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Small But Mighty: My Experience at 2017’s BConnected Conference!

I am small but mighty.

Small But Mighty — My Experience at 2017's BConnected Conference! — My Packing List
When I pack for a blogger conference, I do not mess around!

You wouldn’t know it to look at me on the surface, but I went to 2017’s BConnected Conference feeling kinda down about my brand. I was doing better than ever, yes, but I didn’t feel like I was growing anymore. I had a wealth of contests out, consistently put content out that had people paying attention, and found myself able to do things with my blog I’d have never thought possible. If I were the Casey from five years ago, I’d be living the dream.

But you see a lot on any journey you take, and the year spent getting to this point still had me unsatisfied, feeling like I could still do so much more.

The first day of the BConnected Conference didn’t quite help. There were plenty of amazing things that went down that Saturday, like meeting Elayna Fernandez and her daughters, a family I’d love to keep in touch with, or Dani Gagnon showing me how to find value in Instagram Stories in ways I never really did with Snapchat. But it was Susan Getgood’s talk that stuck with me. The one that said the jump from microinfluencer to mid-tier content creator was having 100,000+ fans and followers.

100,000.

Small But Mighty — My Experience at 2017's BConnected Conference! — My Reaction to Susan Getgood's Mid-Tier Content Creator Description

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The Life and Times of Casey Palmer: An Elegy for Mediocrity

Y’all ain’t interested in writing anything great.

The name of the game is mediocrity. Mediocre blogs that don’t share anything worth reading; people who skip birthdays for mediocre events; mediocre personalities, expectations and lives. No one’s striving for anything amazing anymore.

And it boggles my mind—everything’s literally within reach, but when people find out how much work it takes to build a personal brand and cultivate it to the point where people actually want to read what you write, they just give up. They rather spend time telling you it “must be nice” than to build anything meaningful for themselves, letting themselves fail before they’ve really given anything a shot—and I can’t go for that.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer - An Elegy for Mediocrity — Can't Sleep

I stopped listening to the haters a long time ago—no more of the people who thought I was “setting myself up for disappointment” when they hear my lofty dreams or peers willing to create content that was simply “good enough”; I’ve spent many years getting to know myself, and can tell you that if I don’t keep pushing to get better with every piece I put out, I may as well quit now, ‘cuz I know I won’t make it through.

But I get it—I get that some people only got in this hustle to get their money and go, not overly concerned about what they leave behind as long as they get their cheque. That there’s a literal army of bloggers who don’t give two cares about standing out, long as there’s a shortcut or two to feed their bottom line.

But there’s no cheat sheet that’ll tell you how to reach the top of the heap. No membership guide that’ll tell you when you’ve “made it”, and the perks you can expect at each stage of the game. This is something you need to build for yourself, doing it because it fuels you, pumping through your veins—those who’ve come out looking for an easy payday quickly realize this grind demands more than most are willing to give, and it’s the few who know they need more than money from it all who’ll still be here in the end.

Which is why I’m losing my mind trying to get back on my horse after what feels like an eternity spent without a solid blog post out.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer - An Elegy for Mediocrity — The Paper Stack

Before heading out on a 10-day trip to Mexico to see my sister-in-law get married in a little place called Tequesquitengo, I could feel it creeping in on me from all sides—a heap of sponsored content that wasn’t going to write itself; plenty of action with the 9-5 that needed handling before I took the time off; and a very comprehensive to-do list that wasn’t going away without doing what I needed to do as a Dad and doing right by my family. It’s easy enough to call yourself a blogger—slap a few words together, add a few photos and call it a day—but putting out content that’ll do any better than the stuff you’d find in a local community newsletter is a full-time gig unto itself.

It’s a struggle, though—I’ve spent countless hours trying to find myself: working past the sponsored posts to examine some deeply rooted parts of my soul—my ever-changing life as a father, trying to do the best I can for my children without sacrificing the things that make me who I am. Further studies into life as a Black man in one of the most diverse cities on the face of the planet. I’ve been so caught up in the hustle that I’ve failed to feed my soul, and that’s something that’ll need changing if I don’t want to get reacquainted with burnout.

But knowing what I want to write and doing it justice are two different things—have I led the kind of life that makes me qualified to discuss any of it? Can I write the kind of stuff that’ll matter years down the road, or am I chasing an ideal I’ll never manage to touch, stuff that’s no better than any of my peers?

This is what keeps me up at night—knowing how badly I want to reach my potential, but not knowing if I’ll ever get there. Though I’ve written long enough and hard enough to be confident that my work can do great things, I still can’t convince myself it has what it takes to change lives. Or that it can do any more than simply take up digital space and do any better than the uninspired memes and uninformed opinions that already constantly plague us.

I sit here, and I’ve yet to be convinced that my work can outlast me.

And that’s what it really comes down to—I want so badly to create classics that the pressure I put on myself sometimes halts me in my steps… but we all know there’s only one way I’m going to reach my goal, and that’s to keep on writing.

So that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Be Mediocre if You Want—But Remember; Hard Work ALWAYS Pays Off.

These moments where self-doubt takes hold and I start questioning whether I’ll actually manage to make something valuable from my efforts, I have to remind myself of the things I’ve accomplished already, and how I would’ve called it quits a long time ago if I listened to everyone telling me what they thought I couldn’t do. That I couldn’t be successful if I strayed from the safe path—that a stable job, good family and debt-free existence were as far as my dreams should go. That I couldn’t exceed my life’s station—that a life without trust funds, Ivy League schools and family connections could only take me so far, and that I should leave greatness for those better equipped for it… it’s simply not meant for a lowly commoner like myself. Sure—I look at my peers who show up on the scene more often; the ones travelling across the globe and going to the hottest events… and while it’s obvious to me that this would’ve been easier when I was younger and childless, you don’t just quit because something gets harder.

You just get better at it and figure out what works for you.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer - An Elegy for Mediocrity — Casey's BACK!

So I hope you didn’t miss me too much, but the boy is back—you can only let a cloud hang overhead for so long before it’s time to get yourself together and move on; when it feels like the world’s trying to hold you back, that’s when you shine your boots, stand tall, and remind it that ain’t nobody got time for that.

But the hustle continues and I’ve still a million and one other things that I could be doing, so I’m gonna get back to it. If you made it this far down the post, kudos to you, and I’ll tell you this—if the 2016 we’ve seen so far is any indication of things to come, we’ve still got a very interesting year ahead of us!

Thanks for continuing to check the blog out and until the next,

–case p.

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Blog

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer — Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November!

November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night. While I’m no political activist trying to fight a system that’s holding me down, there’s still plenty I’m fighting against daily. A blogosphere filled with people who just don’t try, satisfied doing the bare minimum for their content, not aspiring to grow any greater than their current stations. A world that still sees most Dads as bumbling idiots, when really, they’re likely the most involved they’ve been at any point in history! It’s a constant hustle to change the narrative around me, and this reality inspired the post you’re reading now — the one where I stare the world down and let it down that we gon’ be alright, even when they want to see us fail.

But let me start from the top.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer — Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November — Casey Palmer Expressing How He Feels About Those Faking the Funk
This is the face I make when I think about the people who are trying to make it and utterly unwilling to do the work required to meet their goals.
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Blog

Thirty-Two: Happy Birthday, Casey Palmer — Here’s to the Hustle!

July 2015 — I’ve just turned 32 years old, and I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve built this #BloggerLife for myself — a little digital space with promise, letting me share thoughts and ideas with thousands, evolving around me as I learn to massage them into something more… spectacular.

Happy Birthday, Casey Palmer — Here's to the Hustle! — Am I a Blogger-I don’t know whether I’d call myself a blogger anymore — things have grown much bigger than that. My site’s more than a blog template, my stories more than a handful of images and subtitles… I look at my #BloggerLife and my other lives running alongside it, knowing what I have to offer is far more than I could achieve by sticking to expectations set by other people.

Don’t get me wrong — so much has happened: a surprise press trip to one of my favourite cities so I could explore; a fantastic Twitter chat that helped open my eyes to other opportunities… 2015’s hit me with so much that’s asked me to step my game up, grinding away at the things I believe in if I want to grow them into anything real. I’ve walked so many paths to this point. I’ve tried collaborating with others to create written works of art. Tried following blogging rules and best practices to catch as many eyeballs as possible. But the journey’s taught me that I can’t accomplish everything I’m going for if I just stay one thing.

I can’t do things like everyone else does and expect to find my answers — I need to carve a path from the bedrock of my life; one that’ll let me do everything I must as a husband and father, but still let me create what I want to without sacrificing precious sleep and sanity.

And for that, a little over three decades deep into my life, I look at everything I’ve built so far and ask myself the simplest of questions:

What now?

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Blog

THE MONTHS OF BER: Once More, With FEELING.

And out of nowhere, like a dreaded cold that chills your bones, The Months of Ber have fallen upon us, signalling the time to check on our affairs and tie up loose ends wherever we can.

The Team Trolling July 2014 Hangout — Casey's Birthday
With the summer gone, it’s time to cherish the memories, but prepare for an entirely new season ahead with entirely new challenges. Photo Credit: Justin Baisden

With summer wrapped up but a wealth of work still sitting on my plate, I looked at my desk and didn’t even know where to start. When I added cleaning my desk to The 2014 100 back in January, it was no joke — the pressed wood of my 2% stake in my home has long vanished under piles of unfinished ideas, half-read books, and a plethora of resources I got with good intentions, but ultimately used them so seldom that all they do is take up space.

It’s time to figure out what really needs doing in my life, and with luck, I can enter 2015 much farther ahead than I was a mere 9 months ago.

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Blog

DO ALL THE THINGS: Monthly Wrap-Up — Do As You May

Y’all too scared.

The Monthly Wrap-Up — May — Father and Son
This is my life now. And I’m lovin’ it!

2014’s seen me grow a lot, finally realizing what it’s like to have a voice, believing in it enough to stop compromising and start telling the world how I really feel. I’m not producing as aggressively as I used to, but now I’m giving each post the respect it deserves, trying to outdo myself every time I put pen to paper (literally — that’s how I write my thoughts before they hit your screen!) My blog is my platform to air my thoughts and share my experiences, and despite a blogger industry over 150 million deep, no one does it like I do it.

And that’s what bloggers need to remember — you’re not supposed to do it like anybody else; people read your stuff because it’s you.

But this month more than any this year taught me that my contemporaries are too often scared to have opinions, show vulnerabilities, or be human — in short, too many bloggers spend too much time writing too few things that actually matter.

And May, a month where my nightlife mostly involved playing with my 6-month old and hanging with my wife, it was the month reminding me what I should be doing with my time.

I Go 0 to 100, Man, Real Quick!

May was the first month this year where I really felt comfortable in my new skin — no longer trying to reconcile my #BloggerLife with the new path I’m walking; finding joy in the life of a father, spending less time at events and more in my neighbourhood… in ways, it’s like I pulled a 180º on who I was.

Monthly WrapUp — May — Washing the Car
Domestic Casey played a large role this month, washing his CUV, mowing his lawn — realizing, possibly, for the first time, that he’s become a role model to somebody.

Though I might not have stuck to the original game plan this past month, I feel like I wrote some of my best material ever this month, analyzing Emma Stone’s ridiculously amazing lip sync on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (honoured by a 20-Something Bloggers Weekly Community Round Up mention); writing on how I’ve changed as not only a blogger, but also as a person after 2013’s final Bloggers in Sin City, and a piece I wrote for Parent Tested Parent Approved on my life as a father six months into the parenthood game, noting how different my life and my viewpoints are now compared to what they were back in November.

Less social media meant a return to life before tweeting, reconnecting with the family and friends I hadn’t seen as much of since diving into the blogosphere. It meant Saturday strolls with the family to the local ice cream shop, backyard barbecues and friends coming over with gifts and treats to celebrate the new little guy in my life, capturing the hearts and Likes of my social circles. Even as I grew less visible in the Twitterati circles, spending more 9-5 doing the corporate jive and more 5-9 keeping the kid alive, I didn’t feel like I was missing out — a change was in the air, with a new me needed to handle all the adventures laying ahead.

Here’s a look at some key stuff that went down in May, one month closer to making 2014 my best year yet!

Podcasting — More Than JUST a Blogger

Though I’ve yet to launch a podcast myself, I’m not one who’s camera- or microphone-shy. I found some time in May to hook up with Eric Freedlander and Peter DeWolf on their respective podcasts to talk social media, fatherhood, and the constant hustle of life in Toronto. If you’ve got some time to spare and ears yearning for some quality content, you should give ’em both a listen!

My spot on “Nattering With E”:

My conversation with Peter DeWolf on #thepetecast 63 – Being awesome and Canadian with @CaseP:

https://soundcloud.com/peterdewolf/thepetecast-63-being-awesome-and-canadian-with-casep

The Beasts from the East

With a kid in the picture, our neighbourhood’s embraced us differently — we’ve gone from Sarah and Casey the “nice young couple” to Sarah and Casey the “trustworthy parents”. Instead of East York just being a place I’d go to at night to lay my head I’ve started seeing everything my ‘hood has to offer, its food fare, its parks, its people. The more I immersed myself in my community, the more I knew I needed to get involved.

In May, I started getting hyperlocal in my “urburbs”, linking up with the Greenwood Community Association and the Danforth East Community Association to start telling the tales of Danforth East, using my years of experience up ’til now to help my neighbourhood get the profile it deserves. Over the last several years, Danforth East’s landscape has changed, with plenty of new faces, new shops and plenty of ways to stuff your face. The shots above are just a sample, but you should stop by sometime to see what we’ve got to offer!

Sky’s the Limit

Though no one can believe it, 2014’s almost halfway done. Even a cursory glance at The 2014 100 tells me my paradigm’s shifted considerably these past five months — though I did buy a lawn mower (#61); demolish the hours of TV I expected to consume in 2014 (#67); and shrink the number of browser tabs I keep open by adding everything to my ever-growing to-do list (#71); it’s not like I had room for grandiose travel plans to  hit SXSW (#3) or the World Domination Summit (#4). I’ve worked my butt off on the content hustle, churning more content out than ever before, already down to 130 drafts from the 220 I had closing out 2013 (#23). Fixed the wi-fi (#33), sorted the hot mess of a file structure on my computer and external hard drives (#43), rekindled my relationship with my grandparents  now that I’m a parent myself (#46) — I don’t even care what the haters say, this year’s been a landmark one for me so far. (Even threw out all the business cards after massively rebranding myself to the new “grown man” Casey Palmer [#64]!)

Couldn’t even honestly tell you what to expect these last 7 months — the only things written in stone are some family time off to show the kid off to some relatives, but I’m on that grind in every other way. 30 years down and an entire future ahead, though many look at this age and decide it’s over the hill — time to settle down — I constantly remind myself that Oprah didn’t even have The Oprah Winfrey Show until she was 32, building one of the world’s greatest brands over 25 long years of work.

This ain’t a sprint; it’s a marathon I’ve run and will keep running until the Lord finds something else for me to do.

Chase those dreams, people — I know I am.

Until the next,

–case p.

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Blog Blogging The Great Social Media Story

THE GREAT SOCIAL MEDIA STORY: Blogging Ain’t Everything!

Like a Jay-Z retirement, I wasn’t stepping away from the social media game, but my relationship with it was definitely changing. When I met someone at Friday’s TacoTweetup who asked how many tweetups I’d been to, his eyes bugged out when I answered “I dunno — 100? 150?”

For a while there, Twitter was my life.

When I get into something, I really go deep. I have a live recording from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon of Drake performing “Too Much” from his upcoming Nothing Was the Same album which is currently playing for the 57th time — and it premiered Saturday night (zoom ahead to 5:15 in the video if you want to check it out). So when I found out about a place back in 2010 where I could be as crazy as I wanted and people were happy for it, there was no way I was looking back.

But it was always a juggling act.

The eldest of three boys, I’ve always been the “model son”. Never got in trouble; always did well in school; got a stable job; and married with kid on the way. In many ways, I’m a traditionalist, building a strong foundation so I can make the best of the life I lead.

But the other side of me wants to hit every event, blog on all the things, and live like life has no limit. He shows up to events, cash in one hand and camera in the other — because there’s no moment other than the one you’re in right now, so why not live it to the fullest?

But the longer you spend immersed in social media, the more you learn a simple truth — social media isn’t reality.

Man Up

What really killed the “social” in social media was just growing the hell up.

Recently, I took a step back from social media to start working on my life away from the computer. It wasn’t a grand exodus, but enough of a change that I could do things like tackle a new job and convert my home office into a nursery. We’ve all got things to do in our lives and choices to make — it was time for me to man up a little and start acting like an adult.

You can only live in Dreamland for so long. Wining and dining in exchange for a few words on social media is a pretty sweet deal, but free meals won’t keep a roof over your head. Many tell themselves that they’re paying their dues — all this face time is merely the path to something better; but it only reminds me of a phrase I was fond of a decade ago:

You need to check yourself before you wreck yourself!

The Cost of Blogging

Everything has a price. Looking at my friend Zach, he’s spent 2013 living A Sponsored Life in a large-scale social experiment, but has to deal with the negative press from those who consider him a freeloader and don’t really get what he’s trying to accomplish.  Or how about the numerous times someone takes a pot shot at someone else’s social media snafu, only to have it bite them in the rear end later on?

There, too, is a cost to blogging.

With my blog, after years of trying to build something meaningful, I finally started feeling like I’d carved something I could call my own — but there’s a constant battle I’m fighting; the one where if I take one step too far in the wrong direction, I’m in danger of selling out everything I believe in. I’ve been blessed to receive so much over the years, and to have access to so many opportunities — but if you forget who you are, all of it can change you.

And not for the better.

But the pitches pile up, the handshakes happen, and for every post you write to chat on something that landed at your doorstep, that’s two you’re writing to show that there’s still a heart beating in your chest. You become your own worst enemy, trying to keep up with an editorial calendar out of control — with you smack in the middle.

Not the most sustainable lifestyle.

So I took a step back to take stock of my life. I took a look at the job I’m fighting the odds to excel at, because I don’t see failure as an option. I look at my wife and the new life that she’s mere months from bringing into this world and the new adventure we’ll be travelling. I look at friendships in need of care and repair, left neglected while I started too hard in the wrong direction.

Blogging ain’t everything and I’d do well to remember that.

Will the Real Casey Palmer Please Stand Up?

So in the meantime, you’ll need to bear with me. I still want to hit all the places and do all the things — but Daddy Casey comes first. White Collar Casey comes first. Husband Casey comes first. There’s so much I need to be other than a blogger — and without these, blogging wouldn’t be everything at all — it’d be nothing without a story to tell.

And no one wants that.

Until the next time,

–case p.

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Blog

THE GREAT SOCIAL MEDIA STORY: The Day the Social Died

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’

— Mark 8:36, The Holy Bible, New International Version

Remember when social media in Toronto was fun? I remember my first encounter with Twitter back in 2008 when I hit a marketing event with Sarah, who I’d only just started dating. There was a Twitter stream projected at the front of the room, and I posted tweets with my signature brand of crazy, getting lots of laughs from others attending. In fact, it’s where I first met Zaigham, who I’d get to know a little better over the years. (Also, Sarah was not impressed with my antics. Only a mere six months out from her Humber postgrad in PR, she believed that “reputation was everything”, and that if I didn’t seem professional, I was only shooting myself in the foot. Five years, 35,000 tweets and 2,300 followers later, I think she’s okay admitting she was wrong.)

The point is — it was fun. Twitter was full of random tweets about anything, and it seemed like no one cared about being rowdy in public. Back then, Twitter was a party 24/7 with everybody invited!

But then something changed. The better people got at tweeting, the more the world took note. Businesses wanted in on this virtually untapped market of clients and the influencers who spoke to them. Everything started getting Twitter handles associated with them — TV shows, ads, businesses cards — the magnetic pull of Twitter was inescapable.

Which makes it a bit funny that it’s been dead quiet in Toronto for a while now.

I know that our social medialites are up to stuff — there’s never a shortage of brand-sponsored events in Toronto — but by this time last year, we’d already had DefineTO and Social Media Week Toronto. We got together for drinks on patios and birthday and dinners and parties. There was a stronger sense of community in Toronto, and no matter whether you blogged or not, or if you had 100 or 1000 followers, there was a place for you.

So what happened? Where did everybody go? What made the world we know change so much that everything seemed to just up and vanish, leaving a social void in its wake?

Has the Toronto Twitter scene had its time in the limelight? Are we moving on to other tools that better serve the needs of the social medialite? Or, have the people who were big on Twitter a couple of years back simply grown tired of it and moved on, making way for a new generation of social media ne’er-do-wells?

Turns out that it may have just been a long time coming.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Maybe the social media we know never really was all that social. Or perhaps it was a means to an end, and we’ve seen the game through to its next phase. Maybe it’s time to look at social media in a new light.

There was a time where the Twitter experience was a lot less strategic. You had the people who were all business, all the time. You had those who were a little unhinged, causing trouble simply because they could. But more people fell somewhere in the middle, tweeting and hitting events to see who else was in their city, make new friends and step out from their comfort zones, trying to get a little more of what life had to offer.

The rules of the game have changed: no longer is a social medialite simply a person with a phone who’s painting the town red; social medialites are commoditiesResources who brands choose to court to put a human element to products and services — in the best cases, synergy happens between brands and social medialites, and they weave a story together.

But all of this takes time. It takes time to plan an event and make it memorable enough for being to want to talk about it when they get home. Tweetchats don’t happen by themselves — they need promotion and targeting to make sure the right stuff gets to the right people. And it’s not like there’s a magic swag fairy who just picks people at random, leaving goodies on their doorstep — you need to know your market and who’d be the most likely to use and promote your product.

And who better to know who to find than the social medialites interacting with them?

But when you’re spending all that time making those connections and creating the best content you possibly can, you show up to friends’ parties a little less often. Your tweets are a little less random, with more of them promoting your blog or events you’re hosting.

But there’s no manual to social media. There’s no guidebook showing us how to go viral and make millions from our content. But we still try, clinging to the hope that we’ll somehow break apart from the pack — while still making it up as we go. Many of us have mastered how we use social media and how we package our messages, but that’s not enough. In Toronto, everyone wants to be the best. We all want to be different from everyone else and excel beyond our peers. But is it our ambition that killed the social in social media?

What’s Real?

It takes two to tango, though. While the tool’s changed and its legitimacy makes it a lot different from it was when we first crossed paths, the people who use the tool have changed too. We’re all a little older, a little wiser and a little harder from the years we’ve spent on social media. Social media’s like everything you’d experience in a regular life amplified — but you can only keep the pace for so long; life reveals your path sooner or later. I chose to get married and have kids — I see Tiff and Val are hot on my heels (for the marriage part, anyway). People like Christine Estima, Anne and Jorge up and left the city.

Or there’re things that mark us and make us a little less social. Christine Pantazis recently lost her grandmother. Chris Vollick lost his mom. We’re reminded again and again that social media isn’t everything and that we need to strike a balance between all the facets of our lives and not just gravitate to one just because we like it better.

And in several cases, when a tool founds your relationship and you stop using the tool like you used to — something else steps in to fill that void, and it’s usually not the company you’ve kept online.

Did our real-life commitments kill the social in social media?

The New Media

So what happened to the social media scene in Toronto? Did it sell out? Was it abandoned by a user base that got too big too quickly, changing how they interacted with the very tools that got them where they are? Or did “life” simply get in the way with its relationships and jobs and babies, leaving little time to tweet ‘n’ greet?

It’s a little of Column A, a little of Column Z. There’re likely a million reasons why those who were the most visible in the scene up and vanished to what we hope are better places, but I think everyone just grew up a little.

Growing up means different things to different people. To some of us, it means taking blogging more seriously and working toward writing for a supplementary income. To others, it means more of a traditional approach with relationships, children, or other added responsibilities. In any case, many of us have shifted from using social media as a primary source of information and connection to a communication tool. We’ve learned how to structure interaction in one-hour blocks with tweetchats. We’ve learned how to communicate our thoughts in 140 characters or less to engage an audience. Now, we plan events, develop strategies for brands and take images and Vines that tell a story.

We’ve become so good and engrossed in our media that we’ve forgotten all about the social. We’ve passed the torch along to those entering the world of social media today. Twitter and Facebook are established, and in ways, they’re already the tools of the yesteryear, with their biggest demographics already in their late 20s to mid-30s.

Is it all worth it? Is severing the ties just to make names for ourselves really the only thing that matters? Are we all but mere stepping stones to one another in a quest to reach our true potential?

I sincerely hope not.

The New Toronto Media Scene

For now, it’s a little quieter in Toronto. The events are more exclusive and the crowds aren’t quite so loud. We have an army of Toronto social medialites sharpening their skills and honing their abilities with no end in sight. We’re becoming the best we can be individually… while forgetting that we could accomplish so much more collectively.

So I say rest in peace to Toronto’s social scene. We’ve chosen our allies, we’ve figured out who to trust. We’ve made our mistakes and celebrated our victories. The blogosphere spins ever on, but so many of us run lonelier than we ever did to begin with.

Welcome to the new Toronto media scene. Please enjoy your stay.

–case p.

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Blog Thoughts

The Scintilla Project Day Six — Being Human

The Scintilla Project

1. Describe a time when the content of your character was tested.

2. Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.

The Scintilla Project Day 6 prompts

When it comes to me, some people catch a case of “He’s too good to be true.” Too nice. Too gentlemanly. Too eager to help. He must be hiding something. He must be trying to get something from you. There’s no way he’s doing this from the goodness of his heart!

Somewhere along the line the standard for being human fell. We’ve become skeptical and expect everyone to try to stab us in the back at their earliest opportunity, so we harden ourselves pre-emptively, knowing that the other shoe must eventually drop. No one is out for your best interests. No one can succeed without you failing. There isn’t enough of anything for everyone to get a share.

But that’s simply not the case.

You Can Only Get Out of the World What You Put Into It

I’m of the mind that personal success and the success of my “competition” are not mutually exclusive. If another blogger and I choose to compete against each other, we might become very successful individually if we’re lucky — but if we work together, we increase the odds for our success, not to mention that we’ve both gained another potential 24 hours of effort per day apiece by having someone else to rely on in reaching a common goal.

Call it karma, call it cosmic balance, call it whatever you want — but the more you put into the world, the more of it you’ll get right back. Positive people will find others willing to help them reach their goals and take burdens off of their shoulders, while the negative ones will find the world consistently dumping right on their heads, and I’m sure that they’ll have a complaint to share about it, too!

But it’s simple math — the more people who’re willing to just give in and help others, the more positive examples we’ll have to learn from. In turn, those turn into more people who can potentially learn from these examples, and from there the cycle just repeats.

So why not try be an agent of good in a world of bad when it simply makes sense?

A Simple Question of Wrong and Right

I’ve been stabbed in the back before. I’ve had friends choose sides in battles that didn’t have me on them. I’ve had people lie to me, cheat me and steal from me — and after all that, I’d only ask them one question:

“Was it worth it?”

Was your short-term gain worth the hit to your reputation? Was the material wealth worth the relationships you severed to get it? The things we get through questionable means are rarely the ones we get to hang on to in the long run, so why play the dangerous game with fate?

That’s why every time someone questions my character — every time someone wants to hate and accuse me of rigging contests, befriending people for popularity or anything else that’s come my way in my life so far, I just remember who I am and what I do. I gotta do me and let haters be haters — may they one day see the light.

–case p.

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Paying Dues — Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

Sign: "I'm lost. I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait."
Sometimes you must step outside of yourself to really see what you’re doing.

“Everybody wanna be a star, don’t wanna be who they are.”

— Beanie Sigel, “Everybody Wanna Be A Star”, The Truth (2000)

You can get sucked into the game faster than you can blink.

Build an audience and people will start knocking at your door. Brands, would-be collaborators, haters — making yourself visible for all to see will make you a target for all sorts of attention, like it or not.

But never forget what they came for in the first place.

We’re Bringin’ Blogging Back — YUP!!!

The blogger brand’s diluted. Everyone’s fighting for the same piece of pie and many bloggers are more than happy to do whatever it takes to stand out and go home with the biggest morsels. Some of us fight to keep our integrity, but often feel like integrity doesn’t pay. Commissions pay. Sponsored and affiliate posts pay. But at the same time, if you don’t do it right, they can take away from your brand  and everything that you stand for.

Many of us follow the same formula. Sure, we might tweak it — add a personal touch here, an amusing anecdote there — but ultimately, there’s a finite number of opportunities for a finite number of players, all who’re learning from each other how to keep those opportunities coming.

It’s all too easy to lose your way. I love a good event — the chance to practice photography with interesting subjects and to experience things that I wouldn’t otherwise. When brands send me on experiences because they want to see my words and understand my take on it, I’m honoured and flattered. But if I don’t keep a balance between event/product reviews and posts about what I’m really thinking, not only am I alienating my audience, I’m not being true to myself.

So where’s the sweet spot between integrity, relevancy and profitability?

Why Blog If You Can’t Keep It Real?

Cheryl Lynn had it right back in the 70s — “Got to be real!” And in keeping it real — it’s not easy to feed mouths from blogging alone. People are skeptical — selling stuff to people over the Internet takes an insane amount of charisma and influences; not just anyone can separate people from their hard-earned dollars. And being even more real, what incentive do many bloggers out there offer brands to trust them with the products and images that they’ve poured millions into? The idea of free labour and an engaged audience might seem like an attractive package to offer from a blogger’s perspective, but your following of a few thousand is nothing compared to the millions consuming TV, magazines, movies, etc.

If you don’t stand for anything — if all you do is parroting what other bloggers are doing and hoping to get the same success, you’ll soon find that first impression are the only ones to make impressions — you can’t pull the same stunt twice on the Internet and expect it to stick; people are always looking for the next thing. You are not the next social media darling. You are not the next big-time blogger. You’re the next you — what is it that you can do that no one else can?

 Going Back to Myself

In the end, this is my promise. I will stand for a higher standard. I will work to stand out from the crowd not through elitism, but through telling a story and sharing thoughts that improve the world, not simply beat to the rhythm it already has. I will challenge things and ask the hard questions. I will be a blogger — and not just a mouthpiece.

Stand for something or fall for anything. The world’s waiting for you to be yourself — why be the next whoever or act like everybody else? Show us what makes you different, and the world might start paying attention!

–case p.