Yesterday in a small community outside my hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, something horrible happened. A man held his daughter, her husband, his ex-wife, and two children hostage. The children were let go, the man killed his daughter, wounded the two other adults and a law enforcement officer. There was a standoff lasting about 18 hours that eventually led to the gunman killing himself. In addition to local and neighboring law enforcement, the Mississippi Highway Patrol was called in. It was a terrible thing for the community to hear about on a Sunday night.

Oh, hang on.

The community probably didn’t hear about it Sunday night because the Laurel/Hattiesburg NBC affiliate did a pre-recorded late newscast. Because of the Olympics. And the local newspaper website is snuggled safely behind a paywall. What that newspaper, The Chronicle, did was post updates throughout the night and into this morning on its Facebook page. I agree with my friend Desmond who said their use of social media was about the best of any news outlet anywhere. They nailed it. The coverage was timely and completely professional. They did not editorialize or sensationalize. WDAM, the local television station, said they were short staffed and didn’t use Facebook for actual news. On its Facebook feed this morning, WDAM posted the following:

Remember: Facebook is not our website. This is just where we share stuff and talk to our audience. Our website is and its children – our mobile apps, and our mobile site. We don’t post all of our coverage here, and we don’t necessarily post news here as it happens.

Right. Because what a waste of time and energy THAT would be.

Could it really be there are still traditional media outlets out there that don’t understand if it didn’t happen on social media, it didn’t happen? Appears so. What The Chronicle appears to understand is that social media gets the story out there now. The internet gets the story out there now.  And that allows the print edition to do what we’re always complaining news doesn’t do anymore: Analyze, educate, and supply context. Obviously not everyone uses Facebook and Twitter. I get that. There are thousands of people in Jones County without internet access. That’s why WDAM’s fail in reporting (or not reporting) the story last night is so mind boggling to me. Then going on the defensive this morning was just weird. We were understaffed, you guys! Olympics! USA! No one reads this feed for real news!

Traditional media, social media is not making you irrelevant. You are making you irrelevant. Stop making it about competing. Stop worrying about whether or not people use their real names to comment on your website. Who the hell cares? It’s supposed to be about the story. Newspapers and broadcast news outlets can’t compete with social media. So why worry about it? There’s an opportunity to use social media to your advantage. You can be the guy who first broke the story on social media then used your paper or television studio to tell the whole story, or you can be the guy who’s hoping enough coverage of ribbon cutting ceremonies and lost pet announcements will keep you in the black. That’s doing versus hoping. No one ever won a Pulitzer or increased ad sales by hoping.

Elephants Are Morbid: Digital ADHD

(Note: I started writing this on 9/19. Just so you know. Also, I’ve tried errything I know to get the second half of the piece to break into proper paragraphs. It is difficult to read. BUT YOU WILL READ IT AND BY GOD YOU WILL NOT COMPLAIN.)

Blogging has some distinct advantages: I get to choose what I write about. I can write in my sweat pants–and by that, I mean I actually write my rough drafts on the INSIDE of my pants as a political statement about the transitory nature of the pixel vis-a-vis text-based applications and the political landmine that is cotton-based paper products in a post-green consumer society. The complete and total lack of editorial oversight here at Standard Shed Studios makes sentences like that possible. YOU’RE WELCOME.

So, here’s the thing. I was just talking to a friend about this blog she read where the writer was publicizing IP addresses for various reasons. Do not like. In this digital age, that information is really no different from publicizing a physical address. If you’ve got trolls and need to block a fella, do it. No need to talk about it. That person behind that IP address may be  perfectly lovely until he or she gets behind the wall of anonymity the internet ostensibly creates. Like getting in a car. Get me in traffic and I will let loose with a stream of expletives which will melt the rubber off your radials. I’m not an aggressive driver–far from it. It’s because of the cussing. If I didn’t talk to my fellow road-sharers, every time I got in my car it’d be like Death Race 2000 and I’d be Machine Gun Joe. (That one’s for you, THK!) In other words, stay away from Perkins, ma, ’cause Senior Day is triple points.

Point is, my mind works like this:

  • Sit down at desk.
  • Realize I forgot Cheetos. AGAIN.
  • Wonder if they have Zapp’s Cajun Dill Chips at the grocery.
  • Talk myself out of going to see.
  • Start writing stuff. Just stuff. Just getting the fingers working.
  • Twitter feed produces Twitter Feud O’ The Day.
  • Look at NPR feed.
  • Wonder where the saying “memory like an elephant” came from.
  • Learn that elephants mourn and hold elephant funerals.
  • Remember watching that Nature on crows that was cool as hell. Crows hold funerals also.
  • Wonder what would happen if an elephant showed up at a crow wake.
  • Wonder, yet again, why I don’t have a book contract/sitcom.
  • Think about writing a sticom where the sassy neighbor wears a caftan.
  • Realize I’m about to be late for something.
  • Take a sip of what I BELIEVED to be Coke Zero, but is actually CHERRY Coke Zero.
  • Brush my teeth.
  • Run my errands.
  • Finish disgusting cherry Coke because it’s open.
  • Get back home, clean kitchen, iron, remember I have half-written blog post.
     Notice nowhere on that list is fix dinner for husband so he stays big and strong and sexxaay so he can subsidize my writing habit.
Me: Um, sweetie? ‘Member how you said next time I went out of town you were gonna eat nothing but sardines in mustard sauce on white bread?
Him: Yes? Are you going out of town? (He says, trying not to let excitement creep in to his voice)
Me: Well, not exactly, but I did go to Germantown today.
Him: So you’re saying there is no dinner.
Me: Well, I guess if you want to be all technical and whatnot.
     It’s at this point you’re expecting me to go back and tell you what the hell the publicizing the IP thing had to do with anything. The truth is I don’t remember. I’m keeping it in the post because I think it’s important for you to understand what it is like to be me.
     I would like sympathy, please. Smothered in tender kisses and $20 bills.
     I think what I was driving at was that you have to give up a little privacy when you’re playing on the digital playground. And you can’t really complain too much when people you’ve never met in person know as much about you as your OB/GYN. My husband is getting used to total strangers knowing what he had–or didn’t have–for dinner. Or what movies we watched last week. Or how I send him texts telling him he’s the cool, cool breeze that clears away my grumpy and leaves me in a place of simple pleasures and unicorns and bunnies.
     Just kidding, honey! I won’t tell them that!
     If you put me on a project which interests me, I’m on it like mayo on a bologna sammich. Otherwise? Well, why do you think I know elephants mourn? Today I just lack focus. I think I’m suffering from early 21st century postmodern neo-narcissistic existential angst. Everything is making me stabby: Cliff Stearns, Hizzoner The Governor Lite (Thanks for following me on Twitter, yo!) Middle Tennessee, and for some reason the fact that today is National Coffee Day and people keep hawking fair trade coffee.
These things make me happy!!
And this:
Everything I do, I do for you, internet.

If You Break Them Open, Do They Smell Like Ladies Lying In The Sun?

I’ve been talking about serious stuff this week, and will continue to do so, but I want to take a brief detour to CosmoLand. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a fake Cosmo Twitter feed, but honest to God, I don’t know that I could come up with anything better than the laff-a-minute verified Cosmo Twitter feed. For example, this just happened:

Also this:

How is some straight dude waxing philosophical over boobs dumb, but asking if a guy should shave his “coconuts” not? Please? Anyone?

Here’s another of my rejected Cosmo articles. You’re welcome.

What Your Dude’s Favorite Kitchen Utensil Says About Him!

  1. Spatula: Oh, he’s an old-fashioned kind of guy with a great sense of humor! He’d love nothing more than to give you the Aunt Jemima Treatment on a lazy Sunday morning!
  2. Wire Whisk: He likes his woman like he likes his omelette: FLUFFY!
  3. Citrus Zester: What kind of man has a citrus zester? Not the kind you take home to mama! Zesty in the kitchen, zesty in the bedroom?!
  4. George Forman Grill: This guy’s meat and potatoes all the way! Sure, pounding you like a cheap steak will get old after a while, but that bank account is full of salad!!
  5. Ginsu knife: The best kind of dude! He’ll believe anything!! Have fun on that trip to Cabo your “doctor” says you need to treat “exhaustion”!
  6. Electric Can Opener: This one’s a toss up, girls! One one hand, he clearly loves gadgets–WINK WINK–on the other hand, if he can’t expend the energy to open his Spaghetti-Os with a manual tool, what other manual tools won’t he use?!! WINK WINK!!
  7. Meat Fork: Ladies, let’s be honest. This guy’s more interested in your butcher than you! But that’s okay! A gay BFF is like a LBD–Every gal needs one!!
  8. Pastry Fork: Ooooh, who doesn’t love a man who makes pie? Watch out, though! He may expect you to be his cherry pie!!
  9. Mixing Bowl: A little of this, a little of that. He’s into experimentation! But watch out! He may be eating two meals at once, if you know what we mean! Of course you do!
  10. Juicer: He likes it wet and sticky! But look out! All that fiber might ruin your romantic date!!