All Good Things Must Come To An End

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It seems like ages ago when I was desperately searching on the UNC-Chapel Hill’s online bulletin trying to find an interesting course to take in the Journalism school for the 2014 spring semester.  I needed to fulfill a few requirements, but I wanted to take a class that was fun and enjoyable. That is when I stumbled upon Journalism 240: Current Issues in Mass Communication. Being a public relations major, this class seemed interesting.  Isn’t it important for a PR major to know what is prevalent in the world of mass communication? I mean, a large part of public relations is serving as a channel of communication between the general public and your employer. Therefore, it is important to know how you can use mass communication in order to strengthen that communication channel.  In addition, I looked at the reviews for the class and talked to several of my journalism peers who had taken it in the past. For the most part, it seemed like it was a good class. So, I thought, why not give it a try?

Before registering for the class, however, I realized that I might not get in based on my registration time (all my college peers reading this, you feel my pain).  Therefore, to guarantee myself a slot, I e-mailed the professor who would be teaching the course. Enter John Robinson…a passionate, dedicated, and witty UNC-CH professor who served as editor for News and Record in Greensboro, N.C.  Upon receiving my e-mail, Professor Robinson quickly responded asking me why I wanted to be in the class.  Essentially he wanted me to prove to him I was a qualified and driven student.  Unlike many professors who respond almost exactly the same way…

“Thank you for your e-mail.  I cannot help you at this time.  Please monitor the class seat availability.” 

….Professor Robinson wanted to know why I was interested in the class.  He wanted to see me use my brain.  He was curious about my thoughts.  And to this day, I swear he was also testing out to see how much I would brown-nose him…isn’t that right Professor?  Regardless, it was an unexpected response and I took full advantage to share my own reasons as to why I wanted to take the class.

Well, I did get into JOMC 240! End of story, right? No, wrong!

If Professor Robinson’s original email wasn’t odd enough, a few weeks after registering for spring classes, I got another e-mail from him.  This time he had sent out a mass e-mail to the entire class offering extra credit for those who responded to him with what they wanted to learn in the course.  Okay, two things came out of this.  1) Any time you see the words EXTRA CREDIT in college, you should go hug a tree, call your momma, or run around in your PJs singing “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.   2) My professor had just asked me what I wanted to learn in the course.  Normally, professors create a curriculum purely based on their own self-interest.  Instead, Professor Robinson was curious as to what I wanted to get out of the course.  Gracious, I should have known then…he was not an ordinary professor.

Consequently, I came to the first class of the semester expecting the unexpected.  The class met once every Monday for 3 hours.  What could we possibly talk about for 3 hours straight?  I myself was hesitant in the beginning.  Yet, I quickly learned that when you are in a class with Professor Robinson, anything is possible.  Right away Professor Robinson dived into interesting topics discussing “Kranzberg’s 1st law, privacy on the internet, targeted advertising to consumers, virtual reality, and future technological trends.”  And every single class was an open discussion.  Professor Robinson did not lecture us…instead, he made us talk.  He forced us to speak our minds, he wanted us to form our own opinion.  It was fantastic!

*As a disclaimer, I am a huge talker and find discussion based classes much more meaningful than classes where the teacher just lectures us from a slide show presentation.

Anyway, Professor Robinson introduced to me the idea that mass communication encompasses just about 99% of our daily lives. It amazed me how little I had ever considered this concept.  In our everyday lives, mass communication influences us in some form or another.

Enter in blogging and our assignment to blog about anything related to mass communication.  Professor Robinson asked us blog at least 3 times a week.  Essentially, he wanted us to expose ourselves on the internet.  At first I was unsure about this.  I mean, I didn’t even know how to manage a proper blog.  However, roughly +45 posts later, I have learned a thing or two.

1.  Blogging is a great way to form an opinion and voice your opinion.  At times I was often unsure how to tackle controversial articles I had read and wanted to talk about.  However, blogging enabled me to create my own discussion and communicate my own thoughts and ideas.  Although I was 10 times more vulnerable on the internet every time I posted, I was free to write whatever I wanted.  It was exhilarating!

2.  Blogging about mass communication reemphasized the lessons I had learned in class.  Mass communication is everywhere!  It plays a role in everything.  Therefore, the more knowledgeable we are in mass communication, the better communicators we will be in the world.  Those who are mass communication savvy will advance amongst the rest.  Mass communication is the future, and we must be prepared for it.

In addition, to parallel our class discussions and blogs, for our finals Professor Robinson asked us to predict the future of mass communication.  The assignment was this: we were to pick one area in which mass communication played a role and predict how mass communication will affect it 10 years down the road.  Like most of our assignments in the class, Professor Robinson gave us full reign to pick whatever we wanted and present it however we liked.  Being a Political Science and Public Relations double major, I decided to take a tackle social media’s influence on political campaigning.  As promised in my previous posts, I would publish my video on my blog.  So, here it is!  Please keep in mind that I am in PR, not multimedia…I did try my best.

As the title of this post states, all good things must come to an end.  Sadly, as I turned in my project to Professor Robinson today, I had to say good-bye to JOMC 240.  However, thank you Professor Robinson for making it an amazing class.  Your class taught me the importance of mass communication, the value in blogging, and the essential skill of voicing my own opinion.  From our chats after class, to our conversations on Twitter…I have thoroughly enjoyed being your student.  It goes without saying, I will definitely be keeping in touch!  To all my 240 peers, best of luck on your bright futures ahead.  I know each of you will go off and do remarkable things in the world of mass communication.  And finally, as for my blog…I do plan to continue posting!

Until then, Rachel

Ohhh…and one last thing…GO HEELS!!!!!!

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The Ethics of Photojournalism

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I would like to give credit where credit is due. Often at times I believe we, as news media consumers, do not appreciate journalists and their perseverance and commitment when capturing good stories. In fact, we are often critical of journalists when we feel they might cross ethical lines to tell a story. Yet, they are the first people we blame when we are not fully informed. It is no walk in the park to be a journalist, to say the least.

That in mind, I have a story to share. I recently came across an article that grabbed my attention for its bravery, and also controversy. On April 14th, Tyler Hicks, a staff photographer for the New York Times, earned a Pulitzer for breaking news photography during a terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. He was awarded “for his compelling pictures that showed skill and bravery in documenting the unfolding terrorist attack.”  This is just one of many pictures taken by Hicks.

Here is Hicks’ story:

On September 21, 2013, at least 16 armed assailants from the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabab attacked the Westgate. The terrorists lobbed grenades and fired automatic weapons into a crowd of weekend shoppers, holding many hostage. After a four-day assault, at least 67 people were killed and more than 170 were injured.

Hicks, who lives in Nairobi, was at the local frame shop that sits adjacent to the mall when he heard the commotion and went over to investigate.  At the time, Hicks only had small camera with him, which he always carries just in case.  His best images were taken from his small camera.  However, he said that his wife, Nichole Sobecki, who is also a photojournalist, brought him his professional camera later.

Hicks said in an interview with the New York Times: ” When I left the framing shop, I could see right away that there was something serious going on, because there were lots of people running away from the mall. I ran over there and within minutes I could see people who had been shot in the leg or stomach from what appeared to be small arms fire being helped by other civilians. This went on for about 30 minutes.”

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Hicks later said: “From the beginning I wanted to get with some security forces inside the mall. We managed to find an entrance where people who were hiding inside the mall were coming out. We ran into that service entrance and we hooked up with some police who let us stay with them as they did security sweeps.  I had a clear view in there. I could see that there were multiple bodies lying dead in the mall, some lying together just next to where they were having lunch at a cafe. It seemed everywhere you turned there was another body.”

After two hours with the police in the mall, Hicks came out to a devastating scene of unarmed civilians who had been shot and were severely injured, a lot in need of medical attention.  Many of Hicks’ photos consisted of shots taken with the mall of dead bodies and the police searching for the shooters.  However, Hicks also took pictures of those injured on the streets.

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So here is where the controversy lies…

Many individuals praised Hicks for his bravery to enter the dangerous mall, put his life at risk, and capture an unfolding story through the lens of a small camera.  However, many others also argued that Hicks crossed an ethical boundary.  Instead of helping shot civilians, who were being dragged out by the police, Hicks chose to photographically document the story…capturing death, destruction, and torment.  Upon winning the Pulitzer, individuals committed on news articles covering his story, such as the New York Times and The Week.  Over 50% of the commits praised Hicks for his courage, dedication, and photography skill.  However, other commits were not as positive.

Here are some pulled from the New York Times:

Westgate Survivor said: “‘Combat photography’ now appears to have become a pawn for terrorist organizations, because whether Mr. Hicks realizes it or not, that’s all he was that day. Driven by his own interests, he unwittingly played such a crucial role in chronicling the horror that so many of us in that mall felt while the attack was ongoing, that if terrorist organizations had a PR award, Mr. Hicks would certainly qualify. This is not profound photojournalism, it is pure sensationalism with a strong whiff of self-promotion.”

Kenyan said: “Dear Mr Hicks, your photojournalist skills are commendable. But you evidently did not extend empathy and professional ethics to the loved ones of these dear and brutally slain Kenyans. Did you pause to ask, what if that was my brother, my sister or my friend? I suppose not. What is done is done, you cannot undo your callous display. I wish you peace of mind in the days to come, you will need it.”

Evelyn said: “I truly have mixed feelings about this. If I were one of the survivors, and my picture was floating around, how would I feel? To know that something horrible and deadly was happening in the mall would be enough news. Great photos, but necessary? I am entitled to my opinion!!”

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So two important questions to Hicks’ story, and so many other photojournalist and journalist like Hicks, are this: To what extent is it okay to photographically document explicit images of death and torture?  In addition, do photojournalists have a moral obligation to drop their camera and assist in such catastrophes or can they document from the sidelines?

These two questions are difficult to answer and will vary based on who you ask.  Even in my own Media Ethics class last semester, my professor could not fully give us a definite answer.  It remains to be answered whether or not ethical standards should be placed on journalists, such as photojournalist, who are simply trying to capture a story and not sugar-coat the horror.  Basically it is a matter if the general public should know the full story or carefully be handed a G-rated version of the story.

What do you think?

In my personal opinion, as long as photojournalist is given consent to use such photos, I think it is right to expose the world of the outrageous tragedies that occur everyday.  I believe censoring photos to the general public does not help educate individuals of what is really going on.  Photos are worth a thousands of words….why not use them?

Good jobs Hicks, your photos spoke wonders to me and certainly captured my full attention!

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Twitter Dummies!

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I have blogged multiple times about the liability individuals acquire when they post or tweet anything on social media. It is not a hard concept to understand. You are responsible for what you put on the web, simple as that. That being said, I am convinced that there are people who do not understand such a basic notion. More so, I am convinced that these people just lack common sense.

Specifically on Twitter, I have read many articles and heard stories of individuals tweeting vulgar, offensive, and rude commits. Whether these individuals tag other people or simply subtweet, they are voicing their opinions and thoughts on social media (for the world to see).  Some would argue that everyone has a right to express their own views. Yet, no matter what you tweet, you must accept the consequences that may arise when you post anything on the web.  Therefore, when your tweet poses a threat to national security…that is where the line must be drawn.

Wait a tweet posed a threat to national security? Say what?

Yep, you heard correct.  Mashable recently posted an article reporting about “a 14-year-old girl from the Netherlands who was arrested on Monday, April 7th after tweeting a terror threat to American Airlines — and marveling at the Twitter followers that she attracted because of it.”

Here is what her tweet said and then American Airlines’ response:

Ohhhh Sarah! Come on girl…where is your brain???

As reported by Mashable, Sarah tweeted “using a Twitter account dedicated to the American pop star Demi Lovato.”  Following the response from American Airlines, Sarah then responded with several tweets about deleting her original tweet.  However, she also tweeted about receiving over 3k followers during her interaction with American Airlines.  In total, her tweets appeared to be nonchalant and almost boastful at her firework moment of fame.

Here are some of her tweets:

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 And if it couldn’t get any worse, Sarah later tweeted about blocking the FBI and mocking the need for legal representation.  What exactly she was thinking, I have no idea.  Needless to say, Sarah’s Twitter account was blocked upon further investigation.

This is just one of many examples of individuals tweeting without thinking.  Remember guys, once you post it online, it is out there to stay.  You cannot take back what you post, tweet, or even blog about.  Just as easy as it was for me to acquire screen shot versions of Sarah’s tweets, even if you do delete your activity, there are people on the web who track stories such as these and manage to save posts faster than you have time to remove them.

Moral of the story:  As I have stated in my previous blog posts, and what our parents have told us time and time again, we must be smart when we post on social media….or it might come back to haunt us.  Do not be another Sarah!

American-airlines

Social Media and International Politics

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As many of you are aware, I began this blog for my Mass Communication Theory class. I am in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC, specializing in Public Relations. In addition, I am also majoring in Political Science. That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging and being part of this JOMC class (and no, Professor Robinson, I am not at all brown-nosing).

In addition to blogging for this class, for my final, I have to research a topic relating to mass media and predict its influence 10 years down the road. Seeing that I love politics, and I am an avid social media user, I decided to research the effects of social media on U.S. presidential politic campaigns. I have done a lot of research specifically studying the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections. As of right now, I am in the process of creating a video that I will submit as my final project. Needless to say, if I can pull it off, I am very excited about my final!

Anyway, as I have continued to research, I came across an interesting article from CNN. The article discussed the recent use of social media for political campaigning in India. All this time I had been restricting my search, only addressing U.S presidential politics. However, truth be told, social media is a world-wide phenomenon and therefore is also a contributing factor in international politics.

Congress party supporters hold flags as they walk home after attending a rally for Rahul Gandhi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, April 12. India's general election is being held in stages over five weeks. Voters will elect 543 members to the lower house of parliament, which will then select the country's next prime minister. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is stepping aside after a decade in charge.

Similar to the U.S., India’s politicians are using social media to advance their internet presences, expand their voter outreach, and gain swing votes. “Social media has become the new election battleground for India’s nationwide parliamentary elections, which started Monday, April 7th. Having an official YouTube channel or an active Facebook page is now as important as holding mass rallies and plastering candidates’ faces on billboards.”

Many Indian candidates are using the 2012 U.S. presidential elections as an example to help generate their own social media campaigns. They also have established their own social media tactics. For instance, “more than three million Twitter followers of the Indian prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi received a personalized greeting from him. In addition, In another online campaign, supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were urged to donate a tweet or Facebook status to the newly formed anti-corruption party.”

It is in the best interest of these politicians to hire social media experts who can win the votes of India’s 200 million Internet users. Using social media saves time, money, and appeals to a younger audience who are often less educated in politics. These social media campaigns are not only being used as political promotions, but they are also creating conversation. It is a well-known fact that individuals feel more comfortable debating controversial issues online versus face to face. Having the computer serve as a protective barrier invites individuals, especially the youth, to state their own opinions and ideas. Therefore, using social media for political campaigning enables more people to participate in an open political discussion. Ultimately, the more who participate in these conversations, the more who are politically educated, and the more who feel obliged to vote. It really comes full circle.

But what about votes in more rural areas who do not have access to the Internet?

“Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, New Delhi-based independent political analyst, says that with the digital divide in India, the impact of online campaigns remains constrained. ‘Let’s not exaggerate the influence of social media to influence Indian society in general, and politics in particular,” he said. “One of four people in India has never used the Internet; they are just beginning to use a mobile. The impact, as of now, remains limited largely to urban areas and well-off sections of society.'”

Still, “the IAMAI report estimates there could be a vote swing of 3 to 4% in 24 states — states with significant numbers of Internet users. These could be young men or non-working women who are active social media users.” If anything, these new social media tactics are influencing voter demographic and inviting younger voters to participate in political campaigns.

And just why is it that social media draws in a larger voter participation base versus traditional political campaign tactics?

It is simple, they are fun! Social media allows for creativity…bright colors, catchy phrases, and witty humor.  Instead of boring politics, social media provides for more party politics, a source of entertainment. Candidates are tactfully meshing pop culture with political reporting and campaigning. And amidst our busy lives, social media is quick and easy to use. It is a win-win situation. We do not have time to read long presidential platforms. Instead, we can learn what we need to know via videos and blurbs posted on social media. If they are designed well, we then share them.  And with every share, candidates gain a transparent advantage, with little promotion besides posting. Social media does the work for the candidates. There is a less of an emphasis placed on self-promotion because social media can simply reach more people. This gives candidates a chance to focus their attention on other campaign outlets.

Who knew social media could play a role in politics…even internationally!

***As for my project…if you enjoyed this article, stay tune for my documentary in two weeks. I will likely post it on my blog.

Seniors in the Age of Techonology

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By show of hands…how many people text their grandparents on a daily basis? How many e-mail their grandparents at least once a week?  How many of your grandparents own iPhones, iPads, or Macs?

If you ask these questions to a room full of students (roughly 10-25 in age), you might get a variety of responses.  Some would say that their grandparents are completely unaware of what technology has to offer.  Some would say that their grandparents use technology, but not often.  And then there are even some who would say that their grandparents use technology more than they do…but they are definitely of the minority.

That being said, there is no question that many seniors are less skilled when using technology and the web, as compared to younger generations.  Unlike the youth of today, our grandparents did not grow up in a world filled with cool technological gadgets and the world-wide web. Therefore, now more than ever, they are having to adopt to a new way of living…one which is strongly influenced by technology.

In a recent Pew study, researchers measured a correlation between technological use and American seniors (ages 65 or older), as compared to rest of the population.  They then went further and compared technological use amongst American seniors themselves.

Here is what they found:

“Based on the study, there are two different groups of older Americans. The first group (which leans toward younger, more highly educated, or more affluent seniors) has relatively substantial technology assets, and also has a positive view toward the benefits of online platforms. The other (which tends to be older and less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability) is largely disconnected from the world of digital tools and services, both physically and psychologically.”

To numerically calculate the correlation between technological use and American seniors, researchers studied the use of the internet and the ownership of cell phones amongst seniors.  The results revealed a recent positive increase in the correlation between technological use and American seniors.

“Today, 59% of seniors report they go online—a six-percentage point increase in the course of a year—and 47% say they have a high-speed broadband connection at home. In addition, 77% of older adults have a cell phone, up from 69% in April 2012.”

This may be the result of a societal pressure, especially from younger generations.  In order to communicate with today’s youth, many seniors are feeling the pressured to adjust to technological changes.  For instance, my grandmother just got her first iPad.  After she purchased it, she quickly asked for me and my brother to show her how to use applications, such as FaceTime. She then began sending me more e-mails from her iPad, including pictures and videos.  Having an iPad has allowed her to contact her grandkids in ways where we are more likely to be receptive.  Good job Grandmom, I’m proud!

However, that being said, there are many seniors who simply refuse to bend to millennial pressure.  Various reasons for these refusals include:

  1. “Physical challenges to using technology: Many seniors have physical conditions or health issues that make it difficult to use new technologies.
  2. Skeptical attitudes about the benefits of technology: Older adults who do not currently use the internet are divided on the question of whether that lack of access hurts them or not.
  3. Difficulties learning to use new technologies: A significant majority of older adults say they need assistance when it comes to using new digital devices.”

Hey Grandmom…did you know that just 18% of seniors would feel comfortable learning to use a new technology device such as a smart phone or tablet on their own, while 77% indicate they would need someone to help walk them through the process.  Between you and me, I would create a third group for those who ask for help but also attempt to learn how to use it themselves.  Pretty sure you would fall under that category.

And don’t get me started on social media.  Unlike most millennials who are on multiple social media sites, 46% of online seniors (representing 27% of the total older adult population) use social networking sites such as Facebook.  In addition, among seniors who go online but do not currently use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, 56% would need assistance if they wanted to use these sites to connect with friends or family members.

My point in all of this: We often discuss how technological advancements are impacting today’s youth.  But truth be told, it is also influencing seniors who feel obligated to change their way of living. Is this fair to them?  Check out this cute video I found of seniors learning about YouTube.  And to all my JOMC peers…if you have never heard the “Hallelujah Chorus,” I am disowning y’all! Enjoy!

http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/

Millennials, Social Media, and Jobs

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It goes without saying that individuals in my generation are no dummies when it comes to social media.  We have grown up on sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and have become experts in the field of social networking.  That being said, our so-called “skills” should be wonderful advantages when applying for jobs, right?  Well, most CEO’s would agree…however, many companies recently have expressed disappointed in their hiring of millennials.

“Companies hire millennials because they think they’re good at social media. Then their bosses discover they don’t have those skills and get frustrated,” William Ward, professor of social media at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, says.  “Social media expectations are often higher for millennials than for older workers, who may be just as inept.”

But wait, if millennials are experts in the field of social networking…why are companies disappointed in their performances?

Yes, millennials have spent probably the most amount of time on social media, so ultimately they know their way around social networking.  However, there is a difference between being an expert of online communication and an expert of professionalism on social media.

According to Ward, who teaches a series of popular undergraduate and graduate courses on social media at Syracuse, millennials are lacking in a number of critical areas. While they’re very good at connecting with people they already know, they often fail to understand the professional opportunities and pitfalls posed by networks.

Regardless of the position you are applying for, it is good to be familiar with these professional opportunities and skills on social media.  In this day in age, social networking is a prime means of communication in the professional world.  Therefore, we must disregard our old habits on social media, and adopt new skills that will benefit us in the work place.

So brace yourself…a quick social media 101 is happening now!

In order to succeed in your career, social media experts have come up with 5 important skills every millennial should acquire before entering the workforce.  Pay close attention college peers, this applies directly to us.

1. Know When to Hit The Bleep Button – “Millennials sometimes fail to appreciate that personal profiles can have professional repercussions. Twitter, Facebook, and other networks are largely public platforms; comments made can — and often do — get back to bosses.”  Guess Mom and Dad were right.  What you put out on the web, is out there to viewed by anyone.  Don’t make yourself look dumb!

2.  Use Social Media To Save Time – “A recent McKinsey report notes that social media has the potential to save companies $1.3 trillion, largely owing to improvements in intra-office collaboration. Internal social networks like Yammer enable employees to form virtual work groups and communicate on message boards. Instead of endless back-and-forths on email, co-workers can post and reply in continually updated streams.”

3. Understand How To Crunch Numbers – We all care so much about how many likes, favorites, retweets, and shares we get on social media. Numbers matter.  However, we can use this number desire to our advantage in the workforce. “While social media is about authentic human interaction, it’s also an arena where data can easily be collected and applied to improve results. Knowing what data to look for, where to find it, and what to do with it separates real experts from mere social natives. ”

4. Master the Multi-Network Shuffle – We all have our favorite social media outlet.  However, in the workforce, it is beneficial  to be well versed on how to use multiple social media outlets at one time. Especially in regards to campaigns, it is vital that you can orchestrate different tactics that fit different social media outlets.  For instance, “catchy images and videos are seeded onto traditional text-based networks like Twitter and Facebook.”

5. Network Professionally on Social Media – This one is as basic as it sounds.  In order to establish yourself in the professional world, you must network both on and off the web. Both outlets are important in securing a stable job. Use social media to your advantage when networking.  You might surprise a future employer with your social networking knowledge.

 

Good luck college peers!

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/03/28/how-millennials-can-think-beyond-the-selfie/?iid=SF_F_River

But First, Let Me Take A Selfie!

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It has come to my attention that a lot of my common blog themes often revolve around my younger sister.  Truth be told, she is a great inspiration when writing about mass media’s influence on society, particularly on our youth.  She indeed is growing up in the age of technology and, as I have alluded to in the past, her childhood is a lot different from mine due to mass media.  So she has become my personal case study….sorry sis!

That being said, I have a new topic to discuss and yes, it does involve my sister (don’t worry Professor Robinson, I think you will like this one).  For any of you who do not know, my sister is 12 years old and a 6th grader at a public middle school.  She is a smart kid, with many friends.  She owns an iPod touch, which she sometimes brings to school with her.  Most of her friends also own either an iPod touch or, to my own dismay, an iPhone.  Now, you are probably wondering why I am telling you this information…right?

A month ago, my sister came home from school complaining of an itchy scalp.  Alarmed, my mom washed her hair and then combed the wet hair in order to see my sister’s scalp more clearly.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is what she found….

In case any of you haven’t figured it out, my sister had head lice! Yup, good old head lice…which takes between 6-12 weeks to get rid of, might I add.  It is an annoying condition that spreads quickly.  In order to get rid of it entirely, you must wash you hair using a medically prescribed treatment that stings the scalp and smells horrible.  In addition, you must wash your bed sheets everyday and you cannot lean your head on anything.  As you can imagine, once one member of a household has lice, the likelihood of other members getting head lice increases substantially.  In other words, it has not been the easiest past few months for my family.

Unfortunately the burden fell predominantly on my mom who had to wash all of our sheets, apply treatment to my sister’s hair every night, and pull lice from her head by the hundreds…all while trying not to get it herself.  After witnessing her struggle, let me tell you, lice is not something you want to mess with.

By now, you are probably wondering why this is relevant to a blog that’s suppose to focus on mass media.  Well, prepare yourself…

Medical experts have recently reported a rapid increase of head lice amongst young teenagers.

But why?

Upon investigation, experts believe that the popular action of taking a “selfie” may be leading cause of this medical epidemic.

But how?

Well, it is not really rocket science.  Because young teenagers own or have access to a iPod touch, iPhone, or any device that has a camera…many of them are jumping on the bandwagon, taking self-portraits of themselves and their friends.  The popular trend of “taking a selfie” has swept the world as social networking has increased.  Especially with younger girls, many take pictures of themselves with their friends and then post them on social media sites like Facebook and Instragram.  Selfies often contain a group of people crowding around each other, head to head, and smiling at the camera.  If you are unfamiliar with what a selfie looks like, just check out Ellen DaGeneres’ famous selfie taken at the 2014 Oscars.  They look something like this..

As you can see, all of our most beloved stars are head to head in front of Ellen’s camera phone, held by Bradley Cooper.  This is prime time for lice to attack! If one star has lice, the tiny creatures can easily crawl or jump from one head to another in a matter of seconds.

“I’ve seen a huge increase of lice in teens this year. Typically it’s younger children I treat, because they’re at higher risk for head-to-head contact. But now, teens are sticking their heads together every day to take cell phone pics,” explains Marcy McQuillan of Scotts Valley’s Nitless Noggins.

McQuillian goes on to say that kids these days are addicted to selfies.

“Every teen I’ve treated, I ask about selfies, and they admit that they are taking them every day…I think parents need to be aware, and teenagers need to be aware too. Selfies are fun, but the consequences are real.”

Honestly, it makes perfect sense.  Even as a young adult myself, there have been countless time I have crouched close to my friends, head to head, to take a selfie.  Quite frankly, I am surprised that lice have not infiltrated many universities yet.  But is it only a matter of time?

In doing some additional research, I came across a CNN video which reported the link between selfies and lice following an article published by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  AJC investigated the spread of lice and interviewed an Atlanta nurse who treats head lice.  Similarly she has seen a drastic increase in young teens who confessed to their selfie game.  Not going to lie, it’s a bit disgusting if you think about it.  Check out the CNN video and the AJC article below…

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/lice-from-selfies-yuck-but-possible-expert-says/nd5PT/

Needless to say, I do not think I will be taking any group selfies in the near future.  As you can imagine, my sister has learned her lesson and plans to avoid selfies as well.  However, it is crazy to think that an increase in lice is linked to an increase in selfies, which is linked to an increase in social media, which is linked to an increase in technological advancement, such as cell phones. It truly does comes full circle (guess your were right, Professor Robinson).  I only hope that society catches on to this newly discovered linkage…or we might have a president with head lice.  Be careful Obama!

It was selfie time for David Ortiz and President Obama. (Will Mcnamee / Getty Images)

***Let the record show that I do not think David Ortiz has head lice. But then again, who knows who he has been “selfing” it up with???

 

Not Just A Network, But Your Niche Network

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Fact: Most millennial’s are on at least one social network.

Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, many people in this day in age are users of social networking sites, such as the ones listed above.  However, many young individuals have the false perception that they can only be connected to the most popular sites, like Facebook and Twitter.  In other words, people are only part of these sites for their popularity and not for their content.

Yet, as the world-wide web expands, the concept of social networking is changing.  Instead of a few large social networking sites controlling the social network scene, many ingenious companies are now creating social networks that interest their users on a personal level.   Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where a user might not be able to connect specifically with other users, these smaller networks create a sense of community for users who share similar interests, opinions, and hobbies. “On the big social sites, a person’s network is often so big that there’s no real sense of community. Chances are, in real life you consider yourself a member of many different communities within society: An animal lover, a UX designer, and a parent, for instance. Your online life should mirror your real life, which is not to say that everything must be kept separate, but you should feel connected to the people you’re surrounded by.”  That being said, these smaller networks are essentially advocating niche networks.

For instance:

“Are you an ornithologist? Connect with your friends (feathered and otherwise) at Birdpost .

A craft beer lover? Look for tastings and suggestions at Pintley.

A running/biking fanatic? Sign up for Strava.

An ambitious designer? Share your work on Dribble.

“Niche social networks, are built for specific, narrowed-down purposes allow for focus, community, and meaning to be restored to the online world.” Essentially, nice networks create a stronger sense of community and allow for individuals to communicate with others all over the world at unique level.  It is comforting to know that you are not alone and that there are other people in the world who feel, act, and think the way you do.

So I challenge my generation to break from the bandwagon of popular social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.  Expand your social networking bubble and find other networks that relate to you personally.  You might be surprised what you find.  There are so many networking sites available that target a large variety of individuals.  It is easy to find a community where you feel welcomed.  And who knows, maybe you might find your new best friend on one of these smaller sites.  Sure, they may not have billions of users like Facebook…but hey, there is something to be said to know who you are friends with on a social networking site and actually communicate with them on a regular day.  Suddenly there is less focus on how many friends or followers you have, but more of a focus on who these friends and followers are. Put yourself out there and find your niche network!

http://www.fastcolabs.com/3014562/the-rise-of-the-niche-social-network

http://spinsucks.com/social-media/niche-networks-future-social-networking/

A Bit Perturbed….

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I love to text. I also love to run. I am both an avid texter and runner. However, I DO NOT appreciate almost getting hit by a car when an individual is driving and texting!

Here is my quick story: The weather was beautiful today and I have been crazy stressed out with school and extracurriculars.  So to relieve some stress, I went running.  It was perfect….until I almost died! Yep, innocent me, just trying to clear my head and get a little exercise, nearly escaped death.

There I was, minding my own business on Manning Drive (for all you Chapel Hillers out there), and a driver almost ran off the road while texting…and guess who the bystander was on the sidewalk exactly where the car started driving off???? Yep, you got it, this girl!  I am telling you what, I have never been so scared in my life!!!!!!  And all because a man was texting while driving. You have got to be kidding me!

We all know that texting while driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents.  And car accidents lead to death…this is no joking matter! Instead of boring you all with crazy statistics and information, I just want to express the importance of not texting while driving.  Especially to all my college friends (we are the worst culprits), put your phone down!  Those text messages can wait!  It is not worth taking a life to look at one message (that probably will have little to no effect on your life when you read it).

We pride ourselves on technological advancements and how they have helped improve our lives.  However, cell phones are causing car wrecks, end of story!  Some people would argue though that it is not the cell phones to blame, and instead our lack of responsibility as drivers behind the wheel.

Well, regardless, having cell phones in our hands while driving is a HORRIBLE idea!

So do the world a favor and DO NOT text and drive.  Pretty sure my heart is still pounding super fast and the incident occurred almost 2 hours ago.  Stay safe everyone!

 

And Mom…I am okay! Do not worry.

No More #’s & @’s!

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I am sure by now you all have heard that Twitter is in the middle of a risky process, attempting to revamp their company.  They are looking at new ways to please investors and expand their already multimillion user site.  However, their ideas might be a bit controversial for many avid Twitter fans.

To generate more users and encourage current users to stay active, Twitter is “experimenting with phasing out at @replies (and possibly hashtags) that many speculate are becoming outdated.”  Due to the limitations of only 140 characters, Twitter originally attempted to popularize symbols like #’s and @’s in order generate discussions and allow for users to hide behind controversial topics.  However, users are now (more than ever) extremely comfortable and confident on social media sites and are able to discuss topics and face on other users, without the need of these symbols.

As Ragy Thomas, founder and CEO of social media marketing platform Srpinklr, said: “Social media has normalized around the concepts that @replies and hashtags were intended to represent. Since people are now familiar with calling out other users and topics in a message stream, the argument goes, it’s no longer necessary to have special tags.”

So what happens if these symbols dissolve?  Is this a beneficial move by Twitter?

In my opinion, I think phasing out these symbols is a stupid mistake, especially if Twitter is trying to gain more users.  When new users first begin their Twitter journey, they often use the @ and # symbols to streamline various discussions, learn about what’s trending, and discover other users.  In particular, these symbols help them become comfortable navigating their way around the site. If you get rid of these symbols, how will individuals know who to follow or what to tweet?  In addition, hashtags (in particular) allow for the spread of news.  The more people hashtag a topic, the more popular it becomes.  So relevant news, such as the missing Malaysia airplane, quickly spreads. Simply favoriting and retweeting tweets will not be enough to pass on information.

The Twitter company believes that by eliminating such symbols, they are making the site more user-friendly.  They believe that the symbols just get in the way and are confusing for members who do not understand how to use such symbols to begin with.  However, as a Twitter user myself, I believe it does not take much brains to figure out how to correctly use a # or @.  And again, I think these symbols do help new members become acquainted with what Twitter can provide for them.

My question then: If Twitter phases out such symbols, will they create new ways for users to communicate on Twitter?

The Twitter company is maturing…I get that.  But I also believe that old habits never die easy.  Therefore, I believe the use of such symbols will continue to be a trending activity.  Consider this, the use of the @ and # symbols has expanded! Not only do you see these symbols on Twitter, but they are also on other social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.  And it is not just social media sites where people are using these symbols.  Individuals are texting them, snap chatting them, using them in their verbal conversations, etc.

My point: PEOPLE USE THESE SYMBOLS ALL THE TIME! Twitter, do not be dumb…do not get rid of them!

Out of curiosity, I YouTubed the word “hashtag” and I found two interesting videos that rant about how popular the hashtag symbol is and how everyone uses them.  Check out these two funny videos!

To end, you guys know I love Jimmy Fallon…here are a few videos of his own personal contributions with the hashtag symbol.  I wonder what he would say about Twitter’s attempt to kill hashtags???  You da bomb Fallon!