Thursday, March 29, 2012

Following my passion for fashion (in blogging)--and my final post on The Constant Observer

For about the past year or so, this blog has been in "sunsetting" mode--but I haven't quite wanted to shut it down.  Part of my reason for shutting it down has been my increasing dis-interest in hyperlocal journalism and the newspaper industry; a growing lack of interest in many aspects of technology.  Not to mention growing dis-illusion with the overall media landscape--which Jon Stewart parodies so well....

I'm also not all that thrilled with social media these days either.  It used to take quite awhile for marketers and advertisers to get with the program when it came to new, fun social platform on the Internet.  Now, it's a matter of a few short weeks before someone's slapped a new chicklet together and another someone's figured out a rudimentary way to bust up the fun.  Then, there comes a book. The latest platform to get "socialized" is  Pinterest--where every few days some social media genius-guru-ninja has come up with a new way to put out a marketing message on it.  I'm inundated daily with infographics that are long on message, short on significance.

I took a look at what I did all these years among these various media to see if there was anything that I truly loved about it.  First, I love the fact that this is real populist media--that one doesn't need to go through editors and such to publish.  Second, I needed to bridge the time I spent in this world, innovating and working with innovators, with tactile world work.  With spending copious amounts of time with innovators and technologists, I developed a distinct in-ability to express concepts in terms that non-techies could understand.  That was a total revelation to me.  Third, I needed a challenge, but one that would not feel like the labor of Sisyphus.

So, I decided to go into fashion blogging.  Fashion has always been significant to me--our choices in clothing, in fashion and style are ways in which women express themselves.  Sure, some might think it's "superficial" but I really don't care about them.  In the world of Fashion Blogging, though, there's a dearth of older women--a lot of young women--and I believe that my age and experience, both in life and in everyday fashion decisions, gives me a unique blogging perspective.

There's more to it than just the superficial.  Ever since my friend Tom Guarriello suggested I get a subscription to Women's Wear Daily, I have learned a whole lot about the fashion and beauty industries.  These multi-billion dollar industries make their money primarily from women, yet women know very little about the business decisions of the various companies and brands we engage with daily.  This is information, I believe, we *should* know.  So, in time, my plan is to begin to weave fashion and beauty business journalism in with talk about firming body lotions and to wear a latest trend like a woman (not a girl.)

If you are at all interested in where I am going with the blog, you can check it out at High Fashion Average I've started a new twitter feed to go with the new blog: @HiFashionAvgWmn.

So far, this new blog is doing fairly well.  I've used my rudimentary knowledge of SEO with the right subjects and have cornered some pretty good traffic because of it.  I understand that to build a popular following with take quite a bit of time, but, once again, I'm more interested in having this blog be a vehicle for bigger projects, and future employment--thus making it have a larger purpose than making friends with fashion conscious peers.

Which, I must say, it's doing pretty well there, too...

I have also picked up blogging on social media and related issues at, the site I use for my social media consultancy.  My @tishgrier Twitter account is still active, and is now associated with the site.

So, the time really has come to put The Constant Observer to bed.  It has served me well over the 6 years of my professional blogging and social media career.  It's been the vehicle for many great opportunities, and I have met many fantastic, forward-thinking people through it.  I hope to continue to meet great people through both High Fashion Average Woman and, and hope you will consider following me on either one or both of those blogs.

Onward and Upward.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

David Brooks' plea to save the Great White Male

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but yesterday while I was reading David Brooks' editorial titled "The Talent Society," I thought he might have something to say that wasn't reactionary. oh, who was I kidding?? But he did bring up some interesting statistics regarding single people, then kinds of lives we have, and how our lives could be short-changing both poor children and middle-class (white) men.

In the editorial's early paragraphs, Brooks quotes some sobering stats from as Eric Klinenberg's book, “Going Solo”:

more than 50 percent of adults are single. Twenty-eight percent of households nationwide consist of just one person. There are more single-person households than there are married-with-children households. In cities like Denver, Washington and Atlanta, more than 40 percent of the households are one-person dwellings. In Manhattan, roughly half the households are solos.

Hmmmm...interesting! According to these stats, single people are taking over the U.S. at an alarming rate. Oh, really? According to author Maria Bailey, moms make up a trillion-dollar a year market, are leveraging all sorts of online media like crazy, and are amazingly influential in spreading the word about products and services.

So, then, does that mean that the marketing world is pandering to a tiny, yet vocal minority? I'd venture to say that the family is still pretty much alive and well in modern America, despite the paragraphs of protestation (or is it bemoaning?)that follow the stats from Klienberg.

Yes, Brooks goes on to bemoan everything from teen-age hookup culture to people's inability to claim Democrat or Republican on our horrible single-focused culture. And not just our single-focused culture, but rather our horrific talent-focused world:

People want more space to develop their own individual talents. They want more flexibility to explore their own interests and develop their own identities, lifestyles and capacities. They are more impatient with situations that they find stifling.

As someone who's benefited from the Talent Society and being single, I'd say that

it's more that we are unwilling to put up with another person's b.s., insensitivity, and controlling cruelty than we are to just be impatient. Maybe we're just impatient with the things that hurt us and are unwilling to stay in bad situations that could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.

But wait! According to Brooks, it's the lack of supportive, enmeshed relationships (families) that are the cause of so much depression, disorganization, and disadvantage in people's lives.

Really? I'd like to introduce Mr. Brooks to my family, and several others, just so he can see how the enmeshed family isn't supportive but is more of a jail, where one makes a bargain with a certain kind of devil just to keep a roof over one's head and the depression medication coming in a steady stream.

Yet it seems to be the plight of solitary, middle-aged men, who seem to be lacking in social capital, that Brooks sees as suffering the most from the Talent Society. According to Books, this group, that is poor in social capital, apparently lacks the drive and the "social facilities to go out and make their own friendship circles."

Really? REALLY? Gee, I seem to know a number of single middle-aged men who are involved in local politics, go golfing with their younger married professional counterparts, play in bands, make videos for local artists and non-profits, hang out at art openings, participate in online forums, join runners and bikers groups etc., etc....

Shall I go on??? Or maybe I should introduce Mr. Brooks to some of my local middle-aged guy friends....

I think the guys Brooks seems so concerned about are those that may be suffering from depression for other reasons than what he is unwilling to acknowledge. They may also be men that are introverted by nature--which does not mean that, if they were enmeshed in a lousy marriage that they would be better off.

The zinger though occurs at the end of the editorial when Brooks whips out the "poorer child" to conclude that, after all, these horrid single people with massive social capital, who are perhaps enjoying their lives, are somehow the cause of undue suffering of poor children.

And maybe it's these same single people that take in unwanted nieces and nephews, that volunteer with organizations that work with disadvantaged, "poorer children," or perform other civic-minded duties that actually help others.

And why might they do that? Because they have the time and they are not obligated. What they do comes from their hearts and their genuine desire to want to help others--which may be a trait that some single and talented people have in excess.

So, no Mr.Brooks, you will not make me, a single middle-aged, childless female, feel guilty for pursuing my talents (meager as they may be) and not marrying some poor man who needs me. We live in a society that is abundant in tools and technologies, and if single women can use them to create social capital, then I'm sure the Great White Male can learn to use them as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

White Boy Media Critics, Haute Mainstream Media, and Why We Won't Get Diverse Viewpoints Any TIme Soon

Last evening, Jay Rosen asked his friends on Facebook (of which I'm one) if he should comment on Shani Hilton's Where Are The Women And Non-White Media Critics? essay, where Jay's name and blog link (along with David Carr, Howard Kurtz, and a few others)appears. The first responses, from males, told Jay that the story was "link bait" and he shouldn't respond. I ventured in to say that Ms. Hilton made some very good points about the white male hegemony in "haute mainstream" media criticism, and that he might use any response as a way to open up a bit of dialogue on the subject...

That Jay hasn't left a comment yet doesn't really bother me--that's up to him to decide. What bothers me in the extreme is the outright dismissal by other white males that the essay was just link bait. Really? Would they have thought the same if it came from, say, David Carr, or perhaps Mathew Ingram over at GigaOm?

I doubt it. Because to most white males within the media industry, there is hardly any acknowledgement that there even needs to be any kind of different viewpoints other than those of the white males she mentions. After all, they are published in and appear on the haute mainstream media--those "newspapers of record" and high level television networks that everyone watches--because they are extremely accomplished.

As if there are women and minorities who aren't? As if someone like Elvis Mitchell or Xeni Jardin, the only two that come to mind, are the only two that on occasion make it into the haute mainstream (and then usually on PBS's News Hour or CBS's Sunday Morning.)

Many of the rebuttals of Ms. Hilton's column go on to mention women who are published at Poynter.or (I've been published at Poynter--google me to find my articles), or Columbia Journalism Review, or other academic journals. We might indeed receive *some* recognition for our criticism or analysis, but rarely do any of us go on to the haute mainstream.

And not for lack of trying or lack of intelligence either. Certainly not for lack of ambition either.

Why does the haute mainstream keep ignoring women and minorities? Well, let's take a peek at this interesting little roundtable discussion where Charlize Theron (condescendingly) tells Viola Davis that there's nothing wrong with her looks--when the point Viola Davis (and later George Clooney) is trying to make is that minorities are not adequately represented by Product Hollywood:

Theron's moronic comment is part of the problem: women oftentimes, with idiotic remarks that completely miss the point, end up working to bolster the white boy status quo. Theron certainly did not hear the exact point Davis made, and zoomed in on something that perhaps is her own issue--not feeling pretty enough at her age.

I applaud Davis's composure....

Clooney,goes further to point out the problems with Product Hollywood, which, IMO, are also part of the problems with Haute Mainstream Media: they are looking grab the eyeballs of the perceived Least Common Denominator, and for some reason feel that audiences simply won't be interested in viewpoints expressed by others who aren't White Boys.

When your purpose is to generate as much income (and let's face it, that's an issue for Haute Mainstream Media, too) from an attention-fractured audience, everything is going to be boiled down to the least offensive and the biggest demographic dollar. Which still seems to lie with males, 13 to 30 (or 18 to 34, depending on where one takes one's demographic info.)

Can anything be done to change this mess? Maybe. If some of the men featured in Haute Mainstream Media occasionally bring a woman or two forward at least for the occasional "guest appearance." Or perhaps some women should be a bit more crass and demanding of those in editorial positions in the Haute Mainstream....

I don't know. There is still much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the hallowed halls of Journalism Proper over loss of revenue and the decline of democracy that is occurring in Haute Mainstream Media for perhaps any significant changes to be made at this time. Maybe what we need is more dialogue to bring the fractured pieces together--but that sounds like a reactionary remedy and one not likely to make significant changes.

Perhaps at the moment there is no complete answer--just the incomplete one that comes when people like Shani Hilton notice that all's not well. When writers stop ringing those bells, we're definitely in big, big trouble.