An image that shows what my move feels like

As most of you know by now, I am moving to Ithaca, NY in September. My husband has been offered the opportunity to do a PhD in physics at Cornell – I’m very proud of him and excited to start this new chapter of our life together.

As you can imagine, my emotions are all over the place, particularly now that we’re beginning to pack and say goodbye to people. I think this image best sums up some of what I’m currently going through. (The following image and text first appeared on Instagram.)

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“I have moved a lot in the last 13 years, and have had the privilege to live abroad for a bit more than half of them. My first time living out of the U.S. was in Senegal 11 years ago, when I studied there for my junior year abroad. I still have a few photos (this was before smartphones and at the very beginning of Facebook) and this: this little, Senegalese wicker basket. It’s never served much purpose beyond decoration. Now, as I’m packing up my husband’s and my place as we embark on moving to the U.S., I thought I could pack this little souvenir amidst some sheets. I guess I hadn’t touched it in years – upon contact, the threading started dusting off like flaky wax. Alas – getting to the age where some moments will only be able to live on in my memories. Without that year in Senegal, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to move to Israel.”

I appreciate all your love and support as we embark on this journey and I look forward to being in more touch with many of you.

Getting some Twitter love

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I was super flattered to see that Chris Schroeder, who wrote the groundbreaking book Startup Risingcompliment my most recent PolicyMic piece about women entrepreneurs in the Middle East. His book, which came out in August 2013, describes the tech revolution bubbling all over the MENA region.

Here’s the Tweet love fest:

 

Thanks again Chris for the Twitter love!

Facebook’s Look Back: Yay Family, Boo Bachelor

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I don’t know about your feeds, but partners, marriages, and children were by the far the most popular subjects from the Facebook 10th anniversary look back videos on my news feed. Although animals, trips, job announcements, and partying also featured prominently, it almost felt like your video didn’t have a narrative without the family-making progression. A friend of mine, who recently got divorced, commented “Facebook should automate a ‘look forward’ video for anyone who has changed their marital status.”

Also, all those political statuses people write are not that popular. The only political statuses I saw in the look back videos came from professional activists or warm statuses about gay marriage becoming legal.

Facebook, hats off to you. The mirror is striking.

And for transparency’s sake, here’s my video. I must say, it’s basically an account of my life before and after I met my boyfriend:

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What do you think of the look back videos?

How a surgery cured my friend’s mother of Parkinson’s symptoms

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My best friend’s mother, Darcy Blake, made an inspiring video about her battle with Parkinson’s. After five years of medications, her symptoms were progressing, including a heavy tremor on her left-hand side. She decided to pursue a surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation. The procedure implants a neurostimulator to target parts of the brain that control movement, such as tremors.

It’s amazing to see how effective the procedure was. On a personal note, I’m so grateful this surgery has given Darcy a new lease on life.

Recently, Darcy submitted this video The Neuro Film Festival, a contest by the American Brain Foundation to raise awareness through video about brain diseases. So please, watch this video and share it with your friends. Who knows-you may help someone with Parkinson’s in the process.

Tok about some news… some more ch-ch-ch-changes

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As you may have noticed, I have not written here in a while. I dropped off the radar a bit because of a new job opportunity, in addition to the Post. I started working as a content editor for Tok Social News Network, a venture capital-backed start-up that facilitates online discussions in a more visual, networked, and intelligent manner.

The comments platform is really cool, one of these things you’re surprised wasn’t thought of years ago. Rather than looking through tons of annoying, vertical comments on an article, the platform easily shows you who’s “tokking” and how folks weigh in on a topic. Because people sign in using Facebook, the participants are also much more respectful than the nightmares of most online comment sections.

For example, this Tok question is embedded within a news article:

Tok

And this is Tok’s Facebook application, a go-to for hot button news discussions on a daily basis.

Tok FB

It feels like a new media job. Rather than writing 1,000-word features, or choosing the layout of a monthly or weekly magazine, I’m mulling through the biggest stories on the web on a daily basis. I have to write pithy 80-character social media questions and 160-character discussion starters that provoke the most discussion possible. One of the biggest challenges is choosing the voting buttons, which need to elegantly partition the audience into camps on any issue – rarely just yes and no. Politics, guns, abortion, religion, sex, drugs…I get to write about all the fun stuff.

Up until now, I’ve been trying to develop areas of journalistic expertise, such as reporting on Israeli start-ups, social issues, etc. But at Tok, I help choose the most interesting stories to write about on Facebook from everywhere in the world. It’s a breath of fresh air and nicely complements my longer form magazine work.

How does all this affect my blog, you might be wondering (probably not, but it’s about the best way I can transition into this paragraph, 🙂 )? For example, I may bring the whole “Rating the news” section of this blog back from the dead, especially now that I’m reading so much news all the time. We’ll see…now that the cat is out of the bag, you can expect to hear from me more. Take care for now!

Photos and social media

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I suppose this should come as no surprise, but images seem to be way more popular on social media than text. Whenever I post a photo of somewhere I’ve been, or just a photo of an article I’ve written, I get a whole lot more “likes” than my regular, text-oriented posts.

For example I posted this photo, and it got a whole bunch of likes. It was just three words: “Old City spice.” I saw this impressive castle of spices while walking through the old city in Jerusalem and took a photo of it:

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Photos help make a message shorter: as they say, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So photos greatly aid social media because people like messages that are easy to absorb within the status update itself. If someone can understand something and like something within one or two sentences, that’ll produce way more likes than a lengthier post, or a post that links to content the reader must consume. This is why social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest have become so popular.

I’m going to admit that I’m not great with social media. Does anyone have tips for how to maximize social media’s impact, especially for those of us who are writers?

Cover of the Jerusalem Post Metro!

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The article I recently published about the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood in Haifa made it to the cover of the Jerusalem Post Metro!

Metro Cover- Haifa's Florentin

In addition to the whole cover story thing, I took the photo on the cover, as well as the photos in the article itself. This is the first time in my professional life that I’ve gotten paid for photos, so that was a nice experience.

Haifa's Florentin Article

Thanks everyone for your interest in my work and your support. It means a lot.

Next week I have at least one, if not a few stories coming out. Stay tuned.