Tag Archives: social media

Power of Being a Girl 2017

Power of Being a Girl

YWCA Niagara is hosting it’s 11th Annual Power of Being a Girl conference within the region.
Many events lose interest of the community and participants after that many years, but this conference remains popular. Why? Maybe it has to do with the powerful impact it has on the grade 10 girls from all over the region who participate.

Throughout the years, the event has touched many lives. One of the speakers in previous years explained that at one of the conferences, some of the girls came up to her individually to self-disclose issues they have felt including thoughts of suicide and the difference the day had made to them. 12 girls that day felt empowered enough to find positives in their lives, things to look forward to as well as to speak about it. That’s some of the differences these events can make.

As huge a success as that story is, Power of Being a Girl has also inspired girls to discuss body image issues, negative feelings of loneliness. The discomfort most girls face during the ups and downs of teenage years. Some students have said:

“I felt alone and isolated. I was living in everyone’s shadow,” she said of the difficulties she once had but has since overcome. “Now I want to help others get out of the shadow and let their light shine.”  – St. Catharines Standard

More participants said:

“Your skin is the costume. Your personality is the beauty,” she says.

“If you keep trying to be what society thinks is perfect, you’ll never experience peace.

“You’re always chasing.” – St.Catharines Standard

The conference gives girls a safe place where they can check in with themselves and realize they are not alone in their feelings. They have the chance to ban together and encourage confidence in each other.

“At first, I was really nervous. And then I realized, we’re all girls here,”

“Everyone has flaws. They have to learn to love those flaws. They have to learn to love themselves.”

“Really, really good. Made me proud to be a woman.”

“My favourite part was knowing that I’m worth something and finding strengths I never thought I had.”

This year’s conference speaks to healthy relationships. We have no idea what’s truly in store for these participants in terms of revelations but we sure look forward to exploring them. If it’s anything like the last ten years, it will be a huge success, change the lives of so many.

#POBG2017

Getting To Know You-Public Shaming

CrystalME

Have you ever posted a comment, that you would not have said standing in front of the person?

The short answer is no. I believe the words I type are as important as the words I speak. If I want to be an example of ethics and morals to my son, then I need to behave responsibly in the medium where his generation lives.

What do you think needs to be done to change the wave of hate that is being openly displayed on social media these days?

I think one of the easiest ways to stem the tide would be to not allow anonymous accounts. The fact is, we tend to treat people more kindly when we can be held accountable for our actions. If employers, friends and family could search their responses, would people be as quick to openly display their hatred?

I am providing you with an opportunity to give a message to someone who is currently a target of public shaming – What is your message?

Don’t engage. State your feelings once publicly if you feel the need, then walk away. Interacting with hatred will only perpetuate the drama, which is what they are looking for. Live your life. Love your people. You can’t control the abyss.

Irene

Have you ever experienced or been the target of public shaming/defamation of character on social media?  What has been your reaction? 

Shaming in any circumstance isolates and diminishes one’s life .

Having been homeless , and making my life public about Poverty has brought into my life a silent shaming . No one comes to me personally, but I see it written in comments in response to articles I am in. It identifies me and others as being on the outskirts of society because of our circumstances.

I still see it in the faces of people who have misconceptions about Poverty. Pity and exclusion are forms of shaming.

The comments from people in general are positive but those few that had hurtful opinions  did damage to not only my dignity but to the dignity of every person finding themselves in Poverty, or being Homeless.

I had mentioned that getting a food voucher with my name on it to use in the grocery store that I used, was humiliating and very undignified. I could not use it, despite needing it. It brings an element of shame that my circumstance is one that is being made judgement on. It identified me by my circumstance, not by who I am.

I usually do not respond when comments are so negative, but felt a response on behalf of everyone living in Poverty was necessary to give a response not in anger but to provide a perspective that would perhaps not change those people that made the remarks , but to give power back to myself and others. Poverty is a circumstance. It does not define us .

Should someone targeted negatively on social media respond?  How?

Yes, absolutely. I have always felt that we need to speak out against injustice against any person .

People who target others can be violent. It has to be done with caution and support. If possible , privately , or in my case a response written in the paper. Not in a battle of who is right or wrong, but to give another perspective . Never respond in anger.

People  have misconceptions that they have embedded in them . Once you are able to change their perspective , there is understanding. We must stand up for every individual , it cannot only be about us. If someone is targeted it affects us all eventually. We are connected as a society .

Tolerance  for every person , it just simply means …This is who I am…just let me be.

I advocate for every person , it does not end with the issues that only affect me.

I am providing you with an opportunity to give a message to someone who is currently a target of public shaming – What is your message?

To first get support from someone you trust. Never engage with the person/s , If in a situation where it escalates , or can be  violent …report to authorities. Never engage in public verbal combat . It validates the person doing the shaming.

Kaitlyn

Have you ever posted a comment, that you would not have said standing in front of the person?

Yes and No.  Yes, because I write more eloquently than I speak. So I will often reply to someone’s Facebook post in a way that I simply would not have the ability to in person. That being stated, I do not post comments that I do not intend to fully stand behind when in person.

A few years ago, I am sure I was a lot quicker to post a comment than to speak. However, today I am constantly aware that what I type is forever. Most of my social media accounts are attached to my real name, and I know I can be held accountable for my public opinion. I am happy to put my thoughts and words behind my real name online, because I write without the intent to slander, perpetuate hate, or post opinion before fact.

What do you think needs to be done to change the wave of hate that is being openly displayed on social media these days?

I think that we as individuals need to understand that being hateful is not contributing to a more positive world. I think we, as individuals, need to make a choice to think on and rethink on everything we post online. I think that education needs to begin at home and in school. I think that authorities need to take what is posted online as just as seriously as what is said in person.

People need to understand that their actions have consequences, and hiding behind a screen is not an excuse for inhumane treatment of their peers. We, in our cushy society, have been conditioned to complain first and offer help second (or not at all). At some point, we need to understand how important it is to be educated about issues before proposing a solution. Hate should never be in the equation.

In your opinion, do today’s social views encourage public shaming/defamation of character on social media, and outside the cyber world as well?

It is very evident that public shaming is becoming an epidemic, and, due to its acceptance as a “just” form of “punishment” by a majority of people, I do believe that today’s social views are encouraging it.

But we should call “public shaming” what it really is: “mob justice.” And it’s dangerous.

More often than not, when people – like you and me – jump on one bandwagon or another to participate in public shaming, we do not look to the source for proof that what we are attacking is even real. It is the thrill of being able to publicly berate someone for their ignorance, poor judgment, illegal act, or even spelling mistake. It is to be able to say: We are better than him/her/them.

We can take a recent example of the dentist, Walter Palmer, who was publicly shamed after he “murdered” Cecil the Lion.  He has been a target of threats and protests since the discovery was made of his kill and had to close his dentistry and go into hiding.

“Good!” some of you may be thinking, but is this form of online-vigilante-justice appropriate? However much I dislike hunters for killing game for sport and trophy, I do not think that a human life becomes less valuable because the human has made mistakes or even committed a crime. It needs to be dealt with in an appropriate way. Asking for the support of authorities, and speaking with clear rationale and reason. Pointing the finger to only visible problems allows the invisible problems and underlying cause to grow and flourish. Now we have all attention pointed to one individual, while hundreds of people go out and commit the same crime without a target on their backs.

Also, this form of online harassment gets carried to those that have done nothing illegal or “wrong,” but are treated in much the same way by those intending to carry out their own vigilante agenda.   Laci Green was targeted in much the same way by people who opposed her views, and she had to go so far as to call the police and stay with some friends while being directly threatened that her apartment was being watched and she was in danger.

One final example (among millions), is parents using the internet as a place to publicly shame their children. Can you imagine growing up, making normal mistakes that kids do – as that is how we learn – only to be publicly shamed by our parents to potentially millions of people? That exposure of vulnerable people (children, etc) should be especially not tolerated by our society, yet often it is.

We use examples of public shaming, like Palmer’s slaying of Cecil, to say, “We’re doing right by singling out this individual for wrong!” But we’re not doing right.  It is quite clearly mob justice, and the people participating are often ill-informed and ignorant of not only the “real” reasons for the start of the harassment, but also how to actually make an impactful and powerful change in the world. Public shaming is an excuse to focus attention about small problems or people rather than big solutions.

Social Media & Online Safety

We welcome our new blogger Sam to the team – check out her blog on online safety!

Social Media Safety

Society’s ever growing demand of social media presence drives us to post everything we do from what we eat, where we hang out and our vacations; all leading up to the fact that our social media profiles allow us to share our entire life with strangers.

The tried and true saying, “Stranger Danger” is valid when talking about online safety. Accepting strangers increases not only the risk of your personal information being leaked but also identify theft. The biggest tip moving forward would be to never accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know.  It’s also time to purge your friend list, remove anyone that you’ve never met in real life or who you haven’t talked to in the last two years.

Lock Down – Secure Passwords

We all know to never share our passwords but here are some tips for creating passwords that are the muscle man bouncer to your online existence:

  • Make at least 8 characters long
  • Don’t use complete words
  • Must contain UPPERCASE, lowercase, numbers and symbols (%&@)
  • Create a phrase you’ll remember but then switch out the letters for numbers or symbols

Example Phrase – Superman Flys

Example Password – $uP3Rm@N^S

I Don’t Give A Damn About my Reputation . . . Oh Wait! Yes, I do!

            Anyone who uses social media has an online reputation but do we even know what our reputation is saying? Try searching yourself on Google; use your name, nicknames, abbreviations, and anything else you can think of. Search other sites that you visit such as blogs, social networking sites, and photo sharing sites. Once you’ve discovered the cold hard truth about your online self, evaluate it. Ask yourself:

  1. Is this the reputation I want to have?
    1. What is missing?
  2. Is the information accurate?
    1. If not can you delete it?
  3. What are your privacy settings at?
    1. Do you want to make them more private or public?
  4. What would your Grandma say about the posts?
    1. Remove anything that you wouldn’t want to show to Grandma.

Now, we know about our online rep but how does one maintain it? It’s simple! Just think before you post, stay positive in your post and comments, and like our teachers said, “Treat others as you would want to be treated!

Finally, if you can only remember one thing from this blog post, remember this – once posted, always posted.

21st Century Relationships

For the better part of the 23 years that I’ve been on the planet, most of my relationships have been maintained through computers and different social media sites.  Gone are the days of meeting friends at the nearby park and playing tag or on the jungle gym until the street lights come on.  Now – and by “now”, I’m referring to 2015 and the last decade – kids, teenagers, and adults seem to rely on building and maintaining relationships through social media sites, video games, and cellular devices.

I jumped into the modern relationship machine when I was in the seventh grade and I created my first MSN Messenger account.  Remember those?  Where how much you liked someone depended on how many smiley emoticons you sent?

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 2.04.24 PM

It was on MSN Messenger that many of my relationships – both romantic and friendly – were put publicly on display for others to see.  The trend of putting your boy/girlfriend’s name in your “status” blew up and was seen in almost every single conversation when you scrolled down the page.

 😀 ~*~*~* I <3 YOU M@++ ~*~*~ 😀

Disclaimer: I don’t actually love Matt – I don’t even know a Matt.  Little did I know – way back in 2003 – that  the initiation of my MSN account would forever change the way I, and everyone else in the modern world, built and managed relationships.

Let’s just get this modern day relationship building site out of the way – online dating.  Ew, there . . . I said it.  I know, I know – don’t knock it ’til you try it.  theholidayWell, I have tried it and it proved to be a horrible way at finding a semi-decent relationship and it never worked.  Online dating, for me, wasn’t good for anything except the occasional conversation with someone until they moved onto the next “Plenty of Fish.”  In general, this machine we call “dating” is a site where women and men can judge one another based on a simple photo and a small description of who they are and what they like to do.  How can someone truly value you and a relationship based on a description of who you are?  I personally think that every single person is worth more and is more amazing than any 140 character blurb could ever describe.  Yet, online dating sites seem to be the number one way for singles to find “meaningful” relationships – and hey, sometimes it works!  But if I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s not to judge a book by it’s cover – in this case, a person by their profile picture – yet that seems to be the motto of all dating sites.  How can you build any relationship off of something like that?

One of the only social media sites that I have continued to use over the last decade (crazy…) is Facebook.  As someone who studied media communications in university and has had the chance to work with Facebook both personally and professionally, despite the odd privacy flaw, it hfacebookas stood the test of time as the most popular relationship building sites in the world.  While the purpose of my Facebook account has changed over the years – there was a time where I posted a new status every few minutes – I mostly use my account to remain in contact with the friends and family members I don’t have the chance to see throughout the year.  Yes, it is disappointing that sometimes at Christmas, the conversations with my cousins will begin with “So, I saw on Facebook that you . . . “, I can’t deny that Facebook has allowed me to still be a part of my family members lives digitally since I can’t be there physically.  Don’t you agree?

Despite all of the benefits that Facebook has in aiding us to be in two, three, four places at once with our friends and family members, the disappointing fact is that we live in world where relationships no longer rely on and grow in face-to-face situations.  Before we even meet a person, we can look them up on Facebook and “prepare” ourselves with a quick overview of who they are – or at least what we think they are based on their online selves.  How are we ever going to have genuine conversations with our family members or friends? There are no surprises in life anymore.  Every important life event is posted on Facebook – engagements, weddings, babies – that we no longer wait for the “Oh my gosh, I’m engaged!” phone call.  Do we truly get to know a person when we meet or see them?  Do we think that we already know everything there is to know about them – their likes, dislikes, past, present, future dreams – based on their Facebook?

I take back what I said about Facebook’s only flaw being their security issues – Facebook has a lot of flaws.  For a site that was created to connect us all, despite time zones and distance, it has certainly disconnected us in many more ways.  Recently, I’ve  made a conscious effort to stop “Liking” so many of my friends posts on Facebook.  Why?  I want to make sure that I can genuinely talk to them about exciting things that happen in their lives when we see one another face-to-face.  I want them to tell me, not Facebook.  Some of my friends were shocked (which is weird…) by my choice and have a hard time understanding why I have Facebook if I don’t “Like” things.  I like to think that my likes and dislikes on Facebook and other social media sites don’t determine how much I like or dislike my friends – or anyone else for that matter.  Life isn’t MSN Messenger, anymore.

social

 

Have we lost the ability to have meaningful engagement? I think not.

I ensocial media blogjoy connecting with my family, friends and co-workers through social media on a daily basis.  I feel engaged with and connected to them as we communicate back and forth.  While usually fun and lighthearted, these daily exchanges are sometimes serious and there have been a few that are heartbreaking.

I enjoy connecting with my family, friends and co-workers as we sit together to share a cup of tea, a delicious meal or to simply ‘talk shop’ around the table.  Similarly, these daily exchanges are fun and lighthearted, sometimes serious, and once in awhile heartbreaking.

Meaningful engagement is what I am prepared to provide no matter the forum – however, I am careful not to intermingle these two very different exchanges.  I think the problem arises when we choose to do both, simultaneously, and think we can be good at it.

My solution, don’t choose.

Be present in every moment when face to face with family, friends and co-workers.  Save the social media connection when you are alone and want to reach out.  Trust me, if you follow my simple advice, the people around you will not only appreciate your full engagement, but more often than not pay you that same respect.

We haven’t lost the ability to have meaningful engagement, we just need to remember there is a time and place for both…..just not at the same time, please.

Images courtesy of Google Images.

The Legal Implications Of Public Posting

Welcome to our first guest blogger!

Terry Hunter, Community Legal Clinic Lawyer  

Legal Implications of Social Networking

Ten years ago there was no social media.law Eight years ago there was no Facebook and now there are 1.23 billion users, most on mobile devices. We are in the midst of a communications revolution that is accelerating at an incredible pace. We are on the cusp of the next wave of technology which will include devices like Google Glass that will record and make available more intimate personal information than ever. We will record with wearable devices where we go, how we feel, our emotions, and our preferences in a range of areas from consumer to personal attractions. There is frenzy around social media and everyone wants to use or exploit it.

What is social media? It has many labels but the definition generated by Wikipedia (a form of social media relying on the collective contributions of its users) is: Social media are media for social interaction using highly accessible publishing techniques. Social media use web based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. The use of the term dialogue is key. We all say things we would not commit to written form. Social media blurs that distinction and makes the dialogue instantaneous and irretrievable.

There are many legal implications but I am only going to touch on a few.

Information Security

Much of social media is the creation of communities amongst its users. The central component of community is trust between friends. That trust is fertile ground for organized crime for committing fraud. Malware is used to infect and steal sensitive personal information. If for example, you download material that infects the company or organization you work or volunteer with, you and your organization may face liability. In Ontario you can sue for breach of privacy.

Defamation

Social media provide a forum for libelous statements. Social media allows for the broadcast of these comments over an incredibly wide area. This increases the scope of damages in a lawsuit.

5-predictions-for-social-media-law-in-2012-c596f27f55

Employment Law

Many organizations use social media to vet candidates for employment and background checks. It is unclear the extent to which employees have privacy rights concerning the use of social media at work. If done on employers’ devices there is no privacy.

Criminal Law

There is a cyber-bullying bill before Parliament which will increase police access to IP addresses that will allow increased monitoring of potential criminal activity. The Parson case in Nova Scotia, involving an intoxicated young woman caught in a compromised position on a cell phone camera, ballooned when a few friends shared it to everyone in the girl’s school.  Their actions resulted in her suicide and two boys were charged with serious criminal offenses.  Increasingly, it seems, we fail to see the potential connection between social conduct and criminal activity.

 

 

The #Hashtag Activism Debate

Many log on to their desired social media outlets daily and scroll their way through conversations with friends they may or may not know in the real world, watch a video of the cutest yawning sloth to grace the digital page, catch up on worldly events, clicking on whatever they feel the propensity to share. Especially when considering causes deemed important.

In an attempt to unravel my stance on the ‘#Cause craze’, I found myself riding the fence on its effectiveness. As with any social media trend (or social media itself, for that matter), two sides emerge in the argument on the use of #hashtags as a way to bring a voice to a cause; is it helpful, meaningful, or integral to a greater solution or  is it merely another outlet we use to disguise apathy with minimal effort?

When we see friends, family or even strangers sharing an #InsertCauseHere post we can’t help but ponder what we could do to mirror that support. Many perpetuate the cycle by holding up their own hand-scrolled signs, pictures or statuses as evident with causes such as #Movember, #NoMakeupSelfie, #BringBackOurGirls, or even #Kony2012.

In the end, what does all this hashtaging do for the cause, and what does it say about us as a society?

Woman's Liberation parade - Fifth Avenue New York 1971
Women’s Liberation parade – Fifth Avenue New York 1971

When you think of fighting for a cause, do you picture a person holding a sign from the comforts of their home office? When did the picture stray from organized protesting outside City Hall, burning bras in the streets, strapping oneself to bulldozers, or standing in the way of outfitted military personnel?

The problem is that over time, even the most radical physical attempts of protest can grow ineffectual, and a simple #hashtag share eliminates potential bodily harm and jail time. It’s agreed that to make a difference you must not simply fight, but fight smart; social media being a safe outlet to engage others in your struggle. If people don’t like you or what you have to say, you block them and be done with it.

With social media at your fingertips on a multitude of handheld options, most discover the daily news electronically instead of sitting down in front of their television or reading the newspaper.  As a bonus, the handheld option grants something previous options cannot; the privilege of a quick, opinionated response. Enjoy an online article, hit a “Like” button, and everyone and their 4th grade teacher knows about it, and now has the opportunity to do the same.

As a species we crave for others to unite in common opinion, and can now do so over a morning cup of coffee, surveying immeasurable minds globally not just those within our immediate surroundings.  Subjects more in-depth than your plan to bathe the dog, are woven within posts, force-feeding attention where an issue would otherwise be overlooked. Grave consequence follows when the population is uninformed on global issues, especially causes that only gain attention if public outcry creates a platform for protest. There is no way one could gain the support of officials, politicians, NGO’s, sponsors, or those with the power to make a difference and assist in your cause, if they don’t even know what it is. Hashtaging does the job of an advertising firm with no more effort than a finger-click by someone with zero training.

The original intent of #Activism is informing the masses, creating a dialogue, getting people in to see their doctors for present health issues, opening the eyes of those blind to growing environmental disasters, recruiting those in influential positions to assist in the red tape process, and reaching those with monetary capabilities to sponsor the cause.

And, at its most basic principal…

Creating Awareness!

In that, I think we can all agree that #Causes has succeeded.

Unfortunately, as with most modes of communication meant to embolden the populace, there is an ugly side to #Activism.

Most trends that compete for our attention are virtually harmless: bangles, toe socks, teen vampires, or mustache.  We decide which drives our current fancies and jump aboard. Unless the ship you jumped requires facial tattoos when your particular field of work strictly prohibits such self-expression, the consequences are limited to how much you care about what the world thinks of you. In that lies the issue, as causes are not the same as items that end up in next year’s yard sale.

#Activism has become trendy, something to measure or alter how others perceive your online persona. Eeek, I know. While #hashtags may have started with the intent to easily search for desired content (you can even take classes on how to #hashtag like a pro), it seems that the message often gets lost in the mix of a multitude of 5k runs and coloured bracelets.

Awareness ribbons/bracelet color chart
Awareness ribbons/bracelet color chart

Not everyone falls within this generalization, of course. I mean no disrespect to those who raise money, wear the bracelets, and do the run in the honour of themselves or loved ones who suffered through a disease.  Nor is it a bad thing to support or raise money using social media so non-profit organizations can better serve their community because many people are putting in arduous work to create change. Changing your status to #InsertCauseHere without knowing the particulars of the issue just to feel better for doing so, is not activism.  Holding a sign with #InsertCauseHere  to post yet another Photoshopped selfie, just to sit back and pray for a high “Like” count, again, is not activism. Wearing a cause bracelet for no more purpose than the colour complements your skin tone, is not activism no matter the afterglow you earn.

Without knowledge of the cause you share, you could even perpetuate shaming, injustice, or promote a matter that upon more consideration opposes your basic principals. And what about all the other causes – such as medical problems and political unrest that often get zero page time even though they affect many more people?  Ignorance is no excuse when information is so readily available.

For all those who share their #InsertCauseHere AFTER researching the true meaning behind the hashtag, including those who sign petitions, donate money (even pocket change), lobby NGO’s and government for progressive change, I applaud your tenacity for recognizing the true goal of #Activism.

In the end, no matter the side of the fence you fall #Causes has a purpose- to educate, create change, or fundraise on a global scale- there is an objective beyond the causal mouse-click or photo share. Before you become another one of the drones without true knowledge of the purpose behind your actions, make an effort at understanding and find a way to become involved in something more than the superficial show our social media followers expect.

True change requires action.

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” – Henrik Ibsen”

Question of the Month: Social Media

Last month, the YWCA’s Blogging team sat down to discuss ideas for postings in June. The discussion began with a topic that has – until quite recently – been at the forefront of most social media and news outlets: #BringBackOurGirls. We talked about the irony of the Western World taking up “our girls’” fight on social media – yet hasn’t really done much else. We talked about the possible drawbacks of our increased consumption of social media, and the thousands of messages that are given equal weight in our day – from the trivial “what I ate for supper” to the deeply serious mass murder that has taken place in California. And we asked each other about whether or not it’s possible to internalize these messages or to use social media to engage with each other in any sort of meaningful way.

BringBackOurGirls-Irina-Shayk-May-2014-BellaNaija.com-01

The discussion was so interesting we thought we’d make June a Social Media themed month. We will examine it’s effects on our personal relationships and global issues as well. To begin, we thought we would introduce a new feature, our Question of the Month. Our bloggers will give their personal answer to the question, inviting you to contribute your answer in the comment section below. Give us your opinion, your thoughts or comments. We would love to hear your answer.

What role does social media play in either global issues or personal relationships?

 Opinion #1

Personally, the use of social media has allowed my family who are scattered across Ontario, Canada for that matter, to keep up to date on all that goes on…the good, bad and sometimes ugly.  But we are able to remain connected.

My brother here in St.Catharines easily connects with his grandson, living in Ottawa…a little extra face time between real-life visits always does the heart good.  They would not be able to do this without the use of social media.  I am guilty of messaging my kids, friends and co-workers for quick answers to everyday questions and getting, often times, an instant answer – Emilee definitely needs to get quicker.  Best ever – those nagging random questions that pop into your head- the answer is at your finger tips through the world-wide web.  I can research information and keep up with current events – enabling me to take up a cause or issue and bring it to my community or circle of friends.  I enjoy using all these incredible tools at my disposal, not often, but I do… and they enhance my life.

picHerein lies the grey area of social media for me.  For all its good there is also an ugly side.  It should never replace real relationships, and it does.  We should never post anything that you wouldn’t want the world to see or hear, and we do.  It has been the undoing of  teenagers’ self-esteem, many a personal relationship, friendships, employment, and not surprisingly political figures’ careers.  Celebrity, thanks to social media, has a new definition.

It gives people power, that would otherwise have none over what you think, feel or believe.  Not every knows where to draw the line – as the user or reader.

I will always encourage, through personal interaction or social media, healthy debates, differences of opinions and the right for anyone to speak what they feel.  After all we live in a free country and for that I am grateful.

Please remember, social media is a powerful tool.  Make sure that what you post today, you will be proud of tomorrow.  Respect yourself and your audience. May social media enhance your life, not define it.

Let me end my post with one of my favourite sayings:

People will forget what you say, people will forget what you do, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Opinion #2

I recently updated my LinkedIn profile. It was a simple title change that I had forgotten to make several years ago. I got the requisite “congrats on your new position” comments from several of my contacts. The thing is, it wasn’t a new position (I work for myself and am often tempted to put “bottle washer” as my title) and pretty much everyone who commented already knew my work and the title I go by. And they’ve known this for years. Not one said “hey laggard, congrats on finally updating your profile.” It got me thinking: does anybody actually read social media posts with a critical eye? And, sadly: “does anybody actually know me?”

My answer to both is: clearly not many.

This explains why I also get many LinkedIn endorsements from people who neither know my work or what I actually do. (Thanks for your vote of confidence, but I am not actually a children’s book illustrator…although I do hire them.) It also explains why I am so frustrated by the sometimes funny, but often inane memes posted by people on Facebook. Many are thinly disguised misogynist rants or vague attacks on the validity of science. If I based my knowledge of a person solely on the memes they post on Facebook, I’d have an awfully skewed view.

antisocial_fullsizeBut yet they are what is presented as identity (or at least, one supposedly ironic and savvy aspect of self identity). But we post them because we identify with them, right? So when you post a meme that’s sexist, I’m going to believe you identify with the sentiments it expresses.

And therein lies the rub, in personal relationships social media isn’t about knowing people. It’s about people managing their image of themselves (sometimes very badly if you aren’t particularly critical of what you post).

I guess that’s what’s most unsatisfying about social media to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing pics of your dog and vacation. I even get a kick out of the occasional inspirational quote. But I want a connection, not vapidity. I want you to occasionally say something thoughtful and meaningful. I would like to more than occasionally engage in meaningful dialogue that includes a re-posted article that you want me to read and hopefully, comment on. But you don’t need to endorse me unless you are a client, or co-worker who knows my work and really likes it.

Opinion #3

Being connected has become essential. My stomach drops and I feel completely naked and vulnerable when I forget my phone at home. Be it through social media, smart phones, or the laundry list of handheld devises on the market, if someone wants to contact you there’s ample choices, and being without that tether feels foreign.

In our attempts to make communication easier, we crossed a line somewhere.

I enjoy being able to text my husband during a busy work day to gain some encouragement that I’ll last the shift’s remaining hours, but does everyone need to see what I ate for breakfast? Unless I’m advertising a new hotspot it seems pointless, and yet, we all feel the need to snap away because even picture-taking has evolved into a novelty a toddler can grasp.

Instead of calling each other, we use these devises to let someone know we’re thinking of them, or to make plans, so somewhere our evolution into ultra-connectvity has actually stuck a wedge that’s significantly widened the gap. When people text or write “LOL” have they actually “laughed out loud”? Or would they wink at you or stick out their tongue if they were standing in front of you? In general, it’s makes me squiggly to imagine.

Many times while texting your expression hasn’t budged even if you wrote “hahahahaha” Social-Media-Stress-Syndromeacross the text box, creating a superficial edifice most complain about, but perpetuate daily because that’s how thing are done. I’m no less guilty. I HATE calling people. My nervous, weirdo side comes tripping out and I stammer and laugh inappropriately. If it wasn’t for my job requirements, I’d never dial another number again. Cutting through all the expectant pleasantries in a quick text to ask a question or something that requires minimal response, just makes more sense. Though is mostly for the sake of my own comfort, and I’m sure that’s the case for others as well.

Who was the last person you called to see how they were doing instead of texting or messaging? For me it was my mom, but only because she’s not connected to social media. Everyone else probably forgets what my voice sounds like.  Until we evolve into a species that does not require a voice, we should exercise them for times that count, that mean something to someone. Social media is great to connect to those without the long-distance charges, but for myself, the only person without social media is my mom, and I talk more to people I’ve never met in real life than those I have. Mostly to connect over common interests those in my life don’t share, social media has created a unique support system difficult to replicate.

Egyptian journalists protest in support of their imprisoned colleaguesCauses” are another hot ticket item the masses have committed to social media. The debate of whether or not it does a lick of good for the actual cause is…well, debatable. But we can all agree that what cause sharing on social media has accomplished is superficial awareness at a minimum. See the #hashtags, hand-written photos, or pictures of 5k runs enough, and you have a basic understanding of who is “trending”. Does this translate into dollars for the cause? Not a chance, but the hopes are that the awareness bug will infect one person at a time until it reaches someone who can do something to assist in the struggle the cause is lobbying for.

Maybe that’s why people have issues with social media. It’s a bit like the plague hitting globally instead of creeping through household to household. Did I just compare social media to the plague? Yup, it happened. A plague without all the gooey nasty stuff, but in the end has potential to drive true relationships into quarantine status, where no one truly communicates with anything close to genuine concern.

My VOW?

  1. Get over my ridiculous hatred for the phone and call people that matter to me more.
  2. Only share causes (or anything else for that matter) if I intend to follow through with more than a status update.

Is social media healthy for our species or are we drowning ourselves in #hashtages,  shares, and “Like” counts? You tell me.

*Images courtesy of Google