On Speaking My Mind – An Important Business and Personal Lesson

I’ve had blog posts scheduled that I’ve ignored. I’ve started blogs and let them fall to the wayside. Let’s be real, my enjoyment in writing this blog has dwindled. It has a lot to do with making time for it. Also, I wonder about my content. Is it even interesting?

My life hasn’t really been what anyone would call exciting these past few years. I’ve had some great experiences and opportunities. I have a dazzling niece who takes up a ton of my love and time. I’ve gotten to know some interesting dogs and reconnected with friends. I’ve even lost some friends. This past week alone, I blocked and removed friends from Facebook; I also removed them from my address books in my email, phone, and paper address book.  (I’m not sharing this for validation or even as a way to celebrate losing friends. Every loss has been painful. No, it’s a way to show that sometimes in order to clear things up and gain clarity, you have to remove it all.)

Four years ago at this time, I had moved in with family to save money and was an intern at Etsy’s headquarters in Brooklyn. I was eying flights to Japan with a pit stop in Turkey. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I was full of doubt and I went with my desire and heart and leapt. 2012 was a year of a lot of heartache, doubt, silence, self, and love.

Four years later, I find myself in a situation almost similar. The only difference is that I don’t have savings to use to travel for an extended period of time. I do have my sense of adventure though. When I say, that 2016 and 2012 are similar, I’m comparing the idea of doubt in my life.

Doubt is a funny little feeling. It can be paralyzing, yet inspiring. Whenever I feel him come along, I try to embrace him and share with him the surprises that are in store. Many times, that doesn’t do much. In fact, he decides that I’m not listening, throws a tantrum and sends me a nice big dose of anxiety. I’d rather deal with doubt without his friend anxiety, but you know, anxiety does make a big fuss.

Last week, I shared a post on Facebook. To many it was harsh and rude and lacking compassion. It garnered a handful of comments that were rude and mean. I get it, what you put out comes back to you. However, it was something that spun completely out of control for no real reason. It was an opinion. A simple opinion and it ended up being an scrape with puss oozing in globs. It required a ton of damage control that I don’t think I provided very well and eventually resulted in me changing the settings so that only I can see the post, blocking several individuals who had left the most offensive comments and then the removal of the person who not only [I felt] overreacted to my post, but brought all of her friends who felt the need to troll my page. I also made all of my accounts private. Which didn’t do much because after blocking one particular troll, I received an email through my stationery website, from that person, that was just as rude as his previous comments on facebook. After writing something quickly in response, I opted to delete my message, thereby not responding and sharing my email address with them. I chose to let it be.

Since that day, I have been relatively quiet. I have chosen to share a small amount of things. I am “liking” more than posting. I’ve stopped almost (a few slip out here and there) all of my political commentary. I did email one person who had left a comment, who is a friend of mine, explaining my post and apologizing to her if I had offended her. She and I had a pretty good exchange that left me feeling better about the situation over all.

Through this all, I have debated with myself about my reasoning. Is it because I was burned? Am I embarrassed? Does this even matter? Why am I doubting myself? My voice? Does this incident require me to dim myself? What am I really trying to prove? How will this effect me down the road? Do I need to change things?

In the end, I’m sure it does not and yet I am doubtful in my voice, thoughts, and whether they should be shared. My thoughts have always been a bit off. They are definitely not in favor of most people’s views and I’ve always been okay with that. But do I really want to be on the receiving end of vitriol because people disagree?

Nothing that I said will matter on the particular issue I wrote about. I felt the way I felt. I shared what I felt. Rude comments did not change that and will not change those feelings. I’m entitled to those feelings. But did I have to share them? Why did I feel so comfortable sharing those feelings in the first place?

We live in a culture now where everyone speaks their mind without much thought. We speak so easily, even if it hurts someone else. We have Presidential candidates who are considered different because they are spewing their thoughts without much mind. We are spreading these feelings and thanks to technology, the ease in which to spread them are vast and quick.

I have for a few weeks been considering giving up my smart phone for a flip phone instead. (2007 is calling me big time!) I’ve seriously considered doing away with credit card payments as a market option – cash only, please! I deleted the facebook app from my phone to avoid spending more time on this tool that is more of a time suck than anything else. I’m also toying with the idea of a complete deactivation from facebook.  In other words, I’ve been seeking ways to get back to my “Walden.”

Maybe that is why my lesson last week was so important. It reminds me glaringly that the way I’ve been using social media, facebook in particular, is not aligned with the life I want to lead. My life is hardly rainbows and pots of gold and to use social media to project that would be unfair and a lie and not aligned with my values, but maybe, just maybe, it is okay to revert?

I base a lot on values. On my values, for sure, and to a degree, on your values. My business and business ideas are based on my values. This will never change. I care about the environment. I care about women right to choose. I care about your freedom and mine. I care about the people of the world, and increasingly on the animals in the natural world. I care about our politics and the future of our political system. I care about it all. And I’m working on it all (some more passionately than others), including myself. I cannot entirely hide and I will need my thick skin as I move forward with a project that will definitely be attacked, but maybe this whole situation was a necessary bruise to get me prepared for things that I need to care more and be more brave about? I’m sure it is, in fact.

I am hardly perfect. I doubt I ever will be. I will always apologize when I’m in the wrong. I will always attempt to listen to you and make better choices and hear your pain and needs and wants. I will also always have my opinions. I may choose to not share them. Maybe you will, too?  Maybe you and I will become comfortable with my silence?

 

 

What Nine Years of Blogging Has Taught Me

I am an “old dog” when it comes to blogging.

Yep. (I use this a lot, don’t I?) I have been blogging since 2004/5. I’m not exactly sure why I started blogging, but I did and well, I’ve never looked back.

When I started blogging, there were not as many blogs as there are now and the whole concept of making money off of your blog was not as prominent. I don’t know the true history of the blog and I find that the internet while providing data can not give you the end-all-be-all history of internet usage. I mean think about how many blogs there are now on how many different platforms? My first blog from 2004 is nothing compared to now.

Yet blogging has evolved and has given way to all sorts of personal sharing developments.  Look at pinterest. Sure you still need to find pretty photos from somewhere, but once you pin the photo to your board, you no longer need to bookmark that page on your comp, nor do you need to put together a blog of you “new favorite” items. It’s done immediately.

But that’s not why I am writing today’s blog. While I enjoyed trailing off for a bit there on the changes of blogging and the internet, the real reason I’m writing this post is because of a project I’m working on for the 9-to-5.  I am drafting a “social media policy” and as I work on it, I find myself considering the many ways in which I am and have been an active social media user and abuser.  These memories that are stirred with each suggested policy point reminds me of all the blunders I’ve made and well, I consider them valuable lessons for me and I hope for you, too.

My first foray into the world of social media always started with the sound of the modem connecting me to the internet world and the sound of “You’ve Got Mail!”. Yes, it was the AOL dial up days and I spent countless hours chatting my life away as a young teen. As a matter of fact, I met a still current friend in a chat room on AOL. It turns out that he was attending GWU as a freshman my sophomore year. It was a good connection, but what about the addiction it gave way to?

Once I moved on from AOL to the world of ethernet connections and owning a laptop and instant messaging from morning to night, sharing online became instinctive.  In 2004, when I started to blog it just seemed natural to do and thus a nine year addiction came to be.

1. My first blog is no longer with us. Sure it’s carcass remains on a server somewhere, but the chances of you landing on it are never. I had to disable that blog because well, I made the first and worst mistake of blogging- talking about what I didn’t like about my roommate.

I don’t think I just discussed how much I didn’t like and the reasons why, but called her names and made fun of her.  I was naive enough to think that she’d never find my blog and therefore didn’t need to remove incriminating details and maybe make it private.  As I type this right now, I think about how young I was at the time, 23 going on 24, but the reality is youth does not make the mistake better. I was a horrible person. I had no respect for her and our bond (because we were friends) and it resulted in her moving out and us not speaking for a long time. In the last three years we’ve rekindled our relationship, but I apologized and she accepted.

Lesson: Don’t think you’re not being watched, or can’t be found. Respect other people and their business and never share stories or details that will hurt and/or offend (although your opinion will inevitably offend someone) people, or destroy relationships.  It is not worth it. 

2. My addiction with social media is strong and waning at the same time.  When I say waning, I mean my personal social media use. When I first started on Facebook, I posted every thing – pictures, thoughts, what I was doing, etc. Now, not so much. I’ve created a filter of sorts. Also, there’s so much going on on Facebook that I often find myself with a glazed uninterested feeling.

But, I used Facebook for my business, and I blog, and I tweet (I was reluctant at first), and I use Pinterest, and I am on Etsy, and I have a website for my business.  So indeed, I’m everywhere, and yet, I’m no where at the same time. As the person behind my business, I control the information on all of these venues and I keep it real and honest, but I also filter what I want to share and what I don’t want to share. I practice this not just on these venues, but also on my personal Facebook profile. It is the way I’d want anyone to see it.

For example, one of my first blog posts on the blog that no longer exists was about how I would stare at my camel toe during my Bikhram Yoga classes. Yep. I kid you not. My friends, who were the audience found it hilarious! One friend even still quotes that blog from years ago (your thoughts are remembered), but I would never assume that you fine reader, on this blog that is about writing, stationery, design and being an entrepreneur a. want to read a tale on that topic, or b. want you to create an image of me based on that one posting. Now, I do realize that I’ve just shared this with you, but I did it so you would have a point of reference.  Don’t begin to think you know every thing about me based on that one sentence above.

Lesson:  People are reading, watching, and following you, so don’t share just to share.  Time is valuable and readers want information that helps them or makes them think as much as they want to engage. They will do all of this with people who are sharing honest and real content.  Think of it this way, do you really want to be remembered for some off-the-cuff comment you said without thinking? Probably not. 

3.  I have always been a bit crazy. I mean that in a good way. Because of this crazy, I’ve always been me. I’ve never shied away from my unique voice. And it helps. It really helps. It means that the people who do like my voice and my posts will like them and come back for more and the people who don’t will not. It has allowed me to become a better __________ (everything!) – writer, thinker, designer, artist, and experiencer of life.

What I’m really getting at is that I haven’t and I won’t change my writing for any reason. My writing skills have definitely tightened up, but my voice is still my voice. While I practice the act of filter, I don’t filter too much. I will never sound like a NY Times writer, nor do I want to. In other words, I’m embracing my talent without being a fool.

Lesson: Don’t try to be something your not.  It’ll come across as insincere and fake and nobody wants to read or follow someone who isn’t honest and real. 

On the blog that took over in 2006 after my first blog ended, I took most of those lessons to heart. I posted a picture of my real self, I started using my name in posts, and I dropped talking about people who were/are near and dear to me. I did write a few posts about dates and people who had hurt my feelings, but I left out incriminating details. Not so shockingly, my friends and other readers found these blogs and responded to them. They enjoyed the escapades of me on my travels and my very open accounts of dealing with my father’s passing.

See, I managed to find a way of writing about my life and sharing my stories without the casualties. I made myself accountable and responsible for the image I presented.  Every one using the internet should do the same. Not just for the professional implications, but for your own sense of worth and benefit.

Production, Uniqueness, and the “End of Scarcity?”

I came across this article on Mashable.com a while ago titled, “Why the End of Scarcity Will Change the Economics of Everything [Opinion].”

I remember bookmarking it because I naturally had an opinion about it, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Clearly, I needed it to simmer in my brain until today, when I know exactly what are my thoughts.

The first time I read the article, I disagreed completely, but I think my perspective was a bit cloudy (hence the bookmarking), but upon the second reading, I decided that I agree with the author to an extent. The extent is technology. In the past 10+ years, technology has advanced and continues to advance at a rate that can at times be overwhelming. Clearly, I am old enough to remember when computers were integrated in classrooms, although to be honest, I didn’t start actively using a PC on a daily basis until the 10th or 11th grade.  I also remember getting our first computer at home.  That computer was just a box with a dark screen that had a typing program where I typed almost all of my high school papers.  I also naturally remember when we got the next generation of computer just before I went off to college. Our internet connection was modem and I can hear the AOL connection noise in my head as I type this sentence. It really is amazing how in the last 12 years, things have changed. I got my first desktop my sophomore year of college and then two years later, having grown tired of having to move it, got my own laptop. Now, my laptops are skinnier, way cooler looking, and made by Apple.

All of the above doesn’t even touch upon the changes in the last 12 years that the internet has created in how we read and write content, receive our news (whether it be correct or not),  purchase items, plan our vacations/trips, share news with friends and colleagues, and interact on the whole. I know I’m missing a few things here, but I remember when I first signed up for Friendster. Then it was MySpace and eventually went into Facebook. I remember when Facebook was just for college students and I, already a college grad,  had to listen to my younger friends talk about the world of Facebook. Then I remember joining Facebook and the onslaught of other social media platforms that have essentially changed the way we think, or as some would say “enhance the way we share”.

I also remember the immediate love of the share, knowing what was going on and updating my life every minute that I could.  Now, I also am aware of the backlash of all of that. I have changed the way I share. Yes, I’m still open. Yes, I share my thoughts, my activities, my vacations, but I’ve also become a bit more secretive. I don’t want you to know that I’m sitting in a bar with my best friend, and I really don’t think you need to know what I am eating for lunch right now.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t use social media because I do, but I’ve learned to share what I REALLY want to share, what seems genuine and unique than sharing my every movement or photo.

This is where the article comes in because the author is correct that as we generate content on the internet, access is not scarce. The more she share, provide, and create, the less scarce content becomes. No longer is news just created by professional journalists who write for newspapers. News comes through Twitter and on Facebook by average citizens of the world. And now journalists are in the position of being on the front lines even more than before to get news before the average citizen does. They may have a better skill set in reporting the news, but they’re in a race against the average citizen to still be relevant. The same goes for photography. I know on any given day as I walk the streets of NY, I see every second person with a SLR camera. They are documenting, or attempting to document the nitty gritty of life.  Pictures are uploaded to Facebook  at rates that are ridiculous (750 million photos uploaded to Facebook over New Year’s weekend)! Yet, there’s still that skill level that differentiates an amateur from a pro, and yet there are more photograph options. Average people are capturing moments faster than the pros.

And then there is blogging (myself included!).  Almost everyone has a blog, although that doesn’t always mean they are good, but it makes finding thoughts, perspectives and opinions (like this) abundant and never-ending.

With so many options, scarcity in the technological realm does not exist and companies that do attempt to create it are fooling themselves. So score for the author! But what about art in other genres? What about the validity of the content and the production?  More importantly what about the lack of scarcity on the environment when it comes to tangible items? You may or may not have been expecting me to go this angle, but again, as I sat last night surrounded by paper, I really understood where my initial disagreement with this article began.

As you know, I make stationery and invitations. I’ve recently run into the issue of not having inventory. Why? Well because I’ve created custom products for many clients. I’ve done so much custom work that I haven’t needed to actually create pieces that I can wholesale or just have available for tabling events.

So what did this girl do?

Well, she, I, started designing, creating and recreating pieces. She started imagining things she could make and might be of interest for her first tabling event. In other words, she started to produce inventory.  And it was exciting! It was exciting to go through bins of paper she’s been hording for two years to see what she could create.  It was also exciting to set a limit. To realize that these are custom pieces, without being customized, and they are unique and therefore scarce.

Oh no! Have I created the idea of scarcity?

No.

First of all, there are a million stationery designers in the world, so clearly everyone is operating on a no scarcity level, but my products are scarce because of a decision I’ve made and because of a few external issues beyond my control.

The materials I work with are subject to discontinuation, discoloration, and more importantly lack of inventory. If I buy handmade paper from India tomorrow, there is no guarantee that six-months down the road that paper will still be available. Or that the paper if it’s handmade, will be the same color as the first time. Handmade products that are dyed often have an issue where they were created in different batches and can result in the coloring being slightly off. In that case, what am I to do? Keep creating? Well, yes, but in a different way.

My designs change based on that materials I work with.

Additionally, I get a lot of inspiration from nature.  Often, colors in the sky at sunrise and sunset and flowers dictate colors that will be used in my palette for days, weeks ,and months.  Often times, I will recall them through memory or thanks to a photo snapped at that moment. Yet, I’m completely aware that as time moves, I forget the exact colors and that photos, even with the best lens, can not always capture the bright pinks and oranges that your eye does in the moment.  Therefore nature has also created scarcity.

Which brings me to the next point that everything on this planet is not forever. We have a tendency to believe that it is. Our attempts to outmaneuver death don’t really work and yet we are vigilant in trying.  I don’t mean to get on a soap box here or to force my philosophies on anyone, but having worked in a position that has required me to learn and understand Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and becoming an eco-warrior as I’ve aged, I’ve realized that we are running out of natural resources, which makes the lives we lead now unsustainable for the planet and all living creatures.  As an entrepreneur, paper passionista, and stationery designer I wonder, often, what I can do to conduct my business in a respectable manner for everyone.  I’m still figuring out my plans and my future commitment to CSR, but I know it is one of the strongest considerations as I move forward.

To return to last night, where I sat surrounded by paper (to be honest it was more like the paper blob slowly seeping out of my room into the living room), I knew that I had purchased enough paper to create a certain amount of sets to sell at Celebrate Brooklyn!  Should items sell out, then I’ll know I need to create more, but until I know for certain, I will not produce more product “to be safe”.

I’m not going to lie and say that I have not freaked out by thinking that I won’t have enough product for Celebrate Brooklyn!, because I have. But for each of those moments where I have freaked out, I have also been brought back to earth with the realization that I: 1) have a limited amount of funds (anyone who wants to give me a grant, can by the way!) and 2) I have a limited amount of time. I did not purposely set out to use scarcity as a tactic, but as an artist, I’m instead embracing that sometimes things have to run their course and no one thing can run on forever. Not to mention, I don’t really want to have product sitting around that doesn’t sell, which is a risk that any business runs into.

What I’ve felt all along is that scarcity is not a bad thing. Nor is it something that should be feared. It’s something that should be accepted much like life and death. It is something that reminds us that we are individuals with different tastes and preferences. As consumers, we should also be unique, just as our existence and experiences on this wonderful planet we call home.

Customer Service Lessons from MTA Bus Drivers

First, what I’ve witnessed…

This morning:

Bus was stopped at light, a few feet from the stop.  Someone who missed the bus, knocked on the door to be let in and asked if she could get on and the bus driver through the closed-door said, “no.” She repeated his, “no” and looked shocked as the light turned green and the bus pulled off.

Yesterday morning:

Bus driver failed to respond to any questions asked about purchasing tickets to get on the M15 X (express).

Last week:

Mom with stroller trying to get on bus before it pulled off and in the rain, pushed open stroller with child onto bus. Driver, stopped her and told her she could only get on the bus with a closed stroller and to get off, remove the child and close the stroller and then get on.

Verdict:

The MTA has some rude employees. For every one that is kind, there are at least two more that are complete a-holes!

My problem with all of these examples is a lack of concern or propriety shown to the customer. Actually, there is a very clear and decisive angst toward the customer. Almost as if the customer had done something wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I get on the bus some mornings and want to strangle my fellow brethren, but I can’t. However, rather than act rude toward them, I just ignore them. Yep, I ignore the woman whose bag keeps hitting me, or the lady who is really taking up two seats instead of one. And in most cases, if I’m really pissed off and the bus is really crowded, I just wait for the next bus. Which will inevitably be less crowded, if not empty.  I realize that I have a choice here. I can decide what bus to take or not take and to ignore the rude antics of my fellow human, where as a bus driver can’t, but I’m also not getting paid to provide a service.

And THAT is the golden ticket.  Maybe MTA employees have a right to gripe and be unhappy (heck I am often times unhappy with my place of employment), but when it comes to the people who are paying their hard-earned money to jump on a bus or train, those employees should at the very least be polite. Why? Because the consequences can result in a loss of riders, money (MTA is always complaining about losing money) and most importantly trust and faith.

The MTA is no different from a corporation, even though it is a monopoly, and therefore should have incredible external communication. Yet they don’t. Think about the times you’ve called a number to have to go through automated prompts and then when you finally speak to someone, they aren’t helpful and are rude? I know I make it a point not to use that company any more. With all the selections out there, I can find another company to meet my needs. In the case of the MTA, the lack of respect by their employees is showing NYers that they can use alternate methods of transportation–cars, bicycles (eco-friendly, full of exercise, and inexpensive), taxis and the good old walking (I know I’ve walked on several occasions just because the bus was taking too long, or I didn’t feel like being under ground).

Every time I encounter a rude bus driver, or subway staff, my interest in using MTA declines. Yes, it’s easy, especially when you’re running late, but the fact remains that since I moved here in 2006, there have been four fee increases (I know they’re not that high, but it’s the principle), they’ve decreased service at night and staff in stations, stopped several lines, yet are still moving forward with a line on 2nd Ave (which I get will help alleviate crowds on the 4,5, and 6 lines, but that’s costing several billions of dollars they can’t afford and then you rude employees. These are all major concerns and I think any corporation would buckle down on them before they got even larger or cost them severely.

As a monthly metro card holder, I sometimes wonder what would happen if all of NY stood up and for a day didn’t use the subway or bus system. What would happen? Would our collective voices be heard? Would it change the way the MTA views it’s users? Maybe this is something we should explore…

More importantly, there’s a lesson to learn behind this: how not to treat your customers. It’s fairly simple, really. Never shut the door in someone’s face. Even if you have a schedule and you want to get going, if you have a chance to treat someone kindly, or make someone’s day a bit easier, take it. I know (from experience), that in retail, it is often, “don’t kick out your customer, even if it’s after closing because you may make a sale.” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about helping a customer whether they buy something or not. I’m talking about going above and beyond the ordinary. That means, not forcing a mother and her child back in the rain just to close a stroller, or ignoring customers that don’t understand a new system and are asking for help. A client/customer will remember your interaction and how you treated them always. If it was bad, well, every one they know will know. If it was good, every one they know will know. Not to mention, they will come to you always, even for recommendations.

Your customer base is everything and therefore should be treated with respect and courtesy. Employees can be one of the best marketing tools if they are happy, and the worst, if they’re unhappy.  When an employee is rude or shows no decency, they are essentially saying that the company does not value them and that is never a position a company seeks.

By the way, this posting is ignoring all the other ways bad customer service can be channeled; mainly through social media avenues. I’m using my examples as a way to show why bad customer service hurts, rather than complaining about how bad the MTA is, but people have taken their complaints to twitter and facebook. They’ve blogged about their complaints. Just because a company no longer responds to emails or phone calls, or for that matter has someone who works to answer these complaints, doesn’t mean that the complaint goes unexposed.  This means companies have to be vigilant and work harder to watch when they not only have continuous bad customer service incidents, but don’t offer explanations, consolation, or at the very least an attempt at change.  It would be cheaper for all parties if the company just owned up to it and implemented the changes necessary to fix the broken issues.

Thank you MTA for showing me what I will do, should I ever have an employee, or more even.  Make sure they understand the importance of good, helpful, and solid customer service.

I’m kind of curious to know what are some good and bad customer service experiences you’ve had. If you’d like to share, please do!

A Disagreement On Tools

I read the following article/posting on Mashable.com this morning- “10 Fun Doodling Apps to Unleash Your Creativity.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that the internet is changing the way we function, think and work. But I’m still not in the bandwagon of the internet’s greatness.  As a matter of fact, I’m considering deleting my facebook profile on my 30th birthday (December first, this year).  My reasons behind the facebook deletion are thanks to a great article by Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?” in The New York Book Review.

The idea of deleting my facebook account brings up many questions such as my S2 Stationery fan page. I have about 150 members who use the page for updates, etc.  More importantly, the idea of deleting my account brings up more questions about what type of vendor I want to be.  As I work on a marketing and in depth business plan, I get further into what it is that I’m trying to achieve with my business.  While I’m know 100% positively that I don’t want to remove my business’s online presence, I also know 100% positively that I want to engage with customers and individuals on a real basis. I want to send thank you cards to customers and I want to directly respond to emails and any other inquiries that come directly to me. Why? Because that is the point of social media after all. It’s rapidly moving toward engaging with your customers.  Which is what causes me to stop and question.

If we are supposed to engage with customers, then why not engage with them in real time?

I get that the internet is “real time,”  and I don’t want to come across as some anti-technology/change individual because I’m not, but what do you actually receive when someone who gets paid to keep up a twitter or facebook page responds to your comment? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for it and heck in a recession, any form of a job is preferable to none, but don’t you, the customer, want to talk to someone who means something more? Do you honestly feel close to a large corporation because someone responded to your email, or twitter comment? I don’t. I mean, I do appreciate the step, but when I get letters from Presidents of corporations thanking me, well, I feel better. Especially if it’s hand written.

Which brings me to the following point, the original point…

Apps for doodling do not unleash your creativity much as the article on Mashable would have you believe. I think my two bones to pick with the article are two sentences, or what comes across to me as bold statements. The first being, “Pen and paper may be on a fast track to obsolescence, but the doodle will live on forever.” The second being, “Besides, the worst part of art class was cleaning up the mess afterward. Now, the marvels of the Internet can let you doodle, draw or just play around online. No mess necessary!”

What exactly are my points of contention with these two statements?

The fact that the writer is cheapening the actual art of creating art and a doodle and pen and paper.  Computer graphics and animation while quite advanced, do not offer the same skill, eye coordination, or for that matter creativity that pen, paper, erasers, pencils, pads, paint and piles of rejected pieces of paper with sketches on them.

As a young child and teenager in school, I never thought of myself as a doodler. I did write out my name and draw stars and circles, but if you could have seen some of the advanced sketches my classmates were drawing, you’d have been amazed. Compared to them, my doodles were nothing! But I excelled in other art classes- ceramics for example. Now as a stationery designer, I sketch out rough sketches and sometimes detailed sketches before I start anything on my computer. As a matter of fact, often times I can’t put on my computer what I want without drawing it first. THAT is when the magic happens. When the pencil, pen or sometimes marker, hits the paper. There’s also a sense of accomplishment, at least on my behalf for being able to draw something with my own hands.

So while I do agree that doodle tools help when you’re stuck on the train, or when you don’t want to carry your sketch pad around, they ultimately offer no real prize. They also take no real skill. If you want a skill, then you take up drawing. If you want to waste time, then you’ll find the smart phone Apps suggested in the article useful and entertaining.

And maybe that’s the real kicker…if you want to be entertained. That’s what smart phones offer after all, constant and instant entertainment, the kind that requires no patience or deep thought. I think the author should take that into mind the next time she writes about how real tools are going obsolete.