A Social Media Cheat Sheet

I was recently commissioned to produce an informal cheat sheet about social media and social networking. The aim of the project is to help Baby Boomers better understand their children and grandchildren, and to better navigate the ever-shifting currents of the intertubes, possibly to wade into the waters themselves.

At first I figured there must already be something out there, but the more I searched, the less I found. Aside from a typically dry and vague Wikipedia page and a bunch of charts geared towards designers or advertisers/SEO experts, there wasn’t much for the general public. But this is a good thing! Because it meant I could actually make a contribution to society (…I know, I’m laughing too).

By the time I finished the cheat sheet and shipped it off to the client, it had morphed into a detailed “educational supplement” and handy deskside reference to the web. (It looks great printed & laminated, too! It won’t be out of date for another few weeks, I promise!) During the design process I also realized that oh so many other people I’ve met could likely benefit from something similar—my own parents included.

So, I’m sharing it with you all here, for you to spread to anyone else in your lives who might benefit from increased internet fluency. Enjoy!

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Download a printable PDF here with fully functional hyperlinks.
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*Caveats & Disclaimers*

  1. As I mentioned, this is an informal cheat sheet, not a dutifully fact-checked compendium. I put the bare minimum of research into this, relying mostly on my own knowledge base and personal internet explorations over the last decade or more. The “Core Audience” column in particular is half-sarcastic conjecture, with a dollop of intuition and a pinch of half-remembered data. I did try to get the “# of Users” column correct, though.
  2. Yes, I know I missed [insert your favorite niche social media site here]. Again, I stuck with the basics. But it’s hard to argue with importance of knowing at least half of my list, based on traffic alone.
  3. My Internet Glossary of Terms is also obviously woefully incomplete. But based on conversations I’ve had with n00bs and…people with accumulated wisdom, the few things I did include should give some useful perspective, with some bias toward my own interests.
  4. I don’t shy from using the full, glorious breadth of the English language, so if your grandmother’s neighbor is sensitive to swears, they are welcome to learn about this stuff from another source.

AotM #12: United Nations Day

If you’ve never visited UN Headquarters in NYC before, it’s well worth the trip. Their gift shop is (exorbitantly) fun too. Happy UN Day!


  1. Writing with a pen and paper is actually faster and more accurate than typing, at least for kids. Let’s bring back the dying artform! Also, just out of curiosity, when was the last time you wrote someone a letter, essay, or report longhand? What about in cursive?
  2. Our sense of vision is amazingly protean, and we can learn to see and perceive new things. This ability reminds me of the Marine instructor I met at Quantico who was an award-winning shot, who was describing how he actually become able to see the bullets he fired as they arced toward the target. Pretty cool stuff.
  3. Clean smelling spaces make people behave better. So, warn your kids that in a few years all public schools will smell like Windex.
  4. And actually, something else that leads to better behavior (and health) is spending time surrounded by nature. Nature is good for you, simple as that…So put down the phone or mouse and go outside!
  5. What is this, like the third study in just the last few weeks telling us to eat our veggies? It’s obvious, of course. But, since only about 20% of adults in the US eat an appreciable amount of vegetables, and since we still don’t even really know how much nutrition is even in processed fruit and vegetable foods (both facts from previous AotM articles), further “obvious” news like this is a good thing.
  6. Finally, here’s are two hilariously accurate descriptions as to why one should take even science news with a large handful of salt: “How Science Reporting Works” and “The Science News Cycle“.

 

On Chiropractic

I recently received a query from one of my readers regarding my opinions on chiropractic, so I’ll try to briefly address the subject here.

The majority of alternative and traditional medicines, remedies, and practices out there are definitely based on grains of truth. Especially since it has so many adherents who swear by it and/or practice it happily, chiropractic in particular must have some of that truth to it as well. However, having personally had experience with many other similar therapies like Rolfing, Feldenkrist, Alexander Technique, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, and more general manual therapy, I’ll say that chiropractic is definitely far cruder than most other body manipulation therapies.

As chiropractic revolves around relatively gross adjustments and spinal manipulation, when it does have an impact, it’s a very noticeable and immediate impact for the patient—hence the one area that chiropractic is actually proven to work with is lower back pain. Especially because of the Western public’s Big Media/Big Marketing-brainwashed desire for immediate gratification and sublimation of all pain, many people adhere to chiropractic’s offerings. And, for some types of stresses and injuries, such major adjustments can actually be quite helpful and therapeutic.

In general, however, it’s my view that chiropractic is actually one of the least beneficial therapies when it comes down to overall and longterm health and musculoskeletal fitness. The other techniques I mentioned above, plus many others, including self-administered yoga and even just regular exercise, can all be just as useful in not only relieving pain and curing ills, but also in preventing future issues. Additionally, most other therapies are much more low-impact than chiropractic can be, and since even popping your knuckles too often can lead to lower grip strength and inflammation, cracking one’s back too often, over the long term, can’t be too good.

There is one major caveat here though—as in many other areas, medicine (whether alternative or standard Western) is practiced by people, and even the worst person in a med school class can become a doctor. Therefore a lot of the bad press that many therapies get, including the recent spate of anti-chiropractic news out there, can often be traced back to individual idiots, bad practitioners, mistakes, and ignorance. A great chiropractor might be more knowledgeable and helpful than a bad doctor, and vice versa.

All that being said, as someone who tried a variety of such physical therapies as a child due to severe knock-knees, restricted breathing, and other physical problems, the mode that ended up fixing the issue for me (permanently, I must add), was manual therapy, an offshoot of osteopathy that deals with more minute manipulations of the fascia and other smaller connective tissues. There’s a good description of it here. Combined with a regular low-impact yoga routine, I’ve personally never felt better in my life.

So ultimately it’s up to you, as an individual, to find out what works best for yourself, by finding the best individual practitioners of whatever medical or therapeutic practice makes the most sense for your situation.

Iranian Pride in our Perfect Constitution

I just had a fascinatingly enlightening conversation with a 30-something Iranian physician on a residency program here in Philly. A disarming and engaging fellow, with a strong Persian accent but impeccable English pronunciation, my friend surprised me again and again with his insight into US society and even moreso with his views on American policy. Here are some quick highlights, since I’m too exhausted to bother coming up with expository verbiage. Also note: all quotations are paraphrases to convey his gist.


“Everyone here in America is so optimistic.”

I’ve heard something like this before, from a Dutch girl when I was in Poland in 2000, while discussing some of the general differences in attitudes between Americans and Europeans…And I am inclined to agree. We are in general more the big-dreaming pie-in-the-sky type than most of the other, more grounded citizens of the world.

In this case, however, my Iranian friend continued by saying that this optimism is due to being too comfortable, and not knowing true suffering, sacrifice, and hard work. He wasn’t accusatory, just stating things as he sees them. I think I agree with him, but I would add that I don’t believe our optimism is at all bad, despite its origins. After all, it has taken us this far. (Note: at a different point in the conversation, my friend observed that many Americans are very hard working, so take this all how you will).

“One Iranian can do the work of a hundred men, but a hundred Iranians can only do the work of one man.”

This anecdote was shared during a discussion about differences in governmental effectiveness. My friend told me of his pleasant shock when, during the State of the Union address, Dubya said something like “the talented people of Iran are being held back by oppression.” My friend readily agreed, and shared that the above saying tells how individually, Iranians are incredibly hard working and capable, but when they get together, they can never agree and therefore stall each other. I personally think this adage can apply to many different peoples and societies around the world, including our own—consensus and fair governance is supremely difficult to achieve.

“I am very embarrassed and ashamed, but Iran’s government is like European governments of the Medieval times—under theocratic rule.”

It was vindicating to get first hand validation of my beliefs, as it’s seemed obvious from my outside perspective that this was the case. I posit that all religions, if they survive infancy and begin to explode in growth, then go through a set series of stages of development. It’s easy for most Christians (especially Catholics), as well as Buddhists, to sit back and ask “why the heck do the Muslims have such a stick up their collective ass?” This is because Buddhism is (on average) in the “easygoing grandparent” stage, and Christianity is in the “experienced adult” stage of life. Islam, however, having only been founded in the 7th century, is still in its late “teenage crisis” and early “idealistic twentysomething” stage(s) of life. We all go through these stages—it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Christianity had its crusades (11th through 13th centuries) and inquisitions (13th through 19th centuries), and before that the Buddhists were part of numerous uprisings, rebellions, crackdowns, massacres, and holy wars throughout Asia for centuries. Basically, this all means that Islam is 500 to 800 years behind Christianity in terms of religious maturity. We can probably expect another few hundred years of asinine, violent, and overtly irrational behavior from some elements of the Islamic world before things begin to settle down.

On a more practical note, (regarding Iran’s current system of government), Iranians are very politically active, with, according to my friend, over 10,000 people running for parliamentary positions recently, and who anybody can vote for. Unfortunately, there is a committee of 12 ayatollahs who interview and judge all of those candidates, and who can reject out of hand anyone who isn’t faithful enough, or Muslim enough. This reduces the number to about 3,000. So basically, even if the hardline and conservative Muslims are only a minority in Iran, the ayatollahs can virtually guarantee them government positions.

“Democracy can work in Iran, but clearly not Iraq or Afghanistan…”

I had been about to object to this, but my friend had a very valid point for this—that Iraq and Afghanistan are nations of tribes, whereas Iran (formerly Persia; formerly the center of a long series of large and established empires), although having some tribes, is much more intrinsically unified. Tribal societies by their very nature don’t work with other tribes, thereby precluding from the start any sort of cooperative government based on Western legalistic abstractions. This relatively simple explanation goes a long way in explaining the difficulties much of Africa have always had in establishing “democracy” too (especially since African borders were simply drawn in with crayons by European colonizers). Just because it works for us doesn’t mean it’s the best form of government for everyone.

“You must be so proud of your Founding Fathers, since they really did build this nation on the most perfect foundation possible…”

My friend went on to explain that after reading our Constitution 10 times, as well as perusing the Iranian version, the German one, and more, he concluded that ours is not only short and concise, but it broadly and unambiguously grants strong freedoms without religious interference. He then added that our nation is so powerful because it has such a stout foundation that can survive temporary problems and absorb incoming ideologies whole. Iran does indeed have a problem exporting terrorism and extremism, he affirmed, because it lacks such a foundation, which allows other ideologies to infiltrate and insert themselves into Iranian government and society.

I tried to object by saying that many American grow tired of the legalistic oversaturation of our society and that we want less rigidity. My friend caused me to instead be more appreciative of our strongly legalistic culture, since that very backbone is what allows us to take in people from so many different backgrounds and integrate them into a relatively cohesive whole—the US of A—thereby enabling our collective success. In effect, Law is our ideology or Tradition, and that is something to be proud of.

All in all, it was a fascinating exchange of ideas between East and West. I hope there will be more to come!