Have You Ever Felt Alone In A Crowded Room?

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… maybe this was because everyone was on their phones! “People today are more connected to one another than ever before in human history, thanks to Internet-based social networking sites and text messaging. But they’re also more lonely and distant from one another in their unplugged lives” says Massachusetts Institute of Technology social psychologist, Sherry Turkle (Sherry Turkle, “Alone in the Crowd”). Social media helps us stay connected to hundreds of friends, business associates, and acquaintances. It has widened our social circle, increased our support network and made it easier to organize social outings (duh). But has it brought us emotional stability? Is it better to have 340 “fake” facebook friends or 3-4 true best friends? Social media is slowly eroding our ability to form close, ever lasting bonds with others because its communication methods are superficial and lacking in intimacy. Ultimately, we are more alone with 340 friends than we are with just a few. This causes apprehension between the ways in which we connect and become intimate with our friends and family. Therefore, the extended use of social media and connection that occurs today increases feelings of loneliness, feelings of unimportance, and the desire to always be in contact.

The lack of intimacy and face-to-face personal contact increases feelings of loneliness. Many teenagers and adults “hide behind” a computer screen, which distances the feeling of intimacy, in order to be able to speak their mind freely, don’t lie – I know you’ve all done it once or twice, I definitely have. Because there is a boundary between you and the person you are talking to, it not only gives you the courage to say what you want, but also generates a feeling of emotional distance. In reality, you are alone with your computer – a piece of metal, thus increasing feelings of loneliness. The reason many teens would rather speak though a screen is to have more control over the conversation. They risk creating true bonds with others because they do not want to be put in a position where they must think and speak on the spot, instead they sit at their computer thinking and re reading what they are about to say, often making the conversation less intimate and sincere. Imagine talking to your crush over Facebook Chat, how many times would you re-read and re-type and re-think each response then you call in your best friend to read it once more. All you are doing is trying to figure out if you should send “hey what’s up” or “hey how are you doing” or “hey how was your day?”… don’t be shy, we are all victims of it. It can provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy. Even though one may have many friends on a social networking website, relationships formed and maintained through a screen are not deemed as true bonds. This is the difference between having many fake Facebook friends, and having a best friend who you can share everything in the world with.

Sitting at a family dinner table with the people around you on their Smartphones increases feelings of unimportance. When someone is text messaging someone else in the presence of other people, it makes the people physically around them feel less valuable and less important. It seems as if there is something better and more interesting to talk about than whomever is sitting in front of them. This can occur not only within the family, but at school and with friends as well. Many teachers have the rule of no cell phones or laptops in class. This rule is in place because, not only does it make the professor feel less important when students text instead of being engaged in the lesson, but it is also offensive and rude. With all the technological advancements and social networking tools in today’s society, this happens too often. As a society we must do a better job of creating and enforcing social norms to combat this effect and engage with the physical people around us instead of over a simulated network.

In today’s society the ability to be alone, enjoying your own company, seems to be on the decline. People have a strong desire to go online and talk to others whenever they are alone. It is important to learn to enjoy some “alone time”, time for personal reflection and relaxation. In the end Social Media is here to stay and, with its many benefits, we wouldn’t want it any other way. But we must learn to use it wisely. We must make time for face-to-face contact, make eye contact instead of glancing at a smartphone, turn off our electronics and truly enjoy the person/people we are with. Ultimately we must also learn to enjoy being alone, in order to become less lonely.

Is A Picture Really Worth 1000 Words?

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“These days, anyone with a smart phone (equipped with a camera and/or video recorder) is close to having a portable archivist. And indeed, many say that when they don’t use their mobile phone to document their lives, they feel remiss, guilty for not doing so” Sherry Turckle wrote in her book Alone Together. In the book, she refers to this phenomenon as “life capture” and she discusses the issues for people who constantly feel the need to record every minute of their lives. She poses the question “If technology remembers for us will we remember less?” There is a massive rise in popularity of cell phones with cameras installed within, I personally do not know a single person who does not have a cell phone with a cameria installed, do you? It is not surprising that pretty much everywhere we go they we witness a picture being taken or have our picture taken. The once enjoyed luxury of taking pictures and making memories has become such a passive and common act, occurring so frequently (too frequently?) , that it has lost its uniqueness and the extraordinary power that accompanies a special photograph with meaning behind it. It is now primarily used to create an online version of ourselves on a virtual online world Facebook to be used to embellish, impress, and show off our lives to others in addition to archiving our lives to look back on in the future.

Technology has become a major part of our lives both socially and intellectually. Socially, technology interferes with our lives because it has made archiving life’s everyday events far too important. Alternatively, in an intellectual sense, technology has enabled the brain to have a larger capacity for remembering more relevant information instead of cluttering it with useless knowledge.

Teenagers today are taking this memory tool, the camera, to a whole new level. They are becoming obsessed with Facebook and uploading pictures for all their online friends to see. We are not living our lives to the fullest and instead we are shaping our lives around this Facebook world where we simply use the camera to “produce an impressive Facebook profile” says Turckle.  In today’s new day and age life recording has become such a big deal that it could has become a distraction and possible a burden on people. Instead of living our lives in the present, because of this need users feel to constantly record, we are spending our present lives trying to create an archive for our future selves. What happened to living in the present and enjoying the “now”? People have started doing everything for future benefit, but if this keeps up we may never be able to enjoy our lives as we live them in the present since we are so focused on archiving for the future.

Nobody takes the time to write down his or her memories anymore, instead we believe taking a picture can replace a written memory. For example, when people travel to new places, they occasionally keep a written journal in order to remember the thoughts, feelings and experiences that a picture cannot capture. Since today, technology, in essense “remembers for us” and these journals are not kept as much anymore. I remember when I went to Disney World with my family, every night, my parents made me and my brothers write a paragraph or 2 (or for my littlest brother a couple words or scribbles) each night describing our day and feelings we experienced at the amusement park aka favorite rides, how we felt meeting our favorite characters, etc… something a picture cannot capture. When was the last time you did this? Not for a while (if ever) I’m assuming.

Is a picture really worth 1000 words? Or is it more advantageous to keep a journal and write down our memories rather than taking a snapshot? It’s the memory that recalls the feelings and experiences within the picture, and if that memory is forgotten, it is gone, but it can be captured and saved forever with words.

Although I too am guilty of taking WAY too many pictures instead of focusing on enjoying the event and having fun, I believe this obsession with pictures needs to die down. Individuals should pay more attention to what matters in life and, perhaps, less attention to recording every mundane act for posterity. Life, and one’s overall contentment with it, is more about remembering experiences and the sentiments that are associated with them than remembering the events captured in a photo to post on Facebook to make it seem like we are having fun. I think we have to use technology in a smart way. We need to be knowledgeable in how and why we are using it. We need to live in the now and stop worrying about archiving for the future and embellishing our online Facebook profiles. Is archived life truly living?

IN IT TO WIN IT

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Gamification is a great way to engage consumers, learn about your target market, and increase your bottom line! Gamificaion, in essence, is the use of games in a non traditional game setting with the intent to elicit desired behavior and engage with consumers in a meaningful way. It turns the target audience into gamers and gets them to interact in a positive and engaging way with your brand. Gamification has recently become very prominent in the social media world. Nick Pelling coined the term in 2002, although the phenomenon did not reach its full potential and popularity until about 2010. Since then the trend has received positive recognition and is being used by companies worldwide. A great example of gamification is something that Fitness guru Jillian Michaels came up with. She gamifies her workout plans by awarding badges to users who stay on track and complete their goals. As we all know, fitness plans tend to start fazing out within a couple of weeks, which is bad news for a business that relies on people staying the course. This is a great way to keep your consumers engaged and excited throughout the whole regiment!

Facebook is one of the leading models for successful gamification. It is a social networking site that is used my many businesses as a promotional and advertising tool in addition to its major social communication services for everyday users. On Facebook many companies have the opportunity to post contests in the hopes of it going viral and being recognized by many users. Many of these contests include answering questions and or having to “share” a specific photo on your own Facebook timeline in order to gain further recognition for said company. After, you will usually be told that you are now entered to win either a cash prize, or a special prize that has to do with the specific brand that you are now promoting. I find it a very successful promotional tool because it engages consumers and it benefits both the consumer as well as the advertiser. Additionally, it takes very minimal time and barely any effort for the consumer to participate; it’s usually just the click of a button!

On the other hand, if the contest requires one to share a picture and promote the product or service on their own Timeline, then the consumer has just become an ambassador for that brand. This may stop some consumers from participating! Would you want to share a picture of a brand, maybe something you don’t want the world to see (perhaps it’s a guilty pleasure or a childish obsession) like Barbies on your Facebook Timeline and have it stay there for weeks for all your friends to see? I sure wouldn’t. This has stopped me from participating in many contests online, even though the prize could be pretty tempting. Many users use Facebook to archive their lives for their friends and family too keep up with, and engage in. These features affect people’s reputations, and have the ability to show the viral world the events of your life on a regular basis. The task of upholding a specific social status quo largely factors into the actions of Facebook users. Updating your status, uploading a picture online, or promoting (aka sharing) a specific product/ brand reflects one’s personality and “online persona” for all to see and judge.  Therefore, before posting something on Facebook each user must ask themselves; “If I post this on Facebook, do I mind if the rest of the world sees and judges me accordingly?” Now here is a question for you, if you came across a promotional contest on Facebook where you had to state your favorite Pokemon, My little Pony, or Sesame Street character, why, and share a picture of it in order to win a cash prize of 100$, would you sacrifice your virtual world online reputation to do so?

Big Brother Is Watching YOU

And by Big Brother… I mean the online community, business owners, your peers, and even your own boss. Big Brother is a universally known fictional character from George Orwell’s Novel 1984. Big Brother is the mysterious dictator of Oceanaia, a totalitarian state. In this society, everybody is under COMPLETE surveillance by technology Big Brother.

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Today, we live in a panopticon where all of our actions are forever recorded and closely observed by anyone and everyone online, somewhat like the fictional dictator, Big Brother. A panopticon is an area where everything is visible. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe all inmates of an institution without their knowledge. This was possible because the guards in the central tower were not visible to the inmates. Therefore, the prisoner internalizes the gaze of the guard and adjusts his behaviors accordingly. Power is most effective when it is invisible and unverifiable. Big Brother came about WAY before the Internet but yet he definitely acted as a panopticon for the citizens of Oceania, maybe you could say that Orwell was foreshadowing technological innovations for the future, does he think that certain aspects of the Internet could be a drawback to society? Do we act differently online knowing that an entire online community existing of our friends, family, associates, bosses, and even random strangers is observing us?  Technology surrounds us daily; therefore we must act in a responsible manor with it because one step out of bounds could cost us a friend, or even a job.

If we thought it was bad before, having our entire lives archived on social networking websites like Facebook, it’s just getting worse. The archiving and pantopic technologies are becoming portable to the point where they sit in our pockets, purses, bedside and even the palms of our hands at every second of every day. Instead of just being able to record what we click on and post, these mobile smart phones are soon going to have technologies installed in them where they can document our facial expressions and note where our eyes are drawn to on a specific page. This new technology, on the Samsung next generation Galaxy will have an auto-scrolling feature that can use head movement cues to detect when you’re paying attention to what’s on the small screen, and when you look away. It will have such high eye detection accuracy to the point where it can detect where our eyes are glancing on the page and which ad catches our attention the most. Gathering all this facial data and feedback will help marketing grow to the next level, although is it worth it? IS FACIAL DATA CROSSING THE LINE OF PRIVACY INVASION? Or did that line get crossed years ago when they started using our personal data from Facebook and Google use to gain information on a specific target market. In my personal opinion, if you chose to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… you yourself should be responsible for what you post and should have enough understanding of the internet to know to use discrepancy when posting possibly inappropriate pictures. Yes it is an invasion of privacy, but by singing up for these sites like Facebook, you are accepting the terms that whatever you post belongs to Facebook, and in turn you now get access to everybody else’s pictures and posts and get to enjoy the online social life.  Life is all about give and take. Nowhere is there going to ever be a one sided relationship where only one side gives and the other side purely takes. We can’t escape this panoptic society, so we have to find a way to either get around it, or live with it. Where do you draw the line of invasion of privacy?

We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands

According to emarketer, the number of Smartphone users in Canada will rise to 16.4 million by 2016 (emarkter, july, 2012). And almost half of all Canadians today own a Smartphone according to an Ipsos Reid study published Feb 21, 2013. The three technologies that are taking over our society today are the Android, RIM Blackberry, and the Apple Iphone. Initially, the Blackberry ruled the market. Businesses were supplying them to employees because of the exemplary organizational system it offered in addition to the stable and highly protected network it ran on (and still does). It was the newest and coolest technology because of their instant messaging service called BBM (Blackberry Messenger), which far surpassed the act of text messaging. Therefore, all the consumers (both kids and adults) wanted to engage in this innovative technology as well. Within a year the world had been taken over by Blackberry.

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Although, with any fad, especially relating to technology, there will always be something bigger, better, and cooler that will shortly come to be and the consumers will easily divert their attention to the newer toy. This next new toy happened to be the Apple Iphone. Not only can it store your entire Itunes library; songs, movies, podcasts and all, but you can also miraculously talk to someone face to face through video chatting right on your cell phone! Best of all, there are endless applications to be downloaded that can keep you entertained for days. Social media today has come so far its almost unbelievable. You can order Pizza Pizza with one easy click of a button; you can take a picture and upload it from across the world for your friends to see; you can watch movies and stream live TV from your cell phone, you can listen to podcasts by anyone, you can play endless games from any genre, you can surf the web, and best of all you can even shop online from your favorite store and brands all from the palm of your hand. Almost all companies today have a mobile app to accompany their online website, in today’s society it is almost impossible to be successful if you are not compatible with all mediums. Tao Cruz says it perfectly; we really do have the whole world in our hands, literally!

Because of the advanced technological innovations the Apple Iphone has brought to life it has really taken over the industry, leaving the Blackberry and Android in the dust. In order for them to get back in the game they have to come up with their own competitive advantage that will steal the consumers back. I would have to say that the defining advantage factor that the Iphone has is most definitely its applications and easy-to-use touch screen technology. As you can probably tell I am an avid Iphone user. I made the switch last October and haven’t looked back. Apparently the newly arrived Blackberry Z10 is supposed to be even bigger and better… not sure what else one can possible add in one little device but I guess well just have to wait to be amazed (hopefully)!

Social Media In Real Life

There are definitely 2 ways to approach social media. There are the young, immature Facebook and twitter users who post the most useless and meaningless things. Then there are the efficient, effective and/or witty posts that convey and spread important messages/ advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, the majority social media is filled with these worthless and unimportant posts.

There are many different ways to utilize social media past the point of socialization. Social media is transforming the way business is done in modern day society. One can use social media to effectively increase sales by revolutionizing the art of listening and grabbing the attention of the target audience. Bill Gates said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest sources of learning”. I think Social Media has most definitely revolutionized the way we listen and gather information about target audiences and consumers today. In order to turn unhappy customers into happy and satisfied consumers many business have started using social media to grab their audiences attention, engage them, and at the same time learn a lot about them through different social media agencies such as; Twitter, Facebook and Instagram along with many others. For example; what they like, what they dislike, what they do in their spare time, their favourite foods, favourite authors, and much much more. The businesses can now use this information to specifically target their audiences in a positive and successful way and create products that meet their wants and needs, changing them into happy customers. The business world is now more than ever capitalizing on the cheap and easy form for business advertising that is Social Media.

I just thought this comical picture did a great job of mocking what we all see every day on Facebook and Twitter. This is definitely not the way to maximize the social media tools that we have today, although it happens way too often. Hope it gives you all a good laugh!

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#yolo

The act of tagging, in my opinion, is most definitely used for the end result of the object of the tag getting some sense of recognition. In my teenage-student lifestyle places where I find tagging the most are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even text messaging.

Tagging started many years ago, before computers were integrated into daily life, in the sense of graffiti. Graffiti is a type of vandalism that damages property by spray painting words, symbols, pictures, or messages on the side of public lockers, walls, monuments, or buildings. When someone would illegally graffiti, it would be called “tagging” a building. Although you could see how, if someone made their mark through permanent spray paint on the side of a large building in a very public area, that picture would most definitely get noticed by many.

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Nowadays, although graffiti still exists, there are many more ways to get your intended message noticed by many especially through the means of the Internet. The Internet links and connects people all over the world through common interests essentially the same way a hyperlink or tag would connect common themes and webpages together. Tagging has become an online trend today, mainly known as hashtagging. On Twitter, when one hashtags a word or short string of words it is intended to start a trend and get that word widely recognized. Hashtagging is a great way to get that idea or product trending, which in turn, generates many “eye balls” and could potentially send it viral. Alternatively, on twitter if one were to do a keyword search through searching a specific hashtag, one would be able to find anything someone had tweeted about that idea, therefore connecting similar ideas together. Instagram works the same way although instead of hashtagging in an 140 character sentence one designates hashtags unto a picture, so when searching certain hashtags, similar pictures arise in that search.

Even though hashtags were invented in order to start trends and excite social networking online, ironically they have become a trend themselves. Through extensive use on twitter and Instagram teenagers today have become so accustom to using hashtags that they have started using them in places where they do not necessarily belong. The hashtag #yolo has become a worldwide trend not only on twitter, but through everyday speak as well. I can’t count how many times I will be talking to a friend over text messaging and they want me to do something out of the ordinary and in order to try and convince me to do it they simply type #yolo, which stands for “you only live once”.

As innovative and new as many may think tagging is, it in fact has been around for decades in many different senses and evolved through many different technologies occasionally for different purposes but in the end, always for the grand result of recognition.