Category Archives: 2018 Blog 5

Get Strategic to Succeed by Semesters End

Last time I talked about finding the connections within your course work and how that makes the work relevant to your life. I would like to add to that by emphasizing the philosophy of Work Smarter, Not Harder. This is the point: multi-tasking. Most college students have found a way to become efficient at time management and balancing the different demands of their courses and personal lives. Sure, sometimes there is a slip up and we forget to turn something in, but for the most part, our days are a calculation of how much we can get done in the allotted time or before our brains give out.

Multi-tasking

What I want to teach you is multitasking on steroids. I like to call it Strategic Learning Efficiency Engaged Purposefully (SLEEP). I’m just kidding, I have never called it that before. I call it, doing one thing for multiple classes. Does that mean I turn in the same paper, or the same work for each class? Of course not! Media studies does not have the same learning targets as web design or content strategy, or information studies. But that does not mean that I can’t work on the same project for all of them.

How it works

At least one class every semester will have some sort of self-chosen topic for a project that you will work. Perhaps it is a proposal for a business course, or a collection of activism posts for social media, maybe you have been assigned with creating videos for a design course, you get my point. Now, instead of just picking some random thing to write about or research or create, why not connect it to a cause or a dream or a family business. Something that has meaning for you in your real life, something that could use some attention and nurturing. Then you set yourself to creating for this cause.

Here is an example for you

For this Saturday morning MDST course we will need to turn in a learning journal (a portfolio of sorts). Meanwhile, in the very same classroom on Tuesday nights I have a Writing for the Web course that requires me to make a website. Now, I could make a lot of terrible websites, but I decided to be strategic. I decided combine them both by making the topic of my website for the WRIT course be the subject of my learning journal for MDST. Make sense?

Why it works

By using the same project for multiple courses lets you see the interconnectedness of disciplines. Remember that from last time? No field of study operates in a vacuum. Nor should it. Using the same project for multiple classes provides you with the chance to think about a subject, problem or project on different levels. This gives you the chance to end up with a really rich and layered analysis of a real world situation. It also allows you to build on your past work, thereby making each project a little more meaningful, which is a key to knowledge, not just memorization of the names of some theories which you will forget by next semester. You are integrating the prior learning and scaffolding upon it to form your shining tower of world conquering knowledge…I mean…ahem. Want to know a bit about the science behind why this works? Great!

Start by watching this video by David Brooks, author of The Social Animal. 

Need a little bit more?

If you are still struggling with juggling course loads, start with the basics. This page offers five solid strategies for multitasking.

Are you more of a put it off until the last minute operator? You are not alone. Procrastination is innate, and for many people, it works well.

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.

 

Bridge Safety

With the recent collapse of the pedestrian bridge Miami near Florida International University this brings to the spotlight once again bridge and road safety.

With recent reports stating that an engineer observed, “some cracking that’s been observed on the north end of the span.” How safe was the bridge to begin with and why were workers allowed to work on the bridge when there was cracking in the bridge. The cracking in the bridge should have been enough to halt any other work beside the repairing of that crack.

This brings to mind the 35W bridge collapse that happened here in 2007. There bridge was deemed “structurally deficient.” That meant that there was work that needed to be done, more importantly it was deemed, “fracture critical,” and that means that “the failure of just one vital component could cause the whole bridge to collapse.” And that vital component did fail. Again, once there were obvious signs of failure for 35W the work that was going on at the time of the collapse should have stopped. They should have closed at least one part of the bridge to start the repairs.

With the Miami collapse this just shows that there is still so much work to do with the infrastructure in this country. Last year, 172 bridges in Minnesota are structurally deficient or fracture critical. With such a high number bridge safety in Minnesota and this country should be a top priority. We use pedestrian and vehicle bridges every day and we trust that they are safe. But with those numbers, just in Minnesota alone, shows we have a long way to go.

Networking

As communication majors, college students who are ready to graduate, we know the importance of networking. Although it is nerve wrecking and can be complicated at times, this post will serve as ease and show you the significant impact networking can have on your career.

Lets be real..networking isn’t on the top of our to-do lists. It can be intimidating, and some people don’t even know where to start. According to the San Jose State University School of Information networking is defined as, “establishing relationships with people who will often become your friends and community of colleagues as you go through your career.” Connecting with your peers and colleagues is a significant part in the networking process which can help you attain the dream job that you need. As the old saying goes, ‘sometimes it’s who you know’ and not what you know that can give you that job that you’ve been hunting for a long time. In other words, it’s imperative to understand why networking is beneficial when it comes to not only finding a job, but also getting promotions and moving up a ladder in your career.

In the book The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott he mentions that “We should rethink our notions about who can best spread our ideas and tell our stories.”  (Scott 2017) It really comes down to how willing someone is to find people who are interested in your ideas and get your information out. Building on the relationships you have with your friends, colleagues, and classmates can simply be an essential part in advancing your career. As an individual you must get out of your comfort and reach out to people, not only for jobs but it should be a daily part of your career related efforts. You never know when you will need your career network.

 

Our World to Save

Our World to Save

Nobody is perfect and as a population we sure haven’t been making the smartest decisions that we could.  A major issue we have found ourselves in is a planet full of waste. Recycling is an easy and effective solution to keep our planet healthy for future generations. If you create waste then you should learn about recycling.

A single person choosing to recycle does make a difference. An average person could save 1,100 pounds of waste in a year by caring enough to recycle. If 15 people can be reached from this blog and make the switch we are saving 16,500 pounds of waste from sitting in a landfill and harming the environment with toxins. We could be saving natural resources that support wildlife and conserving energy for new materials to be made. When producing aluminum companies can save 95% of energy! It has the potential to save millions for businesses and can then help boost the economy. More job opportunities can be created if the trend continues to grow. Please be aware and take action in recycling.

Items not recycled can and do also end up in the ocean. This can be catastrophic for animals who become trapped or confuse our waste as food. There’s no excuse for not being responsible with our trash besides the convenience of being extra lazy.

Right now is the time to start practicing healthy habits such as recycling so generations following us grow up taking care of their planet without even thinking about it. Just as we want our kids to put their seat belts on automatically to potentially save their lives, we should want them to automatically take care of their world with simple practices.

I am trying to take the approach of mass self-communication by myself choosing the channel of blogging to send my message of recycling in hope that the message will spread. There are a lot of environmentalist around because it is such a vital part of living in the world we do and it could potentially reach multiplicity of receivers. As Castells discusses in Networks of Outrage Opening, it could just be “connecting to endless networks that transmit digitized information around the neighborhood or around the world”. I am using a horizontal network of communication by starting with my classmates and then who they decide to share with. No person is having more power than another.

Image result for not recycling harms ocean animals

#Enough… Calling Students “Dumb”

Audience: Parents and others who support the 2018 Walk Out to remember Parkland school shooting and call for action relating to gun control.

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Thousands of students walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday morning. At 10:00 until 10:17,  they rallied in silent protest and in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting one month prior. Some students held inspiring signs, other students banded together to form peace signs or phrases like the trending hashtag #enough. There were beautiful blogs and news articles highlighting the walkout…others were strongly against the walkout.

Why is it so hard to pass by with a simple click of the like button and NOT read the comments? It never fails to drag me in. How many times on Wednesday did I stop and put my two cents in when someone says “This is so dumb. Why don’t they do something productive that can actually bring change?” ARG! I feel an overwhelming sense of, I don’t know, rage? And just like that my fingers are on that keyboard like wildfire, feeling like maybe I can just change one person’s mind…unlikely I know, but I just can’t help myself!

These protests are not dumb. These students are working to bring about change. People who don’t believe one person can make a change, let alone a whole generation of students, made me think of the Tunisia Revolution of 2011. In Castells Prelude to Revolution, he tells how one person can indeed make a difference. In Tunisia a man ignited the spark of a revolution by literally setting himself on fire. A little more dramatic than we hopefully need here in the good ole USA.

Support our kids who want to feel safe in their schools. They can’t vote (yet!) so they are asking, begging for our help. Stand with this generation. They are powerful. They will not back down. I won’t either. So go ahead– unfriend me, unfollow me, block me. I’ll keep my thumbs on the ready to defend and encourage the students and other fed up citizens who are fighting for change.

Social media depression

Is social media depression a real thing?

social-media-depression

This weeks reading helped me come up with the theme to my next three blog posts that all stem from the power of social media. My goal for this posting would be to shine some light on the darker side of social media. The audience for my postings would be anyone who uses social media, students in this class and the teachers.

The first topic I would like to define and discuss is a term called “social media depression.” According to howstuffworks.com, social media depression can be defined as “depressive thoughts associated with using social media.”

I first started using social media as a time filler until it grew into a daily habit and from there to an almost obsession that I didn’t even realize I had. Before I knew there was an actual term for this I started to notice that the more time I spent using social that I felt an almost sad or anxious feeling after, yet I still couldn’t stop using social media and the vicious cycle continued. I subconsciously started comparing my life to the picture perfect lives that I saw on social media because I assumed that people were posting these images of their ‘real’ lives. Now I’m not sure how many real or genuine posts come from social media. Mendelson says “Social media is not a game played from the sidelines. Those who participate will succeed—everyone else will either have to catch up or miss the game.” I came to find out that a lot of those accounts were coming from people who were so busy trying to prove their happiness to their followers that they weren’t actually happy themselves. There is this pressure to post the ‘perfect’ image for followers that most of us don’t even know.

The good news is that if you have ever felt “social media depression” you are not alone. What I have come to find out in talking to my peers is that many of them also felt this way. If we are all feeling the same way then why can’t we come together and stop? I think a solution for this could be to take a step back from social media. Limit the amount of time spent looking at other people’s lives and being more present in our own. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to post picture of you being happy on social media but I do think there is a strong difference behind the motives of social media postings. Remember that your social media accounts should be for you.

 

Should Charity Work Be Public?

How do you feel about charity work or giving back being public? Should it be done anonymously? Is it okay to say you’ve made a huge donation? Do you think it’s capitalizing on a situation? Does it matter?

This is all relative, everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t matter too me. Intentions, are important to the issue, no doubt. Although, charity work as long as it helps, it should not matter too much. As long as it helps and there is no ill intent. There have been people in the public eye that have given back, but with diffrent responses.

This past fall, Tim Duncan asked for support and donations for hurricane relief in the Virgin Islands. He donated 250,000 dollars to the cause. He ended up raising over 2 million dollars for the efforts. He leveraged his donation for good. He used it as a way to get more people to donate. He is also from the Virgin Islands. In this case, it comes off as sincere, it was public, but was for the better of the situation.

 

In this case, Logan Paul pledged to donate 1 million dollars toward suicide prevent.  The narrative on this is much diffrent. He made the donation and video after his own controversy. He uploaded a video on Youtube with a man that committed suicided, laughed, and uncomfortably joked about the incident. He only took the video down after being heavily criticized. This situation is blatantly a public relations move. His apology for the incident was made about him and not the issue at hand. From the energy and method he used it does not seem genuine.

Overall, whether charity work is public or not, doesn’t necessarily matter. It is how it is done and the intent. These two instances have similar actions, but evidently diffrent priorities. Publicizing charity work can carry a message further and impact people positively, or used as a self promoting tool, maybe both. What’s most important is the help that is given, but intent does matter. What type of person are you?

Walk Out or Walk Up?

My audience for this blog series is anyone who is (or should be) concerned by the massive number of school shootings: students, parents, and anyone interested in safety and social justice. I will be focusing on the movements made by high school students who have been taking charge of the fight against gun violence. My goal is to make people think about how they can participate in this fight for life.

walk out

If you’ve watched the news over the past few days you are probably aware of the  Walk Out by students across the country on Wednesday. Sick of nothing being done in Washington about gun violence, teens coordinated the first national student protest on this issue. They hoped to bring an awareness of their voices and of the political power that they will soon hold. And politicians should take note- these teens, users of social media for most of their lives, will soon be old enough to vote and make their voices known at the polls. Boomers and Generation X have so far not been as focused on this topic, and it may be because they were not affected by it personally. And millenials, still a voting minority, have not made much progress with it either in spite of being the Columbine generation. Living in daily fear of school violence is a way of life for students, unfortunately normalized by our political climate and dedication to 2nd Amendment rights. But why isn’t anything being done? Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough anymore, and these students want us all to know that.

But of course there are those with the alternative solution. A solution that so far hasn’t worked. Ryan Petty, a parent of a student recently killed in the Parkland shooting, tweeted that students should Walk Up not Walk Out. In his opinion, walking out is accomplishing nothing beyond the students getting some exercise. His proposed solution would include students “walking up” to loners and making them feel appreciated so they don’t turn into school shooters. This post was in turn shared by thousands of parents across the country who thought students walking out was pointless. But I ask- is this victim blaming? If you aren’t successful with converting this potential shooter and it results in violence, is it your fault? Walk Up shows how out of touch some parents still are with the fear that children are facing, and in this case even includes parents of victims.

Walk Up belittles the point of Walk Out. No one is saying that you can’t walk up to a lonely student and talk to them, but that can be done any other day. This walk out was about the fact that these students want to be heard. They want the adults to help them. They want laws to protect them. They want politicians to represent them. On Wednesday, they didn’t need hugs- they needed voices.

This movement reminds me of Castell’s writings about the Occupy Movement, and there are plenty of similarities. Occupy was “rooted in outrage” (p. 166) which resulted in the fast propagation across the country. Students are clearly outraged about their peers being shot, and that resulted in a successfully organized protest in less than a month after the Parkland, Florida shooting. Everyone needs to be wary of the power that these children will one day hold. Their world is built around social media, and they are not limited to classroom gossip anymore.

We need to listen. Really listen to what they are saying. We may not agree with everything that they are asking for, but with what they have been through, they deserve our ears. Instead of thoughts and prayers we need to think about what we can do to make their world a little safer. So don’t belittle their voices by saying that they should be doing something else instead. Listen.

They will not forget.

Is Social Media Bullshit?

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In my next three blogs, I’ll focus on the current and future state of social media, especially its connection to marketing, public relations, and society. I hope to shed some wisdom on the subject from my perspective as a professional in the media and non-profit industries, while referencing our class readings.

In the wake of the recent Parkland school shooting, social media has been used as a critical tool by all sides to politicize and capitalize on the event. However, it is the youth who have been outmaneuvering and outdoing their adult counterparts on social media during this movement.

For example, when Donald Trump, Jr. “liked” two news article that pushed the notion that a few vocal Parkland students were hired actors, one of the students reached out to Melania Trump – who has a White House initiative to stop cyber-bullying – to ask:

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A “like” on Twitter by Donald Trump Jr. can have a enormous effect because he has over 2 million followers, who will inevitably perpetuate the false news. The result of the youth strategically, and naturally, pushing back through social media has resulted in Melania Trump supporting the youth and a recent meeting with one of the Parkland survivors.

This is a good example of the effectiveness of social media as a public relations and social engagement tool. But on the other side of the coin is the equally adept, but terrifying, use of social media to motivate and activate the Parkland school shooter, as well as others who have come before him. (I’m intentionally omitting the Parkland shooter’s name as to not bring him more attention, which was part of his motivation.) The Parkland school shooter and others have used social media to promote their twisted agenda, to learn how to kill effectively and efficiently, and to gain support for their actions.

So is social media bullshit?

I feel that B. J. Mendelson’s book “Social Media is Bullshit” is a misleading title. It’s not that social media is bullshit, it’s that certain individuals are bullshit and they use tools to further their horrible agendas. The book’s author, B. J. Mendelson, asserts, “All marketers, professional or amateur, are full of crap.” This statement and too many others in his book are expressed absolutes and hyperbolical.toolbelt

I’ve been working in the media industry for the past 20 years and the non-profit industry for nearly the past 10 years. Since my background and experiences are more rooted in traditional media (Film, TV, radio, print, etc.), I can see the evolution from previous forms of media to today’s, with the evolution of technology.

Similar to the past, it’s not that media, or even social media, is “bullshit”. Media is simply a tool. As with all tools, it can be used for good and it can also be used for bad. Take a hammer for instance. A hammer is a useful tool when building something. However, in the wrong hands, it could also be used as a weapon to kill someone. Again, the same instrument is merely a tool.