Posts Tagged 'friends'

YouTube

My wife and her friend get loud when they’re talking on the phone together.

They have such a good time with each other that over the course of their conversations the world gets smaller and smaller until they are barely aware of anything outside of a very small bubble. Inside that bubble there is nothing but their friendship and whatever topic they’re laughing about. Their “bubble-space fun” is great enough that they’ve decided they want to try sharing their fun with the world (or at least a few interested friends) through YouTube.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

It’s not an unreasonable thing to try. Though it’s hard to find exact numbers, there are, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of YouTube channels out there that have a sizable following. As of today, YouTube’s statistics page mentions that they have over a million content creators monetizing on their videos with thousands of channels making six figures a year.

But even if getting rich isn’t your aim, what makes a YouTube channel worth watching? How do you make videos that appeal to people?

I am a shift worker, and every two months I rotate between three shifts. Only one of those shifts has reasonable hours, so on my days off while on the other two shifts I often find myself looking to YouTube to help pass the time (I am not much of a night owl). I currently subscribe to 84 channels, though many of those belong to people I know personally who rarely upload anything.

This blog post is not meant to be the end-all, definitive lesson on how to attain success on YouTube. However, I do want to share what keeps me coming back for more from some of my favorite channels, and a few things I’ve learned over the years about this sort of thing.

Disclaimer: if I were really good at this stuff I’d be making a living doing it. The following consists of a lot of conjecture and heartfelt opinions intermingled with some useful facts that I know. And I’m not claiming to be sharing the secret to viral videos or anything – I’m sharing what I know about content production and audience retention. Also, to get the full benefit from this “lesson” you’re going to have to sit through some videos, and a few of them are rather lengthy and not all of them are kid friendly.

Let’s get started.

Conventional wisdom in the entertainment industry seems to be based around the misapplication of a basic (and true) principle of human communication: know your audience. Rather than just knowing their audience, they are trying to know their audience. Like, in bed. They want to give the audience what the audience wants because that’s what makes the audience grow and shell out money. Appeal to the widest possible audience and you’ve got yourself a profitable YouTube channel in no time.

But what about you? Will you be happy? And what of your audience? Will your audience come back for more because they’re interested in what you’ll post next time, or are you just generating views because your videos show a thumbnail that got someone to click on it out of interest (boobs)?

Cyril Connolly said: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

I believe that all entertainers should do what they love for their own reasons. Going further than that (here comes your first video assignment, and it’s almost twenty minutes long), Simon Sinek teaches leaders how to inspire people to action by centering everything you do around a primary idea that answers the question, “why?” You will need his advice when planning your content and video “format” (what and how you do what you do).

“Why” is a great place to start. And if you do it right, your “why” is something that is based mostly around feelings. But you’ve got to try to describe it in words.

Now, YouTube is an interesting place. There are a lot of problems with the “audience” on YouTube. The next video I want you to watch covers these issues through a satirical and tongue-in-cheek presentation pretending to be excellent advice on how to run your YouTube channel.

The real trick is in clearly defining why you’re starting your channel and figuring out what kinds of people are going to be watching it. Then you figure out whatever you can about that audience and tailor the presentation to them (not your content).

pewdiepie

pewdiepie (Photo credit: pixesophie)

A great example of this is a guy called PewDiePie. He records himself being an idiot playing video games. As of right now, this guy has over thirteen million subscribers (I am not one of them). YouTube channels that focus on gaming are really big right now. A lot of people want to watch people play video games. But what makes PewDiePie number one?

Another channel I watch from time to time is The Game Theorist. He records videos in which he speculates on gaming related issues, carefully researching the topic and assembling an informed theory to explain what might be going on. He has a great video in which he basically proves that Sonic is not very fast. Very fun videos, but not consistently fun enough to get my subscription.

The Game Theorist did a really great video about why PewDiePie is so popular, and in it he outlines a lot of things that any new content publisher should know.

OK, one more long-ish video that you have to watch all the way through, then we’ll get into individual channels.

This next video is by a guy who I honestly did not expect to subscribe to. I remember the first time I saw one of his videos. I thought, “this guy is ugly, strange, and I do not feel like I connect with him.” That, however, was before I started getting into woodworking. When my wife and I started building a major piece of furniture I began looking for woodworking YouTube videos that were helpful for a novice like me.

That’s when this ugly guy’s channel came back up. After watching a few of his videos I subscribed. Then I found out that he had another channel in which he talks about the videos in his main channel. This intrigued me, so I checked out that second channel. Again, I subscribed.

Then I stumbled upon the following video in his auxiliary channel in which he talks about the video equipment he uses to make videos. But that’s not why I’m having you watch it. I’m having you watch it because the guy is awesome at little tips that make videos better for viewers. His video is kind of long, but it is full of outstanding advice for new channel owners.

If you’ve watched all of the videos I’ve prescribed so far, you’ve just watched 50 minutes and 46 seconds of video. Maybe you did it all in one sitting, maybe you broke it up into manageable segments over the course of a day or more. It’s possible that not all of those videos kept your attention for the entire length, but I’m betting that most of them did (if not all of them). Why did you watch those videos? Not just “because I’m trying to learn how to make good videos.” Really ask yourself, “what kept me watching even though those videos were so long?” If you need to, pick one and go back and watch it again, trying to figure out how the presenter kept your attention.

Now, let’s run through a few of my subscriptions and talk about what I love about them.

When I link to a channel, I recommend you familiarize yourself with their top video (or a few of their top videos). To do this, click on the channel link I provide, then look for the “Videos” tab (next to the little house icon, below the channel name). When the Videos tab first loads their uploads are shown in reverse chronological order (newest videos first). Click on the drop down button that says “Date added (newest – oldest)” and select “Most popular” to view their videos from most to least popular. Then watch at least a few of their top few videos to see what they are like.

The great thing about viewing the most popular video on a channel is that you can see the video that resonated the most with their intended audience. It’s usually the video that initially earned them a strong following of subscribers (but not always).

Alright. I’m not going through these in any particular order (well, except alphabetical order because that’s how I’m viewing the list of my subscriptions).

The first channel I’ll introduce you to feels more like a television show, and perhaps that’s why I’m subscribed. As far as I know, these videos do not air on cable. They are just a YouTube thing, but they have exceptional production value and a pretty nice budget behind them, which leads me to believe that they are professionally produced by a crew that also does television shows.

They do a variety of things on the channel, but the videos I like most are part of a series called “Man at Arms” where a professional blacksmith creates video game character weapons. That particular feature got my subscription, but since then I have enjoyed a few of their other videos as well, videos that I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t subscribed. That’s the power of gaining subscribers.

  • Check out this channel: AWE me

This next channel isn’t something that I would have initially thought I’d ever subscribe to (DON’T JUDGE ME). I initially happened upon the channel when I was watching a lot of videos of different accents (I like accents, OK?). The video that got me interested was part of a larger playlist that someone else had put together to showcase accents from around the world. To this day, the video of hers that I saw is still her most popular video (and it’s over two years old).

When watching her video I found that I didn’t just like her accent, I thought she had a lot of fun things to say. So I checked out her more recent videos and found that she was video blogging (vlogging) about a lot of topics in an interesting way (and by interesting I mean that she’s being her own silly self without worrying too much about her audience, though she does ask for suggestions from time to time).

To me, her channel is a great example of what one normal person (and sometimes she has her friends on with her) can do to hold an audience, even without great equipment or professional training. With just over 8,000 subscribers she’s not the biggest channel that I’m covering, but she’s got her audience and she does a good job keeping their attention (though I don’t watch her videos all the way through when they stray too far from my interests — for example sometimes she goes to parties and films it).

Here’s an odd one for you. I subscribed to this guy on a whim when I found a video he posted of a nickel ball that he heated with a blow torch until it was red hot before dropping it in some water. I think Randall Munroe linked to it on his What If blog when referring to the cavitation effect (that’s probably not what it’s called) that occurs when super hot things contact water. Anyhow, the video owner got a sudden surge in traffic for the red hot nickel ball in water video and began doing more videos like it (using the RHNB acronym rather than writing out red hot nickel ball all the time). Now he’s got 45 thousand subscribers that just want to see what he’ll drop his red hot nickel ball onto next. It’s a simple premise, but one that has obviously gained him quite a strong following.

Sometimes the best channels are focused on just one interest. In this next channel’s case, it’s slingshots. In fact, he calls himself “the slingshot channel.” While some of his “slingshot” videos kind of stretch the concept of slingshot (see what I did there?), his razor focus on a single subject secures him a steady viewership that shares his passion. All in all he’s just shy of 300,000 subscribers at the moment, and he really loves making his videos.

I recommend you check out a few of his videos for sure. He is a fun, lovable guy and after watching a couple of his videos you’ll never forget the way he says, “That’s all for today. I hope you liked it. Thanks, and bye bye.” Super great guy.

A while back Google released a product that didn’t make a lot of sense. The Internet was complaining about its price, its unusual technical specifications, and all sorts of other things about it. Then I stumbled upon this guy explaining the features of this product and it totally made sense. This kid is sharp, great at explaining things in a way that is relevant to the average technology user, and really gets into the tech industry to relay the best news to his viewers. And it pays off. He’s got over 500,000 subscribers and through his YouTube income is able to pay for all the neat toys and gadgets he could possibly want. Plus, it seems that some product manufacturers send him their latest gadgets to try out and review on his channel.

In addition to having fantastically well planned content and presentation, he excels at production. His videos are clear and vibrant, and they have outstanding audio quality. When my father moved from newspaper publishing to running a couple dozen news websites for a corporation he had to learn to do web video. In his research he found that the main difference between obviously amateur videos and apparently professional videos was the sound quality. Good sound quality can put your channel in an entirely different category when it comes to perceived quality, and if anyone knows that Marques Brownlee does.

Here’s one of those video game channels. This guy is just plain silly. I found his channel when a coworker showed me a video from a different channel and one of this guy’s videos was a related video. I thought his video was way funnier than the one my coworker shared with me. So I subscribed. His videos are almost all short (2 to 5 minutes) and well edited to contain all of the funniest bits and enough back story to know why they’re funny. Do not show these videos to young children.

This next guy came out of nowhere. As someone who once frequented but now occasionally peruses reddit, I have learned to appreciate the power of certain social media platforms (especially reddit). One day this guy’s first video got posted to reddit when he only had about five videos up (to date he still only has 14 videos posted). The video was an explanation of the book Crime and Punishment and the reddit post title indicated that watching this video would grant me some insight into the book that I previously lacked.

The video delivered on that promise and then some. The production quality leads me to wonder if there isn’t a professional studio behind these videos, but I don’t care if they’re just going to try to sell me something in the end. I subscribed because I want to know as much about literature as this character is going to teach me. These are fantastic videos because they provide a service and do it in a way that is more than just entertaining, it is original. Original ideas (or just ideas that seem original) go a long way so long as they are presented well and given the right exposure.

Back when Lindsey Stirling was on America’s Got Talent and her YouTube channel teamed up with some big shot videographer, I discovered another violin-playing girl with a YouTube channel and I decided that I like her style better. And I’m glad I did, because soon Lindsey’s work began to feel heartless. I think more recently she may be rediscovering her old self, but for a while she lost her way when she lost sight of her “why.”

Anyhow, this other violin player has remained humble, innovative, and relevant to my interests for a couple of years now, and she just released her first original song. She may not have as many fans as Lindsey (only 220,000 subscribers vs. Lindsey’s 3 million), but she is just as talented (if not more) at playing the violin. Just looking at the comments on their videos and channels you can get an idea of how her 220,000 subscribers are just as valuable as Lindsey’s 3 million to someone who is not doing what they do for their audience, but for their self.

OK, just one more. This girl is a member of a game-playing, video-making team called The Yogscast. They actually have a Wikipedia page (yes, they’re that big of a deal and you had no idea they existed). They got their start playing World of Warcraft in a guild called “Ye Olde Goone Squad” (from whence they derive their current name, YOGScast) and eventually gained popularity with their Let’s Play video series about Minecraft.

I don’t really care for most of the Yogscast stuff (though some of it can be pretty fun), but I found Hannah’s channel when I was looking up videos of the recent game The Last of Us. I had heard that the story was good, so I wanted to watch someone play through it. Hannah’s first game play video of the game caught my attention when she cried at the end of the opening sequence. I enjoy her accent, her commentary, and what she adds to the game experience just by being herself. Her videos are pretty long (about 20 minutes on average) but I highly recommend you watch one or two of them. She’s great at holding her audience. She does all of her own video editing, and manages to edit out “boring” parts without making you miss any of the important content of the game.

Alright. That is a good general sampling of channels I subscribe to and why I subscribe. There are quite a few more, of course, but I think these ones are each unique enough that you should be able to figure out what you want to do by watching them do what they love.

I apologize for how freakishly long this is and how clumsy my writing is. I wrote it all out and lost the steam to go back and do a thorough editing.

Facebook: The Great Debate

Facebook logo

Image via Wikipedia

An awesome friend of mine recently posted to Facebook:

I have to see the world to understand it.

I replied:

And I have to understand the world in order to see it.

Who is right or wrong here? Many times, there will be a black and a white, a clear distinction between the truth and a falsehood. Other times, it may not be so neat and easy to distinguish correctness between ideas. Sometimes neither side is an appropriate view, and a middle-ground must be sought.

Here is another example. A friend of mine recently struggled with the following two ideas:

I pay for the game because I can’t stop playing it.

I can’t stop playing the game because I pay for it.

Turns out, when he quit paying the monthly fee to a game that he was addicted to, he quit playing easily. Having already paid for a month he made extra time to play the game because he didn’t want the money to go to waste. Removing the obligation, in this case, removed the addiction.

Sure, it won’t always work that way. Sometimes these two-way arguments have a clear right and wrong, like this one:

I poop because I eat.

I eat because I poop.

Sure, one could go into long philosophical arguments and biological and physiological explanations of how the second condition could also be true, but essentially this is a simple cause and effect situation. Trying to make the second one true only obscures the fact that poop is a byproduct of the body’s system of removing nutrients from the food. Pooping happens because of our need to eat, not the other way around.

Other times there is no clear right or wrong. Sometimes the right or wrong will lie in the eye of the beholder, other times it will vary by circumstance. Many times both sides will have some validity and it will be up to the individual to find their own balance between the two.

A battle has raged for years in my head around Facebook. There are two main camps in this war:

I have it because I need it. Keep the account.

I need it because I have it. Close the account.

There was, at one time, a third position that existed in my mind, one that proposed a middle-ground truce between the two, but that one is dying a slow and painful death. I’ll explain that one after I’ve explained the positions of the main arguments.

Before going too far into this, there is something you should know about me. Most people might casually define socializing as having and interacting with friends and acquaintances. Mostly, I agree. However, socializing is work for me. It is hard work. I feel that having close, reliable friends is of paramount importance, but unnecessary socializing is difficult and should be avoided at all costs. Good friends are both chosen and come to you on their own. I could write an entire supplementary article on good friends (and I might one day) but for now just know that I see Facebook friends as belonging to one of four categories:

  1. Family
  2. Good, Close Friends
  3. Acquaintances & Associates
  4. People I don’t really know or care much about

Now, here are both sides of the battle in my head over Facebook. I encourage you to join in the internal discussion with your comments below.

Argument One: I Have It Because I Need It

Every time I think the other argument might win, this one has pulled through and kept me from closing my account. Facebook has become ubiquitous and prominent in our society. Growing up I made phone calls to friends who were not physically near, or we exchanged letters in the mail. The Internet came along and made long-distance communication an integral part of our lives, and changed everything.

I have another good friend who recently dropped his text messaging plan. He downgraded his iPhone to one of the most basic models of cell phone available, and told AT&T to block all incoming text messages. He says he’s doing it to save $10 a month and because he was relying on it too much. Now, when I want to text him to ask him something simple, I have to call him. I might be interrupting something, I usually end up wasting more time than if I had just fired off a text, and we often wind up having a pleasant conversation that leaves me wondering if maybe it wasn’t so bad to drop texting after all. I mean, I make fun of him a lot for not having texting, but how much damage has he really done by dropping it? There are numerous pros and cons, and in the end this is clearly something that he sees as the right thing to do.

We’re not here to debate on whether texting is necessary or not though. Personally, my wife and I rely on texting far too heavily, as do most of my coworkers, family and friends. I’ll be keeping my texting plan. Even if it didn’t start out this way, I definitely have it because I need it.

It’s entirely possible that Facebook has graduated to the same status as texting. Without Facebook there are several people I know I would lose contact with, some of them being family members or really close friends. I could say we’ll exchange emails, subscribe to each other’s blogs, and text each other, but I know that won’t happen with a few of them. In a sense, if I wish to keep all of the social ties and connections that I currently have, I need Facebook. That’s the way the world is now.

Argument Two: I Need It Because I Have It

And this is the way it begins, right? Before something like Facebook exists, nobody needs it. Sure, some relationships weren’t happening before it existed, and one could argue that those relationships need Facebook (and they do), but how badly do I need Facebook?

Let’s face it, Facebook is just a giant online socializing arena. If I loved socializing, I would love Facebook. The fact is, I like having connections with people, but socializing is work. Sometimes, socializing is painful and annoying. Some people who I would absolutely love to spend time with face to face can be downright annoying on Facebook. Anyone else have that friend who never uses Facebook for anything but advertising for things that they are passionate about? I would remove that friend, but they are close to me and I want to keep my tie with them in Facebook because of that closeness. I would block them from the feed, but what if they have a bad day and post a non-advertising status message and I miss an opportunity to be there for them? So instead, because I love them, I endure their many posts about things that I should buy. Multiply this times the sixty friends I have on Facebook, and you can see how it starts to wear on me.

It’s not that all of my friends are marketers, but many of them try me in other ways. I love them all, but I don’t want to have any part in immature dramas or “he said, she said” communication melt-downs. What about that person that I go to church with and they post a nasty status update filled with cursing and nasty things about their neighbor? Does anyone else have that one friend who seems to post nothing but complaints all the time?

There are many alternatives to Facebook style social networking. I love typing emails and reading blogs. I only wish more of my friends would make the time and do the work to have a more traditional correspondence with me. If I close my Facebook account I will be cutting off many good social ties with people. Then again, before Facebook I wouldn’t have had those ties, and I would have been perfectly happy without them. So, do I really need to keep in touch with those people who wouldn’t keep in touch without Facebook?

Argument Three: The Best of Both Worlds?

Of course, both of the above arguments have quite a bit of truth to them, so finding a balance becomes necessary, right?

Categorizing each and every one of my friends by priority (see the priorities above, numbered 1-4) and deleting all who fell into the lowest priority brought my number of friends down below fifty. It felt good. Checking Facebook took less time, and it was nice not having to worry about those people I didn’t really care about.

However, now that I’ve lived and worked where I do for a little longer, I’ve begun to add acquaintances and associates from work, a category that I feel is important due to the fact that Facebook is often where people disseminate work-related information, and my friends list now numbers over 65. For someone like me, that is a lot. Still, not a single person in my friends list can be trimmed out. They are all in the top three priority categories.

This is where Argument Three fails. This is why the battle is primarily between the first two arguments. I am doing everything I can to ensure that I do not have excess in my friends list, and still it grows uncontrollably. If I get even more discriminate with who stays in my friends list, I know that it will be bad. Even if Facebook isn’t important to me, it has become such an integral part of our society that the act of removing a coworker from your friend list can be considered offensive. I do not wish to hurt relationships, I only wish to be relieved of the strain that Facebook puts on my life.

Final Thoughts

If I keep Facebook and simply endure its rough spots, just like everything else in life, then I am keeping a tool that is an important part of our modern society. If I delete my Facebook account like so many have done, then I am removing a heap of heartache and stress from my life and may find that I can live without it just fine. Either way, with either decision, regrets are sure to creep up from time to time, and I will likely revisit this argument at some point in the future.

For some people, one of the three arguments will be the correct answer. For other people, there may be no clear answer. For me, I feel that a decision needs to be made. While I seriously consider closing my Facebook account almost daily, I have talked myself out of it or neglected to make any changes due to apathy every time. On several occasions I have “reenacted” the third argument, harshly reevaluating each and every friend on my friends list, sometimes making a cut or two, other times walking away with a sigh of defeat having realized that, like my waistline, a few inches have been added and there is nothing I can do to shed them.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely love all of the friends and family that I have on Facebook, and I enjoy the interactions I have with them as well as my esteemed coworkers and acquaintances. However, not all of my interactions with Facebook are pleasant, and I often feel that I might be better off without Facebook.

While this decision is mine and mine alone, I do enjoy hearing what other people have to say about things. So, for fun, I have a little poll here that I would like you to vote on, and I encourage discussion in the comments.

Writing Today

I didn’t actually plan on writing today, but when I got online and checked Facebook and my feed reader, it turns out I just couldn’t stop writing.

So, I thought I’d share my thoughts with everyone.

The first item that sparked a slew of written thought was this:

This is a good comic, you should subscribe to it.

This is from a webcomic I subscribe to in Google Reader. Usually, this sort of comic doesn’t elicit a very strong reaction from me (I didn’t even laugh at this one, it wasn’t very funny). However, the author’s commentary below the comic brought back some memories:

In junior high I took one of those future career tests. I was really hoping the result would be cartoonist, but instead it was screenwriter or artist. I later found out that cartoonist wasn’t in the database, so that must have been the closest it could find since cartooning is a little of both.

Anyone else take one of those tests?

Yes, I did take one of those kinds of tests, and I wanted to share my thoughts. So I went to the post’s page and left a comment:

True story – In early grade school I took one of those career aptitude tests on an Apple IIe computer with a green and black screen. Taking the test I felt inspired, like there were so many possibilities out there for me to go out and enjoy after my long, arduous but essential years in the education system, which would ultimately prepare me to be a successful member of a highly qualified working force.
It asked questions about my hobbies, my interests, my skills, and so much more. By the time I finished the test, I felt as though the software and I had formed a bond that would last a lifetime. I eagerly waited while the computer calculated my scores and searched through an endlessly fascinating list of exciting jobs. My heart skipped beats every time I giddily considered a possible career – astronaut, fighter jet pilot, robotics engineer… The list seemed endless.
At the end of a grueling wait, the result popped up on the screen:
ELEVATOR OPERATOR
My heart sunk, and twenty years later it hasn’t risen. That test killed my hopes and dreams.

OK. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I wandered over to Facebook where I had a message waiting for me. Here is an edited, summarized and fabricated version of the message (to protect the privacy of the involved parties):

Brian,

I recently had something change in my extended family. This change resulted in the separation of two parties which left me with Facebook friends that I no longer have any reason to keep in touch with. Facebook has changed a lot recently, and I am unable to find how to break my connection with these individuals. Could you please help?

So, in response I went crazy on my keyboard:

Hey. Sorry it took me a little while to check my messages because I’ve been in class all week (preparing to get A+ certification).

If you haven’t yet had your question answered by someone quicker than I am, I think you will find the following helpful.

They seem to be making it more and more difficult to get rid of friends these days. I understand it’s something they don’t want to make too easy or people would be doing it accidentally all the time, causing a lot of very awkward situations.

Anyhow, the fastest, easiest way I could find to get to my list of friends (for editing) was to go up to the upper right-hand corner where it says “Home | Profile | Account.”  The “Account” link has a little down arrow next to it, and when you click on it you’ll see a little menu pop up, and at the top of those options you’ll see “Edit Friends.”

Of course, clicking on “Edit Friends” and finding an editable list of your friends would be too easy, right? So they had to hide your friends under one more layer of security (as if hiding this in the corner wasn’t enough).

On the left-hand menu area you’ll see “Lists,” and at the top of the lists (if you’ve created any, they will help you find the people you’re trying to remove easier) you can click on “Friends” to pull up your complete list of friends.

Each friend has their photo, their name, their network, then a little drop-down menu for managing which lists they appear in. Beside all of that, on the far right there is an “X.” Clicking on that “X” removes your connection to them – deleting them from your list of friends.

Oddly enough, I don’t think they get any kind of notification that you’ve removed them (or, as the new generation is calling it, “unfriended”). So, you can do this without worrying about them becoming offended (if that’s a concern of yours, thought I don’t think you believe they will even notice).

I hope that helps. If you need more instructions or even step-by-step screen captures to guide you, I’d be happy to email you (I have this neat tool in Windows 7 that can capture every step I take to do something, record in text what I do, then create a webpage type file that I can send to other people or edit and post to the web).

Any time you have any technical questions, do not hesitate to contact me. I’m always happy to help, and sometimes, when I’ve heard a question enough times, it prompts me to write a detailed instructional article and post it to my blog. So keep them coming!

Your friend,

Brian Haddad

I hope this post was somewhat entertaining. I regret not writing more, but I’ve been extremely busy and somewhat stressed about several things that have spiraled out of control in my life, and I will resume regular writing when I feel able. Until then, watch for random posts like this one.

Official Book Giveaway 1

Facebook Drives Me Nuts

This contest has ended. Thank you to all who participated. The Official Book Giveaway 2 is now live.

For those who are interested (namely, the people in the list below), here were the rules for round one. I tried to make them as entertaining to read as possible, so I recommend reading them through to the end.

Facebook Drives Me Nuts

Book Giveaway Sweepstakes

Official Rules

1. Eligibility

This drawing is open to a specific list of individuals. To see if you are eligible, please look for your Facebook name on this list:

  • Amber Napoleon
  • Annie H
  • Autumn Flynn
  • Basia Opalska
  • Becky Fletcher
  • Chalyn Elking
  • Christopher Johnson
  • Jacob Haddad
  • Jennifer Bernarducci
  • Jessica Johnson
  • Jocelyn Udall
  • Jon N Hannah Moses
  • Katie Hill Anderson
  • Kelsey Hunter
  • Keturah Wojtanowski
  • Luke Haddad
  • Melodie Brooke Hammett
  • Pascale Koys
  • Rachel Jones
  • Rob Shively
  • Rudolph Oosthuizen
  • Russell Roberts
  • Spencer Bawden
  • Tony Leonhardt
  • Victoria Scott

If you did not find your name, never fear. A future drawing is being planned that will be open to anyone who sees the contest rules. Be patient and watch my Facebook notes and https://mereman.wordpress.com for future contest announcements.

2. Prizes

There are a total of three (3) copies of Facebook Drives Me Nuts that will be signed by the author, defaced inside with a page full of doodles and mailed to three lucky winners. If more than ten enthusiastic entries are received, the number of winners may increase, at the discretion of Brian Haddad, to a maximum of five (5). The prize is valued at over one million dollars ($1,000,000), but the actual monetary value of the prize is none of your business. The book retails for $12.99 in case you are interested.

The losers will be notified that they lost by way of a personal email or message from Brian Haddad, along with a consolation prize consisting of a group of seemingly random characters that serve as a discount code that can be used at https://www.createspace.com/3422240 when checking out to receive almost a full $3.50 off the price of the book.

3. How to Enter

For this contest, send Brian Haddad a Facebook message with your mailing address somewhere in the body. People posting their mailing addresses on Brian’s wall or as comments on this note or Brian’s status will not be entered into the contest. They will, in stead, be ridiculed, laughed at, and possibly sent junk mail after making their addresses publicly viewable.

While this is a random drawing, there is also an element of competition. Those who apply first and those who express the greatest interest in winning will be preferred. After entering, writing love notes to Brian, posting enthusiastic comments about how great the book must be and how excited you are to read it, and generally sucking up to Brian Haddad will increase your odds of winning.

4. Deadline

Brian Haddad will stop taking entries after Saturday, February 6th, but those wishing to improve their odds may continue sucking up to him until the shipment of books arrives (expected to be sometime around the middle of February, but could be much sooner).

In the event that the shipment of books arrives early, if Brian Haddad has already decided who he will pick as the winners, he will stop taking entries, even if February 6th has not arrived.

5. Winning

The winner will be chosen at random from among the entries. OK, that’s a lie. The winner will be chosen from among the entries, but Brian Haddad will essentially decide who to send the prizes to based on the sincerity of their interest in the book, the enthusiasm with which they have engaged in showing him that they want to read his book, and how well he thinks they will be able to entice others to read the book. More than three individual entries may meet this criteria, in which case Brian will select the winners randomly.

6. Other Details

Brian Haddad and his spouse are not eligible to enter the drawing. Neither are their children or pets.

To ensure fair consideration, those entries that do not adhere to the rules and submission standards will be disqualified.

Brian reserves the right to use a winner’s partial name, quote, likeness or descriptive essence for publicity and promotional purposes. In fact, after you’ve read his book, he would appreciate if you wrote some kind of review or testimonial that he can use to promote the book. Rating and reviewing the book on Amazon.com would be rewarded with one thousand (1,000) rainbow unicorn kisses.

The drawing is void where prohibited. Late or incomplete entries will not be accepted. Brian Haddad is not responsible for lost, stolen, late or misdirected entries.

Winning or losing does not in any way imply that you are a good or bad friend. Losing does not imply that you are loved less than the winners. Anyone suggesting or attempting to imply that their status as a winner or loser in this contest is indicative of the strength of their relationship to Brian Haddad will be banned from future contests and may lose their Facebook Friend status with Brian Haddad.

No Way to Make Friends

I'm Not Here to Make Friends

I'm Not Here to Make Friends

Sometimes I do or say things that remind me just how differently I see friends and friendship from the rest of the world.

On Facebook today a friend had the following status:

Well, I’m trying to think of New Year’s Resolutions. I want y’all to help me though. Please leave a comment with a trait that I need to work on and a trait that I am good at. The first so that I can get ideas for my resolutions, and the second so that I have something to feel goood about. Thanks.

I decided to be brutally honest and replied with this:

Hum. I’m digging deep here for some honesty. First off, you’re a great guy and a lot of people just adore you which means you’re doing a lot of things right. That’s excellent.

Now… About your resolution. How about making it your resolution to never ask others for their opinion of your strengths/weaknesses? Look inside yourself and find the courage and confidence to be your own critic and leave others out of your personal matters. 😀 If you need a second opinion outside your own, look no further than the Lord. Through prayer and scripture study He can more accurately point out your flaws and strengths better than anyone else I know.

And I mean that with the greatest love and friendship I can convey via the Facebook platform. Have a happy new years!

Am I wrong to be honest when people ask me questions like this? I’m half expecting to find that he has revoked my friendship status on Facebook after this. Of course, I believe the advice is sound, though imperfectly worded.

Fun YouTube and Others

From Cell Phone Photos

So, this is for my friends. Specifically, I was talking to someone tonight about some fun stuff on YouTube and I decided to make a list of some of my recent favorite songs, videos and artists to share.

I’ve spent the last few minutes reviewing most of these videos because I tend to forget the presence of little offensive words here or there. For the most part, these songs or videos will be marked to warn you if you might want to watch before showing your children. However, my kids have seen most of these, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

All links open in a new window, so click away!

Robots

This song is by Flight of the Conchords, and as such has a curse word in it (wrong word for donkey/butt) so you may not want to show it to your kids. However, if you don’t mind them hearing that one word a few times in the chorus, this is a really funny song/performance. Check it out on YouTube.

Star Wars Rap

This song has a few mature elements that are reference but not explicitly talked about, and they use one word that you may not want your child repeating (a less than kind word for urine). To check it out, click through to Atom.com and watch this hilarious Star Wars themed rap. Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, you should enjoy this.

Tighty Whities

Next I’ll share a song that may not be your style if you generally only listen to country music or classical, but the theme is too funny not to share the song. Plus, it’s completely clean as far as language and themes are concerned. It’s part of the “Pull ’em Up Campaign” aimed at getting people to pull their pants up and quit showing us their underwear. Even if you generally can’t stand rap, you’ve GOT to listen to this song. I didn’t let my son hear this one, but not because of the content.

OK, the rest should be fine for your children. Well, this first one might not be if you don’t want your children watching animals answer nature’s call. It’s completely natural though! This is Rhett and Link doing an “inappropriate” commercial for a small zoo.

Inappropriate Zoo Commercial

For a direct link, click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszzbkfJ-5Q

Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton is a musical comedic genius in my book, and here are two completely kid friendly songs (unless you strictly don’t expose them to violent themes, then the second one about zombies killing people probably won’t be good). These are both live performances (where you get to see his funny interactions with the audience) but he does studio recordings as well that are better sounding.

Skullcrusher Mountain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IBewKuV9BQ

Re: Your Brains

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e3gngvFdxg

For more about Jonathan Coulton, please visit his website.

This one may only appeal to your children (or the child in you), but it’s a cute stop motion animation that I recently got a chuckle out of.

8-Bit Water Slide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkYVazguJCY

Also for the children, a few near-Pixar quality animations that are funny, entertaining and good for adults also!

Pigeon: Impossible

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEjUAnPc2VA

The Passenger

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGW0aQSgyxQ

The Magic Box

(Ultra sensitive parents be warned: This video contains partial nudity – butt cheeks.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC7rIZ5dOPY

A Little More Fun and Then We’re Done

OK. I’ve embedded way too many videos, so the final four videos will just be links. They are all funny, so make sure you watch them, but the last two you might want to watch without your kids the first time you watch them. I’ll mark them with an asterisk (*) to remind you that you need to review them before showing them to your children.

Laughing Kids (very cute)

Kid Singing Britney Spears Scared to Death by his Mom (watch all the way through to the end)

No. No! NO!!!” – The Greatest Scare Prank *

Gun Scare Prank *

I know there is a lot here, but I don’t see how you couldn’t love most of these. 😀 Of course, if you don’t love them, I won’t be offended, but I do ask that you at least check them all out when you find the time.

Enjoy!

Dear John

I have two friends that have been dating for a while now. They are good for each other, but I have noticed something in them that many couples struggle with. So, I write this letter to my friend, but it could be for anyone:

Dear John,
I think you’re a great person, please don’t ever forget that. As I think back to the first time I met you, I remember not knowing quite what to make of you, and I remember discovering that you were someone I could like.

I also remember when I found out that you and our friend [Sally] began dating. At first I wasn’t sure what to think, then I saw how you loved her and how much she loved you. All of my worries disappeared. The most important thing between any two people in a would-be couple is love, and you two had it. Through the time that has passed since then, I have watched the two of you grow and work together. I am aware that you have sometimes spoken together about marriage (I think I asked you about that once) and I remember thinking it sounded like a great idea for you guys.

John, I know you are a good man doing his best to succeed in life, keeping up with work, keeping the girl happy, keeping yourself happy, etc. I know how difficult it can be to do all of this, because I have been doing it for a while and sometimes I’m not sure how I’m going to keep going.

The reason I wanted to write to you is to tell you one thing: Don’t be stupid.

This is good, free advice that may seem readily available (and it is) but it is often missed or misunderstood. I bring it up because I have noticed something amiss between the two of you, and especially in [Sally]. Keep in mind, I don’t know anything outside of what I can see, but I see much more than you think. I do not know everything, but I know relationships and I can see it when there is something wrong.

Again, I don’t know exactly what is going on with you guys, and I don’t feel that it is my business. However, I decided to write this for you because I wanted to send a few messages to the two of you, as well as sharing these ideas with others. I have noticed in [Sally’s] face and demeanor that she is sad. It’s the kind of sadness that happens when a guy is being a guy. Men are naturally jerks (as everyone knows) and as hard as we try to fight it, we will invariably be a jerk from time to time, mostly by accident without even realizing it, sometimes on purpose only to realize our mistake after it is too late.

Besides being jerks, I believe that men are absolutely stupid when it comes to women. Being naturally stupid jerks, we have a huge responsibility when it comes to relationships with women. This responsibility has two, simple parts: 1) love our woman more than we love ourselves and 2) remember that the man is always at fault when there is something wrong in the relationship.

I don’t care what happened. You are to blame. Keep in mind, you can only take this to a certain point, but it always needs to be the first reaction. It works as long as both the man and the woman of a relationship are of similar levels of maturity and have similar levels of commitment to the relationship.

Thus, if there is something wrong in your relationship (and I really think there is), you need to start by asking these two questions:

1. Am I about as mature as she is?
This question may seem difficult to answer, but as long as you both are close in age (within five years or so) and close in mental capacity (none of you is retarded or mentally ill) then the answer is yes. You two are both smart, so I know the answer is “yes” to this one.
2. Are we both 100% committed to this relationship?
You may need to gently, lovingly bring this up in conversation with her when you both are thinking straight and you aren’t mad at each other. If either of you has his/her heart somewhere else, then nothing can save the relationship except recommitting and trying again. I happen to know that her heart is in the relationship, and I thought yours was too. We’ll assume it still is, and the answer is “yes.”

If you can answer “yes” to both questions (and I know you can), then you are ready to fix the problem. Are you ready for the solution? Here’s the answer: take responsibility and fix it.

Do you want to lose her? If you are both at similar levels of maturity and mental capacity, and you both want the relationship to work, but there is a problem, there is nobody to blame but yourself. I don’t care if she started the argument, or you did, or the neighbor did. Once the two questions above are in the affirmative, it is your responsibility to make things work, not hers.

That’s right, not hers. Sure, you can go ahead and leave her, telling yourself, “If she were only willing to admit she was wrong, then we could still be together,” or, “If only she weren’t that way, then we could get along fine.” Is that what you want though? Don’t you love her? If she never admits she was wrong, or if she never changes that one little habit, you would still love her. Rather than trying to change things you have absolutely no control over, why don’t you take charge and do what you can to keep her? Don’t lose her, she’s special, beautiful and in love with you!

Over time, if you patiently accept her for who she is (mistakes, bad habits and all) she will eventually mature and grow past those little things. Besides, don’t you think you probably have things that you need to change too? Are you so perfect? What if it’s your mistakes and errors that she’s always getting mad about? So what? If she really loves you, and you are patient and loving with her, then she too will learn to look past those things on her own.

You are adults. You are an adult, and so is she. If you treat her like an adult (without trying to “help” her grow up), she will learn to see you as one too. This is part of the process of growing up. Everyone has to do it on their own. It takes time, support, and tremendous effort, but it can be done.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t let that woman go. Do everything in your power to keep her. Remember, do everything in your power to keep her. You cannot change her, that’s not in your power. You can change you. So do it. Just get it done.

I think you are both really wonderful. I have met a lot of people over the course of my life and travels, and people like you and [Sally] are not common. You will never find another woman as great as she is. Take my advice and stake your claim. Let your love for her tell the world that she is yours.

Good luck, and if you ever need someone to talk to, you know where to find me.

Your friend,
Brian


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