Social Networking Among College Students

chalk-on-blackboard-trayI learned something astounding in my college English class today. I learned that I was among a group of thinkers, movers and shakers who have been looking at their world and making some critical choices about it.

Let me explain: right up through last spring’s semester, my students were a technology-focused lot, as in multi-tasking experts with their Facebook, Twitter and cell phone accounts. What is fascinating, however, is how quickly “the” most popular app of the day found its way to the Internet mothball fleet.

Example: right up until the fall of 2013, Facebook ruled and many students were actually addicted to it. I know this because despite my threats and promises of significant penalty, I still saw many Facebook screens reflected in the glass wall in the back of our computer lab classroom.
Enter fall 2013, exit Facebook and enter Twitter. Last year Twitter was the social networking vehicle among my college students. Indeed, seemingly overnight Facebook became passé and Twitter took its crown. Twitter continued its reign right through the spring semester of 2014. Now it’s fall 2014 and today my students told me that Twitter is out.

Why the rapid cycling by college students from one social network to another? As for Facebook, they said they became tired of the phoniness and competition that comes along with it. (I agree) They also did not like revealing their business and many of them deleted their accounts entirely.
Why are they now passing up on Twitter? “Too much advertising,” one student said today. Now they see Twitter’s value as a way to keep up withnews and sports information, but no longer as their preferred social networking communication tool.

So what are they using now? Instagram, which I’ve heard of but do not use. As this is all moving too fast for me, I’ve asked several students to demo and explain it in class on Wednesday.

But beyond Instagram, beyond any of these apps, is the cell phone. My students all admitted to becoming panicky if they can’t find or forget their phones. And they all admitted to a propensity to multitask, with phone in hand, of course. But what they also admitted to was an awareness of their phone and texting obsessions and a sincere desire to get back to a world where face-to-face communication takes precedence over all other forms. Now granted, in this global marketplace, face-to-face may not be practical, but Skype is the next best thing, pointed out another student.

As I wandered about the classroom, in awe and delight about this generation who has been accused of being shallow, I listened to a final and amazing story told by a young woman. She told the class that when she and her friends go out for dinner, they put their phones in the center of the table. If any of them uses the phone during their time together, that young woman is relegated to pay for everyone’s appetizer. I’m impressed. I can think of a good many adults over 50 and 60 who would lose a fortune in appetizer fees.

In the Ladies Room

IMG_0375One of the things I really hate doing is going to a women’s bathroom. It could be the women’s bathroom in a huge public place (nasty – like the ones in Penn Station in NYC) or the clean and neatly appointed ones like in the building where I work. However , there are times (many) when the need to seek relief trumps avoidance no matter what the state of the facility.

Thusly resigned, after getting situated in ‘the stall,’ the next order of business is to make sure there is enough toilet paper. I am now religious about this because I once found myself high and dry (not) and had to beg a complete stranger to pass me handfuls of the stuff under the stall wall.

I also try desperately try to avoid a bout with number two. In fact, if I am indeed desperate and someone else is in one of the stalls, I am prone to developing anxiety, which can impede progress, if you know what I mean. When the inevitable occurs, I have a strategy. I have several in fact. But this particular one involves listening to see if I can figure out where my bathroom cohabitant is at with her progress. If it sounds like she is coming to the finish, I will try to wait. If I cannot wait, I try desperately to remain biologically silent, including tooting ‘announcements’ of what is soon to follow. However, since I tend to be a gassy person, well – you can do the math.

When I am finished, I wait in the stall until the all-clear of silence sounds – no footsteps, no phones beeping, no water running and no makeup cases snapping – and that is when I make my exit. A nice, quiet, anonymous exit.

The other day I had one of those “I just can’t wait” wait episodes, and to my chagrin, there was a woman in the only other stall in that bathroom. This was at 7 a.m. no less. As she seemed to be on a similar trajectory as I, I felt somewhat relieved. That is, until she started moaning. This was a new one and I was at a loss. Should I ask if she was okay? Should I just continue to keep my mouth shut? I once heard there is this unwritten rule of toilet etiquette that you don’t carry on conversations with the woman in the next stall. I’ve been wary of toilet chats ever since.

Anyway, after taking care of my own business, I listened for a bit longer and decided that my stall-partner was not in any real distress. As I always try to do, I whisked myself out of that bathroom so neither identity would be revealed to the other. Once again, I succeeded in guarding my identity as the phantom in the toilet.

Rudy and His Ginger Snaps

IMG_0313Rudy is a smallish, copper-coated mule who lives at the barn where I board my Buzzy (horse). But Rudy isn’t just any mule. Until two years ago, Rudy quivered in fear at the thought of a human coming anywhere near him. The story goes that he was once owned by Amish and that something went very wrong. I can only imagine. I decided to make him my personal project.

It’s been a slow-boat-with-no-wind with Rudy, and after two years of coaxing and patience, he will now come to the gait when I appear. In fact, he runs, braying all the way, knowing he will get a treat. And he does – get a treat.

Many years ago I discovered that horses go berserk over Ginger Snaps. (So do I for that matter.) And Rudy really goes berserk over them. He has become a veritable Ginger Snap monster, and though he still doesn’t deign to be touched, he will tolerate my brief strokes of his lip while the cookies pass from hand (mine) to mouth (his).

In conjunction with this, Rudy has adopted an interesting habit. After he’s had a few Ginger snaps, he pauses and seems to enter an altered state of consciousness where his tongue protrudes slightly and saliva dribbles from it. We have decided that he goes into a state of euphoria where he sucks away at the remaining flavor in his mouth left from the Ginger Snaps. He is at this point, satisfied, though certainly a willing participant if another cookie (or two, or three) is offered.

So alas, box of Ginger Snaps in hand, perhaps Rudy and I can progress to taking an in-hand romp through the fields – next year? I better get some stock in Nabisco.

Supermarket Physical Therapy?

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A new phenomenon is taking place in our local grocery store. Suddenly, young, old and in-between have taken to using grocery carts like walkers. It’s like watching giant physical therapy sessions, only the postures are slouchy and slumped and the feet drag like anchored with ball and chain.

I’m proud to say that when I do my shopping, I stand straight, tall, and pick my feet up shin-high. Now mind you, I am tall – very tall – and quite honestly, I couldn’t bend over and lean on a cart if you paid me. But even if I could, I wouldn’t because it looks – yucky! And more important, it’s just plain bad for you to walk around all hunched over.

Now some of you may think me an insensitive boob because there are people who NEED to lean. This is true, and to them, I say, ignore my rant. But for others, for God’s sake, stand tall (even if you’re not as tall as I), punch out that chest and lift those feet, at least as high as your ankles!!

On another grocery store note. The almost aisle-long mommy-kiddie baby bomber carts have found their way to the mothball fleet of shopping carts. (I wrote about these shortly after one of them about annihilated me when it came blasting around the corner.) This is true progress since we limping (not leaning!) Baby Boomers are no match for Gen-X, Millennials, (or whatever they are), who text away as they tear down the aisles with their weapons of mass destruction having no regard for life and limb of anyone in their way.

But, thanks to dear Wegmans: problem solved!WegmansNewLogo09-09-10[1]

The Birthday Present

The Birthday GiftThis was the big one – the entry into ‘the club,’ the big 6-0! Gulp – there, I’ve said it. Age was never a big deal for me. 20, 30, 40 even 50 – none of those “big O’s” phased me. However, there is something about turning 60, and admitting it, that gave me great pause. I think this great pause is more than the actual turn of a calendar page. It has to do with the first-ever-in-my life limiting physical issue. This is something I am not used to and something I do not like one bit.

Rewind to last year. As a 40 year running enthusiast, my body began the inevitable process of knee deterioration. All last winter I skirted disaster as I walked cross-campus during the snowiest winter in many moons, on sidewalks that remained snow-covered because the plows couldn’t keep up. The twinges I’d been having (and ignoring) for a couple of years suddenly made their presence known in a cacophonous chorus of pain in minor key. It kept getting worse and an MRI in late May showed a torn meniscus – an easy fix and then back on the trail again – -the running trail, so said the doc.


Three months after surgery to repair it, my knee is worse than before. It resembles a cantaloupe and depending on the day, is excruciatingly painful. What really lays me in lavender is that it rules!! If I go to the gym, just doing low-impact stuff – I pay. If I mow the lawn – I pay. If I take the doggies for a walk around the block – I pay!! I am going bankrupt.

A week ago, almost to the day, was ‘it.’ D-day. V-day! The day of the big 6-0. What, you ask, does that have to do with my knee? Just this. My wonderful man-friend and quasi fiancé handed me a gift that was very long and strange looking. I wrestled with the wrap and lo and behold, out emerged … A CANE!!! And an antique one at that.

I am a bit ambivalent about this gift. I love the sentiment and caring that envelopes it. I hate the vision of hobbling around as a stereo-typical senior citizen. I love its construction of sturdy oak. I hate that it is now a necessary accompaniment on some days, especially those when I must hobble about campus.

I feel like creating and wearing a placard that says “Former runner” as a way to legitimize my limp and mitigate any associated pity. After all, a sports injury is more respectable than a joint disintegrating due to old age?


Old is gold. And a body with aches and pains is a body well-lived.

Analyzing Garbage



I was on my daily bike ride today and as usual for a Monday, I noticed people’s trash on the curb for garbage pick-up day. I’ve thought about this for some time, but the calm of a holiday afternoon coupled with a dew point of 67 degrees has relegated me to a dark place under a fan – good place to write.

Here’s what I have thought: Garbage speaks piles (no pun intended) about its ‘people.’ Take for example the family who dumps their garbage sans bags or garbage can onto their front yard in true landfill style. On the opposite end is the neatly stacked, perfectly balanced and everything-in-the-recycle-bin-is- scrubbed and clean. Then  of course is everything in between.

My musings while biking have led me to imagine correlations between the people and their garbage. Here is what I have deduced thus far.





Entire contents of home/apartment spewed in an angry-looking heap covering entire front lawn



Eviction, divorce, roommate thrown out  


We’re talking some serious anger!

Partial contents of home thrown by curb somewhat slovenly


Sloppy spring cleaning

Depressed, seriously laid-back, careless, lazy

‘Normal’ amount of garbage at curb, some in garbage can in bags, some in just bags, larger things not in containers


‘Normal’ situation; garbage is low priority

Basically well-adjusted, somewhat lazy

Pristine presentation: the ‘perfect’ garbage

I would not dare step foot in this household

We’re talking some serious OCD

Please do ponder a bit about your garbage observations. I would love your ideas and comments


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