This is good writing.

At work I get really excited when a 3-line photo caption says exactly what I want it to say. Not too many words; not too few. Some nugget of info not found in the story. A little extra something to make you say, “hm. I’m glad I read that.”

We live in content. (Even those of you who don’t make content for a living.)
Think about it: emails, blogs, Facebook, magazines, TV, newspapers, papyrus codices and the like…, we absorb a lot of content every day. And how much of it makes you glad that you read it? Probably not a whole lot. Much of web content (and some print, too) seems rushed and spewed and unconsidered. Surrounded by so many sloppy words, I feel more and more how much good writing matters.

A few weeks ago I read a little review of The Mountain Goats’ new album, written by NPR’s Stephen Thompson (who also introduced us to “Lovin’s For Fools” in February, you may recall). His description of the lead singer showed me that well-crafted thoughts aren’t always containable in 140-characters or less.

“Once a wild man whose shouted white-knuckle screeds could barely be contained by the crummy boom boxes on which he recorded them, Darnielle has aged into a singing poet whose words still hit like punches.”

I read this sentence over and over and over. I loved it so much, in fact, that I wanted to tweet it, but it’s too long.

Aha, I said.

Our culture needs NPR (and PBS, and AmeriCorps, and Planned Parenthood, but I digress) for moments like these.

Beauty and truth and wisdom take time. They take resources. They are WORTH IT. They are nourishment. Our culture is truncated without them. I don’t want my mind to inhabit a purely 140-character world.

After the Oscars, I struggled to find original writing on the web. So much blogging is recycled re-reviews…even from good sources. The Week quotes The Atlantic quoting The New York Times in Oscar coverage, and I’m left feeling unfulfilled.

Taking a break from social media is a nice detox for my mind. Resetting my filter for content that matters and content that I can afford to miss. To quote a phrase I no doubt heard once upon a time in youth group: abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

Dear Facebook & Twitter: I miss you, but I’ll come back soon. And when I do, please just point me toward good writing that’s worth my time. xo

This is the story of a champion.

Yesterday at work I was trying to find info about a student, so I hopped on Facebook (the foremost authority of all things Student). I feel no qualms in using Fbook for work during my Self-Imposed Pre-Easter Embargo, as long as I do no peeking for personal use. (and I did no peeking. not even a little.) Somewhere on the page I saw a snippet about Myers-Briggs, and my little self-assessment-loving internal ears perked up.

With my Res Life background and 6 years spent living & working in dorms, I sometimes take for granted that everyone must know as much about personality tests and icebreaker games and alcohol poisoning FAQs as I do.

For those of you who don’t: Myers-Briggs is a personality assessment used by schools, employers, motivational speakers, and nerds like me all over the world. It divides people into 16 categories based on 4 dichotomies:

Extraversion or Introversion
Sensing or iNtuition
Thinking or Feeling
Judgment or Perception

You’re placed in one of these 16 categories, based on a series of questions about your typical habits, behaviors and preferences. Myself, I’m an ENFP. (And I AM, by the way, an ENFP.) In college I fluctuated between INFJ and INFP, but for the last few years I’ve been 100% ENFP. I think the Extraversion has something to do with being onstage in front of strangers every weekend for the last 3+ years. (Thanks, Jeff Jenkins.)

I enjoy reading Myers-Briggs stuff, for the pure fascination that ENFP describes me so well—for better and for worse. Wikipedia says:

ENFPs are initiators of change, keenly perceptive of possibilities. They energize and stimulate others through their contagious enthusiasm. They prefer the start-up phase of a project or relationship and are tireless in the pursuit of new-found interests. ENFPs are able to anticipate the needs of others and to offer them needed help and appreciation. They bring zest, joy, liveliness, and fun to all aspects of their lives. They are at their best in fluid situations that allow them to express their creativity and use their charisma. They tend to idealize people, and can be disappointed when reality fails to fulfill their expectations. They are easily frustrated if a project requires a great deal of follow-up or attention to detail. (thanks, wikipedia.)

Wow, right?

But then I started thinking, why does this matter so much to me? Isn’t it a little selfish to devote a whole blog post to “my” personality and “my” myers-briggs and “my” love of knowing more about myself bla bla bla…?

Well, it is a little selfish, I suppose, but I’m learning that this S-word isn’t always an automatic wrong. Some very healthy, giving, honest, progressive choices are self-preserving and also selfish. And the self-y parts of me that love this kind of self-discovery love it for some unselfish reasons. Like what it could mean for how I treat other people. How I work. How I create. It’s good stuff to learn.

For instance, an overwhelming majority of my friends are ENFP…but it helps to understand that not all of us are, so I am aware that we won’t always think, expect, feel, or react the same way.
My coworkers did a MB test before I was hired, and they still have the results on file. I was able to see that one person with whom I always seemed to clash in meetings just happens to be my POLAR OPPOSITE. Once I saw him as ISTJ, I was better able to understand why we never seemed to be on the same page. It sounds so simple, but it made such a big difference for me.

Yesterday I found a M-B evaluation that I’d never seen before: the “role variant” system, which gives a title to each of the types. ENFP = Champion.

Kinda love that. Makes me think of Kanye.

Tell me what it takes to be number one…

Champions are extrospective, cooperative, informative, and expressive. Champions have a strong desire to make their thoughts known to the world. When Champions speak or write, they are often hoping to use their convictions to motivate others to participate in advocacy or they hope to reveal a hidden truth about the human experience. Champions are greatly concerned with ethics and justice and have a strong desire to speak about current issues and events. They are the most inspiring and animated of the role variants. (thanks again, wikipedia.)

(Go take a MB test online! Comment your results! Let’s compare quirks!)

All in a day’s work

I went to a young professional networking lunch with Amanda today. We’re members of The Network and as such attend these events every month or so where I’m sure to find free food & drink and a selection of people I vaguely recognize from somewhere.

Today was a CEO lunch Q&A with 417 magazine publisher Gary Whitaker.
This young professional found it very interesting indeed, but that could very well be because my nose is glasses-deep in a magazine right now. It was cool to hear how 417 got started and the savvy ways they’ve stayed afloat in the changing media landscape. (WARNING! CLICHE METAPHORS MUST BE STOPPED! ONE CANNOT FLOAT ON LAND. THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.)

When it was crowd Q&A time, I asked about his favorite interviews, and his answer drew back to his time in TV news:

1) Tiny Tim, who once played ukulele at the SGF medical center. (what?!)
2) The first shuttle astronauts, whom Gary described as half hot dog / half science nerd. Love it.
3) President Jimmy Carter.

Cool, right? I am reminded that it’s very cool how the publications / marketing / creative world, even a very “jobby” job like mine, allows for all sorts of unique experiences…and even more so at a university.

In the 19-odd months I’ve been back at Drury, I have found myself:

Work photo

She works hard for the money. So hard for it honey.

 

1) Balancing balls for a magazine photo shoot (see final product here).

2) Warming up the crowd for Temple Grandin. (Sort of. I mean, people laughed. There was a microphone.)

3) Writing a “singin’ in the rain” parody to advertise our staff United Way campaign.

It’s not such a bad way to spend my days.