Tuesday, November 27, 2012

grammar policing

I do not enjoy judgement. It is not a favorite pastime nor a spare-time hobby.  I find those who have nothing better to do but judge others to be typically desperate, inherently unhappy individuals. Having said that, I will now proceed to put on my hypocrite hat. If there is one act in this world that I simply cannot bear to abide, it is the widespread use of poor grammar. This repugnant act is unacceptable across the board in every situation, however when it is performed in a professional setting, the act morphs from unacceptable to abominable.

Throughout my professional career, I, like many in the business world, have worked with quite a breadth of individuals. These have ranged from now SVP-level grown-up fraternity brothers to (in the most respectful manner) the booksmart yet totally world un-savvy to, at the other end of the spectrum, eloquent well-spoken consummate professionals. And across this vast range of people, I have been witness to the highest of despicable grammar affronts. "Its a company we all respect and in light of economic downsizing, we should all except the recent changes", wrote one particular CEO. "Rest assured, the client budget cuts will not effect you're salary's." I really do want to take these attempted important-subject matter-emails seriously...I just simply cannot.

From my perspective, any individual who endeavors to enter the gates of corporate America should have the wherewithal to speak and write in grammatically proper English. This goes from assistant level all the way up. Something is terribly wrong in the world when he/she who deigns to climb the corporate ladder to C level cannot distinguish between noun and verb, possessive form versus contraction. I doubt that these people would appreciate being called SEO rather than CEO, Ess Vee Pee instead of SVP. May I now dare to say, those who cannot spell nor publicly speak properly should rest comfortably on the cushioned bottom step of the corporate ladder.

Monday, November 19, 2012

a sandy outlook

     At age 31, until a month ago, I would go so far as to say my life was been sheltered from true disaster. Sure, there was the occasional macro-burst of snow, sideways rain or the once annual nor'easter, but nothing that so directly impacted my own comfortable urban life. Until a month ago. Hurricane Sandy was a turning point not only for me but for all Tri-State residents. Life seems somehow different now, little annoyances once that once had the ability to ruin a day now trite so long as we can go home to a warm, lit apartment. There is pre-Sandy and post-Sandy, two eras so similar but so vastly different in the headspace they occupy.
     The sequence of events that transpired was one of true devastation for millions of individuals, the range of which is so broad it is impossible to encompass. In one state, homes afloat, live wires lining the streets, cars ravaged, children lost. And in other realms of the tri-state area, dark, frigid apartment buildings left vacant by helpless residents forced to evacuate. To deign to assign judgment to any one of these travesties as worse than another, to me, is a crime of self-serving ignorance. 
     I must put this into a frame of reference. During the hurricane and in the week long aftermath of Sadonic Sandy, many of my friends were lucky enough to be spared of her wrath, sitting comfortably in their warm homes, cooking, watching TV and watching the news. "How tragic", one would wax. "The horror for those people...you are so lucky." another prescribed to me via email. "You cannot feel upset for not having power, look at everyone else". These words uttered by the very people who did not extend their hand to help in the aftermath -- did not offer a warm shower, a spare bedroom or a few feet of floor (hard, but warm) to sleep on. These are the "friends" who took to their social networks to insist that we all "help those in need after Sandy" while keeping close to their own bases, helping in no such way all the while they preached.
     Politicians wax of how we all must come together, hold hands and help our neighbors in the aftermath of a disaster. We should all donate and provide assistance, their prescriptive rhetoric making its way into the speech patterns of regular citizens. And therein lies the irony. People listened. They searched far and wide for ways to "help" others when in reality, they needn't have looked far -- only to their nearest, closest friends. Upon telling one particular friend of my difficult, trying situation post-hurricane, her reaction felt colder to the touch than my unheated wood floor. You must gain perspective, she said, I have friends who lost homes, cars, everything. You should feel lucky.Yes, I say, never did I assert I was the least fortunate in all of this. 
But I was unfortunate. Just like "all those other people", I lived through a trauma. I am one person who is hurting, and though there are so many others, each one individual contributes to the sum total of mass devastation. Gaining perspective can be valuable ...but so can understanding.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Achieving Peace by Avoiding Multitasking

We are all guilty of it by force and "necessity". Most of us do it from the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed at night…iPad, iPhone, laptop and remote control in hand. The nasty culprit…Multitasking. Just the other day I found myself actually bragging to a co-worker about my unparalleled ability to “successfully” multitask, sharing a story from the previous night about applying to FEMA for hurricane reimbursement while watching Homeland. Now that I put that sentence into writing, the realization of its absurdity has slapped me across the face. Mixing an activity intended for escape and relaxation with a crucial financial matter that so clearly mandated my full attention … what was I thinking? The answer: I wasn't.
In that moment of multitasking, it seems inevitable. Most of us are living day to day under the self-imposed pretense that each and every task we have on our plate must get accomplished immediately, regardless of the context in which it does so. This manmade mindset is not simply an irritating one but a dangerous one as well. The very idea that crushing two, three or even four activities into the same headspace could be remotely productive is inherently incongruous. By definition, performing an activity requires dedicated thought, and when our brains are unnaturally forced to staccato between multiple disparate realms, it is not only fertile ground for human error but also for inducing unimaginable stress. Why can’t I focus? Damn, what was that budget? Where are my keys, I just had them? What did my client tell me not to forget? What did Brody just say to Carrie? These things seem nearly impossible to forget, and when we cannot remember them, we turn disillusioned and upset. 
I am not one to sit on my moral high horse suggesting we all completely cease listening to our favorite playlist while we commute, read a magazine or talk to our spouse. I am, however, suggesting that one solution to finding peace is, to the best of our ability, minimizing multitasking. The day when we can sit at a table having a conversation without looking at a phone, balance a budget without simultaneously social networking, get through an hour’s work in one our instead of than three…that is the day I believe we will inch just a little bit closer to attaining our own personal peace.