The Social Media Chutzpah Hit List

Recently, I was lunching at Chez Panera when I got rubbed the wrong way. No, it wasn’t you, Phoebe the Cashier – you’re aces in my book. It was the guy who asked for a cup of water and then filled with Dr. Pepper at the soda dispenser. His poor choice in soft drinks aside, who does that? The guy buys a $12 lunch and he thinks it entitles him to free soda, six ounces at a time? Seriously, who are these people?

senifeld meme

After a few dozen head shakes and eye rolls, my thoughts turned – as they inevitably do – to social media. What are some of the ballsy, unethical or just plain rude techniques employed on various social media platforms? What rubs me the wrong way? What pisses me off?

This is my no means a comprehensive list; I hope you’ll add your thoughts in the comments below:

  • Auto DMs. All of them. Without exception.
  • LinkedIn invites without context
  • Instagramming every meal (sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich)
  • Private conversations held in public forums. Just because I’m Facebook friends with two girls from high school doesn’t mean I need to see the back-and-forth of their Friday night planning.
  • Calling yourself a “guru,” “ninja,” or “tsar.” (Oddly, “czar” is ok).
  • Not crediting your source material
  • Emoticons. If you can’t say what you mean with words, it’s not worth saying.
  • Synching the same message across multiple platforms
  • Broadcasting without listening or engaging
  • Repeating the same message over and over again. If I wanted to hear a broken record, I’d own a record player…and records. Yeah, I’m going to have to come up with a new metaphor.
  • Outdated technology metaphors. This list is crashing like my Treo 650…am I right, folks?
  • Debating politics on Facebook. No one has ever changed his or her vote because of a well-worded wall post.
  • Censoring criticism (or simply dissenting opinions) on the pages you manage
  • Speeling misstakes
  •  Using interns to run a corporate social media account
  • #TeamFollowBack
  • Using a Yiddish word in your title without providing a definition
  • No avatar (or profile picture)
  • An avatar that’s a logo (unless you’re managing a corporate account)
  • An avatar that’s a cartoon version of you. Hey, I like Mad Men and the Simpsons as much as anyone, but my avatar is my real-life obnoxious face for a reason.
  • An avatar that is from 15 years and/or 85 pounds ago. This isn’t online dating.
  • An avatar that has someone else in it.
  • An avatar that has someone else poorly cropped out of it. Really? You can’t find *one* decent headshot?
  • Misunderstanding your network’s privacy settings. I’m looking at you, Randi.
  • Abusing #hashtags because you #think they’re #fun. They’re #not. And you’re not #cool.
  • Asking for RTs all the time (every once in a while is cool, but don’t be the boy or girl who cried wolf). Side note: please RT this post!
  • Deleting your mistake in the hopes that no one saw it. This is the internet. Someone saw it. And screen capped it. And now that mistake has been posted somewhere else. Sorry.
  • Buying followers
  • Sharing overly personal details on your professional networks (sharing professional details on personal networks isn’t always advisable, but it’s rarely as obnoxious)
  • Connecting on LinkedIn with someone you don’t really know and/or with whom you have not worked
  • Complaining about those brands that have wronged you without ever praising those who have done right by you
  • Vaguebooking
  • Unfriending or disconnecting in the heat of the moment. Even with an ex.
  • Over-sharing your Foursquare check-ins
  • Mistaking social media buzz for a verified news source.
  • Humblebragging without ironically pointing out your own Humblebrag
  • Mocking someone’s religious or political beliefs. Disagreement is cool. Debate is usually OK. But there’s a reason we don’t call this “anti-social networking.”
  • Anti-social networking
  • Not posting a bio or “about me” page
  • Consuming without adding to the discussion. Read an interesting blog post? Add a comment (hint, hint).
  • Shameless self-promotion


Last December, I ran an epic caption contest about that one time, at band camp, when Yo-Yo Ma met a wombat. Yeah, that really happened. Take a minute and click the link. Good times.

Since that time, roughly 284 pictures have been posted on the internet (give or take), but not until now has one warranted another caption contest. Ladies and gentleman, I give you M. Diddy herself, Martha Stewart.

Photo by Marissa Simon, a girl with whom I went to high school and haven’t seen for 20 years. God bless Facebook. You can find Marissa and her delicious-looking cakes at

What could possibly be running through the mind of our dear Martha? Well, friends, the options are limited only by your imagination. Like my last caption contest, the winner will receive a prize that I have yet to determine (yes, it might be another book. Reading *is* fundamental, you know).

The only rules are…there are no rules. Well, that’s not quite true. There are rules. But, you know, it’s a caption contest. Live long and prosper and don’t be evil and plagiarism sucks. Oh, and don’t talk about Fight Club. And, of course, yellow snow ain’t for eating. Trust me.

Submit your hilarious captions in the comments section below. I reserve the right to end this contest whenever I damn well please and all judgments are both entirely mine and entirely subjective.

If ‘Community’ Gets Cancelled, Which Actor has the Most to Lose?

When news broke last weekend about Whitney’s untimely passing, I had a simultaneously morbid and uplifting thought: “After losing the star and namesake of one of its primetime sitcoms, will NBC bring back new episodes of “Community?”

Alas, as you no doubt know, it was Whitney Houston who died…not Whitney Cummings. And while I have nothing against the comedienne and alleged TV star (besides that damned laugh track), Cummings’ self-titled show is part of the logjam of quality television that compelled the Peacock Network to put its edgiest, most critically acclaimed and social media revered property on indefinite hiatus.

What’s that? NBC has pathetically bad ratings? No one watches *any* of its scripted programming? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

With rabid fans salivating about the fate of their favorite pop-culture infused show, I was certain that NBC would do the right thing and find “Community” a timeslot. Yet, as the weeks and months have passed since the initial hiatus announcement, the sitcom’s prospects seem more and more dire.

And so, if “Community” truly has fired its final paintball gun, we must think about those who will suffer the most – the actors. Which of the seven key players has the career stamina to fight on and continue shining in the bedazzled limelight of the business they call show? And which are destined to be nostalgic answers on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card?

In descending order (from “guaranteed success no matter what” to “you may want to get that GED after all,” I present the cast of “Community” and their likelihood of future Hollywood employment:

7. Joel McHale – quite simply, the dude is a star. Anyone who watched “The Soup” knew years ago that McHale is a happy-fun-time bloke who oozes charisma. Good looking without being threatening, he also has a quick wit and awesome hair. No, he’s not George Clooney, Brad Pitt or yours truly, but McHale will have little trouble finding work for the foreseeable future.

6. Alison Brie – at first blush, Brie doesn’t look like much of a Hollywood heavyweight. But her roles in not one, but two adored shows (insert inevitable “Mad Men” reference here) have proven that (insert inevitable “more than a pretty face” cliche). She has taken Annie Edison from the shy, mentally unstable girl of Season One to a woman with soul, depth and grown-up charm. There aren’t many actresses who can so artfully walk the line between sweet and sexy…and that’s why Brie will be working consistently for years (you know, until she turns 30. Then, it’s plastic surgery or Tuesday night book club with Sherry Stringfield).

5. Chevy Chase – the cast’s only star when “Community” debuted, Chase’s fame derives from work performed before most of the sitcom’s fan base was ever born. Maybe he’s often overrated as a comedic lead, but as a supporting player, he’s top notch. Besides, as long as those “Caddyshack” residuals keep rolling in, Chase can afford to choose only the plumpest of roles. Hopefully, that means he’ll finally commit to the long-awaited sequel to “Cops and Robbersons.”

4. Donald Glover – initially written as a one-dimensional ex-jock, Glover’s Troy Barnes has transformed beyond the lovable simpleton with a heart of gold. No less of a pop culture authority than Rolling Stone has declared Glover to be a triple threat, and hey – my friend’s older brother used to read that magazine so it *has* to be true! Plus, perhaps more than any of his cast-mates, Glover has embraced the meta appeal of “Community” through various social media star turns (not to be confused with Star Burns).

3. Danny Pudi – TYPECAST ALERT! TYPECAST ALERT! Pudi plays a *very* specific character – he’s got brown skin and a disability (Abed has Asperger’s, right?). Such a mix can often be the recipe for one-hit wonderism, but Pudi has enough ethnic ambiguity (he can play characters from the Indian subcontinent AND those from the Middle East!) that he should be able to find post-“Community” work. Plus, he’s so damn likeable that Pudi will find an audience…even if it’s not as wide as the ones enjoyed by some of his peers.

2. Yvette Nicole Brown – once you’ve seen one sassy black woman in Hollywood, it’s likely that you’ve seen them all. But Brown isn’t just a stereotype…did I mention she can sing too? What’s that? You’d be surprised if the sassy black woman couldn’t sing? Now who’s being racist? The truth is that while Brown hasn’t shown much acting depth on “Community,” she did epically dress up as a Pulp Fiction’d Samuel L. Jackson…and that counts for something in my book.

1. Gillian Jacobs – shockingly, the “Community” cast member with the lowest career upside is the pretty blonde girl. It’s not that Jacobs in untalented, but unless a future script calls for a “slightly younger Elizabeth Shue type,” she has no discernable talent to set her apart from thousands of other actresses in Hollywood. That means if you’re a fan of Gillian Jacobs AND Cinemax After Dark, 2018 will be a VERY good year for you.

Sorry, Britta, but you really are the worst.


Last night, the Chicago Community Trust threw a party commemorating its 96th anniversary. As befits such a prestigious institution, many A-listers showed up, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma.

A photo of the latter has begun to circulate the interwebs today, and before the context is known, I’d like to host a caption contest. Here’s all you need to know: yes, that’s really Yo Yo Ma. Yes, he’s on the bathroom floor. And yes, that’s a wombat.

Photo via Peter Sagal

Best caption wins an as-yet undetermined prize…and my eternal respect. Post your caption in the “reply” section below!


UPDATE 12/15: There’s a YouTube video (of course)!


UPDATE 12/26: OK, I’m calling it. For the quality and quantity of his submissions, Matt Boresi is our #YoYoWombat caption contest winner. Matt is a Chicago-based Opera and Musical Theatre professor and librettist. To learn about his stuff, visit, or follow him on Twitter @unclerocco (17 years and over is best) for general musings.

Facebook and the Zombie High School Reunion

Mrs.matthewsm1th’s high school class celebrated its 10 year reunion last weekend, but they did so without my better half. “Why would I pay $200 to hang out with people I never really liked?” she reasoned. “Especially when Facebook tells me everything they’re all doing for free.”

I had a nice little rant planned about how reunions have been killed by the proliferation of social networks, but some Google research proved that I’m hardly the first to come to this conclusion. Instead of regurgitating the same old anecdotal stories and cherry picked stats, I thought I’d instead offer a few tips to the reunion industry to help it come back from the dead.

You know, like a zombie (and you thought the title was all about search engine optimization).

If you’re part of the organizing committee for your high school reunion, here are five ideas you can implement to ensure that Facebook doesn’t drain the life blood out of your guest list:

1. Real Life Superlatives – whatever happened to your high school class’s “Most Likely to Succeed?” Did he launch a successful internet startup and sell it to The Man for a cool $500 million? Or did he drop out of college and focus full time on fantasy sports management from his parents’ basement? At your next reunion, recognize the guy or gal who actually DID succeed and watch as the registration list fills up with Wall Street, Silicon Valley and lottery winner types. (TARGET DEMO: Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerds!)

2. Arm Wrestling Contest – OK, so maybe the life success barometer won’t entice too many blue collar types to attend, but a physical challenge? Sign me up, coach! TARGET DEMO: jocks and the “Jersey Shore” types. Plus, anyone who likes jokes about Lincoln Hawk.

3. Who Wore it Best? – inspired by the asinine and ridiculously popular feature in US Weekly, a panel of catty class fashionistas reviews reunion styles and passes judgement. TARGET DEMO: women who make themselves feel better by saying nasty things about other women. Also known as 98% of women.

4. Baby-Free Zone – most of the people with whom I went to high school have kids…and most of those people use their kids’ faces as their Facebook profile picture. No more passing around iPhones or making the unwed/barren feel bad about their disposable income and regular sleep schedules. After all, reunions should be about the people, not the procreations. TARGET DEMO: the childless…and the people who hate their own kids.

5. Embrace a Cause – did you really think a philanthropy-inspired blog could leave off a philanthropy angle? Each guest picks one cause close to his or her heart. $10 of everyone’s registration fee gets pooled together and, at the end of the night, one charity is selected at random to receive the funds. TARGET DEMO: anyone with a heart.

Got any more Zombie Reunion ideas? Please share them below.

5 (More) Fun Ways to Celebrate National Philanthropy Day

November 15 has been declared National Philanthropy Day – a day meant to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities and our world. My friend, Nathan Hand, posted 10 fun ways to celebrate NPD on his blog. It was a great list…but I think he could have gone even further.

So without further ado, here are five more ways you can celebrate National Philanthropy Day:

  1. Watch the National Philanthropy Day official video…and share it across your social networks– ready to be inspired? Watch this three minute video:
  2. Follow the high-level conversation on Twitter – all day, the White House is convening a forum on nonprofit leadership. Though closed to the public, this event – featuring discussions led by White House officials and business and nonprofit leaders – will be Live Tweeted at the hashtag #NPlead.
  3. Research and recognize philanthropy’s all-stars – the Association of Fundraising professionals today released the names of its 2012 Awards for Philanthropy winners. These amazing people and organizations deserve to be publicly lauded!
  4. Talk about philanthropy – our personal and professional lives – while often fulfilling – are a constant drain on our energy and attention. Maybe we can’t always afford to think and act philanthropically, but for one day, we can talk about it. Mention philanthropy in your next conversation…chances are, you can be an inspiration!
  5. Blog about National Philanthropy Day – see what I did there? Let’s all keep spreading the word!

Have any more celebratory ideas? Post a reply below!

What’s Your Social Media Routine?

Growing up, my dad was a creature of habit. He would wake up and “liquidate his assets” for what seemed like a ridiculously long time. Then he’d go downstairs, turn on sports radio and eat a bowl of cereal with one-quarter of a sliced banana (yes, we had quartered bananas in saran wrap in our fridge on the daily). He’d go back upstairs, have his daily constitutional, then get dressed and head off to work.

Why am I sharing details about my father’s internal waste management system? For some reason, I thought of him today after launching into my morning routine…a routine that revolves largely around social media.

When the alarm clock goes off, I hit snooze and get back in bed. The nine minutes of silence are usually enough time to check the overnight Twitter updates on my phone (I fave the Tweets I want to read in detail later). The second alarm gets me up and dressed to walk the dog, during which time I check out Facebook. After a shower, I get on my laptop to peruse sites not ideally viewed on my iPhone. This includes viewing my favorite daily deal sites (woot and shirt.woot), as well as checking out my Klout score and any new perks that may have popped up.

(Quick tangent that may be better served as its own blog post: how effing addictive is Klout? And why do I even care about the rating I’ve been given by some arbitrary algorithm? And why am I obsessed with Klout perks? And why are perks often posted before being publicized, causing freaks like me to obsessively check to see if we’re eligible for free stuff?)

Every day. Wake up. Twitter. Walk the dog. Facebook. Shower. Laptop. Get dressed. Go to work. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Is my social media morning routine indicative of today’s hyper-connected world, a world in which I know more about people I follow on Twitter than people who live next door? It’s certainly possible that my borderline OCD behavior is unique…but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone in making social media the center of my daily habits.

What is your social media routine? Do you lie in bed on your Crackberry annoying your significant other, or is he/she busy furiously scrolling through messages at the same time? How often do you check back on social media sites throughout the day? How regularly do you post? And how do you manage the insanity of thriving in multiple virtual worlds without sacrificing output in the real one?

I’m truly curious to learn how social media has part of your daily routines…just feel free to leave out the “waste management” information.

The Birth of a New Blog

I have authored three blogs in the past: one that was an exercise in vanity and unemployment, one that had political aspirations (and middling success) and one with tepid commitment from your’s truly. So what will make this effort any different? Geez, it’s just my first paragraph. Get off my back.

The truth: I believe that I have something to contribute to the conversation in the rapidly evolving worlds of social media and philanthropy, as well as the intersection of those sometimes aligned, sometimes adversarial circles. I am not a social media expert; I am not a philanthropy guru. I’m just a guy with 10+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector…who is fascinated by the power of social media and gets easily distracted by shiny objects. Ideally, the lessons I’ve learned and my slightly skewed takes will prove interesting to readers other than my mom.

If not, I’ll try (and often fail) to make you laugh. It’s the least I can do.

Your snuggle bunny,

PS – many of you are more accomplished and knowledgeable bloggers than I am. I will happily accept any and all constructive criticism. Destructive criticism? Keep it to yourself, bub.