An expat’s view: How joining Vine helps me celebrate humankind

Have you tried Vine yet? It’s the video answer to Instagram and Twitter. And in the tradition of most starting-out social media platforms, when I heard all the buzz about it, I could only react with, why?

Vine was iOS-only for a while, and this week joined the Android world. So yesterday I downloaded it.

First I scrolled through ten or so of the videos in my feed. Some were actually kinda moving; others were just lame. Kinda like Instagram. Or Twitter.

Hours later, I saw an opportunity to video something. Within 6 seconds of my half-Australian two-year-old daughter singing Waltzing Matilda, I uploaded my first Vine.

That evening, in a fit of boredom, I went back to Vine. I scrolled through my newsfeed, and then ventured out via hashtags. I saw everything – from the creatively executed #loop, to cheesy #magic, to the requisite #selfie.

I found myself fascinated in a way I’ve never felt through a social media experience before: I felt… connected, instantly, deeply, to total strangers. It must be something about video; Instagram makes photos of anything beautiful. Twitter makes joining conversations easier.

But video accomplishes something else. Even if it’s 6 seconds. There’s something about Vine, where you actually feel the person behind the camera. You hear them. In many cases, you see them or their friends. You view the animated world through their eyes. You see how people look, hear how they sound, take in their surroundings.

And taking it a little further… I’ll admit. The lonely expat it in me felt… connected. Opened to the rest of the world. Even if, to be honest, it’s mostly Americans I was watching on Vine. It was familiar. It was foreign. It was, for a second, like I could imagine being there, involved in the culture again.

After seeing dozens of 6 second clips, I started to imagine the possibilities once this spreads further around the world… After reading up on some of Coke’s global Happiness campaign, you really get this powerful feeling the world can be connected. It is, but it can be even more. We can have access to people we never dreamed of ever understanding.

In my conflict management degree, one of my biggest takeaways was contact theory. To interact with The Other is to begin to break down walls.

I find that to be true in every aspect of life.

Imagine all that from a ‘superficial’ social media platform.

How Etgar Keret began his writing career [VIDEO]

As I’m not shy to have already said a few times, I’m a huge fan of Etgar Keret.

His use of slang, the length of his stories, and the depths he goes to make you feel at once like your heart has been stepped on while giving you a good laugh…

Here’s the video from the Israel Presidents Conference where Keret talks about his introduction to writing. I really enjoyed this panel on what makes Israeli artists tick, possibly the most out of any other I went to at the conference last week.

It’s not the first time I heard Keret’s story but it puts the same smile on my face every time I hear it. Especially in his lovable accented English.

Where Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things Are.

Loved this interview with Maurice Sendak, author/illustrator galore. Dude’s got attitude, like little Max.

“Herman Melville said that artists have to take a dive… and either you hit your head on a rock and you split your skull and you die, OR, that blow to the head was so inspiring you come back up and do the greatest work you ever did. BUT you have to take the dive.”

Best line:

“People say, why didn’t you do Wild Things II? Wild Things I was such a success… Go to hell. Go to hell. I’m not a whore. I don’t do those things.”

You got it, Maurice.

H/t Ahoova

A look at photojournalism, in meta.

This is really interesting. It’s a photojournalist examining other photojournalists examining their target, which is the Palestinian-Israeli story (which isn’t really the point).

The reality behind the zoomed-in reality.

By the way, whoever posted the video is not the creator himself so the YouTube title takes it in a more political direction than I think it’s meant to be.

What it’s like to get a mortgage in Israel.

…or anything at all from an Israeli government branch, bank, organization, supermarket, public toilet… I could go on.

Doesn’t it feel good to know that this level of bureaucracy exists all over the world, and not just here?

I do plan to post advice and checklist for navigating the home-buying and mortgage-obtaining process here in Israeli banks and government offices. Just a couple more steps for our own deal and then I’ll feel comfortable saying we actually did it… Tfu, tfu tfu.

Israel medical aid in Japan. Also, please let go.

Here’s a feel-good video from the IDF blog featuring the IDF medical team in Japan right now, helping in the damage zones. Apparently Israel’s medical team was the first foreign aid to set up a mobile hospital in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.

It’s really nice to see IDF footage shared in a positive light, even if it’s from their own blog. When it comes to foreign aid in crisis, Israel has really proven itself in past years (Haiti, anyone?).

But one thing I can’t – ahem – shake off: Why is Dr. Ofir Cohen-Marom, the commander of the medical force in Japan, holding the Japanese Foreign Minister’s hand for that long?! So full of good will and emotion, as you can see. But if I was that woman I’d be like, uh, you let go now.


It Gets Better, Jew.0 (have to share, and keep sharing).

The It Gets Better Project, a series of videos by famous and non-famous people coming out on being hopeful for LGBT teens, has been catching attention around the social media corners I hang out in.

But I wonder if, aside from the teens who need the support, the misguided/hateful/ignorant people at the core of the problem are watching the videos?

Well, either way, visual expression of the optimism that it gets better – by those who have been there – is definitely crucial.

The following is an ‘it gets better’ video done by a group of gay Orthodox Jewish guys. I have to admit a couple of their faces and names are extremely familiar from my New York life. But the Jewish world is so small and connected that even if you don’t know them, chances are you know someone who they remind you of.

I can’t imagine the kind of strength and courage it took for them to do this. I think we owe it to their courage to watch the video and pass it along – to the ones we know who need it, and to the ones we know who aren’t understanding or accepting it, but hopefully one day will.