How To Use Social Media To Kill An Entire Afternoon

Maybe you’re one of those people who has only heard of the term “social media”. Or maybe you have already set-up an account (with the help of your teenager) on Facebook, Twitter, or social media platform. But the question remains: “How can I use these sites to waste an entire day?”First of all, don’t be intimidated: it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Once you learn the ropes, you’ll be wasting entire days of otherwise productive time sharing links to cat videos, taking pictures of your cappuccino and compulsively updating your status on everything from Google+ to Linkedin.

The tips below will be limited to the two most popular social media sites, Facebook and Twitter. The same principles applies to Pinterest, Google+ and other sites (the only difference being that on MySpace you’ll want to make sure your computers speakers are turned off).

One thing I like to do what I call “cycling”. Don’t be intimidated by the technical jargon! Cycling is simply moving from one social media platform to another over and over again in a cycle, compulsively posting and responding to the posts of others, then responding to the responses of those responses. Also sending out Farmville requests – people love that. This creates what I call a the “looping effect” and there is literally no end to it.

Let’s go over an example. Let’s say you wake up and take photograph of your navel on your mobile device. You then post the photo on Facebook, taking care to include the photo’s location, date, and a short, humorous text (i.e., “My navel!”). Once posted, login to Twitter (bookmark and remain logged-in to all your social media sites!). Post the same photo to your Twitter account (#mynavel!, @presidentbarackobama). Then return to Facebook and respond to those who have weighed in on your navel. Then repeat.

“But can I really kill an entire working day on just Facebook and Twitter?” you ask? I’m here to tell you the answer is an unqualified “Yes!” Let’s say, for example, that your friends aren’t weighing in sufficiently on your navel or you’re just building a following on Twitter. In that case, I strongly recommend you get into highly partisan, wonkish political debates on arcane public policy. “But who gets the last word?” you ask. Answer: “No one!” Respond to every point made and then make two more of your own. Believe me: you’ll never hear the end of it.

LinkedIn, in the popular imagination, is the true social networking portal for business people who are serious about seeking new professional opportunities. No pussyfooting on LinkedIn, right?! A short time on Linkedin will reveal, however, no shortage of opportunities for time-wasting activities, from making inane posts (“Experienced PhD Seeks Employment Opportunities”) to “updating” your “resumé” to reflect your professional “accomplishments”.

“Will these social media sites enable me to overcome pressure from my family and friends to spend time with them?” This is an understandable concern and let me assure you: once you get the hang of it you’ll find that relegating them to their proper place on your list of priorities practically becomes a habit.

There are money other opportunities to deny your employer the bang for his buck, of course. Between updating your Pinterest wall to submitting your weekly column to “The Economist”, there are enough social media opportunities to ensure that you never actually accomplish anything useful or of lasting value.

David Deeble is a consultant currently on hiatus between jobs. He is the author of “Drinking With Wine”, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Self-Esteem” and “Cough Your Way To Rock-Hard Abs”. Visit his website at


Bustle: Work, Service And America’s Unambivalent Attitude Toward Doing Business

I live in Germany with my wife. When Germans ask me where I’m from I say “California”. They often respond with “It must be love”.

When people ask me how I enjoy life in Germany, I usually explain that it’s a mixed bag. Achieving escape velocity from stairwell living in Germany is much more difficult than in the U.S. And where I come from, entering someone’s kitchen doesn’t require that the other person vacate in order to make room. On the other hand, lawyers do not have nearly in the influence in Germany as they do in the U.S. so you’re basically treated like an adult: if there are no cars coming the other way you just sail through roundabout rather than sit at the red light. Kids actually learn to avoid injury on real jungle gyms and the doors of public transportation have even been known to open before coming to a complete stop.

Then there is the issue of energy. I’m not talking about windmills, fossil fuels or nuclear power. I’m talking about bustle. I’m talking about the energy one witness at a busy airport.

Last night my wife and I attended a kind-of seminar headed by the maternity ward of a hospital some distance from our home in Germany. It was considerably further than the hospital in which my wife delivered our first child but we  she wanted to weigh our options and see what kind of impression this place would make.

We arrived about 15 minutes early and there were about 50 young couples in attendance. The evening consisted of a wordless, gauzy slide show of happy young couples with their newborn baby with a corresponding soundtrack followed by relatively short talks by three very pleasant women associated with the maternity ward. A few questions were asked and answered, followed by a group tour of the premises: various size birthing rooms, private waiting room replete with espresso machine, etc.

The whole thing ran between an hour and 90 minutes: excited, anxious and expectant couples gathered together over sparkling water to be sold on this particular hospital to give birth to their child.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t see a single couple interact with another the entire evening.

In the United States this would be unheard of: dozens of men in the prime of life attending with their wives a gathering of other pregnant couples and not using the downtime to get to know the other men, exchange pleasantries, even (gasp!) network? Young mothers-to-be surrounded by dozens of other pregnant women and none of them asking about due-dates and genders?

I’ve attended more social gatherings in Germany than I can remember and found them invariably pleasant: more pleasant, in some ways, than social gatherings in the U.S. But that’s the thing: in the U.S. everything is a social gathering. The energy there is palpable. Introducing yourself to a stranger in the setting described above strikes Germans a bit like handing out business cards during church services (note I say during church services: with the exception of the very pious, in the U.S. making contacts within a religious milieu is perfectly natural).

I read a book once by Rabbi Daniel Lapin called “Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments For Making Money“. The book explores the reasons why Jews and, by extension, the Americans, “get ahead”. The very words “get ahead” give many Europeans pause. It’s the tall-poppy syndrome: no poppy should grow conspicuously higher than the others. Nothing could be more alien to the American mindset.

But what about the person who lives only to get ahead? The man for whom networking substitutes for friendship? What about the man who gets more meaning pursuing his next raise than from raising his children? Is he to be admired? The American says “Of course not.” Most people intuitively understand the difference between someone who’s only trying to get in your pocket and someone who isn’t going to let the fact that you’re standing in the church parking lot prevent him from talking about how the service he provides can make your life better.

And that raises the fundamental difference. Americans have a much more profound sense of the value of one’s work to other people. There may be a way to earn money without making other people’s lives better, but I don’t believe it. Serving others is in no way diminished simply because it is remunerative. Every time you walk out of a department store with a new item of clothing you have played an essential role in a success story: the story of people getting what they want. (you a fleece, Nordstroms your money). It’s true for any economic interaction, whether it’s buying a book on Amazon or hiring the world’s funniest entertainer to perform at your next event.

Understanding that work, service and profit are inextricably interwoven is one of the many examples of American exceptionalism.

The Playboy Bunny Suit – An Appreciation

Male sexuality is so strange. I mean seriously: bunny ears? And yet, it works for me. Maybe it makes her look taller – longer legs, etc. The ears by themselves do nothing little for me – I want to be clear on that – but when you put the ears and the server together, well, that’s when the magic happens.

I like the floppy variety (pictured above). Some servers go with the standing-at-attention, old-fashioned tv antennae look, but the floppy ones suggest to me a certain frazzled dishevelment I associate with a woman who might utter the magic words “Sure, why not?”

The cottontail is more difficult to speak intelligibly about. Functionality and aesthetics require that it be placed higher than it would be on an actual rabbit, yet I can’t shake the sensation that it should be positioned slightly lower. What can I say, I’m a realist.

Last night I performed at the Playboy Club in Cologne, Germany and one of the servers was eating carrots at the bar. I think that’s what actors call “The Method”. Anyway, she looked great and it occurred to me that looking great could, at least in theory, be parlayed into advantages that could make life easier in various ways. Just a thought – perhaps I should explore this further depth.

I don’t pretend to know how the little shirt sleeves stay in place but I’m give them my enthusiastic seal of approval. It’s almost as if she’s wearing a conservative blouse that becomes, through some extremely weird hiccup in the cosmic fabric, invisible beginning just above the wrist. I approve.

Risk Aversion Run Amok

I like to entertain with a machete. Not real a real machete, mind you, but a dulled, stainless steel lookalike with a bevelled edge which gives the illusion of sharpness until inspected, at which point it becomes immediately clear that it would be about as useful  for clearing jungle foliage as those hollow, plastic ones found at Halloween shops. True, the tip could be used to blind someone, but in this regard it is no different than many other objects such as a pencil, butter knife or a shard from a broken bottle of Perrier.

Recently my agent booked me on Royal Caribbean’s “Grandeur Of The Seas” in the Mediterranean. I joined the ship in Kusadasi, Turkey, and was going through the usual security sturm and drang: pass through the shoreside x-ray machine operated by Turkish officials, walk a few meters, than pass through the x-ray machine operated by the ship’s security team. (What one earth would these people do for a living if it weren’t for redundancy?)

Needless to say, a Turkish official spotted the prop machete and asked me to open my bag. I did so and proceeded to remove the prop machete as I always do in this situation: I grabbed it by the handle, casually flipped it 180 degrees so the business end landed firmly in my hand and then extended the handle to the official. Far from allaying any anxiety, this seemed to cause all hell to break loose: not only was I in possession of a machete but apparently I’m some type of Shibumi-like expert with it.

The Turkish port agent who accompanied me explained to the official that I am an entertainer but to no avail: the Turkish officials would give it directly to the ship’s security and I could sort it out with them.

I embarked the Grandeur and hoisted my bag onto the ship’s x-ray machine, designed to protect the safety of passengers from deadly items smuggled into my bag during the 20-meter walk from the previous x-ray machine. My machete-free bag passed through without incident despite the fact that it contained, as did when passing through the previous x-ray machine, a far-deadlier three-pronged garden hoe.

Once settled in I spoke to the chief security officer, a young and obviously ambitious young man from Panama. (Many of the security chiefs on cruise ships are Israeli and I was hoping that he, too, would be from Israel: “In Israel we wish we had such problems” one once told me as he nonchalantly handed the prop-machete back to me.) Anyway, the young Panamanian explained to me that I would be issued the prop during my scheduled rehearsal in the theater and then I must return it immediately after my show.

“But I need it at all times” I lied. “It’s like my violin.”

“Someone” he said, could get drunk and use it as a deadly weapon”. He meant me, of course.

“What if someone gets drunk during the window that I is in my possession and uses it as a deadly weapon? Surely you’re not going to let this item out of your office until it is time for me to disembark?”

Reason and sarcasm were no use. Two days later, the stage manager issued the prop to me during my rehearsal and immediately confiscated it after my second-seating performance and returned it to the security office.

There’s a trend here. The TSA’s front on the “War On Terror” is really a war on unemployment, putting people to work protecting airline passengers from toothpaste, bottled water, hair gel, wrenches and breast milk. It performs the sort of pat-downs on children that grown men normally must pay for in the backstreets of Manilla while permitting this guy to board a plane – as a matter of policy.

Since 9/11, mid- and low-level security personnel have taken on an air of self-importance that is unwarranted and demeaning to the those of us who must submit to their guilty-until-proven-innocent practices of naked imagery, pat-downs and confiscation of easily-defended-against substances such as baby formula.

How many times have you been told to turn off our Kindle during take-off as it can interfere with the planes navigation equipment? Set aside the issue that if true (it’s not) then you shouldn’t be permitted to bring it on in the first place. More to the point is this: if it’s truly capable of what the FAA says then maybe the plane needs an upgrade in its navigation system. How does this work, exactly: you take your family on a hard-earned vacation in Hawaii and you end up in Cleveland because your wife couldn’t stop playing Angry Birds? Please.

Passing through airport security has become the same avoid-at-all-costs experiences of going to the post office of the Department Of Motor Vehicles. There are very rare exceptions: the TSA employee who seems to understand that he or she works for us and not the other way around. The one who greets you with a smile and attempts to offset the increasingly-onerous hoops we must jump through with a demeanor that says “I’m honored to serve you: let’s get you on your plane.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m acutely aware why we must have security screenings at airports. Every time I pass through security I think “There are people who don’t want the plane to land safely.” Each time I lock the door of my car I think “There are moral primitives who would steal it otherwise.” This is the lock-your-front-door world we take for granted.

Having said that, let’s make it a priority to begin treating travelers with rock-bottom dignity and stop pretending that air marshals must game-plan around a woman armed with 3.5 ounces of breast milk.



Let’s Phase Out The British Monarchy

I’m a traditionalist who opposes ending the monarchy in England. I do, however, support phasing it out.

Let’s start with weekends. When was the last time any country, much less England, was in need of a monarch on a weekend? Weekdays are when the real action happens – visiting heads of state, decrees to sign, Wimbledon… you get the idea.

British readers may wonder in what position am I, an American, to take a position against British monarchy? (i.e., “Who the hell are you?” or “Where do you get off?”) Firstly, I have my own blog. Who do you like them gravitas! Do you think they hands these blog deals out to just anybody? It’s not as if you can start one for free and publish it on your own little corner of the internet. Geeze.

Secondly, I have very strong opinions about the British monarchy. On numerous occasions  I have shouted down those who disagree with me and been known to  throw rhetorical firebombs in order to make my point. And in this age of very loud punditry, that’s all the credentials you need.

I am not a extremist on this issue. There can be little doubt that England still requires a king or queen for diplomatic and ceremonial purposes. But when it comes to popping down to the butcher to procure some Black Forrest ham or 6 ounces of prosciutto? Please – Her Majesty should have to take a number just like anybody else. Under the system I propose, rules against favoritism, such as cutting off a little more meat for Her Highness while charging only for the requested quantity, would be strictly enforced.

Royal protocol would remain in place for reasons of good taste: you can’t have the Queen being greeted as if she were just another earthly person possessing the usual assortment of rights and responsibilities: she’s the Queen for crying out loud! What – you’re going to countenance Lance Armstrong just extending his hand without first averting his gaze and stuff? The British people wouldn’t tolerate it, and they’d be right not to.

Taxing the royal family is a welcome development but in fairness – and especially in light of current budget deficits – the government should really levy, in my estimation, 800 years of back taxes. If her HIghness cannot afford this she should put up Windsor Castle and that thing she receivd from the King of Cambodia as collateral.


I Have A Cold Again

I’ll be honest with you: I thought writing this blog would be easy. I am, after all, the “creative type” – just check my tax forms! But seriously, writing anything more than the bite-size comedy that has served me so well  has proven difficult. Newspaper headlines (Shark Braves Cuban-Infested Waters; Storm Leaves Millions Of Afghans With Electricity, Running Water) come to me so easily sometimes that I have to write them down just to get them out of my damn head. I’m like the proverbial antennae that way. Same with jokes about my marriage. When I tell audiences that using “air quotes” while exchanging wedding vows is not a good idea, believe me, I didn’t have to lock myself in a secluded cabin in order to come up with it.

It occurred to me to “live blog” something or other, such as a week without coffee. This idea excited me and quickly became, for practical reasons, a day without coffee. Then – again, for practical reasons – I scrapped the idea altogether.

As of about two years ago I began experiencing more colds. I figured myself as average in the cold department, maybe a little healthier than most. But now something’s definitely changed. Much of my mental life consists of staving off boredom and colds facilitate that. Having a cold was a novelty for me: “Oh, this is kind of neat. Man, that’s a lot of snot!” But now I’d say I’ve had one at least ten percent of the time over the last two years. That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Also, they’re nastier than average. I’ve had more than one cold in the last two years that lasted over a month. I hope it’s nothing serious: God forbid I’m cold prone. 

It’s said that people with problems tend to accumulate more problems. That’s certainly been my experience. Last week I was driving my son to kindergarten and my nose began running terribly. So I closed one nostril shut with my index finger and inhaled as hard as I could. No sooner had I done so than I tweaked something inside my left shoulder blade. It was immediate and obvious: just like that I felt acute discomfort in this difficult-to-reach region.

Like I said, this was a week ago and I still have this knot in my lower shoulder. I think of it as a cold-related injury. My wife can feel it and when she massages it firmly it’s slightly nauseating. This morning I woke up early and leaned with my back to the wall and rolled up and down against a silicone juggling ball. It elicited the same feeling provoked by my wife, without, of course, the scathing criticism of my lifestyle.

I just googled “How to blow your nose”. Having read a couple of links and watched a couple of clips, I’ve gathered that it’s essential to blow one nostril at a time. So I wasn’t entirely off track. So important is this facet, in fact, that so far as I can glean, everything else is not worth mentioning. When it comes to the actual blowing, most experts also recommend  a “steady-as-she-goes” approach which does not fly well with my more shock-and-awe mindset. Part of me thinks that somewhere in me is a snot-producing tumor which can be expelled with sufficient force. I keep imagining that if I blow hard enough I’ll produce the culprit – in my mind it’s always the size and shape of a whole bulb of garlic for some reason – and the source of my sniffles will be gone for good.