GPS has changed my life for the better. I now drive with a great deal more confidence, and I’m no longer as worried about getting lost when I'm behind the wheel.
Before, I’d print out Mapquest and Google Maps to take me where I needed to go. This required that I spend some time before my trip looking up directions online. There was also the matter of cost as printing directions requires ink and paper. Now, I just gather the street address, type the information into my device, get in the car, and go.
Another negative when I worked with print maps was that it presented safety issues as I had to constantly look away from the road and at the directions while driving. I always felt like a public service announcement waiting to happen (“Friends don’t let friends take their eyes off the road while looking at printed directions unless they want their friends to
rear-end another vehicle and watch their insurance rates go up...”)
I like that GPS speaks to me and provides turn-by-turn navigation, so I don’t have to take my eyes off the road. I’m also warned well in advance before I have to take some action – make a turn, get off at an exit, etc. I was constantly missing something when I used the paper maps (“Wait – was that..? Oh, man!”). Another plus is I'm able to reroute around traffic accidents and construction delays. A few months ago, I got around the double whammy of a traffic accident on top of construction delays. I felt so empowered – sometimes you have to savor the little things.
I suppose there’s some truth to the notion that GPS can impede critical thinking skills and makes people dependent on technology. Not once since I started using it have I pulled out a road atlas and decided, “Let’s do this the old fashioned way!” But, I can develop my ability to analyze and interpret in other ways like, say, writing a blog. And, to suggest that such devices make one rely on technology is like arguing that people need TV for entertainment; or, that folks require a microwave in order to eat warm food. There will always be issues associated with tech.
As you have probably surmised, I'm willing to defend my decision to use GPS
because it makes driving infinitely less confusing and stressful. If that harms my thinking skills or makes me need the technology, then so be it. It's sure better than rear-ending a Buick.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.
After that, things can only get better.” –Stephen King
I love this Stephen King quote because he expresses how a lot of people I’ve talked to feel both about his work and the act of writing: terror! They find the process difficult – which it is, to be honest. Composition requires patience, discipline, routine, and practice.
Writing, however, can be made less complicated when it's reduced to a series of steps. That's something I strive to do, so allow me to share my method for writing these blog posts:
1. Topic List: Before I start writing, I come up with several possible posts. An idea can come from anywhere – a conversation, an article, a TV program. I'm most knowledgeable and passionate about topics related to marketing, media, and popular culture so I gravitate to those themes.
3. Notes Are Shaped: This is where the finished piece begins to come together. I combine repetitive thoughts, eliminate ideas that don't quite fit, build sentences, form paragraphs, etc. This is the most exciting stage because I've moved past thinking and entered into something more concrete.
4. Edits Are Edited: I’ve often heard it said that “writing is rewriting,” and I completely agree. Ideas need time to form, to gel. I usually write in short spurts, continuing to shape and polish my posts. It can take a few days before I feel comfortable letting people read my work.
I’m a big believer that some things can’t be forced and that’s especially true when it comes to writing. Sometimes an idea doesn’t come together even after several attempts at coaxing – it can be a sentence, a paragraph, even an entire post. When that happens, I take the approach that it wasn’t meant to be. I'll put it aside and move on. Perhaps it will come to me at a later time.
Eventually, I have to force myself to stop working on an entry and add it to my site. There are times when I'm more pleased with my work than others, but there comes a time when I have to let it go. However, one of the positives of working online is the opportunity for revision. I’m constantly tweaking my posts – replacing a word here, rewriting a sentence there. My work is never really finished; like a resume, I regard online content as a "living document."
Writing can be challenging, but as with most tasks it becomes easier with time and experience. The step-by-step process I’ve laid out has helped me tremendously and hopefully it will benefit you, too.
"Hop on Pop Culture" is my Instagram account. Click the image to go to the page.
I’ve become an Instagram enthusiast in the last year. “Hop On Pop Culture” is my page, and it’s my humorous spin on popular culture. I’ve enjoyed building it up, as it now features more than 600 posts. I usually add something new every day.
I joined last summer when a friend/colleague suggested I sign up for the social media platform. He said he enjoys using it, and he's found it to be a good way to get his ideas out to the public. I signed up immediately after our conversation.
My account started to take shape a few months later when I was shopping at my local supermarket. I saw a copy of US Weekly near the checkout counter with a headline about a celebrity scandal involving a well-known actor who was said to be involved with his children’s nanny. I saw this similar scenario play out in the pages of other gossip magazines during the years, and chuckled as I passed by. I thought, “Of course! It’s ALWAYS the nanny!” It occurred to me the combination of the cover image and a one liner would make an amusing post. So, I snapped a photo of the cover with my phone, typed my quip, added a few hashtags, and posted.
At that point, the tabloid related posts became more frequent. Eventually, I started to incorporate photos I found online along with pictures of the articles and my captions. Also, I made a point to include more hashtags so my posts would appear on several Instagram pages.
As a pop culture theme began to emerge, it became time to change the name of the page to something that reflected that: “Hop on Pop Culture.” It's a play on Dr. Seuss' “Hop On Pop,” a book I've enjoyed since I was a kid. Seuss' entire catalogue is itself a fixture of pop culture, so the title resonated.
This is how my process unfolds: I’ll take a photo of a tabloid story that catches my attention either because of the subject or the headline - sometimes both. Then, I’ll play with ideas, devising different layouts and captions. Sometimes I’ll get an idea right away, other times it will take days or even weeks for the notion to arrive. There are also times when the idea will start off as one thing, then turn into something else.
The captions allow me to hone my sense of humor. In contrast to longer form pieces I create like newspaper articles and media releases, this is informal short form writing - like a joke you would share with a friend. One of my favorite sayings is from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and that’s “Brevity is the soul of wit.” On that note, I try to keep my captions to a few sentences.
I enjoy the entertainment of it all, of course, but I’m also fascinated when a piece of media appeals to more than a niche audience and enters the mainstream. At this point, it becomes part of a society's fabric. Also, media can serve as a touch point, that which bonds people and allows them to find common ground - I often compare my favorite movies and music and such when I meet someone new.
"Hop On Pop Culture" has turned out to be an excellent creative exercise, and it will be interesting to see how my Instagram evolves in the months and years to come.
I'll keep you... "posted."
I'm Eli Natinsky and I'm a communication specialist. This blog explores my work and professional interests. I also delve into other topics, including media, marketing, pop culture, and technology.