“Cheaper by the Dozen” and the Tyranny of Technology

People of a certain age, or Turner Classic fans, may recall this 1950 film starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as the time-efficient parents of a dozen kids. In real life, Frank Bunker Gilbreth was a time and motion expert and his wife Lillian a psychologist who carried on his work after he died. The movie is based on a best-selling biographical novel by two of their children.

Good on them they got a movie deal out of the book, and a sequel followed as both a book and movie. Time management was the theme, and maybe they had a good agent and publicist to improve their prospects. Today, they would need that and a lot more. They would need a professionally-designed web site, a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, an Instagram account, maybe even Pinterest. They would have to feed these multiple “platforms” even as they tried to find time to attend to the main ask of writing.

Ah yes, writing. And, by the way, they would also have to find time to blog. All of this is wonderful, of course, using social media to market your product, words and phrases alien to so-called legacy journalists, like me.  If the Gilbreths were challenged to find time to raise 12 kids, lucky for them they didn’t also have to post periodic blogs, daily tweets and regular Facebook posts.

This, then, is the tyranny of technology.

Mail Chimp, anyone? I’m informed this is a great way to reach and engage with readers. But first a technologically-challenged writer must master the concept of an electronic “campaign” aimed at a database of  potential recipients. This is NOT writing. To me, this is techno-babble. But I bravely march forth into the darkness of my own ignorance. If I were an apartment-dwelling New Yorker, this is something I would probably ask the super to fix. I mean, no offense, but many of these renting New Yorkers can barely change a light bulb.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my drift.

So, resigned to this brave new world, how do I manage my time?  Once I’m done writing this,   I will tweet a link, which will then automatically also feed onto my Facebook page. But if I want the world to see this on Facebook, I will have to change the audience from “friends” to “public.” If things go as planned, my g-mail account will let me know when readers of this web site comment on the blog. So far that hasn’t happened, so I must check the web site regularly, a sometimes welcome distraction but a distraction nonetheless.

But, yes, I do want to “engage!”  That is a “keyword.”  I do want to become adept at Search Engine Optimization. I do want to know more about meta tags, templates and the like. And, I’ve learned, these are not just wants. These are needs!  Finally, I do want to – no, I need to – get back to work.  I’ve got deadlines to meet, a book to research, articles to write. Technology or no, the word’s the thing.



  1. Michael Dirda on October 17, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Dear Gene,
    What would happen if you didn’t do any of these things? ,Would it really be so bad?
    all best, michael

    • Gene Meyer on October 17, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Conventional wisdom is it would be. Of course, then, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  2. Ken Rossignol on October 17, 2016 at 11:59 am

    You just made yourself relevant to three-quarters of the population who never knew you existed. Now, they have to find you in the clutter. Congrats, you made the first big step to reach out from Geezer-land.

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