January 10, 2017

What I Learned from Being an Elephant Journal Apprentice.

In the Elephant Academy, an apprentice learns (among other things) the Social Media, the Journalism, the Editing, and the Ethics. And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I didn’t care about any of those things.

“Why not social media?”

Well, people spend too much time on it.


Yeah, I don’t want to edit other people’s stuff.


Well, I’m not saying the Fourth Estate has no value (of course it has value), but I believe that most people need to spend less time worrying about world events they have no control over, and spend more time taking care of their mental and physical and financial health.


I’ve spent almost four years of my life helping poor and disabled children. I have enough ethics.

“Journalism Ethics?” 


And now that I know these things, I feel better! Because the remaining answer to the what-I’d-prefer-to-do-with-my-life question—”Be a serious-seeming literary person, or journalist, like Orwell!”—is dead.

And now the only remaining answer to the question, “What would I, Paul, enjoy doing for a living?” is make jokes.

And this realization process started early, when we began learning how to make ele-articles look sexy on Facebook!

Take, for example, the following article I chose to share on Facebook:

It’s titled, “Why We Can’t Fill our Holes with Somebody Else’s Love.” And it has an important message, one still not comprehended by many. It’s a message that could save thousands—millions!—from entering horrible relationships! Which sometimes lead to marriages of terror, foundations for broken families and cynicism-raising divorces, generating huge amounts of time and cash lost, which could have been spent on one’s own health, that ground with which, when firm, could lead its possessor to making sane judgements about romantic partners.

And because of this, I should probably share the article on an Elephant Facebook page in a way like:


Now, let us skip discussion on whether or not the photo and the words under it are any good. Just focus on the words I used to introduce the piece: “A message for we who are desperate for a lover.”

Look at the tone—the rhythm!—and the concision, which would totally grab romantics by the (eye)balls.

This sober intro’s saying, “This message is important and could save a billion lives.”

And…I just don’t want to share it like this.

Instead, my heart’s focused on that title:

“Why We Can’t Fill our Holes with Somebody Else’s Love.”

And my mind’s response: “Can you say that on Elephant?!”

“Is the title a double entendre on purpose?”

Well either way, it’s amazing! And I want to share it on every Facebook page in the world like this:

This is way more fun; it was fun writing the intro, and I think the reader might hold it in their heart for a second. The moments in my apprenticeship like that one, in which I had to decide between sounding like a wannabe professor, a member of the literati, or embracing my fun-loving side—well, there were many of these moments.

It got difficult pretending to be a serious journalist, especially when I was spilling beer on myself while taking photos at a Standing Rock protest.

And I suppose it also didn’t help that I have no profound message to share with the world, other than: “People should stop being big dicks to each other.” And I prefer setting an example anyway.

Really, I think explaining to people the value of not being a giant dick is nothing, unless the speaker’s walking their talk—or in my case, joking about dongs and then sharing my jokes with humans.

And that’s what I learned that was of benefit—for myself and (in the long run) for the world.

~ Paul

P.S. Oh! Also: The elephant journal staff asked us to journal upon waking up in the mornings and that has helped me lots, particularly on days off when I feel lazy and don’t wanna get out of bed. Journaling is easy to do. And after doing it for 10 minutes, I feel pumped to get out of bed and get things done!

This new habit may save me hundreds of hours in the long run!

Thank you, elephant journal! I will always remember you until I’m dead.




Author: Paul Fenoglio

Image: Instagram/elephant journal

Editor: Travis May

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