Micro Monday Transcript: Episode 77 with Natalie Hester

Listen to Micro Monday, Episode 77

Jean: It’s Micro Monday again, the weekly microcast where we get to know members of the Micro.blog community. I’m Jean MacDonald, the community manager Micro.blog. And on this episode, I’m very pleased to welcome Natalie Hester, who is nataliekayh, That’s Natalie K A Y H on Micro.blog. Hi, Natalie. How’s it going?

Natalie: It’s going all right. How are you? It’s going all right.

Jean: I think you and the listeners will be able to hear I’m getting at least some edge of that crud, winter crud. And honestly, I can’t complain because I’ve gotten through a lot of the season so far, pretty healthily so. Oh, good. You need to do my part to support the tea industry. And that’s what I’m doing now.

Natalie: Great. We all appreciate that.

Jean: Well, so, Natalie, before we dive into some of our topics, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Natalie: Sure. So I am Natalie and I live in Austin, Texas, and I’m a new mom. I have an almost 9 month old. She’ll be 9 months next week. And I am currently going to start a new job tomorrow, actually. Really? Wow. Yeah. So, yeah, I had I lined up the the new job with the holidays, so I got to take two weeks off. And now I’m about to start a brand new job tomorrow. So.

Jean: Wow, that’s exciting. That’s quite good timing for the new year.

Natalie: Yeah, exactly. I’m probably one of the least tech savvy people you’ve ever interviewed. I don’t even have a computer right now.

I do everything on my phone and. Well, it’s I usually rely on my work laptop. I’ve I’m a job. They don’t have I don’t have a computer. So. Well, yeah, I mean, I’m an academic fundraiser, which means that I go out and ask for money for universities.

Jean: Oh, that’s a good job and a good cause. Good for you. I know you. You must be quite in demand as well. I know from my fund fundraising days that people are always looking for somebody who is good at that.

Natalie: Oh, were you a fundraiser?

Jean: Well, I started a nonprofit in the early part of the 2010s or whatever in 2013, which called App Camp for Girls to teach girls had to make iPhone apps.

Natalie: Oh, cool.

Jean: It was it was great. I mean, I really enjoyed doing it for about four years. And then I realized that I it just it was one of those things where you’re way more successful than you imagined, like. And it’s it’s a good thing. But it’s also problematic because I thought it was going to be a hobby and it turned into a full job, and so I worked for four years unpaid.

We had a board, of course as an official nonprofit organization. And they went on to work with some professional executive directors and then in 2019 it reached a point where they decided it was not really sustainable, the model that we had, and that we would further our mission more to look for an organization that could keep our values and use our resources. We were burning out all of our mostly unpaid volunteer staff.

Natalie: Oh, really? That’s great. That’s really admirable. My goodness. Don’t edit that out.

I will also say that I have definitely learned a lot about the nonprofit and the fundraising areas. I was very, very grateful for the amazing support that we got and we did a lot. Then at our peak, we had six sessions, summer sessions. It was a summer camp, and we held one-week summer camp in five different cities.

And we really did have girls building iPhone apps and putting them on to devices and and then putting those little apps into the App Store. So that is a lot of work for a mostly unpaid team. I came from software development, marketing, and I just missed being, you know, I had become a camp director when I really I am more of a tech consultant. And so, yeah, I had already decided to move on when Manton started Micro.blog. And I read about it and I said, I think I would be really good community manager.

And then it turns out I was right. And Manton was right to agree with me.

Natalie: And yeah, that’s a great variety of experiences. Yeah, really cool.

Jean: So that’s that’s how I got here. But what about you?

Natalie: So. Well, I’ve already mentioned that I’m not very tech savvy. I have a job. It really takes me out and talking to people all the time. So you know that from your nonprofit days. I work for a mission that’s larger than myself. And I go out and I talk to people all day long. If I’m in my office, I’m not doing my job correctly.

And so I’ve been on social media forever. I joined before I got into college. So I’m a millennial. And so I’ve been on it for a really long time. And I have this really great friend whose name is Drew. And he started doing these gratitude posts on Facebook. And he every day he posted and he said what he was thankful for and what he was looking forward to. And I think he may have started it actually in January 2019 and kept it up all year long. I guess this time last year, I was entering my third trimester of pregnancy, which I just was the most anxious and scared, partially depressed, pregnant, pregnant person. Bringing a person into this world is no easy feat. And people don’t typically talk about it, that social media is not always the most encouraging place to go when you’re in it.

So Drew, we’re not actual friends, we’re I guess we’re “acquaintances-plus.” I don’t really see him that often. He lives on the other side of Austin. I see him at parties. You know, with Facebook, you just friend people so that was our connection. And I just loved following these gratitude posts because sometimes he was just like looking forward to going to lunch. Yeah, I guess sometimes I’m just looking forward to going to lunch. So then he posted in September or October and said, “I’m leaving Facebook.” And honestly, I had been thinking about leaving Facebook, but following him, I thought “I need to stick around and I really like reading Drew’s posts. And then he said he was leaving. So I immediately e-mailed him, “What are you doing? Where are you going?” And he said, “I’m starting a Micro.blog.” And I had no idea what that was, but I was so thankful to have an option, you know, if I were to leave Facebook.

So it was obvious. It honestly took me a little while to figure it out. Yes. Even now, I’m probably just maybe touching a tip of the iceberg. Yeah, there’s probably much more functionality, but I’m not even taking advantage of because I access it on my phone and I just log on every day. And I have since I think October pretty consistently, I think I’ve missed a couple of days. But I log on and say when I’m thanksful for and when I’m looking forward to. And then every once in a while . I’ll put a picture up or something.

I think I just really wanted to kind of document this really important time in my life where I am taking care of a baby. She’s she’s wonderful. Her name is Aria. She was born in April. And every day is so different. And at the very beginning, if I had started this in April, I probably would have posted “I’m looking forward to the next time I can sleep for more than an hour” or something. And so now it’s more about like documenting what the heck’s going on in my life because so much of my life revolves around another person right now. And so that’s kind of how I got to Micro.blog. I was a long winded answer, I know.

Jean: It was a good one. That’s really interesting because I quit Facebook last year myself and there were definitely people I was sorry I wasn’t going to see their stuff anymore. But, you know, in general, it just was it was too much mental overhead. Plus, I’m working at this company where we have the opposite philosophy. Yes. And it was just too much cognitive dissonance to go in there every day. I liked your micro blog because you had a commitment to this this notion of the gratitude journal. And there were also some baby pictures thrown in that are just adorable.

So one of the things I thought was interesting when you when you replied to my email was you wrote, “Oh, I’m surprised. I didn’t know anybody was reading my microblog.” And I’m thought, “Really?” So that would be interesting to talk about because, it’s sort of the opposite of a lot of responses I get, which is people want to know who is reading their microblog. Micro.blog does have a different kind of setup. We don’t we don’t list who your followers are. We don’t post follower accounts or retweets or even likes. So in order to know that somebody is following you or appreciating your posts, that person has to reply to you.

And I then realized like, oh, I probably never replied and said, “oh, cute, adorable baby.” And, maybe that would have freaked you out!

And let me explain another thing, which is that one of my jobs at Micro.blog is curating what we call the Discover timeline, which is a timeline that shows various posts from a whole cross-section of users, and a cross-section of topics because it’s kind of hard to find people at Micro.blog. We don’t actually make it super easy because that’s part of our plan as well. One of the problems with social media is people can track you down and abuse you, so we have it set up so you kind of have to know who you’re looking for to find them. And there’s no hashtags or anything like that.

So there’s no big dog piling on somebody because they said something that outraged the other readers. So far, anyway, we’ve managed to create a space that is relatively safe for people to just express themselves. So the Discover timeline is a way to see people you are not following that I pull out of everything that comes in, and you know, a lot of stuff that gets posted in our system is is pure B.S. crap, whatever.

Anyway, so I do read all the posts or actually skim them. Oh, so I’ve been seeing yours and I have definitely added some to Discover. So some people have been reading you, but also apparently maybe a gratitude journal is like something that people are like, OK, you know, like I read that, I’m glad, that’s a good point. I’m looking forward to lunch as well.

So you are basically doing a gratitude journal for yourself. But it is a public thing. I hope you realize that.

Natalie: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s fine. I think actually it’s funny that you mention the like how hard it is to find someone else. Like I’ve noticed that when I searched when I went into Discovery, I’ve done at least that and there were themes I think, and like almost all of them are ball sports related. I’m honestly more interested in finding other moms. Yeah.

Jean: Because there are definitely other items. There are more than ball sports. Unfortunately, depending on how you accessed that Discover timeline and when we had it sort of rotating like showing three icons. And honestly, I know this community probably better than anybody, and I know we’re not really a bunch of jocks at all.

I’ll put a link to all the tag with what we call tag motif, which are OK because we don’t have hashtags, but we decided to go with like these sort of themes with with emoji text instead and all of the ones that are available.

But one of the ones we don’t have, like we have cats and dogs, but we don’t have children, you know.

Natalie: And I was thinking you really just know your constituents.

Jean: There are a lot of children, though, and a lot of people are very proud of their kids. And that is basically it. I don’t know if it’s like the old fashioned newspaper ethos, but I definitely your post is a picture of your cat or your dog or your kid, I add it to the main Discover timeline because I think cats and dogs and kids pictures make a lot of people smile.

Natalie: It’s one of the reasons why I have the Micro.blog and not like a journal next to my bed. You know, reading Drew’s Gratitude Journal, which he has his own Micro.blog.

Yes, I know. I noticed. I wondered if you two knew each other. You’re both doing it in the same format.

Natalie: Yeah. And then there’s also like Casey Hunt, he does his own thing. I think reading Drew’s posts really kind of changed my attitude a little bit because, not to say that I’m like waking up in a different mood, but just kind of having that moment where I have to think about what I’m thankful for. And there are definitely days when I’m not feeling very grateful for anything. And so I think that’s why I think back to Drew’s post where he’s like, I’m just really looking forward to lunch. And I’m like, I’m really looking forward to washing my hair. Like it doesn’t overglamorize, especially at this point with a nine month old who’s like learning how to crawl, which means that she’s getting into everything like that. Right. I’m looking forward to taking a shower.

Jean: And I’m actually looking at Casey’s Micro.blog now. And he’s grateful on December 10th for flour tortillas.

Natalie: See? Yeah.

Jean: Actually, I feel we need a we need an emoji like, you know, thankful hands and.

Natalie: Oh, yeah.

Jean: People who do a gratitude journal usually use the word grateful or gratitude and we could probably automate it.

Natalie: Oh yeah. I think I usually say I’m thankful. I try not to get too formulaic about it. I’m just like, “Okay what am I thinking about right now?” I wrote about you today. I don’t know if you saw it. And then, you know, I was interviewing for a job at one point. I’m looking forward to this job interview, but I knew it was public. So I wrote, “I’m looking forward to a really intense discussion today.” So sometimes you have to be a little cryptic.

Jean: Yeah, this is great. Honestly, it’s inspired me, because I’ve tried to do it before and I’ve kept like little lists, but I like this formula of, you know, I’m thankful for this thing and I’m looking forward to another thing. Because if I give myself a little time to think about it, I don’t think I would have a day where I can’t come up with anything.

Natalie: Well you’re looking forward to a meal or like finishing up work, there’s always something. And then, you know, I think sometimes I’ll wake up and I’m like, oh, my gosh, my body hurts because, you know, I’ve been like chasing after a baby here because I’m still nursing and she’s getting violent now or whatever. And I’m just like and I’m so thankful for a body that hurts.

Jean: It’s definitely a community where there’s a lot of people who are in tune with this approach to thinking about their their circumstances in the world. I’m thankful that my voice held out this long. And I think we should probably wrap this up. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Natalie: I do think that there is value in and trying out a gratitude journal approach, even just for a couple days, maybe even a week. It really has kind of changed the way that I think about my day. I think it’s so easy to kind of get stuck and kind of especially this time of year when it’s cold and it’s dark. It’s kind of nice to take a moment and live in the moment and think about like, okay, right now, what can I appreciate and what can I share? And then what am I actually looking forward to?

Jean: Well, that’s really good. I think people will appreciate that insight. And I really want to thank you, Natalie, for being here on the podcast today. And listeners. If you want to follow Natalie on Micro.blog and her gratitude journal, there’s a link in the show notes. Thanks for listening. And we’ll talk to you next week.

Listen to Micro Monday, Episode 77

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