September 24, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

“Seriously?”

“Seriously?”

When Chip asked me to write a monthly column, I was delighted to agree. When he asked that I choose a theme for it, I panicked. I was expecting a specific assignment, you see. “Interview so and so.” No problem! “Write a review of this new social whosewhatsit!” Absolutely, right on it, chief. “Come up with a theme and write 600-800 words about it once a month.”

Uh-oh.

Jen Zingsheim can correllate: topic ideas are my downfall. Every Friday we’d record the Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast and every Thursday I’d bemoan the tumbleweeds and cricket chirps where the juicy topics should be in my brain.

All I knew was that I wanted to focus on the lighter side. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about social media in the last couple years, it’s that we could all stand to lighten up a bit about this stuff. Rather than gnashing teeth and clutching pearls when a non-believer deems social media unimportant or silly, we ought to realize that, yes, it absolutely can be at times. And isn’t that the beauty of it? If blogs weren’t occasionally wacky, we might have never seen an LOL Cat…and wouldn’t we be worse off?

Thus, the title for my column, with an assist from my blogging and occasional podcasting cohort Nathan Burke: “Seriously?”

Every month I’ll tackle what I consider to be the three or four most absurd things to come out of social media recently. Whether it’s a story of puffed up bloggers run amok regarding the influence of this space (see: the fake Motrin “crisis“), the latest absurd idea for a social networking site (see: HoffSpace!), or just a crazy new blog that’s all the rage (did you know Cake Wrecks is being turned into a book?), I’ll be all over it.

First up…Cupcake Camp. Seriously? 

I’m stumped on two levels: one, that this event exists, and second that I had absolutely no idea about it until today, despite the fact that the first Cupcake Camp was held in June. Cupcakes! Who doesn’t love cupcakes? There is no disputing that Ariel Waldman, Lynn Poshy, Cindy Li, and Marianne Masculino (of Pownce, Twitter, and other 2.0 fame) are geniuses. Holding a BarCamp-style Cupcake-a-thon where geeks and civilians can mingle, trade recipes, hold tastings and nom on cupcakes covered in gumballs (Ariel is wearing a cupcake sundress in that video that I really must have for my own) is brilliant.

I want to know, however, why everything is a “camp.” Barcamp, Podcamp, FooCamp, etc etc. I’m just going to start calling everything camp. “See you tonight, after I get out of Work Camp!”

Well, that doesn’t quite sound right, does it?

Moving on, why is it that 2.0 mania has spawned such stupid things that people will actually spend money on? Take a look at the list of all the top applications for the iPhone that have been selling like hotcakes since the App Store opened up to iPhone users earlier this year. Aside from the games, what is there worth actually spending 99 hard-earned cents (or more) on?

(Frankly, at risk of raising ire among the gamers, I think the games are a waste of money too…in my day, we had Brickbreaker and we liked it!)

Sure, what’s a couple dollars, right? It’s not like the ridiculous thousand-dollar “I’m Rich” app that showed a glowing ruby on your screen just to prove that you had a thousand extra dollars to waste on nothing…but spending one dollar on nothing is just as bad. I have a friend who delights in showing me the virtual beer on his iPhone that slowly empties as he tips it towards his mouth. And somewhere, the kindly old gentleman who stands outside in the cold all day ringing the Salvation Army bell in front of my local grocery story is weeping a silent tear for that wasted dollar, just like the “Crying Indian” in those old “Keep America Beautiful” ads. So, when my friend drank his virtual beer, I could only say….”Seriously?”

And finally, the most brilliant thing I’ve heard about since I heard about Cupcake Camp: SitOrSquat.com. My friend with the virtual beer redeemed himself by telling me about this one. Still in beta, SitOrSquat is a social site that provides detailed maps with information about where the nearest restroom is in several major U.S. cities and London. Perfect for anyone caught on the run with a need to make a pit stop, and even better for those of us wanting to make sure we’re not going to end up in a godforsaken pit of despair that’s been covered entirely with syphillis. Users can add a bathroom and include ratings and useful tidbits on everything from cleanliness, hand soap, seat covers, baby changing stations and those amazing high powered dryers that make your hand skin go all fluttery and start you worrying about old age.

Sadly, the site has not yet spread to the nation’s capital, so I haven’t been able to test it out, but if you’re in New York, Miami, London, Atlanta or any of the other cities they feature, please do check it out. Best of all, it’s free of charge, and clearly one of the most useful things to come out of the 2.0 era. Seriously.

Sarah Wurrey is a public affairs professional in Washington, DC. She is the former managing editor of Media Bullseye and a co-blogger at Blogstring.com, where she writes about social media with a humorous twist and co-hosts the sporadic Blogstring podcast. She can also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahwurrey.

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