All posts by ethanmsanders

Social Media: The Digital Layer of Your Identity

For my final blog in this series on social media and how it influences the way we communicate and interact with one another, I decided to take a look at how social media makes us feel and how our perceptions of other people’s lives on social media influence the way we perceive ourselves.

I’ve used various forms of social media since about 2003. I’m a self-proclaimed internet junkie, most people who know me well would agree.  My experience using social media has been, in general, a positive experience. I’ve stayed connected to friends that moved across the country, or to another country entirely. I’ve established and maintained relationships in the music industry simply from exchanging Facebook information at music festivals. I’ve also been able to keep track of my nephews and my niece as they go through the stages of infancy, toddler, and early childhood. All of those things are positive aspects of using social media. The internet breaks down geographical barriers. It allows us to insert ourselves into other people’s lives without being intrusive, as long as the content of your friends and families lives are posted on the internet.

However, through my own experience I’ve noticed that during times when I am not feeling great about myself, I tend to envy the lives of other people when I’m using social media. That vacation to Europe that your friend is going on, a major job update from a high school friend that you expected to be “doing better” than pops into your news feed, a friend finding their soul mate and posting every minuscule update of their life together distracts you as your are recovering from a major break-up, and the list goes on. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other people’s lives, especially when you are not in a pleasant state of mind.

More than ever, research is being conducted and published regarding how social media influences our lives and shapes the way we interact with one another. An article I just read from Indiana University claims, “[T]his analysis contributes to a growing body of evidence that social media may be harmful to users who ‘overindulge’ in these services since it’s nearly impossible to escape negative comparisons to their friends’ popularity and happiness,” 

John Bollen explains his findings after data-mining Twitter.  I am somewhat shocked to hear some of Indiana University’s findings. I would have guessed that the more deeply connected someone is to social media, and the higher number of people that we interact with, would cause a negative effect but in fact it is the opposite. Perhaps the model of social media consumption is creating a false sense of happiness that is only being propped up by the dopamine purging loop that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter put us in (I discussed this topic in my last blog if you want to learn more about that topic).

All of that being said, I think that social media is a useful tool for professionals and individuals for their social life. I can’t sit here and say that it’s all bad or it’s all good. A quote from Quarry’s Communication for Another Development chapter links in well with the topic at hand. “Like a chameleon, communication is embedded in international development. It changes color to reflect the development thinking of the day…”

I believe this quote ties into social media’s influence on our perception of other people because social media’s use is multifaceted so our behavior on said social media must be multifaceted. I also believe that if we focus on the positive reasons why we use social media and mitigate our time spent on social media when our objective is done (i.e. catch up with friends, see what’s going on in the sports/music/entertainment/political world, or say “hi” to a few friends) then we log off and actually live our life we can avoid this phenomena of social media induced depression and envy.

Social Media Use At Work

Have you ever used social media at work? Chances are likely yes. It’s seems like the vast majority of our society is pinned down underneath the death grip that is known as social media.  Since it either exists or augments nearly every aspect of our life it should come to no surprise that social media use in the workplace is common and often a distraction.  Technology has always had a “pros” and “cons” column, with markings on each side of the T-chart. Same can be said about social media use in the workplace; it has pros and cons.  In recent years, I’ve been fascinated with Germany’s economy and their outlook on employment. Recently, Germany’s workers won the right to a 28-hour work week. Isn’t that incredible? Germany is an economic powerhouse with a low inflation rate, the 4th nominal GDP worldwide, highly educated population, and the list goes on! (here is more info).

You want to know another interesting statistic about Germany’s workforce? Germany is leading the world in the least amount of social media use at work. They also have the fewest amount of internet users using social media. I might be trying to connect two dots without proven cause and effect here, but I think something can be said about the level of productivity, the shrinking work week, and booming economy to the absence of social media at work.

Well, let’s go back to our metaphorical T-chart from two paragraphs ago. We the cons of social media use at work have been covered here, but the pros have not.  Since social media use is so prevalent in our lives in the United States it is a vital way how we stay connected. There is undoubtedly ways that social media helps if used properly at work. Professional networking groups are dime a dozen all across Facebook, LinkedIn is a social media site dedicated to professional connections an career building, and Twitter is a great marketing tool. The internet is a tool for marketing today much like magazines were a marketing tool 50 years ago. A section of an assigned reading for school I recently read discussed the similarities from a self-help book written by Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People and marketing books written today.  If used properly, social media can be used as a communication tool to benefit an organization or company. But, sadly, most of the time we end up wasting time looking at cat memes and getting into politically charged fights with strangers.

There is a middle ground somewhere out there, we just need to adjust our behavior and our habits built around technology use.

Social Media’s Influence On Communication

How has social media changed the way we engage?

Well, in a lot of ways to be honest.  Looking at the evolution of social media over the last decade has been somewhat of a whirlwind.  The dawn of the smart phone era has kick started the largest technological mobilization in human history. We are connected to the internet, in some way, almost 100% of our lives.  According to the link above on of the biggest reasons why our interactions are changing is simply due to the number of people we interact with. We now seem to care about that over-the-top social media posts from that guy you sat next to in 10th grade Biology class. Why? Because we are connected on social media! Seems pretty simple, but the general direction of our ever increasing interconnected lives is not slowing down. One of the main goals of social media is to bring people together. So is the erosion of our communication boundaries really a bad thing? I guess it depends how you use social media and how you shape your identity around your use of social media.  According to the author’s opinion the lack of filters on our communication come at a price. I would have to agree. The level of toxicity on the internet is at an all time high. However, the amount of communication being distributed and received on the internet is at an all time high as well.  Perhaps, humans have always held these extremely toxic views but had no way of expressing that message, much less have a platform to broadcast it world wide.

Similar to my last post about this topic, I took a look at a few required readings for MDST485 course. I found myself connecting the points made in Castell’s Network Society Ch. 5. – Castell describes culture of real virtuality. He argues that the enormous influence and the sheer level of importance technology and the internet have on our lives have pushed elements of our existence into the virtual realm.  There is no doubt that this is true.  The amount of time we spend on the internet is increasing each year, the use of social media platforms are always increasing, and yet we still seem to be incapable of conversing with one another respectfully.  I don’t want to believe that we are at the beginning of what will be the fall of our society but if we do not take time to realize what social media is doing to us, we simply have no chance.

Social Media’s Influence on Human Interaction

I’m sure if you are reading this that you use some form of social media.  It’s everywhere you look. Social media is a fixture in our lives in the United States. The internet and social media are so embedded in our daily life that it dominates our language. It’s also starting to influence the way we interact with one another.  Social media sites are supposed to bring people together but sadly it seems to be ripping us apart. My goal is to shed light on the issues surrounding interaction via social media and a few simple techniques to mitigate toxic behavior on the internet.

The political climate of the United States is quite turbulent to say the very least.  Everyone has a platform to express their views on the internet without a filter. Our echo chambers are becoming cauldrons of toxicity and it’s changing the way humans interact with one another. It seems as though we are not capable of engaging in debates of any sort without it dissolving into insults, personal attacks and even violence.

How bad is it, really? Well, according to Chamath Palihapitya, former vice-president of user growth at Facebook, claims that social media sites like Facebook are creating “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”. What a terrifying thought.  We are supposed to be more connected than ever but we seem to be disconnecting ourselves from one another.

So what do we do? An article written by John Coate, dating all the way back to 1998 covers many steps to maintain an online community. In his article he discusses free speech. I think many of us in the United States take that right for granted.  Our online communities are derailing into silence brigades.  Individuals with opposing view points are expected to hate one another.  These tools of social media are creating online communities that have no chance to incubate thought provoking dialog between two parties.  Coate goes on to explain in the same section covering free speech that public online interactions should be moderated to ensure that the online community is preserved. However, Facebook has no official moderator. There are guidelines Facebook follows to delete or censor content but it is not a transparent process nor does it ensure a healthy interaction between two parties online. I think the solution to this divisive pattern of social media is to use Facebook less and use other moderated forums such as Reddit.com or Sputnik.org.  It would be foolish to say drama and divisive actions do not occur on other social media sites. However, taking into consideration what Chamath Palihapitya has disclosed about what Facebook is doing to our society, we do not have any other choice but to change our actions to ensure we progress as a society.

 

NHL Players Absent from 2018 Olympics

Every four years the entire world gets an opportunity to experience the winter Olympics. The biggest stage for international winter sports competition. This year was an exciting display of sport. In women’s ice hockey the United States snapped a 20 year gold medal streak of the Canadians. The women’s gold medal game was decided by a shootout. Can you say “close game”?

However, in the case of men’s ice hockey a major shake up of the available talent pool diluted the talent pool for each and every country. This year the NHL commissioner and an “overwhelming majority” of club owners decided to bar NHL players from participating in men’s Olympic ice hockey. The reason? Money.

You can read up on the commissioner of the NHL’s reasoning  here.

Allow me to provide a passionate explanation why the NHL owners and commissioner’s decision to keep NHL players out of the Olympics is a bad idea for the sport of hockey.

Today, the surge of interest in sports that do not get a healthy amount of media coverage has been diluted when it comes to men’s Olympic ice hockey.

“I think the realities of Olympic participation are more apparent to our Board now and I think it just leads to less enthusiasm about the disruption,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said during NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles in January. “Quite frankly we don’t see what the benefit is from the game standpoint or the League standpoint with respect to Olympic participation.”

What a shifty way to cryptically say the NHL doesn’t see a financial benefit.

As an avid hockey (not just the NHL) fan I am severely disappointed. The most elite hockey players facing off against one another representing their country. It goes beyond the teams you play for that pay you money. It is an honor not taken lightly by any Olympic athlete. Now, simply because they are in face the very best in the world NHL players have been stripped of their chance to represent their country. I can remember exactly where I was in 2010 when the United States Men’s team lost in overtime to Canada. That Gold Medal game was an absolute nail biter until the very end. Again, in 2014 the demise of the American men’s ice hockey was dealt by the hands of the Canadian’s. However, this time the USA fell apart in the preceding games and failed to even earn a medal. The Olympics have represented the purest and most competitive level spanning centuries and for now, men’s Olympic ice hockey has been stripped of it’s elite competition.

So how is the United State’s team doing this year? Well, the men’s team comprised of young college and minor league players were facing off against the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, both ex-NHL players that have won the Stanley Cup multiple times in a qualifying. Datsyuk and Kovalchuk are playing in the KHL the second most elite professional ice hockey league in the world. Many other countries have players from ohe professional leagues around Europe. Says a lot about the NHL doesn’t it? If the KHL, and other second-tier leagues, are willing to interrupt their schedule for the Olympics, why can’t they?

Gary Bettmen, the commissioner of the NHL claims that the funds given to them by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) would be taking away from growing the sport of hockey at the grass rootes level. Out of all my years playing and watching hockey I have never heard of so much drama revolving around money in the sport until this cycle of the winter Olympics. I’ve also never heard Bettmen talking about growing the sport at the “grass roots” level. Only the TV contracts and new expansion teams.

The future is quite bleak for NHL players competing in the next Olympics as well. With the addition to the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle’s application for an NHL team it seems that the only thing the NHL board, the commissioner of the NHL and the team owners is the bottom line.

The Lack of Sleep During Your College Years

If you stop and ask a college student if they’ve ever pulled an “all-nighter” to study for a test, or to write that last minute paper the response is likely, “Yes”. I know during the years I’ve been in school I’ve sacrificed a lot of sleep due to my procrastination and poor study habits.  The relationship college students have with sleep is something that needs to be improved in the years to come. According to Shelley Hershner and Ronald Chervin 50% of all college students report daytime sleepiness and 70% report they attain insufficient sleep. Those numbers are quite high, but not shocking to most. The lack of sleep for college students attribute to lower grade point averages, higher rates of car accidents, and possible failure of college classes.  Not only do GPAs and academic success hinge on the amount of sleep a college student gets, but the lack of sleep also attributes to altered, negative moods.

One reason college students attain insufficient sleep is simply because there is so much going on around college campuses. Both academically and socially, students can be overwhelmed with the prioritization of their needs.  Living in a college dorm is a blessing and a curse. Each pair of roommates have a different schedule and a different set of priorities. As the years go on, it seems as though self-care and wellness seem to go by the wayside. To fix this problem, the path is a two-way street. Universities need to adjust policies and engage in campus outreach to spread the message that sleep is exceptionally important to a student’s academic success. Also, students need to realize how much of their success hinges on getting the appropriate amount of sleep.

 

Read further:
Sleep Study

Is Sleep Deprivation The New Norm?

Minneapolis: The Unknown Hero of American Underground Dance Music

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(Photo Credit: Dave Eckblad – COMMUNION: SUNDAYS MINNEAPOLIS 10 Year Anniversary @ The Pourhouse)

Minneapolis has a thriving dance scene. Believe it or not, some of the most prolific individuals in United States dance music have played in very small, underground warehouse clubs scattered about in Minneapolis. No, I’m not talking about Skrillex, Hardwell, Tiesto, Marshmello, Steve Aoki or any of the other corporate label, big-brand artists that are most popular today. I’m talking about the roots of dance music. I’m talking about the people that were there for the construction of the foundation of dance culture today.  People like Jeff Mills, a techno producer and pioneer from Detroit who is credited with some of the very first Techno tracks ever created. Mills has had his art exhibits on display in The Louvre in Paris, one of the most prestigious art galleries in the world. He also has a podcast that is sponsored by NASA that launched this week — you can listen here.  Mills played in Zak Khutoretsky’s (AKA – DVS1) underground secret warehouse for a crowd of only 300 people — that show went from 12:00am – 7:00am in true 90s rave form. An enormous amount of work and cultural preservation has taken place over the last 20+ years Minneapolis for dance music. A lot of unknown underground heroes have put in the work to enable EDM club culture to exists in Minneapolis…and it all started in the warehouse.

Needless to say, there is something special about our House and Techno scene. People from around the world recognize these special characteristics of Minneapolis.

I’ve been spectating the evolution of dance music culture in Minneapolis for nearly a decade. I would like to open a window to the world of underground dance music and explain why it is so vital to the arts culture here in Minneapolis. Also, I’d like to cover why EDM culture , for the most part,  is terrible for the arts community in Minneapolis.

My goal for this blog series is to shed light on the rich history of dance culture in the Twin Cities. I want to describe and expose the differences between EDM club culture versus House/Techno underground culture. I will also give reasons why our city needs to de-stigmatize warehouse parties and push government funding for the arts, music venues, and a later bar close for venues in Minneapolis.