An ode to Twitter

Ah, Twitter.  Capable of so much good, so much bad…and so much blissful stupidity. 

But honestly, the diversity is what I love about it.  When I feel serious and need information, that’s no problem because I can look at the NY Times posts on my feed.  When I feel curious, I enjoy scrolling through my friends’ comments and seeing what they’re up to.  If I want to further a cause, I just join in the millions with a hashtag. 

And admittedly, sometimes I get on Twitter because I just need to unwind.  In the midst of a stressful day or a boring bus ride, it’s nice to take a step out of reality and take a step into social media.  Sometimes I just want to be entertained and have a good laugh.  Need an example?  Yesterday I was unplugged from Twitter for a few hours, and what do I see on my timeline when I get back?  Two things: the infamous blue/black/white/gold/whatever color it is dress and llamas.

llamas

The dress dilemma turned out to cause more stress for me, but llamas? I found myself thinking where else would something like that go viral besides on social media?  It’s completely stupid, but runaway llamas easily became my favorite story of the day.  Judge me if you like.  Tell me I should pay attention to more serious things.  But you know what?  My life has enough stress in it, so sometimes I need a stupid laugh.

And if it’s gotta be llamas to give me that laugh, then it’s gonna be llamas.

 

Hometown newspaper drama, anyone?

The debacle continues.

After Warren Buffett and his BH Media Group purchased the Greensboro News & Record a few years ago, the paper underwent a big change in administration but was put on a supposedly more profitable path thanks to the tycoon.

Now Roy Carroll, who owns Greensboro’s conservative Rhino Times, wants to buy the N&R to bring it back to the center from leftist politics.  Whether he’s sincere in his concern or just wants to further his own agenda, I’m not going to argue here.

But I do want to offer a prediction on the situation.  When I first heard this news, I had the immediate image of Warren laughing upon reading the letter.  Why in his right mind would he consider this offer?  Seriously, this guy has bought up community newspapers across America because he still believes there is money in the business.  With all of his papers, he’s making a substantial profit for his company (admittedly to my surprise at first).  Here’s the bottom line: small communities still like their local papers with local news. And Warren Buffett knows that.

Why in the world would he stray from his successful business model and entertain Carroll’s suggestion?  No, I think Buffett knows just what he’s doing, and it’d take a heck of a lot of convincing to change his mind.  I don’t think Carroll has that kind of convincing power.  Besides, it’d be just plain silly to undo his previous decision to buy the paper. 

And besides, no one can tell the news in Greensboro quite like the N&R.

So what if Buzzfeed knows my life?

Thanks to Dan Barker, we now know Buzzfeed records and keeps all of the answers we give when we take fun quizzes on the site.  I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s A LOT of quiz answers.  Sometimes the boredom is just too real.  But should I be concerned that Buzzfeed has a computer jargon record of me?  Maybe, but to be honest, I’m not.

Here’s why: the majority of the quizzes on the site are silly and fun.  All they ask is which color you prefer or which movie you’d rather watch.  These are the answers I would be willing to tell a perfect stranger on a date.  I don’t mind if everyone knows these things.  (For the record, my answers would be pink and The Great Gatsby.)

Buzzfeed

Now, about the more intrusive information that Barker mentioned.  “I am white.” “I am heterosexual.” “I feel comfortable in the gender I was born as.”  There is no doubt that this is incredibly personal information.  But for some reason, I’m still not too worried about it.  I honestly don’t mind if Buzzfeed execs technically know this stuff about me.  I view it as a part of me, and many people already know the answers anyways.  Also, I would think that if people had information they really wanted to keep private, then they wouldn’t give it up to Buzzfeed–assumption of privacy or not. 

Maybe it’s where I’m used to the age of social media and the blurred lines of privacy it creates.  Maybe I should be more worried than I am.  But until I hear of someone abusing this record of information, I’ll keep taking my quizzes.

Emails, emails…and more emails

“What’s your email address?”

I hear this question all the time, and since I work in retail, I also ask this question all the time.  Email is something we take for granted now.  I’m always a little surprised when someone tells me he/she doesn’t have an email (although the person is probably lying to avoid giving it to me).  If you go to school or have a job, chances are you need one to stay in touch. 

But what happens when everyone has your email, and everyone is sending them to your account?  You might get those emails on-the-go with your iPhone, but there is no possible way to read 200 emails every day.  We just don’t have the time anymore.  You wouldn’t even want to read that many while sitting at home.  Honestly, when emails start inundating your inbox, they start to lose effectiveness.  From a retail standpoint, I get several store emails a day, but all I do is blindly delete them.  It’s just an overload of information that I don’t want to take the time to look at.

Emails are a type of mass media that have been around for a while.  They are still relevant today, but with more and more filling our inboxes, I think they’ll become less and less relevant.  Even now I only check one email, and that’s mostly for school purposes.  When people are experiencing information overload, they tend to just shut down.  Eventually that could mean shutting down email.  It’s the curse of the 21st century.

Virtual reality vs. actual reality

 

As we saw in class, Microsoft is testing a new product called HoloLens, which incorporates hologram technology into our daily lives.  Basically, if you want to check the weather, HoloLens puts a virtual screen before you.  If you want to play a game, HoloLens creates a 3-D hologram of the game as if it were actually in front of you.  It’s a new frontier called virtual reality, and it’s expected to be the technology of the future.  Except this future is beginning to happen right now.

 

HoloLens

 

Amy Webb talks about how technology will move away from devices we hold to built-in, invisible sources of information.  I think there is some truth to this prediction, and HoloLens is an example of this.  Instead of holding a phone and checking an app for weather, the screen will just appear in front of you.  By wearing the device, the information is no longer at your fingertips–it’s within your line of sight on demand.

This all seems pretty great, but honestly, it scares me a little bit.  The technology will be amazing, but what will it do to our perception of reality?  I really think there’s a good chance reality as we know it will be distorted.  Put this in the context of a smartphone.  Smartphone use consumes a large part of our days, so think about this same amount of time being spent in a world of virtual reality.  None of us can imagine life without our smartphones now, so in the future will we be unable to imagine life in actual reality all the time? Virtual screens and 3-D holograms will become the norm, but if you ask me, this virtual reality idea could cause more problems than it’s worth.  I would argue that it’ll be vital to our psychological health as humans to learn how to unplug from this type of technology.

Of course, there’s no way to tell until the future is here.  But here’s what I do know: there’s nothing like the real world.

 

 

A supermodel’s true beauty

The other night I came across an untouched photo of Cindy Crawford that was leaked from a shoot a few years ago.  It wasn’t supposed to be released, but now that it has been, it’s beginning to go viral thanks to social media.

When I saw that her legs and stomach weren’t airbrushed–that she looked like, I don’t know, a normal person–I almost dreaded seeing the comments.  People can be extremely cruel.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the positive comments that flooded the site where I saw the picture.   All of the comments I read were in support of Cindy, saying how fantastic she looked.  Of course I agree.  This woman is almost 50 years old and has had two kids. Boy do I hope I look like that when I’m 50. 

Cindy-Crawford-Untouched

But seeing those comments got me thinking.  It’s great to see people rallying around the concept of non-airbrushed images.  Maybe that means people are starting to prefer seeing real images.  Let’s take it a step further though.  There is so much more to be done.  Thanks to social media users, this image has now made its way across the globe.  But that’s not enough.  It’s one thing for people to rally around the photo, but it’s another to see the subject of the photo fully embrace it.  Come on, Cindy.  I want to hear you say, “Yep, that’s the real me.  I’m healthy, happy and beautiful.”  Or maybe even say, “Hey, fashion industry! No more airbrushing my photos.”  Having a role model stand up to say that makes such a difference.  I know from personal experience that seeing successful women comfortable in their own skin is very encouraging.  Other celebrities have already taken the first step.  Cindy Crawford really needs to capitalize on the leak of this photo and take a stand for real bodies and real beauty.

Could we do it?

Here’s a thought: what would happen if the technology surrounding the Internet and social media was taken away?  Could the world still function or would we be faced with the collapse of a society?

What if we couldn’t send emails anymore or go to Google for information?  What if we didn’t have the endless choices of television shows, movies and news networks?

We’d be SOL, right?  Or maybe not.

I think society would definitely slow down to a snail’s pace, and we’d all need a bigger attitude adjustment than an angsty 13-year-old.  But collapse? No, we’ve lived without technology before.

Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad either.  Instead of posting pictures to Instagram, maybe we’d take the time to actually live in the moment.  Maybe instead of scrolling through our phones at the bus stop, we’d take in a Carolina blue sky.  Sure, everything would be slower, but it wouldn’t be such a big deal if everyone was moving at the same pace.  Maybe there’d be time to sit on the porch to relax after a day’s work.

The downsides?  Information wouldn’t be so widespread and accessible anymore.  Global communication would slow down, and we’d have to accept the fact that we won’t know what’s happening in the world until at least the next day.  And to be honest, the thought of being a journalist without the Internet scares me a little.

So yes, we could absolutely go back.  Humans are known for adapting to new environments. We would lose some things but also gain some things back.