery list was born. Right away, we embraced uber-efficiency and the prospect of getting stuff done!

Step 2: Feel digitally superior with Wunderlist

After congratulations to each other on the pure beauty of our collective genius, I created another list and chose the most critical tasks to begin our new, perfectly organized life. In desperate need of reminders to do things like clean the toilet and pick up cat poop, I decided to use Wunderlist to create a list of things I should do daily. That seemed like a good idea until TBG said, “Why don’t you create a list for the whole week?” That sounded reasonable, so after a short search for the edit function, I easily changed the title of the daily list to a weekly list. He’s so smart, isn’t he? Not sure if it’s going to work for me yet, but hey – I’m a flexible, easy-going housemate, and being agreeable is so attractive, right? No marital strife in this household!

Step 3: Assign tasks with Wunderlist

But don’t count your anniversaries before they’re hatched, I always say. Just one little glitch reared it’s ugly head and I feel obligated to warn all you happily married folk out there. There’s a way to assign a task to people you share a list with. So for example, if I’m not going near the pet food store, but TBG is, then I can assign picking up cat treats to him. I thought this was great until a few hours later, this little exchange below poked a hole in our perfectly organized wedded bliss:

Wunderlist 1

That’s right, anyone can assign and re-assign tasks as they please. Hmmm, now where did I put that business card for the family lawyer?

My top social media campaign of 2014

Are you inclined to open social media articles with headlines that include lists? For example, “5 ways to improve your writing” or “3 Foods you should never eat”. I admit, I’m more likely to open and read them because of a combination of three things:

  1. Curiosity (I like to guess what’s on the list, then want to know if I’m right).
  2. The promise of a quick and easy read (sometimes I have the attention span of a two year-old).
  3. Knowing that I can scan the heading for each item and easily see the end of the list (Mom taught me to finish everything I started).

Mashable lists

Do you ever check out the top five or top ten list of anything on Mashable? It’s especially interesting if you like the “best of the year” type articles. For a 2014 year-end review of social media campaigns, Mashable lists its top five. The winner, celebrated at the Mashies Awards, was Burger King’s “Motel” campaign which entices people to “cheat on beef” by trying their new chicken burger.

What about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

I cannot agree with this choice and was surprised to see that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge didn’t even make the top five. This initiative took North America by surprise with every celebrity, co-worker and average neighbourhood dude taking the challenge and donating to ALS societies everywhere. Talk about VIRAL! Even fictitious characters were doing it:

The effort raised $16.2 million for research into ALS in Canada with 260,000 Canadians participating. The American ALS Association announced over $100 million raised in one month alone. This is what happens when you inject a simple, fun and entertaining idea into your social media efforts. People love it and it becomes contagious.

The title of this article is not a list – I’m offering only my top ONE, so maybe the open rate will suffer. And maybe Social Kitty is not as trendy and informative as Mashable, but my top ONE social media campaign of 2014 is definitely the ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE.

ALS Canada

I haven’t seen anyone doing the challenge since winter set in, have you? Of course, you don’t have to throw a bucket of ice over your head in January, but you can still donate online to ALS Canada to support research into this devastating disease.

Are you a PIRDN (pre-internet relic / digital native)?

Recently my niece Jill, who was born in 1980, posted an article about the last generation to remember what life was like before AND after the internet. I found it fascinating that her generation and ours (some of us) have this thing in common.


There’s probably been no change in society so dramatic since the invention of the printing press. How lucky that we’ve been here to witness the impact the internet has had, as it was happening.

The advent of the internet can be broken down into subsets regarding life on the internet before and after. How many of you can relate?

  • Email and learning how to use it
    • “Why shouldn’t I use all caps?” (some people still don’t get this)
    •  “I didn’t get that email” (remember when there was no request for receipt?)
  • E Bulletin Boards
    • “Wow, there are people who want to talk about my hobby?” (you got up early to check on that thread before work)
    • Learning to avoid arguments and one-upmanship (remember before flamewars existed?)
    • What’s this new GUI thing? (good thing you knew how to type)
  • Online Gaming (remember BEFORE there was nothing more pressing than whacking your opponent in Doom or Quake?)
  • Skype, FaceTime (hard to imagine now that you couldn’t see distant young relatives grow up without ever meeting them)
  • Social Media (remember that thing with numbers, buttons, dials and a handset that you talked into? Does anyone still have a parent or grandparent who sends jokes via email?)

What’s sad and ironic is about the internet is that it divides people into separate camps. There are the digital natives as opposed to the prehistoric critters who will never fully benefit from its use. There are those who:

  • get it VERSUS those who don’t get it or refuse to get it
  • think they’ll lose their connection to people if they use it VERSUS those who think they’ll lose their connection to people if they don’t use it.
  • criticize others for being dependent on it VERSUS those who criticize others for still using the phone book

Then there are those of us who are straddling the line between these divisions. It’s second nature for us to understand both worlds. Some of us still have to teach a parent or grandparent, carefully ensuring we don’t become impatient and just give up. (“Sweetie, can you get me on the interwebs?”) But we’re the best ones in the world to help them, because we remember learning too while it developed.


And there’s a lot of controversy about how worse or better off we are now that the world has been changed forever by always having this tool at our fingertips. Pre-internet relics can list every negative impact it has had and digital natives will argue that for every negative, there’s a benefit.

Which side of the line are you on, or are you straddling it? Are you guilty of any of the following?

  • an incessant need to look up every detail that becomes a question or argument
  • checking social media 10 or 20 or 50 times a day
  • allowing constant notifications dinging, buzzing or adding exciting little red badges to your apps
  • all out rage when people use their devices in theatres and meetings, even after reminders
  • criticizing couples or friends at restaurants, who don’t interact but attend to their devices (is it really so wrong?)
  • scheduling screen-free time for your family (enduring their whines) so they’ll understand what it was like


Ok, so you’re in both camps. Congratulations, you are a PIRDN! You’re in the club with us combination pre-internet relic / digital natives.  I think it’s kind of a good place to be – in a class of our own!

What’s in Your Social Media Policy?

Can Social Media Policies in Canada include anything an employer wants? California has recently passed laws to restrict an employer’s use of policies that are too controlling.

But what about Canada? Can employers demand the Facebook passwords of employees to check up on their whereabouts or off-duty activities? Can employers discipline an employee for comments made about a boss or co-worker in her own personal account? Should there be a balance between employee privacy and the company’s business interests?

Where are we in employment law in Canada on this issue? Has anyone experienced a clash between the law and your employer’s policy?

Are you blogging for the sake of blogging or a burning desire to write?

I recently got into a little discussion with Chris Brogan on his post about his idea to sell ideas for blogging. It seems odd to me that there are people who want to write a blog but have no topic and will pay someone to give them an idea.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Chris Brogan – I subscribe to his e-newsletter, read his blog, follow him on Twitter and I highlighted him in a previous post here on Social Kitty. I also hope he makes a ton of money from people who can’t think up a topic for themselves.  But I can’t resist a good debate so here is what appeared in the comments section under his post Blog Topics Rides Again on July 16, 2012:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * ** *

sgregory57 • 2 days ago

Just MHO: if you have to ask someone else “what should I blog about” then you shouldn’t be blogging.

Chris Brogan MOD • 2 days ago • parent

Some folks feel that way. In 2011, 624 people felt differently.

sgregory57 • a day ago • parent

Hope my comment is not considered an affront. I am interested in human behaviour and wonder what motivates those 624 people. They are the ones that want to blog but have no topic, yes? Doesn’t that seem odd to you?

Chris Brogan MOD • 15 hours ago • parent

Athletes have a coach.
Chefs look for recipes.
Masters students go for PhD.

There are lots of cases where people look for inspiration externally to spark internally.

* * * * * * * *

After his last comment, I was going to reply again.  But I thought if I keep on debating this on his blog, people might mistakenly think I just want an argument and enjoy being belligerent.  (Opinionated, who me?)  Really, I just like to analyze human beings to bits and pieces so I apologize to anyone who thinks I have gone too far. So here is my next comment, but I will not post it on Chris’ site since it has turned into a post of its own:

Yes of course you are right Chris, we all need inspiration. But an athlete, a chef and a Masters or Ph.D. student would clearly all have a topic in the first place, even if a little inspiration was needed.

Asking someone what to write about (and actually paying them for ideas)? Well I don’t know but to me that just seems backwards.  IMHO a writer has a burning desire to record their thoughts, ideas or stories.  It could be typed or written in a personal file or journal or diary.  I think you do it for yourself first.  A blog just takes it that step further into sharing with the world if desired.

I think that writing comes from somewhere inside.  To me it is about an uncontrollable urge to discuss, debate, record, offer or analyze something you are passionate about. It comes from a desire to share something which is maybe entertaining, informative, educational or helpful to others. It may be a desire to share your history or simple stories of the past. It may simply be about how cute your cat or dog is. I think it comes from a natural tendency to explore and discover the world, relationships, nature, the cosmos, business, how things are made, human behaviour, cute things that kids say . . . whatever.  The list could go on forever. It really doesn’t matter what the topic is. And there are people who want to blog but have no topic? I think they should look at their life experience and draw from it. And if they have very limited life experience, not to worry – it will come.  Maybe they should just blog later in life.

If you let them, your ideas will spring forth and will not be controlled – they will have a life of their own and your blog is just the instrument that puts it out there for the rest of the world. If others find it valuable, then that is the icing on the cake. But then icing a cake would be a topic for the chef mentioned above!

Parks Canada issues gag order

Have you read this article about Parks Canada issuing what essentially amounts to a gag order on its employees regarding the agency and the Conservative government?

IMHO, this agency is just asking for trouble.  Do the communications staff at Parks Canada not understand the power of Social Media?  With so many online platforms and networks available to them, I predict that staff will rebel!  They will find a way to say anything they choose, possibly even when restricted by a formal agreement as part of their continuing employment.  Just one question:  Have you ever heard of the online group called “Anonymous“?  Anonymous will probably grab this headline and build a fire with it like you just provided them several thousand Airmiles for free gas.

I plan to follow this story to see how courageous the union employees become.  Management will toe the line, I’m sure.  It will be especially interesting to see what ex-employees have to say after many of them receive their termination papers due to cuts.  And in support of free speech, retirees might have a mouthful to contribute!

I was a civil servant for many years and had lots to say about the municipal government for whom I slaved (opinionated? who me?).  But even I, a lowly supervisor, felt the potential wrath of those with power. So through better judgement and a desire to have a roof over my head and eat, my thoughts remained in the bubble over my head.  I did not utter (write?) a single critical comment publicly.  Of course I didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Google+ etcetera back then.  Hmmm, what might I have done if all these networks had been available to me then?  Maybe I’ll reach back to the craziness of the 1990s leading up to the day I was called to the big HR boardroom at Metro Hall to receive my final papers and tell the story all these years later.  What have I got to lose now?  And let me assure you folks, it’s a doozy!