The Easiest, Most Achievable New Year’s Resolution Ever!


My New Year’s Resolution List usually starts with the desire to lose between ten and three thousand pounds. (Nia Vardalos)

So it’s January, early January to be exact. The time of year for new running shoes, gym memberships, self-help books, and extremes. Society, in general, goes a little bit crazy.

Maybe it’s the post-Christmas blues.

Maybe it’s the aftermath of too much turkey, chocolate, wrapping paper, and Christmas cheer.

Maybe it’s the hope the the year ahead of us will give us the opportunities we need to better ourselves and reach the potential that seems so far away in mid-October.

I think it’s the last one, there. The fact is that, with the arrival of a new calendar year, we beckon the arrival of a new us. A better us. An us who fit into clothing from stores with their size ranges in the titles. An us who is more organized. An us who can finally stand up to the person who keeps stealing our lunches from the office fridge. An us who is confident mentally, emotionally, sexually, grammatically, politically, musically, and so on.

And why shouldn’t we want to better ourselves when we have a clean slate and a future ripe for the choosing?

So with that in mind, I’d like to offer up what I think should be the top of everyone’s resolution list: support other people’s resolutions.

I’ve noticed in the last few years that lots of people make fun of those who have resolutions for the year ahead. Regular gym goers, frustrated by the influx of new members, grumble and look forward to mid-February when the gym will once again be theirs. High-achieving students see slackers bringing pencils and paper to class, for once, and laugh at the fruitlessness of such behavior. Regular customers of music stores frown at the disappearance of guitars and ukuleles from the shelves where they are usually displayed and wonder how many more weekend warriors will arise this year.

2015/01/img_2725.jpg via

I’m generalizing and dramatizing, but that’s basically how it works. It’s not so much that we’re protecting the status quo, it’s that experience often shows us that we can’t do it. News reports highlight statistics regarding how many people give up their resolutions before the end of the month. More and more diet programs advertise year round because they know there is a stigma on joining in early January.

With all of this going on, having a new year’s resolution feels embarrassing and pointless. But I think that we should encourage goal-oriented people. If somebody wants to get more involved in charitable organizations, that person shouldn’t have to feel bad or like it’s an uphill battle. The person who wants to lose ten pounds and feel healthier should be able to walk into a gym on January first or second or even tenth and feel excited and proud to begin working towards that goal.

If we support one another instead of shaking our heads at those who are actually trying, we can all reach our goals or at least feel better about what we have accomplished. If we all practice this resolution, then we will all be supported to reach our own goals. It’s win-win!

So smile at the new gym member, wave at the fresh volunteers, high-five the budding musicians, and feel encouraged to make and work toward your own goals.

And stay classy folks,


Should I Acknowledge Social Media Compliments?

Narcissistic sure is a weird way to pronounce amazing. (Unknown)

Let’s keep this short, shall we? We’re going to talk social media for a quick minute. Now, for the most part, we know how to acknowledge compliments in real life, right? There are a number of ways to do this, but here are the most common two. Imagine this conversation between Gwen and Ralph:

Situation 1:

Gwen: Hey Ralph! Nice haircut; it really brings out your eyes.
Ralph: Thanks Gwen. I thought I would try something a little different.
Gwen: Cool. Do you–ahh–want to go out sometime?
Ralph: Oh…I appreciate you asking, but I don’t like you in that way…
Gwen: Oh. Kay, bye.

See how Ralph politely acknowledged Gwen’s compliment about his hair? That is one way we receive compliments in everyday conversations.

Situation 2:

Gwen: Hey Ralph! Your shirt is awesome! I, too, love World of Warcraft.
Ralph: Well, it’s an old shirt and I–uh–it was clean so…
Gwen: Well, I like it. 
Ralph: Um, thanks.

 While painfully awkward, this is a common way for people to answer compliments. It’s very self-deprecating and deflecting, but it is something that we do come across when offering up compliments.

Social media compliments are, on the other hand, a different beast. 

The easiest way to get my point across is to use a very common example: profile pictures. I think we can all relate to this. You put up a new profile picture on, say, Facebook and you get a bunch of likes (which you do not have to acknowledge) and a number of nice comments. Here is where the question of whether or not to thank your friends comes up.

My answer is that it depends on the number of comments you receive. Are you Beyonce? Did you get hundreds of compliments? No? Then thank your friends for taking the time to type out a few kind words. If you get a whole bunch of compliments you don’t even have to thank each person, but every three or four people say “thanks everybody” or “you’re all so great, thanks”. Something, anything to tell your friends that you saw their compliments and you appreciate them. That is, after all, why we typically share flattering pictures of ourselves. Let’s not lie about it.

Too often I see profile pictures where there are tons of sweet and thoughtful comments posted and the person whose picture it is does not even acknowledge that they have seen them (which we totally know they have).

Of course this differs depending on if you’re on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, but I think that saying “thank you” is always the classy thing to do. Put yourself in the shoes of your admirers. Wouldn’t you like your kind words to at least be acknowledged? Otherwise, why say anything?

Stay classy, friends,


R-E-S-P-E-C-T(ing others’ opinions)

Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect each others even as we respect ourselves. (U Thant)

With everything going on in the world right now, there are a lot of varying opinions flying around in cyberspace. Some people are pro-Israeli, some are pro-Hamma, some are pro-Kanye, some are pro-Fifty Shades of Grey. The point is that everyone has an opinion on everything. And you know what? That’s totally okay. Every person is entitled to his or her opinion.

I think that we forget that there are many issues out there which don’t have a right or wrong answer. We all have opinions based on our experiences, education, and lifestyle. We are all unique and so are our opinions.

Sometimes, though, we forget this. I forget that the person in my moral philosophy class who is against women having easy access to birth  control is from a conservative Catholic country and holds this belief for religious reasons. I forget that the person on my newsfeed who doesn’t think that helmets should be required by law for all motorcyclists is of a faith where headdress is maybe held above laws pertaining to personal safety. I forget that the person on my Instagram who is for the Enbridge pipeline is the child of a tradesperson father and spent years living in poverty because there wasn’t a lot of work for his dad.

Do I still disagree with some of these opinions? Yes, I do. But that doesn’t mean that I can disrespect these people by telling them that their opinions are wrong or disregard their rights to have these views.

We are allowed to fight for our beliefs and opinions. We are allowed to debate our views. We are allowed to tell others our views.

However, we cannot disrespect the views of others.

We cannot trivialize someone else’s experience or opinion by saying things like “you’re a man, you can’t have an opinion on abortion”; “you’re basing your views on being a white person, check your privilege/you can’t have an opinion”; “you weren’t born here, you can’t have an opinion on our politics.”

That’s not okay. We can fight for our opinions. We can write to government officials; we can make changes in our own lives; we can volunteer in countries we want to help; we can write blog posts; we can form clubs; we can do a lot of things to have our opinions and beliefs heard.

We cannot disrespect the opinions of others. We cannot silence the voices of others. Everyone has the right to be heard.

If we ever doubt this, we must imagine what it is like to live in a place or time where we aren’t allowed to have a voice. There are still so many people in positions like this.

The very least we can do is respect the opinions of others.


Thanks for reading my opinion on the matter of opinions.

Stay classy,


Wrong-Side Syndrome

I’m cranky. (Larry David)

Is there anything better than waking up after a great night of sleep? You’re warm and comfortable in your bed. Birds are chirping lightly in the tree outside your bedroom window, the sun is shining brightly (though not in your eyes), and all is right in this crazy world. You get up; get ready for the day with a long, luxurious shower; enjoy a fragrant, cheesy omelet and a steaming cup of artisan coffee; and you leave for the day. Your day is just going so well. Few days are as lovely as this one.

And then I come along. I didn’t sleep well because I was up late working on a project. I slept in, didn’t have time for breakfast or a shower, and stepped in my neighbor’s dog’s poop as I walked to my car only to realize that I would need to stop for gas. My day sucks. It’s just not going to be a good one.

You run into me at school/work and I scowl at your chipper attitude and sunny outlook. I snap at your small talk and will provide no more than single-syllable answers for all of your questions. I make you feel uncomfortable. You feel bad for feeling good. Slowly, you feel like maybe you are tired; maybe you didn’t sleep quite so well. Maybe that omelet wasn’t quite so good. Maybe you realize you missed a spot while shaving.

The scenario you have just witnessed is an example of what I like to call “Wrong-Side Syndrome”.

Instead of a long lecture, I have this to say. Don’t let your crappy day ruin someone else’s good one.

Stay classy,


My Horse is Bigger than Yours



We all do it. It’s like laughing at pictures of cats online or hitting the snooze button on the alarm. It’s human nature!

The situation:

Your friend, let’s call him Chuck, breaks his arm. He goes to the hospital, gets a cast, and meets you and the rest of your group at the pub a week later. You all want to know what happened to Chuck. How did he go the way of Tiny Tim? When will he be able to play the trombone again? What will come of his budding one-handed-pushup career? Anyways, the main question is about what happened to poor Chuck and how bad is his break?

Chuck starts to regale the exciting tale of having a been drinking a beer, hearing the door bell ring, and falling down the stairs as he rushed to answer. He hasn’t even gotten to the part where he realized his arm didn’t look right before everyone starts to jump in with tales of their own. You even consider bringing up the story of the great broken wrist of ’06. Chuck is just happy to be out with friends, but he is a little perturbed that he can’t have his moment to be in pain before somebody has to bring up a bad jellyfish sting or an unfortunate tennis game.

The important part:

Okay, if you’re still following then you probably understand what I’m talking about: the old “my horse is bigger than yours” part of human interaction. We always want to one-up our friends because we believe that we have suffered more. Our ordeals are worse than theirs.

Don’t get me wrong. It is somewhat cathartic to discuss our pain and suffering in this way. I do it. You probably do it. It’s totally okay. The important thing, as always, is to remember what situation you’re in. Are you and your friends all sitting around, eating nachos, and reminiscing about sucky times in your life? If yes, then go ahead and enjoy yourselves. Are you trying to offer support to a friend who is going through a hard time and suffering? If yes, then shut the heck up and offer a friendly, non-judgmental ear.

I don’t have much else to say on this topic because there isn’t much to say. Sometimes we just have to shut and listen. Deal with it.

If you have any stories about this kind of thing happening, feel free to share them in the comments. I always ask you to do that and no one ever does…whatever. I’ve had worse! Just kidding…but seriously.

Stay classy,



Facebook Faux Pas

If you can’t stop thinking about someone’s update, that’s called ‘status cling’. (Jessica Park)

I would like to start by apologizing for going months without updating this blog at all! The class for which I was writing this blog ended so it moved down my list of priorities. That was quite unclassy of me. I will endeavor to do better.

Okay, moving on. From now on, I’m going to work on posting more. How? Well, I’ll be doing much shorter posts. Hopefully, these will be good quality and will happen more often. I ask that you are patient with me while I get into the swing of things.

Enough discussion! Let’s talk about a few Facebook Faux pas. I’ve compiled a list of the 5 least-classy/rude things I have seen my “friends” do on the popular social media site.

5. Not acknowledging compliments on pictures.
Here’s the thing, we’re all busy. We go on the computer to check email, do work, update social media, etc.. These tasks are in addition to the rest of our lives. So when someone takes the time to compliment someone’s picture, be it profile or otherwise, it means that that person took time from his or her busy life to say a nice thing. Is it really so hard to say “thanks”? I don’t think so. Even if that thank you applies to more than one compliment on a picture, it still acknowledges that the kind comments were read and appreciated.

4. Cryptic status updates.
These mysterious messages are both self-indulgent and attention-seeking. Statuses like “I am so done with this” are just annoying. Either the writer has an issue and doesn’t want to share it (in which case he or she shouldn’t make it a status) or has a minor issue and wants to be asked about it and fawned over. When writing these silly statuses, the intention is to force readers to be curious and ask about it. It’s like me wanting to pretend I want privacy, but giving you hundreds of ways to know about me and my life.

3. Knowingly posting offensive/controversial statuses or comments.
We get it. You have controversial opinions. You’re so urban and politically interesting. You enjoy heated political debates and morality discussions that use buzzwords that no layperson could hope to be able to grapple with. I, too, enjoy healthy debates that open up my mind and the minds of others to new perspectives and ideas. I have to ask, though, is Facebook the place for these discussions? I don’t think so. Facebook is supposed to be a way to network and connect with friends, new and old. I don’t know that it is the best forum for debates and discussions that are best suited to round tables or respectfully-moderated areas of discourse. When overly-controversial posts appear on Facebook, it just looks like the poster is trying to insite arguments and anger.

2. Posting pictures or videos that should be accompanied with a warning.
We all have friends who do this. They post pictures of gruesomely-abused animals, huge spiders, post-op knee surgery pics, etc.. Now I’m not saying that these things don’t belong on Facebook. I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying that I would appreciate posters having the courtesy to include a warning about the content or just posting a link to the content (with a warning). If I’m eating and see swollen and bloody stitched skin after my friend’s knee surgery, I might throw up on my keyboard. If I just lost my dog of fifteen years and am scrolling through my newsfeed, I might be extremely upset to see a viral video of a dog being thrown off a building (true story). This just comes down to respecting your Facebook friends and being aware of what is being shared and posted.

1. Posting passive-aggressive statuses.
These are so obvious. “I never thought that my friend could finish my Toblerone bar without even asking. Friendship terminated. You know who you are.” These are the most annoying posts on Facebook. Instead of dealing with their issues in the non-digital world, there are those Facebook users who chose to write statuses about their anger which they clearly want their offender to read. Come on! This isn’t Gossip Girl! Let’s deal with our problems directly instead of these immature posts. Don’t make your Facebook friends watch as you and your now-enemy post thinly-veiled statuses/insults about one another all over the newsfeed!

In general, these 5 faux pas come down to common courtesy and respecting your social media contacts and their time.

Thanks for reading and, as usual, feel free to comment below with your Facebook faux pas or pet peeves!

Stay classy,

Essay 2

Essay 2:

Online Publishing: Becoming a Blogger

            Ali Luke states that there are 7 types of bloggers: the “Niche Expert”, the “Business Owner”, the “Professional Blogger”, the “Journal Writer”, the “Platform Builder”, the “Product Promotor”, and the “Freelancer” (2013). Among these categories, every potential publisher, be him or her a blogger or a social media participant or a commenter, can find a place in cyberspace to share information and opinions and interact with other users. A blogger, specifically, either starts out rooted in one of these categories or eventually gets there through the quality and type of content he or she is producing, the creation of an audience, and tracking and analytics.

Starting Out

Creating Readable Content

            “Blogging is publishing, it is content” (Bullas, 2010). Like with any sort of publishable writing, the first thing a blogger must do is decide on the type of content to publish. There are hundreds of genres of writing from mainstream popular veins like health and fitness to more cult-like and lesser known subjects like conspiracy theories and living off the grid. With a purpose for blogging (like one of the seven mentioned above), the first step for any blogger or online publisher is to elect where he or she fits into that spectrum. Factors which influence this decision include the writer’s knowledge of the content and ability to communicate that knowledge, and the planned audience.

            Really, it would seem to most people that a blogger/publisher’s knowledge of the category in which he or she is writing would be the most important aspect of blogging. The writer can be free to share knowledge and understanding of a given topic regardless of his or her non-cyber self’s position in life:

Everyone – regardless of status, wealth, race, gender, etc. – starts off on a level playing field [on the internet]. Although one’s status in the outside world ultimately may have some impact on one’s powers in cyberspace, what mostly determines your influence on others is your skill in communicating (including writing skills), your persistence, the quality of your ideas, and your technical know-how. (Suler, 2002)

In the above quotation, John Suler states that everyone online is equal regardless of his or her non-cyber background. It is the aptitude for communicating one’s knowledge for which one is judged. While different bloggers may have diverse opinions on their subject areas, it is their writing that ultimately keeps or rejects their readers. Scrolling down the “Home” page of Classy and True, for example, a visitor can probably decide within minutes whether or not he or she agrees with the author’s prescriptive views of etiquette and sees any quality in the writing. The traffic for this site, then, may rise through many views, but if the writing is uninteresting or pedantic, then the audience (like the 27 followers of Classy and True) does not grow.

Finding an Audience

The audience, though, is the goal in much of internet publishing. While many sites encourage comments and discussions to improve the audience’s experience, there are many which fall into publishing outrageous or offensive material to drive traffic. This is another decision a blogger/publisher needs to make: is the goal to inspire readers to stay and become an audience, or to draw in new readers daily without caring if they stay? There are sites which choose the latter and do so through well-used Search Engine Optimization techniques (S.E.O.s), but which do not worry about the quality or consistency of posts and writing. These sites use the right tags, “[o]ptimize images–use keywords in the title and the alt tag of the images [they’re] including”, and focus on producing material which ties in with current events and trends (Cognito Media, 2013). While these techniques certainly drive traffic to the site and give it a higher ranking in its community, they do not create any kind of a stable, loyal audience. A blogger must make the decision: high traffic or an acknowledged reader base. There are many sites that have both, but this may not be initially attainable for the new blogger.

            All of these introductory decisions for bloggers come down to understanding the aim of the blog. Blogs, for some, are internet diaries where they can share the ups and downs of their lives and ask for support or help. For others, blogs are all about self-promotion: the fashion designer can display his creations; the musician can expose her new E.P.; and the fantasy writer can practice her trade through Harry Potter fan fiction. Knowing for which one is writing allows one to choose how to present one’s self and what steps to take to invite readers to stay and join the audience. Understanding audience and what the blogger wants to tell the audience helps the blogger to frame posts, schedules for posting, selection of content, and so on.

Analytics and Tracking

            With this discussion of audience, a question arises in the minds of potential bloggers: How does one know who is one’s audience? Prior to starting a blog or website, this is a seemingly very complex question. Those who are less tech-savvy struggle to comprehend how a blogger can target and gain the audience he or she wants. Two things a class like Publishing 101 may teach students about blogging are the helpfulness of an analytics application and the importance of personal tracking.


Wordpress Post Stats

A selection from “Top Posts for 90 days ending 2013-11-24 (Summarized)” by WordPress

            Analytics, be them Google Analytics or WordPress Statistics, offer site administrators (in this case, bloggers) the opportunity to track and understand where their traffic is coming from and how that traffic interacts with the blog. Classy and True, for example, is a blog and so uses the WordPress Statistics as analytics to learn more about visitors. The ability to see which posts are most popular tells the blogger to what her audience is more receptive.

            The above chart leads the blogger to the realization that shorter, more humorous, posts, like “Remix Assignment” are more popular and that varied media help to drive more readers to visit.  The most difficult part about WordPress Statistics, however, is that it does not show which posts were being read on the “Home page/ Archives” page of the blog. This skews the numbers because visits to the home page are in the upper 300s while the views of specific posts are still in double-digit numbers.

            The blogger of Classy and True can also see which sites are the best for referring readers to the blog:

[T]he social sites that arrived in the 2000s did not create the social web, but they did structure it. This is really, really significant. In large part, they made sharing on the Internet an act of publishing (!), with all the attendant changes that come with that switch. Publishing social interactions makes them more visible, searchable, and adds a lot of metadata to your simple link or photo post. (Madrigal, 2012)

As Alex Madrigal states in the above quotation, sharing itself has become a form of publishing, just as permanent as the original blog post. For this reason, sharing fresh posts through Facebook and Twitter extend the synapses of the original post, much like the human brain forms new and lasting connections through learning and maturing. The links become part of the permanence of the publication and connect it to dozens of other places on the vast internet. Analytics tell the blogger about each referrer website (usually social media) and helps the blogger build a network of connections and pingbacks to draw a larger potential audience. If Facebook is the top referrer, then the blogger knows that Facebook is the best way to share new and important posts.

            While North America is not considered the number one sharer of posts, it is clear that many countries are full of users who share most of what they come across online:

Sharing KPCB

“Internet Trends” Slide 27 from D11 Conference (Meeker, M. & Wu, L., 2013)

            If an average of twenty-four percent of users across the world regularly share content they come across online, then it is clear why statistics about referrers are important to any blogger’s knowledge of his or her blog. If one reader enjoys a particular post and shares it with like-minded friends and networks, that is a simple way to help an audience expand.


            The actions of the blog’s readers are not the only thing that can be tracked and analysed, however. Various websites and applications, such as MercuryApp, offer users the opportunity to track one or more aspects of their daily lives in order to learn about and change possibly negative behaviors. A simple example would be the quality of one’s day and how it is affected by the actions of others:

Emotional Tracking Pub 101

MercuryApp Tracking Graph from 10/25/13-11/21/2013

           The above graph is an example of how the writer of Classy and True tracked the quality of her day, negative comments she heard or overheard, and unusually rude actions which took place. This graph fits into Classy and True‘s theme of etiquette and treating others well so it is an effective way for the blogger to track her own behavior and connect it to her blog. Essentially, this type of tracking gives the blogger substantial evidence to make his or her claims. It can also help the blogger to modify behaviors which make him or her less knowledgeable or genuine about the blog’s subject.

In Closing

        There is so much involved in creating and running a useful and successful blog. A good idea is not enough. Blogging is a multi-facetted process beginning with interesting content and an intended audience. The blogging process does not end with a beautifully-themed website full of witty observations and opinions. Bloggers, like publishers, must analyze audience/reader participation in the blog and adapt as needed to new demands and changes in audience interest. The blogger, especially one writing about personal or common experiences and ideas, must also track and analyze his or her own behavior in order to gain an understanding of who he or she is.  A blogger may be lucky to find a secure position in the fast-changing environment of cyberspace, but the most important tool any online publisher can have is the ability to change and adapt already-strong content for the needs of the audience/readers as analyzed by analytics and tracking.

Reference List

Bullas, J. (2010, October 25). “Is Blogging the Future of Publishing?”.

Cognito Media. (2013, September 05). “10 SEO Tips for 2013”. Forbes (online).

Luke, A. (2013). “The 7 Types of Blogger: Which One Are You?”. 

Madrigal, A. (2012, October 12). Dark social: We have the whole history of the web wrong. The Atlantic.

Meeker, M., & Wu, L. (2013, May). “Internet trends”. Slide Deck from D11 Conference

Suler, J. (2002). The psychology of cyberspace. (2002 ed.). Doylestown, Pen.: True Center Publishing.  (Older version of article published in 1996).

Wasstrom, K. A. (2013, November 24). “Top Posts for 90 days ending 2013-11-24 (Summarized)” [Web Graphic]. WordPress.

Wasstrom, K. A. (2013, November 24). “Tracking Graph from 10/25/13-11/21/2013” [Web Graphic]. MercuryApp.