3 Years Ago Today

Did you know that on this day 3 years ago I was writing a blog post?  I didn’t know either.  Yet Facebook, Timehop, and Google Photos want to make it impossible to forget what we ate for breakfast at that super cute brunch place 6 months ago.

I’ve been earning money for the last 5 years as a social media specialist.  I’m the person who’s hyper-targeting the ad so it reaches you: the recent home buyer with a birthday in the next month who is friends with someone who just got engaged.  

So I’m confident that social media and information giants like Facebook and Google never do things without a reason.  And that reason always comes down to their bottom line, as it should.  The currency of all things internet is views, impressions, and active user counts. More Millennials sharing photos of their lattes on Facebook = better active user statistics = more advertising $$.

There’s an intrinsic motivation for social media networks to keep people addicted to sharing every mundane moment.  What better way to do it than to become your scrapbook, time capsule, and memory?  They’ll keep track of the details of your existence so you don’t have to.

But you better have a life worth remembering.

Since Timehop first introduced the concept of constantly being reminded about what happened on this day in your personal history, I’ve started to see a change in the way we take photos.  We must always snap some representative shot of what that day entailed because otherwise, there’d be nothing to reminisce over in a year. 

And if we must take a photo every day, then we must be doing something fantastic with amazing people every day to photograph.  Or at least some latte art.

But  life isn’t always #darling.  Sometimes it’s #painful and #unphotogenic.  And sometimes, we miss the real moments of life, even the gritty hard ones, when we’re constantly on the lookout to find today’s best picture.

This is just a PSA that Facebook and Google Photos and Timehop know what they’re doing.  The more they addict you to seeing a younger version of yourself every morning on your phone, the more you’ll feel the need to keep photographing and posting so you can remember THIS EXACT MOMENT next year.  Just be sure it’s actually you who is in the picture.


I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror this morning and it caught me by surprise.  I hadn’t seen my face in a while.  Since I don’t wear makeup and my hair doesn’t listen to me anyways, my morning routine doesn’t have me looking in the mirror very often.

My strategy for staying body-positive in our social media world has been to ignore how I look.I work out because I want to be strong and my capsule closet is an insurance plan to cover clashing so there’s no reason for me to spend much time examining my features.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • Looking at my face isn’t as scary as I thought
  • My eyes really are more green than brown
  • My hair really is out of control

I’ve found myself with more time for reflection (both literal and figurative) during this time in Russia.  I don’t plan on becoming a millennial selfie queen but I am very grateful to be forced to take life a little more slowly.

In high school, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my college applications.

In college, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my resume.

In California, I studied and worked to fulfill my duties as an employee and make a living.

Here, I’m finally free to take a deep look in the mirror and learn more about what I actually enjoy doing.  There are no more applications to live for, no more resumes that cry out to be updated.

For the last 10 years I’ve been running away from not being enough, not doing enough to get where I thought I needed to go.  And now I’m finally able to look forward and whisper “Onward and upward!” and mean it.  I walk slowly and cautiously as I explore what the future could look like.

Rituals of Reticence

“Quiet time” might be one of the most confusing words in the Christanese English Dictionary.  It’s revered, insisted upon, and I’ve always felt vaguely guilty for not doing enough of it, but it’s hard to know what it actually is.  Quiet time involves Bible reading, of course, and definitely some praying.  I hear whispers about worship songs and something about a special chair in a corner with a quilt.  Not to mention #CoffeeAndJesus.  Or should that be #JesusAndCoffee?

I’m an ex-seminary wife, but I’m no theologian so I won’t attempt a dissertation on the means of grace.  However, I think it’s fairly clear from the Bible reading I’ve done that we are called to read God’s Word regularly and come to Him with our prayers, thanksgivings, and worship.

When I think about those activities, they have a common theme of requiring a great deal of attention.  It may or may not be audibly quiet but to be still before God requires, well, being still.  And reading the Bible well requires time, an attention span, and the mental space to reflect.

I still feel like my 5 year-old self who was constantly getting scolded in Sunday School for playing with the Velcro on my shiny patent leather shoes during prayer time. I continually find it a struggle to sit still for long enough to read Scripture well or to place my attention on God instead of myself for more than 10 seconds at a time.

But why should I expect myself to be able to be quiet before God if I’m not quiet any other time of the day?  If I can’t carve out times to think or reflect about anything without obsessively scrolling through my Instagram feed, why would my time with God be any different?

Our attention is so often misplaced, refracted by the prism of technology into infinite beams of distraction–red inboxes, blue newsfeeds, yellow snaps, and rainbows of images–all stealing my ability to focus on just. one. thing.

The habits we allow to rule the majority of our lives will naturally spill over into the times we set aside to intentionally grow in our faith and relationship with God.  If I lose my literacy by skimming online articles and headlines, my ability to read the Bible suffers as well.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Luke and I often remind each other of this quote from Blaise Pascal. The bad news is that it’s harder than ever nowadays to be quiet and alone. The good news is that replacing the rituals of distraction with intentional attention will not only make being quiet before God more natural, it will smooth out some other wrinkles in the rhythm of life.

And sure enough, when we begin to prioritize thinking over texting and listening over “liking”, we find our problems smaller, our hearts calmer, and our minds clearer.

Living in Russia without a traditional 9-5 grind has provided me with the opportunity for more mental space.  This fall, I’m going to focus on growing my attention span and creating rituals of reticence throughout my day.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on misplaced stuff (not the lost luggage variety) next week! Same place, same time.  You can sign-up for an e-mail notification in the box below.


Sales 101

I’m on a mission. A mission to find the best social media publishing, monitoring, and analytics tool out there. Countless hours of searching, spreadsheet compiling, and sales calls later and I’ve decided that the perfect solution doesn’t exist. However, I learned some valuable sales tips along the way.

  1. Do your research but don’t be creepy. Every good salesperson LinkedIn stalks before calling a prospect. I’ve seen my profile up on a tab during demo screen shares many a time and I appreciate the due diligence. However, asking extremely detailed questions about my interests is unprofessional. Questions like, “When was the last time you went mountain biking?” and “Where exactly do you live?” just aren’t necessary and a waste of both of our time.

I reached out for information, not a new best friend.

2. Do e-mail before calling. I don’t have Caller ID on my desk phone, so I’ll always pick it up. It’s frustrating to be interrupted in the middle of a project so please try to do most of your communication via e-mail first. With the advent of Inbox Zero, a lot of us do actually respond to most e-mails.
3. Don’t ask for sensitive information over the phone. Love it or hate it, the open office is a reality for most professionals nowadays. If you ignored #2 and called me anyways, there’s a good chance everyone in my department can hear what I’m saying on the phone. Asking for sensitive information about my company or budget puts me in an awkward position and won’t get you closer to the sale.
4. Do have an awesome accent and keep it short. The 2 best sales calls I had in this entire process were from Sendible and Buffer. Sendible is based out of the UK and the salesperson had the best accent ever. Maybe faking a British accent isn’t for everyone, but what really sold me on him (and maybe his product) was that he was honest and upfront about the strengths and weaknesses of the product (see #5). I’ve been a huge fan of Buffer’s culture and personality for a while, so I wasn’t surprised that their sales call was quick, informative, and not the least bit awkward.
5. Don’t avoid giving information to focus on the sale. When I take the effort to reach out for more information or a demo, that’s actually what I want. Information, not a sales pitch. There’s nothing more infuriating than asking a specific question (Does your service provide xyz?) and getting a pitch for another feature returned.
6. Don’t belittle the gatekeeper. I get it. I’ve gone through Sales 101. You are trained to ask if there’s someone else involved in the decision making process. I know you’re eager to get to whoever holds the purse strings, but the reality is, you’ll probably never talk to him. The gatekeeper (aka me) who is doing the research will make the proposal of which company to use. If you want to be in that presentation, stop worrying about talking to someone who doesn’t have the time and focus on the one who is actively seeking your product out.

Not only did my research give me valuable insights on what makes a great sales call, I also learned a lot about social media platforms and how hard it is to pick one. I’ve got some helpful tools up my sleeves for other social media specialists in the same boat–stay tuned!

This article was originally shared on LinkedIn. You can find it (and other social media/professional related writings) on my profile.

Insta This.

There have been some pretty great mockeries of the Instagram facade lately.  Like when Barbie when hipster and this girl decided to cut out the cropping. Personally, I’ve been tempted to create a satire of my own, showing the moments that truly encapsulate my day: red brake lights, my empty coffee mug, the dirty dishes that NEVER END.

It’s not news to anyone that our Instagram and Facebook feeds are rarely indicative of reality.  And that’s okay.  We turn to social media as a way to escape from the real world of traffic and messy kitchens.  What worries me isn’t the fact that your albums are full of happy photos and inspirational quotes.  What worries me is that everyone’s albums are full of the same happy photos and inspirational quotes.

My Instagram feed is starting to look like a really good set of stock photos.  Cute feet, artful lattes, the latest book.  Since moving across the country, I’ve become a much more avid consumer of social media.  I like seeing what my friends and family are up to.  But nowadays, I can’t tell if those legging-clad feet in adorable saddle-back shoes belong to my childhood neighbor, high school acquaintance, college soulmate, or dad. Minus that last one, I’m missing what used to be the backbone of social media: connection.

Don’t get me wrong.  The photos are gorgeous.  I just want to see more of you in them.

Until next rant,

So there’s this new drug called Facebook…..

Facebook Anti-AdHello. My name is Chloe Smiley and I am addicted to Facebook. This addiction has afflicted an entire generation. I know several friends who have reached a point of no return. You know the part of all of those medicine commercials that list off all the potential side effects? And if you listen closely you start to wonder…why in the world would I take medicine that might kill me just so my legs stop feeling restless? It really doesn’t add up. The same goes for facebook (see, I wasn’t completely off topic). We are so easily impressed by the flashing images before our eyes that we stop hearing the side effects. So I am going to spell them out (cue images of happy people walking through fields of flowers to distract you)
1. Tendency to walk through life seeing it through the eyes of “ooh! that could be a good status” This has been reported to cause fatal narrow mindness and inability to enjoy life for what it is instead of enjoying life for the status it could inspire.
2. Leads to fatal self-centeredness. Many people have found that facebook leads one to base self-affirmation in number of comments, likes, friends, wall posts, etc…. Once reality hits, these empty affirmations will hurt you more than a denied friend request ever could.
3. Abnormal behavior and seizures when denied access. Life seems empty and meaningless with Farmville.
4. No longer able to communicate with friends face to face. People with this side effect often try to link things to their friends in the real world, only to recieve weird looks. Also leads to attempts to comment on others conversations resulting in the unsavory titles of “evesdropper” and “creeper”

5. Unexplainable urge to poke people as a form of interaction. The results when one finds others do not think poking is endearing can be disastoursous.

6. Inability to go on the internet/do homework/fulfill responsibilities/pet your dog/eat……..without checking facebook first. These distorted priorities will catch up with you and the resulting chaos will provide the perfect sympathy evoking status. Lucky you.


Some claim that the benefits of facebook (being friends with people you don’t know, seeing events that you weren’t invited to) far outweigh these side effects. Don’t let the pretty pictures fool you.


This is only the beginning but I can’t finish this post now…I need to go post this on my facebook.