Fierce and Mighty… The Brand the Hipsters Love

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I found out recently about a cool little t-shirt company in my town that does custom shirts… but in a different kind of way. They focus on putting a single word (or a mashed-up string of words) on super comfy t-shirts. The company is say something apparel and you can check them out at http://www.shopsaysomething.com.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised at my order pictured above. It’s what all the cool kids will be wearing this Spring. Believe it.

Death of the Apology

I think at one time, when people made an apology for something, it actually meant they were sorry.  No, really… I think it meant that at one time.  Now?  I can’t say I’m always entirely sure.  What caused this shift in thought on the seemingly humble act saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it?

I’m sure there are plenty of theories to go around, but I think social media has a little something to do with it.  I don’t mean that to say social media is causing us to be insincere… quite the contrary.  I think social media is allowing for some very rapid and open forms of dialogue between people who may have never interacted with each other in any other context.  The problem is that people… and especially famous ones… don’t seem to give much thought to the fact that when they blog, post something on Facebook or fire out a tweet, they reach a lot of people… potentially millions… in the blink of an eye.

Perfect example that just came to light: Cappie Poindexter of the New York Liberty in the WNBA.  Granted, before this story came out, I had no clue who she was, but believe me… I do now.  So what, pray tell, did Ms. Poindexter do?  Well, like so many others, she tweeted on the devastation in Japan… umm… except it looked like this, according to ESPN:

On Saturday, Pondexter tweeted: “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”

She later tweeted: “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.”

Pondexter also used used the racially derogatory term “jap,” when referring to someone who was offended by her comments.

Umm… what???  And thanks to ESPN for listing all of that in the article because, lo and behold, all that is removed from Ms. Poindexter’s Twitter feed.  Ahh, but that is just the beginning.  The “apology” is really where the rubber hits the road in the story.  This is her apology (which is still on Twitter):

I WANNA APOLOGIZE TO ANYONE I MAY HURT OR OFFENDED DURING THIS TRAGIC TIME. I DIDNT REALIZE THAT MY WORDS COULD BE INTERPRETED IN THE MANNER WHICH THEY WERE.

*sigh*  You didn’t realize people would think that your comments would say exactly what they do say?  That maybe God was punishing them for something?  Like Pearl Harbor?

It’s just really an example of apologizing for getting into trouble, not the actual comment in the first place.  There’s nothing in the apology that states remorse that the actions were wrong in any way, just that people were offended or that the public misinterpreted the comment.  Funny apology, don’t you think?  I’m not sure how I would feel about an apology where the person making it is almost saying it’s my fault for not knowing what she meant.

I do realize this is but one example and it’s not meant to extrapolate this to the entire world… but I do find it interesting that this seems to be typical of public figures these days and that makes me wonder how much this filters down to the rest of us.  If there is one thing I’ve come to learn over time, it’s that people will tend to model what’s acceptable based on what their leaders do.  Public figures are not always leaders, per se, but they are better able to shape the context of the public discourse better than your average citizen simply because they attract more eyeballs and ears than anyone else.

It just would be nice to see a little more authenticity, in the end, when it comes to these matters.  We may all be imperfectly-crafted and fallible human beings, but I like to think we should set our sights a little higher… and then really come clean when we screw up.

UPDATE:

It’s as if the sports world has collectively decided to make my point for me.  Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State football team, also completely whiffs on a real apology.  A sample:

I sincerely apologize for what we’ve been through. I apologize for the fact I wasn’t able to find the ones to partner with to handle our difficult and complex situation.

I think that’s a funny way to apologize for lying to investigators, but hey… maybe I’m kooky like that.

The Zen of Baseball

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Growing up, I was all about baseball. It was truly one of my favorite things, from watching games on TV, going to Fenway Park with my family, collecting stacks and stacks of baseball cards or playing one of a thousand forms of the game. They were all good and I didn’t want to go without.As I grew old, all of this faded a bit. It was a slow drift over time, like a fallen leaf on a lake that starts near the shore, but gradually glides further away with each passing moment.

Ahh, but then baseball decided to strike and the bitterness that left in my mouth would last… for years. The game lost something for me at that point. Maybe I still held a nostalgic and naive fondness in my heart that was stung by the labor issues. I’ll likely never know for sure, but I did know that baseball could suck it for all I cared.

Then came 2004 when I became caught up in the improbable Red Sox run to make the greatest comeback in sports history against the Yankees and then finally break The Curse after 86 years. From that moment on, the game began its slow and subtle build back into my heart.

Now in 2011, the game has returned fully to my heart as if it had never really left from those days of my childhood where I wore a plastic Oakland A’s batting helmet and imagined I was Ricky Henderson stealing base after base. Hell, I even ponied up the money to buy the MLB.TV subscription so I can watch all kinds of baseball on my laptop, Roku player and on that powerful sweet iPad 2 I totally plan on scoring.

I think there is a part of me that truly understands why in the world this has all returned to me with a seemingly effortless grace… it’s because I miss the measured complexity, nuance and pace of baseball. It really has hit me of late that what I once thought of as slow and boring in my bulletproof, I-know-everything days of my 20’s is really almost like perfect Zen meditation when watched properly. It becomes a matter of unplugging yourself from the scattered modern lifestyle of uber-connectedness, must check my Facebook every 7.5 minutes and must keep my nose buried in my iPhone to never miss a text. I know I’ve been pulled into all of that and typically left feeling even LESS connected than ever.

Don’t you see it all the time? The classic example is a group of friends, out together, but almost everyone in their own little world checking on what everyone else NOT present is up to… while the moment to connect deeply with those 2 feet away slips by. And without a doubt, I’ve done this too.

It’s to these moments that baseball feels like a perfect antidote… to sit down and just watch a game… not while tweeting or checking out movie trailers on YouTube… but doing nothing but watching a game unfold in its own time.

So here’s to hoping for a learning to appreciate a little more richness through the lessons that the master known as baseball can provide. Time to unplug and play ball.

This Might Not Work

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I’m a little more than halfway through Seth Godin’s new book “Poke the Box” and I’m duly intrigued.  It’s funny because it’s a pretty short book and the text is not densely packed onto each page, but it would be a terrible mistake to think this implies the thoughts contained therein are as thin as the book itself.  OK granted, I read it on a Kindle so there is no thickness to the book to begin with, but you get my meaning.  Sheesh… cut me some slack!  OK, where was I again?  Oh yes… Mr. Godin.

The driving concept behind the book is summed up in one word: initiative.  The secret sauce that makes things go and people stop their hand-wringing to actually START something.  The magic of the book is how Godin goes far beyond just blandly discussing initiative and why it’s important to more of a call to action.  Huh… it’s like an initiative for initiative in a way.  I think I just blew my own mind right there.

I am going to get back to reading the book some more tonight, but 4 little words he stresses in the book really jumped out at me: “This might not work.”

What’s the power of such a simple sentence?  The fact that it’s a pivotal idea you need to get comfortable with… or at least more comfortable with… so you can fully immerse yourself in a mindset of being a starter.

We all tend to want perfect and we want it now and on the first try, damn it.  And if we cannot have it?  Well then hell, we better wait and plan and scheme and spend oodles of time creating charts on how when we finally get around to starting… ohh at that glorious moment, all will be PERFECTION.

Except it never is.

This all calls to mind one of my favorite quotes from General George S. Patton: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

Therein lies the truth of it all… that it’s a very rare time where inaction is better than action of some kind, shape or sort.  This clearly assumes at least a modicum of reasoned thought about what action to take, but certainly not the kind of endless procrastination masquerading as deep reflection that a lot of people do… and I clearly place myself into that big ugly mess.

Tomorrow I begin using the season of Lent as my own way to spur on the action I’ve avoided.  I’m giving up Facebook.  I’m spending more time in person with friends and family.  I will struggle mightily to get this damn blog in order.  Heck, I even had my very first blog post go up today on my new work blog,  about which I am endlessly excited, especially because I decided to just push it forward and see what happens.

Here’s to a good 40 day run, made up of what I hope to be a string of single day mini-runs.  It might not work, but I’m starting to get comfortable with that… or at least as comfortable as I can be.

Forty Facebook-Free Days

Every year when Lent rolls around, I try to figure out what in the world I’m going to do for those 40 days that will be meaningful of the season.  As Mom always says, “You don’t have to give something up.  You can do something instead.”  She makes a good point (as Mom usually does), but it always seems easier to pick something to forgo instead of doing something.  This year, I’m looking to do both.  Why?  Apparently I’ve been bitten by an ambition bug.  Nasty little suckers.

Now, I could look to subtly build the message of this blog post through an increasingly clever and layered set of paragraphs, delving into heretofore never seen nuances… umm… but the title of the post pretty much gives the whole damn thing away anyway, so why bother?  So, yup… I’m giving up Facebook for Lent.  I know, I’m fairly cutting edge in my approach to most things, Lent included.  I’m sure I will be a 2011 Time Magazine Man of the Year candidate on this alone.

I’ve gotten a bit of pushback from a few friends of mine, especially those who no longer live close enough by me to hang out with on a consistent basis.  They make a good point: Facebook is the easiest way for them to know what I’m up to given the busy pace of their lives.  I actually agree with that.  I know it can be supremely easy to bash Facebook for any varied number of reasons, but it’s allowed me to reconnect with old friends, family members and just keep up with what a lot of people I know are doing on a daily basis.  Plus, I’ve seen some interesting articles and pretty amusing pieces of YouTube genius as a result of The Book of Face.

So why give it up?  Two reasons, really.  One: I like it and doing so is a sacrifice for me.  That’s sort of the easy one to explain.  Second: I feel like I can make much better use of my time for Lent than addictively checking Facebook on my laptop and on my phone, or reading the updates that come via e-mail.  They are not inherently bad or anything like that, but I know I’ve become a little too preoccupied with the Facebook life and not enough focused on… well… regular life.  The Facebook time is time I could use reflecting on Lent, doing some reading, writing for this terribly neglected blog, finally getting serious about improving my flexibility (seriously) or even just spending time with people… like face-to-face.  You know, like in ye olden days of yore.  And if you are wondering whether I crafted that sentence strictly for an opportunity to use “yore”… damn straight I did.  That word gets far too little use, my friends!

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The real hope I have is to unplug for a bit and not withdraw at all, but rather to engage in a more meaningful fashion with the people I care most about it.  Facebook should be a tool for that, not some kind of crutch and while I don’t think I’ve gotten to that crutch-like point, I must confess I’ve come to rely on “The Book” a lot more than I would care to.  Hence, I am pulling away from Facebook for 40 days and seeing what it all brings.  I expect a few withdrawal symptoms over days 1-5, but probably smooth sailing after that.

The only potential bummer is actually using Facebook to announce any new blog posts I do.  I will definitely be using Twitter for that and if there was a way to auto-publish to my “Fierce and Mighty” Facebook page, that would be nice too.  If I can’t, then so be it.

Don’t feel bad, Facebook.  We had a good run and I just need some time apart.  It’s not you… it’s me.  I’ll be back… I think.