This week I had to read a book for my Human Sexuality class called “Oversharing” by Ben Agger. It discussed social media and blogging in a critical light that removed me from the normal “social media savvy” attitudes of the Cronkite School and showed me some of the societal problems with constantly updating Twitter and Facebook. The author defined oversharing to be when people “divulge more if their inner feeling, opinions, and sexuality than they would in person, or even over the phone.”
Agger argued that replacing in-person interaction with texting, tweeting or blogging is dangerous to society. In his view, discourse is lost in a tweet or Facebook post, and a blog is akin to a diary entry. Some of his viewpoints seem archaic and lack research, such as his commentary on blog posts. He doesn’t understand that the concept of blog has changed, and can mean a whole range of things, from someone ranting at Obama to a journalist conducting an investigation of a business. He simplifies many online practices, categorizing Facebook posts as pointless drivel about people eating enchiladas (like, his perception of Facebook is people engaging in the banalities of life) or Twitter as simplified chatter. He does not understand that many people use social media as an interface for sharing important information like newspaper articles or breaking news.
However, he makes some relevant points about how the smartphone becomes an extension of the hand, and how we always seemed to be “plugged in” in today’s day and age. As I read to class this week, he wrote, “I favor connection but not necessarily round-the-clock connectivity. We gain the world by lose ourselves in it.” It does make me sad that when I go to a restaurant with certain family members, we tap away at our smart phones instead of having a real conversation. And sometimes at my internship, even though my editor’s desk is 10 feet away, we email each other questions and conversations. I don’t know how much of a difference walking over to him and chatting would make, but I’m sure that we are ignoring something fundamentally human.
Agger theorizes that we all feel alienated in some sense, and the Web is there to fulfill our sometimes-overpowering loneliness. I know that I have to fight getting on Facebook every 10 minutes, even when I know I don’t need it. It’s nice to see what my friends are doing, but it’s also a waste of time to know every detail of their lives when I could be getting homework done or watching a movie or reading a book. It really, usually is a waste of time.
I wonder what the differences are in some of the fellows’ countries, where the Internet might be slower and everyone probably doesn’t have a smartphone. Do people feel more comfortable speaking to each other? Today almost all of my friends prefer texting over talking on the phone. Talking on the phone requires much more effort and complete dedication of one’s attention. Do people seem just a bit more physically connected in your home countries?
In the end, I think speaking in person needs to be held at more value than it is today. Nothing is better than a good old fashioned conversation, whether it’s a source, family member or friend.
Before Facebook and Twitter had fully gathered steam and the ethics regarding social media weren’t clear, one local news organization in New Haven, Connecticut, faced a difficult challenge in assessing what information was accessible and what information was private with a big homicide story. In looking to minimize harm but still continue to lead the nation’s coverage of the developing story, Independent faced a challenge in balancing ethics and still getting the job done. Here is a presentation providing all the facts that analyze what Independent did in this particular case, step-by-step.
Alright… so we all want to be leaders, yes. But most of us also do a lot of following, and many of us will usually do the following in the coming years as we graduate and work our way up ladders and etc.
I read a great article today by Tom Treanor off my Google Reader from CopyBlogger.com regarding the best ways to get “in” with people in your community over social media. Now, I have to admit that my new career world is surrounded by people who’re completely dialed into social media, so many of these post as a real challenge to me.
For those going into fields where social media isn’t necessarily a sixth sense, you can probably just start by talking about what you can do for a company/person with social media and you’ll be “in” within seconds (trust me, it works). Regardless of where you are or where you’re going, though, these are skills you’ll probably want to consider and even brush up on in the coming years and social media expands and innovates.
There are 14 tips total, but I’m only going to go over the first four because you should really check it out yourself!
- “Start cultivating:”
- Treanor suggests starting small by picking a couple people/businesses and subscribing to their blogs, following their Twitter, and connecting with them in every other way possible (Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, younameit). Once on their radar, pick up events their hosting and go to them, as well as engage with them online.
- Almost like sucking up but Treanor says it’s more like showing them you’re interested by reading their stuff and “thinking about it.” Much like the above bullet, share some of their posts with your own comments, comment on their blog, Tweet back to them, etc.
- Treanor says if you see holes in their social media, fill it. Help other followers find their way on the Facebook, maybe create a mini-tutorial post for the person/company. If you see anything you think could use some editing, send them your edits and ideas.
- This is a great one by Treanor and one I agree with wholeheartedly. If you see a connection between this person/business and another person you already know, connect them!!! The term, “it’s who you know,” didn’t come out of nowhere. Especially in Phoenix you’ll find it’s a relatively small world; making an extra connection is a great way to get ahead for everyone.
Coming off of Wednesday’s Cronkite Global Conversation, one thing that I found particularly interesting was hearing how Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is the most followed person in Russia on the social media site Twitter (with 198,823 followers). With countries around the world entering the “social media age”, we are left to watch and see how world leaders respond and react. In the case of Medvedev, he has clearly chosen to embrace the use of Twitter as part of his personal branding. Other world leaders are also taking up social media as a platform of representation. Consider Barack Obama, who currently has 12,834,291 followers. For some slightly less obvious Twitter users, consider this article (although slightly outdated) from the Huffington Post about world leaders who tweet.
With such a new medium, inevitably there will be growing pains as leaders look to take on Twitter as a means of communication with those they lead. I will use Medvedev as an example again, and point to his “accidental retweet” of a profane insult aimed at his political opposition back in December of 2011.
Even Obama hasn’t been immune to the harshest Twitter lesson of all: the unfollow button. He reportedly lost some 40,000 followers in a 24-hour span after engaging in a day-long Twitter campaign.
With more and more leaders looking to use Twitter to communicate, it is important to remember that the person behind the tweets we see often may not be the leader themselves, but could be someone from their campaign or an aide. The internet removes the visual or audible connection to the leader we have in something like a speech. It will, however, certainly prove useful in some fashion as technology continues to evolve and play a more important role in policy.
March 5, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Hubert Humphrey fellowship program at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, medvedev, obama, retweet, social media, twitter, world leaders | 2 Comments »
Alex and Evgeny on Wednesday led an enlightening discussion about the influence of social media in the world’s two giants: China and Russia. China is the largest country in terms of population, and Russia is the largest in terms of size, so the widespread use of social media has a large impact both within the countries and from a global perspective.
In Russia, Twitter reigns supreme. Spin-offs of Facebook (such as VK) are more common than Facebook itself, but Twitter is used by many. (One interesting fact we learned from Evgeny is that the most popular person on Twitter in Russia is Dmitry Medvedev, the president.)
In China, the situation is much different. After rioters used social media to collaborate, the Chinese government blocked many social-media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. While there are ways around the ban (such as a VPN, or virtual private network), people in China most often use the microblogging site Weibo as a way to communicate and collaborate. Weibo is the most popular microblogging website in China, with 250 million users.
Alex mentioned that Weibo gives the Chinese people a way to speak freely, despite the constraints their government has placed on their Internet usage. They use Weibo to criticize the government — which, in some cases, has prompted the government to act change. In the bullet-train accident last summer, for example, the Chinese government promised to investigate after an outcry erupted on Weibo.
In Russia, social media serves a similar purpose. The hot-button issue in Russia at the moment is governmental corruption, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (who is seeking the presidency) is at the heart of the controversy. Russians have been using Twitter to organize peaceful protests that have drawn thousands of people to Moscow and elsewhere in protest of Putin’s policies.
The use of social media to criticize government and even react to perceived injustice draws direct parallels, for me, to the Occupy movement that sprang up last year around the United States. The movement was (and still is) without a central leader, yet it drew huge numbers of people to cities all over the country, including Phoenix. They rallied in response to what they saw as an unjust economic system, and they used social media to hold the movement together. Twitter became a platform for spontaneous organization and constant updates from the protesters, and Facebook groups played a huge role in amassing crowds for the protests.
Having seen firsthand the exponential impact social media can have on empowering a group of like-minded people to come together with one voice, it was enlightening to hear that social media in Russia and China are being used in a very similar way. Both Evgeny and Alex talked about a “new generation” in their respective countries — a generation of citizens who use the power of the Internet to mobilize and to express their opinions to or about their government. I think the same thing is happening here in the U.S., and it’s exciting to see how social media is continuously evolving and being used to further causes all over the globe.
Taati and Mona both gave riveting presentations today about their home countries — Namibia and Egypt, respectively. I was amazed by how little I really knew about both of these countries. I learned more today than I would reasonably be able to fit into a blog post, so I want to narrow it down to two common themes I saw in both presentations: uprising against oppression and the use of social media.
I admit I don’t know much about the war in Namibia against South Africa, other than what I learned today. But the basic theme is similar to the recent uprising in Egypt: It was a fight for democracy, equality and freedom from oppression. That fight isn’t limited to Namibia and Egypt, of course — there are parallels to it in the Arab Spring and even the American Revolution. I think we all have a basic human desire to be treated with dignity and respect — a desire that transcends cultural boundaries. It’s interesting to see how that plays out in different countries.
One difference I noticed between the two struggles for freedom was Egypt’s widespread use of social media, both leading up to the revolution and during it. Of course, this has a lot to do with the time period — Namibia’s freedom fight occurred between 1966 and 1988, before social media took root. But it’s incredible to me how much of a role social media played in spreading the revolution in Egypt. Egyptian activists used social media to issue a call to arms to their countrymen to rise up against Hosni Mubarak, and what’s more, it worked. I think here in the U.S., we often underestimate the power of tools like Twitter and Facebook. We tinker around with them, but people on the other side of the world used these websites as a way to unite and rise up to defeat an autocratic ruler in a matter of days. Although the situation in Namibia was different, I wonder what would have happened if social media had been around during the war in Namibia. Would it still have lasted 22 years?
Namibia is on a path to reconciliation and increased stability, but that doesn’t mean social media has no place in the country. Taati talked about Vision 2030, the government’s quest to improve the quality of life of Namibians to the level of their counterparts in developing countries. I feel like social media could help bolster this in so many ways. It could help small businesses network and grow. It could empower women — only recently allowed to play a major role in the workforce — to start up their own businesses and be able to prosper. Whether it’s being used to promote a cause or as a professional tool, social media has an incredible potential for influence that I think a lot of us tend to take for granted when we use it on a daily basis.
I really enjoyed Steve Rubel’s talk at this week’s Must See Monday speaker series on transmedia storytelling using social and digital media to create better content and keep stories alive. Steve Rubel is the executive vice president/global strategy and insights, Edelman, an international PR agency.
1.Explosion of media channels. Sources of content and info come from professionals, friends, and corporation. The amount of content that was created from the beginning of time up until 2003 is now created in 2 days.
2.We live in a multi-screen world. There are four main screens people consume media from: TV, tablets, smartphones, computers. Experiences are now connected, watching, tweeting and using Tablets.
3. Every Company can be a media company. It’s extremely difficult to be a corporation and a media company, but now there are opportunities for companies to go directly to audiences, which wasn’ t true 10 years ago.
4. Stories are social. People share what they read and what to engage with the content.
5. Stories last forever. Google is where stories go to get reincarnated, because it’s such an influential channel. Arguably the most powerful media entity next to Facebook.
2.We love a good story. When crafting your story, think about the conflict, setting, protagonist, antagonist, plot and leverage technology to tell the story and reach people.
3. Content is king. If you create content that people want to read, you will be successful. There is tremendous room to be innovative.
Traditional media is mainstream, high reach with trained journalists, media that clients want to be featured in the most. Examples are NYT and CNN.Hybrid media is born digital, consists of blogs that act like media companies, have personalities,are more search-savvy and aggregate material. Examples are TechCrunch, Huffington Post and Politico.Owned media is corporate produced and co-produced own media content through websites and mobile apps and can have strong SEO. Rubel recognized GE, Starbucks and American Express as leaders in owned media.Social media is all the social networks that have a built-in audience like Twitter and Facebook. Rubel said social media is not a cure for marketing and PR, but simply a part of the system.