The professional necessity of social media

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Well folks, I survived. Not only did I complete an entire course on a subject I would rather avoid, I learned how to be a more effective consumer of social media. I learned how to build a professional profile for my platforms and how to market not only myself by my skills as a social media manager. I’ll admit there were moments where I felt aggravated but overall I enjoyed the class.

The social media strategy was simultaneously the most frustrating and rewarding part of the class. First I’d like to state that Tina Popson is an amazing woman and I thoroughly applaud her willingness to sit through 19 social media strategies.

Bull horn.jpg

Photo courtesy of freerangstock.com and Jack Moreh

The strategy itself proved difficult because the Creighton Recent Alumni Association doesn’t have the same draw that a typical non-profit has. For example, the Humane Society has kittens and puppies to draw in their target audiences. The RAA, on the other hand, lacks the warm and fuzzy feeling that puppies and kittens bring to the table. My partner and I, therefore, made it our mission to make the messages delineated in our strategy give people the same comforting feelings.

Although difficult, by creating this strategy I have added one more marketable tool to my resume – which in today’s consistently fluctuating job market is never a bad thing. I learned that despite my aversion to the various social media platforms, my best bet is to be flexible and adaptable because my job’s requirements may change with a moments notice.

I am grateful for what this class has taught me because there is a virtual guarantee that I will use this technology in my future job. Similarly, I rediscovered a love of liking innocuous things on Facebook. I may not post often but I believe liking and retweeting things is a step in the right direction.

I found the most fascinating blog to be the public shaming blog, which centered on people who have been targeted by a negative viral movement. This blog assignment encompassed everything I have ever hated about social media – from the furious to the down right violent responses and more. More often than not social media feels like a trap being set and while I have several strategies to avoid the ire of the Internet, I am still hesitant to post anything vaguely controversial.

Simply put this class was a wealth of information and a veritable education for people like me who avoid the constant stream of social media. I am grateful for the skills I have learned and the many exciting projects we developed throughout the class.

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Animals, Adoption and Instagram

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The SPCA of San Francisco is a nonprofit Instagram that manages their account exceptionally well. Other than being a nonprofit dedicated to animals, which is sure to attract viewers to their Instagram, their captioning of cute photos is topical and informative. They balance the number of informative posts against the number of posts dedicated to finding homes for animals in a way that keeps their audience aware of problems and distracted with adorable animals.

While I’m sure there are plenty of people who adopt rather than buy their animals, it can still be a tough market to corner. There are assumptions of neglect and abuse that stigmatize animals in need of adoption and there are Internet trolls who attack those who have bought animals in the past resulting in further polarization of the market. The SPCA of San Francisco, however, encourages people to adopt but doesn’t demonize those that choose not to.

dogs

Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com and Joe Targonski

Their Instagram account is also adept at advertising their different social events like Dogs on the Catwalk and Be Mine, which both promote the animals in need of adoption. Unlike most advertising campaigns on Instagram, however, the SPCA uses a gentler touch, sending out reminder posts without overwhelming their page. This tactic of sparse but potent advertising works in their favor because in doing so their account feels substantially more authentic. Occasionally posts that demonstrate the need of the nonprofit rather than the more marketable aspects can bog down nonprofit social media accounts. Suddenly instead of propagating the good the nonprofit is doing, the account only demonstrates the massive size of the problem and a feeling of defeat.

In terms of account value their social media plan is efficient at raising awareness and I think that speaks to a well-managed and effective social media campaign strategy. It strikes me that although they don’t post everyday, their strategy remains potent because they get their message across. Additionally because they often have animals in their pictures it’s hard to only look at one post. I think the main message I received (other than adoption rules!) is that social media campaigns have to have an inherent attraction to them that makes people want to read more, especially if they aren’t compulsively posting. Overall, I like their strategy and the beauty of their account, however simplistic it may be.

Changing

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She’s changing the world with love and compassion. That sounds erroneously self-important doesn’t it? Don’t worry I think so too but I also think it’s the best way to describe who I want to be.

Today I could go on Facebook and see hundreds of posts filled with violence. There may be news reports of a school shooting, someone live-streaming a fight in the parking lot, or pictures of horrifically abused animals and children. And while I believe its critically important to talk about these issues, I think society has become utterly desensitized to the images, so much so that scrolling past them barely phases us.

In a world that swipes through pictures that should disturb us, I want to remain sensitive to these pictures because they show me what needs to be changed in the world. Pictures of suffering peoples should be intolerable to see because they reveal the dire circumstances that exist and need to be fixed. I think in order to change the world you have to remain affected by it.

peace-sign

Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com and Chance Agrella 

I don’t believe I can singlehandedly change the world; create world peace and end hunger. Those are lofty goals that are far beyond what one person can achieve. Instead I believe that remaining sensitive in a world that forces us to be hard is the first step to changing the status quo.

When I feel outraged by the President’s dangerous actions, no longer can I be indifferent; I am motivated to become a better activist. When I see a news report on a school shooting, I ask what can be done to prevent this unnecessary violence.

I can honestly say that some days I wish I could turn the sadness off. There are days when closing my eyes and saying lalalala as loud as I possibly can are appealing, but on those days it’s more important than ever to act lovingly and compassionately.

My philosophy class has been discussing the Dalai Lama’s Ethics of a New Millennium, in which his holiness describes why the world is in need of a spiritual revolution. He argues that we have become self absorbed, too focused on our own troubles to be in solidarity with others. His statement is not meant as a rebuke of society, especially western society, but rather as a wake up call; a call for our actions to be made with the good of others in mind.

I am not perfect nor would I ever claim to be. To follow the Dalai Lama’s indictment is to radically shift my thought process so that I am consistently thinking about others before myself, which is – and surely will continue to be – a long process. But if I have to contain myself within a sentence, she’s changing the world with love and compassion, is what I strive for it to be.

Printing the Written Word

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While I may rail against the technology that seems to permeate every aspect of daily life, in all honesty I have many technological advances to thank for the comforts I enjoy today. My favorite is the printing press. Yes, I am going all the way back to basics here. I love the printing press because without it I’d have to be a monk to access a library of any consequence. My parents can attest I’d probably be burned at the stake for witchcraft for dressing as a monk just to be near books. To put it simply I love to read. Without the printing press we would probably still be in the Dark Ages, living in small huts, trying to survive on what our benevolent dictator gave us from our hard labor.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

The printing press began the Renaissance, which many credit with the beginnings of our rapid technological advancement. Suddenly everyone had educational opportunities not just the upper class. New ideas could travel swiftly from province to province; revolutions could steadily gain steam and depose cruel autocrats. The printing press essentially gave us the world of comfort we have. And while I may object to some advances in technology, I couldn’t live without my books, which give me worlds to navigate despite sitting in one spot.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

And yet I have another innovation to thank for my favorite pastime: the written word. The beautiful prose and exciting adventures I traverse through in the pages of my favorite books wouldn’t be there if humans had never invented writing. I’d be lying if I said I read classic texts as voraciously as the new dystopian novel but growing up in a Protestant church and school I read the Bible often. While it may not be the oldest manuscript or even the most interesting, it does put an originally oral history into text, which has been passed down through generations. It was my introduction to religious mythology, morality, and sensual poetry. The Bible, like all books, influenced the way I look at the world and, because I insist on learning my lessons the hard way, if I learned all of my values and history from my parents telling stories I probably would not be where I am today. Don’t misunderstand me; my parents are some of the best moral storytellers I know but I have a tendency not to listen, even when it’s in my best interest to do so. Books have a way of showing me the consequences of my actions before I commit them by leading me on a journey with someone I can identify with. Without the written word or the printing press I’d probably get into a lot of trouble on a regular basis but then again the world itself would be in trouble without these inventions.

The Battle for the Brain: Technology Versus Humanity

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I wake up in the morning to my alarm clock/phone screaming at me to greet the day. I turn over to silence it and immediately check my email to see if any of my professors sent me an 11 p.m. message with a homework assignment for class that day. After checking my email, I transition to Facebook, then the news and so on, all before I get up to shower. What is a little sad about this routine is it’s automatic, no thought process behind it at all.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

Often I think about this conditioned behavior and I desire to unplug completely, to live in the rural mountains far from the technological overload. A part of me worries that I miss what is going on in the periphery as I chase a story all over the Internet. Do I miss the big moments of people I love, simply to chase the little moments of people I have no connection to? As the devil (technological overload) and the angel (time spent purely unconnected) chase each other around in my head, I’m left to wonder if we’re pushing towards a world similar to Wall-E’s. Debates rage on about whether the rewiring of humanity is positive or negative but no one denies that it exists.

I, for one, believe the rewiring has had permanent negative effects on all areas involving relationships. For example, Tinder, among other dating apps, is designed to introduce single people to one another based on geographic location. Besides the irritating shallowness of swiping right or swiping left based on looks, I am continually bombarded by stories about sexual assaults, vitriolic reactions to feminists, general disrespect of women and sexual trafficking, taking place within the app or as a result of setting up a date through the app.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

I am regularly disgusted by predators using the Internet to demean and terrify others because they are protected by anonymity and defended by like-minded deviants across the globe. Our laws are neither current nor stringent enough to prosecute these people and thus the cycle of violence continues. If we truly are pushing towards the world of Wall-E, I am terrified for what this could mean in terms of sex and relationships. In fact I’m terrified for the world in general should we continue to be manipulated by technology and brainwashed by the clever sociopaths who scan the internet looking for malleable followers.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

As someone who is regularly plugged into the world through her phone, I can’t lead the charge of rebellion against technology without being hypocritical, nor can I deny the benefits technology has given the world. What I can do is conscientiously object to the use of technology for perpetrating violence and demand laws that punish the culprits. I can be an advocate changing the way we use technology.

In Media We Trust

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My name is Rachel O’Neal and, awkward introductions aside; I’m an aspiring journalist. I love to write, although you’ll never see me carrying a notebook for anything but school. I tend to hide what I write despite wanting to write for the masses. My experience with media and technology is limited. I have been told quite frequently that I am an old lady trapped in a 19-year-old’s body. It’s true, I love MASH, sewing and wandering the streets; but I’m not entirely media averse.

Where my understanding of technology ends

Where my understanding of technology ends

The Huffington Post is where I go to get news and information, although when I find something interesting, I will search high and low to find unbiased sources for stories I think are thought-provoking. In search of a source I’ve been known to turn over every rock, check under every bridge, and travel to lands far away. Okay so that was hyperbole but if I’m interested in a story I will run down every news article before I develop an opinion. For me that is the most irritating part of news media. However, I do think that most dedicated journalists attempt to publish non-biased information but our biases are so inherent inside of us that we tend to subconsciously write our biases in or they’re injected by the public, as journalist Jonathan Stray contends.

Where everyone else's begins

Where everyone else’s understanding of technology begins. (Picture courtesy of freerangestock.com)

One of the best things about journalists is that their reputation is constantly on the line. Personally, honesty is a value held near and dear to my heart. For better or worse I attempt to tell the truth, as I understand it, regardless of whether or not it will get me in trouble. In the interest of honesty I will admit to not understanding programming in the slightest. I will also admit that I worry a great deal about how dependent we are on media. We are constantly inundated with information; which may not be the worst thing in the world from an informational standpoint but new studies have shown that it has drastically changed the way we think and how long we can pay attention. This dependence has created a problematic reality where people have become incredibly partisan because they can choose how they consume media. For example, a democrat can choose to only look at sites that support democratic issues while ignoring other sources of potentially useful information. This information overload isn’t all bad; in fact, it’s made impossible things possible. It has given revolutionaries access to one another, friends a chance to stay up to date on each other’s lives despite distance and brought justice, if only in the eyes of society, to perpetrators of crime. Media has fundamentally changed our society, whether for good or bad remains to be seen.