Archive for March, 2008

On Advertising

The short story, of course, is that advertising sucks: it is a carefully crafted way to separate you from your money. It makes you feel uncool, afraid, or in need when you aren’t, and then tells you what you can consume to make it better.

The long story is a little more complicated. Not because advertising has great redeeming virtues (I don’t think it’s even as funny as it used to be anymore), but because I would be doing you an injustice without mentioning some ways to avoid advertising’s influence.

The most obvious, of course, is to cut yourself off from it. If you don’t see it, it can’t effect you. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t an option. I know I am not willing to make the sacrifices I would need to make. So what can you do?

One way is to become a savvy consumer. I didn’t realize it until I recently read this article on Get Rich Slowly, but I think my parents did a fairly good job of preparing me. Learn a little about economics and advertising. Think critically about commercials, at least occasionally. What are they selling? How are they selling it? Quite often, thinking about it is enough to break the control. You’ll question, and usually advertising’s arguments can’t stand up to questioning (unless it’s a genuinely good product). I know I feel good every time I notice what the advertiser didn’t say about a product. One guess why that car commercial didn’t mention fuel mileage? Or safety features?

Viewing them as humor works too. Frankly, a lot of the commercials out there are funny, but not for the reasons the advertisers intended. One recent car commercial, for example, explains that recent research showed that cup holders are the top priority when most women choose a new car. The commercial then goes on to deny that as silly and explain how big the engine is. I’ve got to hand it to them, they are apparently experts at alienating their demographic.

Perhaps the best way to fight advertising, though, is to keep personal goals in mind. If you know what you want, and how to get there, you wont be as easy to sway. Before you buy another new TV, remember your financial goals. Before the Oreos, remember your diet. Advertisers typically don’t sell you on a product, but on what the product will do for you. Not cars and diet pills, but popularity and a sexy body. If you already know what you need and how to get there, you wont even hear those commercials.


Read Full Post »

Fun Friday: Random Edition

Lots of fun links today. But first, a serious note:

Emos in Mexico are in danger. Wow, honestly, never thought I would be writing that.

Cuteness chaser, from a blog called “Little Four Eyes.” I imagine (or would think, anyway) that not that many people’s toddler’s need glasses, but boy is her daughter cute.

Chad hates aliens, and I can’t blame him.

This is perfect. I would laugh too.

This is terrifying. The fire bombing should start immediately. Although, this recent court ruling is a good start.

This guy is right: it does boggle the mind.

And finally, happy Caturday. You deserve it.

See you Monday!

Read Full Post »

On Hereditary Disease

(It feels like it’s been too long at Step Lightly without me posting something that got my friends and family sending me worried e-mails. Thats a shame, because that’s half the fun of blogging. So here goes.)

My mom has been diagnosed with depression. She’s been fighting with it for years and has done incredibly well in my estimation.

I’ve been thinking about it lately. Though the evidence is mixed, it seems that depression is at least somewhat hereditary. Whether this is due to a biological cause or just the strong influence parents have on a child’s development is unclear, and probably some mixture of both is responsible. I’ve known that for a while, but somehow it never sunk in until recently that, like the big noses and receding hairlines that run on my father’s side, it might be down the road. This is a bizarre feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I by no means think it is a forgone conclusion. The hereditary link with depression is not very clear; more like a gentle push in that direction. Nor do I feel particularly inclined to it. I’m one of the more chill people I know (I think thats a fair assessment), and I think a lot about how to make myself happier (you probably guessed that from the blog). Still, thats a bit like someone exercising and eating a low cholesterol diet to avoid their family’s heart disease, isn’t it?

The funny thing is, I haven’t been worrying about it so much as just contemplating it. It’s sort of like seeing a train way off in the distance and thinking, “hmm, I might just need to move.” I suppose this post isn’t so much about giving you all advice as wondering, how do other people deal with this sort of thing? If you’re in a similar situation, how do you feel about it? Would you rather know something like this was in your future, or live worry free?

Read Full Post »

On Adventure

If anyone ever made a comic book about my roommate and I, odds are each issue would start with me loudly proclaiming, “Look at that [weird thing]! Lets follow it!”

Which isn’t to say that it happens that often. I wish it happened more often then it does. However, when the opportunity arises, I am always excited to go after the next weird thing. You know what? I’ve yet to be disappointed.

So whether it’s a spontaneously forming mob or wandering ghosts, I’d say go after it. It will probably be funny, or at least a funny story to tell later.

On a related note, I love this comic.

Read Full Post »

On Selling Out

A little over a year ago, on March 8th, I made the first post on my old blog, The Sensdep Experience. Since then, I moved here to get something of a clean start, intending to remake the blog into something with a better chance of being successful. That is to say, consistent, informative, and frequently updated. Which I think I’ve done fairly well.

Here is the problem. The internet is swarmed with information, and it’s hard to get people’s attention. You need to put a site in front of a lot of eyeballs to bring in a single repeat reader. While Step Lightly receives some hits, and has it’s occasional amazing day where it breaks 30, the fact is not a lot of people are reading, and some of them are only reading to try to get a link from me. I know that building a readership from a blog is slow work, but I’ve been wondering lately if I could (and should) be doing more.

I’ve hesitated to take some of the steps I am considering because I feel like they risk diminishing the site. I’m proud to bring you what I believe is a blog of good quality. Currently, at least, there is no advertising on the site or the feed. I’m not beholden to anyone to write something I don’t think is true. I don’t go around trying to trick people into visiting or linking to the site.

However, I wonder sometimes if I am hesitating to take further measures because I am really dedicated to quality, or if I just choose to measure the blog’s success in a personal way (subjective quality) which is hard to fail at, rather then in an objective way (readership, advertising revenue) where it is easy to fail. So I want to know what you think, because ultimately the success of the blog falls to you, the readers. No extra measures to bring in readers will work if it offends you. So here are some things I am considering.

The first is a site called PrintnPost. It seems not to be a scam, which is good. By posting there occasionally, I stand to not only generate some cash flow from advertising, but also to drum up new viewers to the blog. As a short-term measure, I think it would be beneficial to the blog. Essentially, it amounts to a small paycheck and free advertising for the site. However, it would also mean three posts a week would move over to that site. The change would be small (summaries of those posts would appear here, with a link to them) but it still seems to diminish this site.

Another option, which would cause less change, is an idea I was bouncing around this weekend: Shameless Self Promotion Saturdays. Not sure exactly how it would work, but in essence it would be a space to trade links with other blogs and promote other projects I am working on. (I’m also considering Non-Sequitur Sundays, in times when something comes up I really want to talk about, but which does not even sort of relate to happiness.) However, I don’t want this blog, even occasionally, to come across as spam. Is a space to trade links useful? Or should I just leave that to sites like technorati and Digg?
At least one of my ideas will definitely get put in place immediately. I’d like to do more cooperative work with other bloggers. I’ll be contacting some people, but for any others, if you want to do something cooperative (and share some readers) I’d love to hear from you!

As to all these ideas, what do you think? What is good for the growth of the site, and what hurts the content too much?

Read Full Post »

Well, today marks my first day freed from my secular lent obligation to not eat fried food. (Technically, yesterday was, according to my official sources.) I feel good. Surprisingly, I’m not rushing out to buy a big plate of French fries.

My mom used to tell me that it takes three weeks to get into a new habit. I’ve been telling myself not to even consider fried food for about six and a half weeks, so I suppose the habit is pretty well established now. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that my list of food options has been reordered. Places I had never tried are now up near the top of my list.

Do I miss fried food? Yes, but not as much as I expected to. The first week or two was really hard. I wanted a nice plate of fries so badly, especially if someone else had them. However, after a certain point of ignoring a craving, it goes away. Or perhaps I was just learning to meet the craving in other ways (mashed potatoes, etc.). Either way, I’m not counting down the minutes till I can munch on fries again, but rather am wondering how much I want to go back to eating fried food.

I think I will, but more responsibly. Fried food, and fast food especially, wont be a go-to option. I want to limit my fry eating to places with really good fries, because eating nutritionally deficient fast food fries seems like a waste. As for other fried food, it will become reincorporated, but cautiously. I’ve felt a little better without it.

That said, I will be happy to leave behind the constant worry that I would eat something wrong. It makes me really appreciate the devotion of people who adhere to food regulations for religious or personal reasons. I can’t maintain that level of worry over food for very long.

With that project behind me, it’s time to start my next one. I’ve briefly mentioned the idea before, but here’s the plan:

From March 24th to May 8th (40 days by the Catholic method of counting, which does not count Sabbaths), I will abstain from lying and gossiping.

It sounds daunting. Luckily, I have some friends joining me. My parents and roommate, for sure. Possibly some others. If you’d like to join as well, I encourage it! It wont be easy, and probably we will all slip up some times. Come tell us about it! And I’ll do the same. Those are learning experiences.

I’m officially on the clock as Mr. Honesty. So far, a few hours in, I have to say… it doesn’t feel all that different. I expect that will change though.

Read Full Post »

I like to give other blogs their time in the spotlight, and there are a few that need attention.

Fail Blog.

What White People Like.

And to go completely off topic…

Alanis Morissette singing a version of the Black Eyed Peas’ song My Humps.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »