Best Blogs

I think my two best blog posts this year were The World Remixes More Than Just Media and The Same Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Could Get You A Job.

For my post about the world remixing more than just media, I think it demonstrates some of my best work this quarter because it linked the reading from that week (Remix, by Lessig) to something I was not only passionate about in my own life, but was relevant to society and applied Lessig’s piece on a deeper level and helped to portray my understanding of the reading. This reading was about similar “creative geniuses” that Lessig references in his technological remix piece, but uses this terminology to describe the founders of a new, one-of-a-kind medical school that is based on engineering curriculum. In addition to applying the content of Lessig’s reading in a new way to help demonstrate my understanding of the content, I also included a video and a stand alone quote within the blog. Media such as videos or pictures were not only a requirement for our blog posts, but are features that help to keep blogs interesting for readers (since, based on our discussions, our attention spans when it comes to long articles are sub par). The stand alone quote helped to add a personal style touch to the post by making the reader aware of something I thought was really important in my post. This was the first stand alone quote that I used in my blogs, but I continued to use them in most of the blogs after this one.

For my Six Things article, I think it is a great example of some of my best work in this class because, like my Remix post, it took the content that we had discussed in class that week – what makes online content go viral – and applied to it to relevant circumstances for the readers. Most of the students in this class have gone through the career fair and the process of looking for a summer internship or job, so this article most likely attracted them because the title includes language that makes it sound as if it will help them succeed. This post fulfills the requirements of our blog posts because in involves media and includes references to another article that helped me to link two ideas together. I also think this post was particularly clever because it links the six things that make stories go viral to attributes that employers find attractive while also demonstrating those aspects in the article itself. The article triggers a strong and positive emotional response – increasing the chances of getting a job, implements social currency – makes the reader feel up-to-date on how to be a competitive candidate, is practical – everyone is looking for a job, is memory inducing – includes funny memes that will help readers remember the content, and is a quality article because of its careful expansion of the reading material. In order to write about these “Six Things” and how they relate to something entirely different while demonstrating them in the blog post itself helps to show my deep understanding of the material.

Both of these blog posts are examples of some of my best work this quarter. They are similar in that throughout both I apply the concepts from the weekly readings to another topic that it made obviously relate to. I used good blogging practices in both by using media, additional references, personal touches such as stand alone quotes, and encourage conversation about the blog post’s content by ending each with a question or a statement that makes the reader think about the content and develop their own opinions about it.

 

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Old Fashioned Millennial: I Don’t Want Your Sentimental Emails

Current research has evidently shown that people these days would prefer to receive a sentimental message from their loved ones through email as opposed to in a voicemail. Indiana University’s article stated that “particularly among millennials”, emails may be interpreted as more intimate than a voice message. Well, I guess I’m old fashioned, then. Leave me a voicemail.

One of the aspects of email that has been shown to particularly attract people is the ability to write and rewrite until you’ve said exactly what you wanted to say in exactly the way you wanted to say it. Isn’t that nice? Ultimate do-overs until everything is perfect? Call me crazy, yet again, but I’m not sure that’s exactly how love, or life for that matter, works. We don’t get countless do-overs in our relationships with others until we can make things perfect. Relationships are built on the genuineness of imperfection. We don’t always say the right things in the right way, we don’t always do the right things in the right way, but being able to move past these, even laugh at them, builds a stronger foundation. I’d rather hear someone stumbling over their words on the other end of the phone trying so hard to say something sincere in the right way than read a perfectly constructed email that reads as though the sender didn’t have to rewrite it over and over again. Imperfection is sincere. Leave me a voicemail.

frozen-its-true-love1

Bustle built off of Indiana University’s article, and even went so far as to create a list of some of the “many” reasons that emails are better than phone calls. They can make as many lists as they want. An email from a loved one will never compare to hearing their voice on the other end of the phone. Leave me a voicemail.

One of bustles reasons for email being so wonderful involves being able to get out everything you want to say without being interrupted or distracted by the other person’s reaction to what you’re saying. Relationships are about learning to listen. Relationships are about learning to say difficult things, good or bad, to the face of another. This makes relationships stronger. How are we supposed to build on our relationships if we never have to learn to listen because all we have to do is read? If we never listen to the voice of another person saying sweet things, sad things, or bad things? I want to hear your voice. Leave me a voicemail.

A song from 1999 called “Email My Heart” by the beloved Brittany Spears says

“Email my heart and say our love will never die

And I know you’re out there and I know that you still care

Email me back and say our love will stay alive

Forever, email my heart.”

As much as it pains me to disagree with Brittany Spears (not really…), please don’t email my heart. Leave me a voicemail.

What about you? Would you rather receive an email? Or should they leave you a voicemail?

 

The Same Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Could Get You A Job

There are stories we see online that we either feel compelled to share for one reason or another, or scroll right past it because it doesn’t peak our interest, and we don’t think it will peak anyone else’s either. The New Yorker reported that there are six specific aspects of a story that can determine whether or not it has the potential to go viral: what emotions the story triggers, how intense those emotions are (arousal), social currency, if it’s memory-inducing, has a practical component, and is a genuine and quality story. Turns out, the same attributes that can make or break a story online, can make or break you in the professional world.

interview

The New Yorker stated that emotion and arousal have been deemed to be two of the most important factors of a story to determine its destiny on the internet. Stories that trigger strong, positive emotions are expected to be shared more those that don’t trigger any emotion, or trigger negative emotion. Similarly, getting a job can be very much about who you know and how well you know them. Using a personal connection to help you find a job will likely only work if the relationship you have with that person(s) is a positive one. Additionally, the better you know someone (this pairs with arousal) the more likely it is that they will be able to put in a sincere good word for you. An article from Business Insider discussed a study that was performed to analyze how different people landed their interviews or current jobs. The results?

“Your chances of getting an accepting offer are a ‘statistically significant’ 2.6% to 6.6% higher if you were referred by a current employee than if you weren’t.”

Who you know, how well you know them, and how highly they think of you make a difference. A significant one.

Social currency in an online story refers to making the reader feel as though they are more in the know for reading the story than before, making them compelled to share it with everyone they know. This concept can be adjusted slightly for a job or interview setting. The goal would be to make the employers believe that not only would they be making the right choice in hiring you, but that their company will benefit and progress as a result. Showing them that you will bring them closer to their business goals will make you a more attractive candidate.

A story that people can remember also increases its chances of spreading around the internet. If people remember the story, they’ll be thinking about the story. If they’re thinking about the story, they just might share the story. If you give your interviewers reasons to remember you, they’ll be thinking of you, and be more compelled to hire you. There are multiple ways to leave your mark in an interview. It starts with the greeting, can include telling an interesting and relevant story, and being diligent about follow-up communication. (Sorry for the language below, I couldn’t resist).

smooth

The practical component of an online story makes readers want to share it because they, and everyone else, want to know what’s going on right now. People want to read stories and hear about events that may have a significant impact on their lives. The practicality component of getting a job can come from your previous experiences that are relevant to the company and position you are applying for. The more experience you have, whether it’s from internships, clubs, or other aspects of your lives, employers want to hire people who will know what they are doing, and can demonstrate their interest in the position by talking about their previous experiences with similar concepts and situations.

practicality

And finally, the what I consider to be underrated, yet obvious factor contributing to the sharing magnitude of a story: the quality. No one wants to share a boring, poorly written, or anti-climactic story. Not only is it not interesting for the initial reader to read, they don’t want other people to know that they’ve wasted their time on such a pointless story and are trying to make others do the same. You can have the most outstanding resume, loads of experience, and know the right people, but no one wants to work with someone who isn’t a quality worker and person. If you won’t fit in with the culture of a company, the other factors can only do so much for you as a candidate.

Funny, isn’t it, that their are such similarities between what makes us feel compelled to share a story multiple times and what makes an employer feel compelled to hire you at their company? Are there other aspects of an online story and/or a job seeker that can contribute to their success?

There’s Facebook Etiquette for the Deceased

We’ve talked a lot about how technology has taken over many aspects of our lives. Well, now it’s beginning to take over our afterlives as well.

Facebook has made it possible for their users to predetermine the destiny of their account once they die. They can allow someone to “take over” their account once you have passed away, making it a kind of memorial for them, or they can have it deleted after they die. While I’m not necessarily a huge fan of directly involving Facebook in my death, I am aware that people already use Facebook to memorialize their friends and family that have passed away.

Mourning the loss of someone close to you via social networks such as Facebook is a personal decision, but it is important to consider what effects it may have on the other people who happen to come across that post. This article discusses proper Facebook etiquette regarding posting about deceased friends.

One of the main points that this article addresses is respecting the family members of the person who has passed away. There have been instances where people have found out about the passing of a loved one or family member through someone else’s post about it on Facebook. This should never be the case. I think that the family has every right to hear about this first before they see everyone else’s comments about it, even if the posts from other people are meant to be respectful. It is suggested that friends of the person who passed away “follow the lead of the family members” in order to minimize the chance that a family member finds out about a tragic event in an unfair way.

Additionally, the article made comments about the most respectful way to go about posting memories or “I miss you” posts about people who have passed away. While some family members may find comfort in seeing the number of people who post about how much they miss their loved one, or sharing cherished memories of them, other family members may be caused more pain by seeing these posts. It is completely normal to miss and mourn over a friend who has passed away, but when it comes to making your feelings known online, it’s important to think of that person’s direct family, as well.  You never know who someone might react to seeing a post with one of their loved ones tagged in it. Perhaps if someone wanted to share a memory of a friend that passed away, they could share it directly with a family member that they know would find comfort in hearing about.

A psychotherapist named Hilda Burk comments that while some families find comfort in seeing messages and posts about their loved ones that have died,

“That can be overwhelming and they’d rather make sense of their feelings in a more private way.”

I’m not trying to say that there is a right and wrong way to grieve the loss of a friend, family member, or other loved one, but with how easy it is for such a huge population to see one post about one thing, I think it is also important to think of how your posts are going to effect others. Something I would hope most people practice when posting about other aspects of their lives, as well.

Facebook has made its way into the afterlife. And social media has become and outlet for so many people, that we are bound to come across posts that are reflecting on a memory of a lost loved one, or commenting on how much someone is struggling with the loss. Technology is weaving its way deeper and deeper into the personal aspects of our lives, and though it’s hard to consider others’ feelings when ours are vulnerable after we lose a friend, it’s something we should try to put into practice.

The video below challenges some of these thoughts, looking at grieving online as more of a positive thing than something we need to particularly careful with. While I do not doubt that some people do find a sense of comfort in dealing with their grief with the feeling of community that can often be found on social media, I, personally, find it more important to come to terms with, and understand my feelings about the loss of a loved on or a tragic event offline before I see how many people are posting about it on social media.

 

Dependent and Disappointed

I used to live in denial that I was too attached to my phone. That I needed it in my hand or within reaching distance all the time. I’ve given up on trying to convince myself and others that this is true. It’s just not. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can engage in conversation and be respectful enough not to want to look at my phone, or have a fun night out with my friends and forget to look at my phone for an extended period of time, but when I’m bored or just going about my day it calms me to be able to see my phone most of the time.

lostphone

It’s so ironic that being able to see my phone gives me a sense of satisfaction and calms me down. Especially because what I see on my phone, on the variety of social media apps that I have, often triggers anxiety and stress. As Laura Turner says in her article, it’s not that we aren’t aware that social media triggers feelings of angst, yet we keep coming back time and time again. I wish I had a good explanation for why we allow something that causes such a negative response to have so much control over our lives, but I have no idea.

In an attempt to prove to myself that I was capable of going about my day and having conversations with people without my phone, I decided to try the first Bored on Brilliant challenge: In Your Pocket. For this challenge, I was asked to put my phone away, either in my pocket or in a bag, while I transported throughout my day. Since it was fall break and I was basically staying in an apartment all day long, I tried to leave my phone in one spot all day. So when I got up to get my laundry or make a sandwich I didn’t take my phone with me. The struggle was real. I hadn’t realized how subconscious the action of grabbing my phone was when I got up to go somewhere new. Did I complete the challenge? Yes. Was I incredibly disappointed by how difficult it was for me to complete the challenge? One hundred percent.

withoutaphone

Though it was difficult, I believe it was a worthwhile experience that will make me more conscious of my actions (when it comes to my phone) in the future. I can’t guarantee that I’m not going to ever look at my phone while I’m walking down the sidewalk or sitting in the passenger seat, but I may think twice about how often I look at my phone while I move about my day. There are so many things to absorb in the world around us, though the anxiety we feel from social media often paints the world as an all-around terrible place, there are still beautiful things to be seen. Beautiful things that we may miss if our eyes are glued to our phones for the majority of our day.

I’m worried that this may end up being a super hypocritical blog post. I am definitely attracted to the idea of being able to resist looking at my phone so much throughout the day. I am also a realist who somewhat doubts that in a week I will still be as conscious as I am currently saying I’m going to be when it comes to how often I look at my phone. How can we continuously stay aware of how often we look at our phones? How much control our phones have in our lives? Does “practice makes perfect” apply here? Are there enough hours in the day to practice enough?

Trolls in the Real World

Since we were first able to post our opinions online for the world to see there have been individuals, groups, and associations that thrive on filling news feeds with hatred. Whether discriminating against a group of people or an event, these comments have been infecting the internet for as long as it has been possible to do so. Unfortunately, long before the trolling the internet was a problem, trolls roamed, and continue to roam, offline in the real world.

In his article regarding trolls on the internet in association with freedom of speech and anonymity, Lee Raine comments that in many cases, trolls develop their sense of power from the fake face that they hide behind online. Trolls used to be able to post their hateful opinions and judgments online without consequence and a way to be stopped. These days, social media platforms have developed censorship mechanisms that allow users to report offensive posts from trolls, which can lead to the elimination of that particular post and potentially of the user themselves.

Another article discussed a study that attempted to reveal common personality traits among internet trollers. Internet users were prompted to take a survey that was designed to assess the presence of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism in their personalities. The survey gathered information related to how often the users commented on online websites and forums, and also questioned how different participants commented on these websites. The results of the study showed that online trolls were far more likely to demonstrate narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic behaviors. Even further, it was determined that those trolls who genuinely enjoyed posting deliberately argumentative or offensive comments demonstrated a strong overlap with sadistic personality traits.

The plot below shows the results of this personality test survey; making it clear that trolling often characterizes all of the personalities commonly referred to as the “Dark Tetrad of Personality”.

dark-tetrad

Though this may not come as a surprise to some people, this article also suggested that these individuals may use internet trolling as an alternative to acting on these thoughts and sadistic preferences. While they may be intrigued by disrupting the internet, it may be the case that the only reason they are not disrupting society in real life is the anonymity that the internet provides.

Personally, I found this frightening. Though we can filter their comments and posts, we cannot filter internet trolls from the real world in the same way (as easily). Raine commented that “The future Web will give people much better ways to control the information that they receive, which will ultimately make problems like trolling manageable.” No one can accurately predict the behavior of internet or real life trolls. The difference, however, is that we can remove the actions of internet trolls, hopefully before the have too much of a harmful impact. With real life trolls, we are forced to deal with the aftermath that results from their actions. Their actions cannot be erased in real life.

On October 1, 2017, without warning, a troll’s real life actions resulted in the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States. No one could have predicted this event. There was not history of trolling that implied this event was going to take place. Now, as a society, we cannot erase this troll’s permanent “comment”.

The internet can develop filters and mechanisms to protect other users from the impact of trolls’ potentially harmful posts and comments. In the real world, though, how are we supposed to “filter” the trolls out before they permanently leave their mark on our real life news feed?

 

Change is Constant: Adapting is Only a Choice for so Long

They say the only constant thing in this world is change. At this point in many other blogs and blurbs about “change” I would probably go on and on about how the world is changing on a deep level. You know, really get into our feelings. Well, I’m not exactly trying to dive deep into our inner issues here. I want to talk about the ever-advancing technology that is taking over most of the planet. Specifically, I want to talk to those individuals who are so resistant to this change. The people who claim they will “never get a cell phone”, “never order stuff from amazon”, “never use a phone instead of an atlas”. To these people, I initially applaud you for sticking to your guns and resisting the urge to change something that you don’t think is broken. However, there’s more to it. Let’s talk.

You can only fight the change for so long. Not only will technology continue to advance, the people responsible for the advancing have tools and tactics that they can and do use to get people, such as you, on board with what they are trying to promote. This article discusses some of the methods that technology promoters use to get people on board with a new product. Author Tom Haynes advises those who advance technology that

“If you just build it, they won’t come – you need to shape users’ behavior by acknowledging their world view rather than your own as a technological implementer.”


Side Note: I struggled for 5-7 minutes trying to get back to normal text after inserting that quote. Sometimes I wonder if the anti-change group may be onto something, after all.


The article describes a process known as the “Three-E Strategy” that is used to get technological resistors to buy into a new product. Broken down, the Three-E Strategy includes making sure the technology is Evident: making the potential new users aware the technology in a way that carefully outlines its associated costs and benefits. Second, the implementers and designers try to make the technology Easy to use and intuitive for most of the targeted users. Finally, the new technology is advertised as being Essential for the intended users. In other words, the technology is going to be presented in a way that makes it seem as though your life is one million times better with this “new thing”.

The point is this: you can try and try to be reluctant to the changing technology, live your life the way it is, the way you like it; but the changes are never going to stop. Before you know it, a technology you told yourself you’d never need or want to use is going to be part of the lifestyle you want to keep while you resist the even newer gadgets that are coming out. Making successful technological advances is a strategy that has been tweaked and perfected over the decades to convince an incredible amount of people that they are necessary changes. Even if they may only seem to be necessary because of how much more convenient they make so many things, people can rightfully fight that they are, in fact, not essential. Even so, it is likely that in time, even those people will end up with what was once the “newest gadget”, even if they are already behind the times when they finally get it.

I think some people are resistant to technology in part because they don’t want to end up like the people in the following picture:

Phones Hypnotized by their phones rather than having real conversations. My opinion? What you do with the technology is up to you. How much it consumes your life is, in part, up to you. Resisting it entirely? I’m not convinced you have much of a choice.