Aside

“We blog” ~ My experience with blogging

hearseespeakevilblogg

The term “blog“, which can be used as a noun or a verb, was coined by Peter Merholz in 1999.  He took the original word “weblog” and split it into the phrase “we blog”.  Over the years, blogging has become more popular and has many different uses.  My personal experience with blogging has been thus far as assignments in class to learn how to write blogs and find my voice in the blogging world.

So what’s all the big hubbub about?  Well, what I learned from my blogging experience is it takes considerable time and practice to finesse that voice and make it your own.  Just as if you were telling a speech to an audience, you want to be entertaining, informative, and concise because you only have a limited amount of time before you listener zones out. You also want to practice and edit your speech several times before an audience hears/reads it. Once you have practiced the art of engagement through you written voice and had people respond to your blog posts, you get a certain excitement that reaffirms you have grown in your abilities as a blogger.

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After I had that affirmation that my blogs were being read and appreciated, I found myself coming up with blog topics all day.  I would be driving to work, walking my dog, eating dinner and a topic to write about would pop up in my head.  This surprised me because I didn’t expect blogging to infiltrate it’s way into other parts of my day.  Now, in my experience as a novice blogger, I am beginning to understand the intrigue to have your thoughts and opinions heard.  I also have learned to appreciate the time and effort it takes for those who are professional bloggers and do this type of writing daily.

A blog can be a great tool of expression for the writer and something for the reader to enjoy to read. Hooking that audience might take a little trial and error.  But as the picture says, “with the right stage and the right voice, there’s no limit to the size of your audience.”  I think that’s important to think about when working in the nonprofit world.  Nonprofit’s have causes and missions that they care about and want others to care about too.  They live off of donations of people and organizations and funders that support their work.  What better way to show what work is being done by writing about it in a short blog?  The analogy of blogging being like a speech can be used for nonprofits as well.  Just as conferences, meetings, and symposiums would be held in person to provide knowledge about a nonprofit’s cause and work they are currently doing, blogging would be that speech in electronic form.  You have no limit to the size of your audience and can inform and inspire through virtual portals.  With the write voices behind a nonprofit’s blogging media outlets, their word can go viral!

Netvibes dashboards is an online tool used to see what is happening in real time across different social media arenas.  With a simple word search, one can have all the information that is currently being said in the news, Youtube, conversations, and other media outlets.  To use Netvibes, you need to be able to listen.  Listen for what people are saying and what big news is related to your topic.  How is this useful? An example of how I used Netvibes to inform my blogging experience is in a previous post on privacy and how brave are you?  I typed in “privacy in social media” into Netvibes dashboard and started listening.  I found this great Youtube video on privacy after death and also some related articles.  This seemed to be a hot topic and an interesting one I would have never thought of on my own.  It set me up with some great links to other articles and videos to post in my blog.  That information that I posted was brought up in another class and to this day is one of my favorite posts yet.

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Languages of love

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With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, those with special people in their lives are looking for ways to say “I love you”!  Whether it be through flowers and a box of chocolates (my favorite) or cooking your loved one’s favorite dish, expressing your love can be shown in a variety of ways.  Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book describing the 5 love languages that people use to express their feelings.

The 5 love languages are:

Words of affirmation

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Quality time -they will rearrange schedules, and spend large amounts of time with those they love

Receiving gifts

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Acts of serviceexpress their love by doing things FOR you such as cooking, cleaning, fixing things

and Physical touch

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Take the love language quiz and figure out your language/s of love.  (Just in case you’re curious…my top 3 are acts of service, words of affirmation, and touch)

An extended version of the 5 love languages adds two additional forms of love expression: opportunity enthusiasts and providing.  Opportunity enthusiasts look for ways to open up opportunities for ones they love so they can be successful and fulfilled.  Providers show their love by being the breadwinner and providing nice things for their loved ones.  After reading these love languages, I identified my top three and had my boyfriend do the same. We had a conversation about how we express our feelings and he understood that cleaning his house and baking his favorite recipes on Pinterest are my way of showing that I care and he explained that although he is not very romantic, he provides for me and that is his main way of showing love.  It was a great conversation to have and one I hope everyone can have with their significant other.

Although a total of seven love languages have been identified, I am going to add one more.  In this digital age, social media is at the forefront of relationships.  Online dating has become the new way to meet people and Facebook relationships are being maintained and ended through a status updates.  Conversations have become texts, arguments have become phone calls, and feelings have become online Tweets and messaging.  I find myself complaining to my boyfriend how we never speak on the phone, and he says, “I text you all day.”  With all this in mind, I propose to add an eighth language….Digital expression.

Digital expression has become a common way to communicate in relationships. Much like verbal expression and word affirmation, digital expression, for example, would be a person who shows their feelings by writing sweet status updates on Facebook, becoming “Facebook Official” in relationships, or texting someone multiple times a day.   Of course, this is my personally constructed definition, but I do believe that digital expression could be considered for the 8th language of love.  Some people, including myself, may not appreciate social media or digital cues as signs of affection and love.  So go ahead and send your loved one a smiley emoticon with a kissy face or an ecard this Valentine’s day to show that you care.  Just make sure that they speak your language of love.

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Is privacy possible? What happens to your information when you die?

facebook death

The internet has changed the way we all live our lives.  It has affected the way we network, find information, communicate, market, and even pay our bills.   Personal information gets stored and communicated on the world wide web through profiles, emails, and online accounts protected by self-created passwords.  All of your relationships, conversations, thoughts, purchases and other intimate details of your life become engraved in the hard copy of the web usually only under protection of these passwords and security questions.  And other than the chance that you allow someone to access your accounts or are simply uninventive and use the word PASSWORD for your password, it’s pretty confidential.

Yes, the internet has become a major part of our lives, but what most people do not consider is how much the internet has affected our death.  What happens to all your personal information on the internet when you die?  What type of privacy does one have after death?

In a case of a young 15 year old girl Amanda Todd committed suicide after severe online and in school bullying.  Several weeks before her death, she created a YouTube video using index cards to tell the story of how she was bullied and how lonely she was feeling.  It was a brave move for a young girl to do…a cry for help.  But this blog isn’t meant to focus on the sad tragedy of bullying and social media.  What happened after her death is also tragic.  Amanda’s Facebook account was still active and the bullying continued even after her death with posts from the same bullies that contributed to her depression.  With no knowledge of passwords or access to her account, her family members had no way to stop it.  This story led several lawmakers to create a bill that would leave a deceased person’s account to the family and supersede the rights of the service provider.  This issue leads to other discussions of one’s privacy.  Does your family have a right to all your passwords and information online when you die? The short video clip below addresses this vary conundrum.

To give your passwords to your family in case of your unfortunate passing is a brave move, but can you afford not too?  It’s a sensitive and complex topic and one needs to be aware of these issues that come along with social media and privacy.

Click here to read more information about what happens to your Facebook when you die. 

The Best Story Tellers Have A Story Worth Telling: What is good storytelling?

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Why do people tell stories? Hopefully it’s not just to talk and hear their own voice (which we all know a few people who are like that) but to communicate and share information, emotions, and experiences. People also share stories to inspire others and to take people on a mental journey. Stories have been told in many different ways such as through visual drawings and art, through body movement, through speech and in writing.  The best stories, in my opinion, are those that paint an image in someone’s mind and makes them care about the main character and what happens next. Even the best content to a story can be lost, however, if the person telling the story doesn’t engage the audience and execute it well.

What makes a good story teller? People who are good story tellers show excitement and emotion in what they say and it comes out in their tone of voice, facial expressions, word choice. When telling a story, it may have meaningful content but if the person is monotone and doesn’t evoke emotion or excitement, the audience is bored and disengaged from the story. To read more on how to tell not boring stories click here.  How do you get your audience to listen and pay attention to your story? I think it’s imperative to know your audience in order to tailor the story to them in order for them to relate or be able to understand.  Throwing in a quote or a good hook line will bring in the attention of your audience.  But how do you keep it?

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Baby being told a boring story

First, you need to have the three essentials: a beginning, middle, and end.  Seems pretty basic right? There are plenty of people who don’t put the pieces to a story in order or skip a part all together.  Second, stay focused on your story and don’t go on tangents.  Try to keep it organized, if the story has too many pieces, getting sidetracked is easy to do and sets the listener or reader in the wrong direction. Third, make sure that you include essential who, what, when, where, and why to the story. Here is a simple formula for good story telling:

1. Describe who is involved in the story

2. Explain what the characters were doing

3. Use descriptive words and help the audience visualize the location

4. Tell the conflict or what happened that made the story important

5. Express how the conflict was resolved or handled

6. Finish with a tag, maybe a joke or moral of the story

For a full description on the formula click here.

Now that you have all become expert story tellers, tell your amazing, well-thought-out, creative narratives with confidence.

 

Aside

“No one has ever became poor by giving” ~ Anne Frank

Yesterday, I went to the Martin Luther King Center in downtown Atlanta.  I was attending my first Zumba class at the Recreation Center.  For my Community Project, my group and I are helping host a Zumbathon to raise money for two homeless shelters in Atlanta.  I felt it was only fitting to see the space, attend a Zumba class, and I also had a meeting planned with the organizer and instructor as they were part of the project.   I arrived to the class about a half hour early in hopes to meet with the organizer and instructor.  They were running late and since it was a beautiful day, I figured I would wait outside until class started.

I sat on the bench in front of the recreation center when a man walking by asked me for the time.  I told him the time and he continued the conversation and asked if I liked the center.  He explained all the different buildings and I told him that I was only here for a Zumba class.  He took a few steps closer as he was talking and it made me uncomfortable. He said he had one question to ask me, could I walk with him to the cheap restaurant around the corner and buy him some food?  Before I could respond, he quickly explained that he was a hard working man who just got off work and is hungry. He pulled up his pants legs explaining that he did not have any weapons he is just a guy who needs food.  I expressed to him that I did not feel comfortable walking anywhere with him and that I don’t have any money, only my workout bag.  Safety was my first thought and I eventually convinced him to leave me alone.  He said, “ok. God bless” and I immediately walked inside the recreation center.

Later that night I was thinking to myself, am I hypocritical? While I would not go anywhere by myself with a stranger, hungry or not, I felt kind of guilt-ridden.  Here I am at a meeting to raise money for homeless people because I care and want to help, but when I come face to face with a homeless person, I say no.  While I felt I did the right thing, it just reminded me about my similar ethical issue I face on an almost daily basis.

After a long day working in a social work setting, I drive home from downtown and I get off the highway to my exit.  Traffic is usually horribly backed up and I end up waiting there for several minutes.  There are several times, especially on nice days where there would be a man holding a sign asking for help whether it be money, work, food, or shelter.  I would end up stuck at the light with the man standing beside my car and I would feel the urge to assist him.  One month, there was literally a different person there every day.  Sometimes the man would be old, young, some walked with a limp, some able-bodied and begging for work.  Seeing them to beg would pull at my social work heart strings, but I realized while my intentions would be valid, I did not have the funds to help everyone, everyday. It got to the point where I would avoid using that route to avoid the discomfort I felt.  I always felt hypocritical after a day of working with people in need in a professional setting and then not helping in my personal life?  When is it enough? What do I do when faced with that dilemma again?

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Personal vs. Professional use of Social Media: The internet can get you hired and fired

Facebook could get you fired

Facebook could get you fired

A meteorologist from a Louisiana television station was fired last year for responding to a harsh personal comment that a viewer posted on the company’s official Facebook page. While the response was not harmful, the meteorologist did not follow company procedures concerning social media protocol (read more here). As the scope of uses for social media is evolving it has been emerging in almost all business arenas. In turn, companies need to create procedures and protocols for their employees and train them appropriately on guidelines for social media use.

Social Media portals such as Facebook and Twitter started as a social media networking sites, where people kept in touch with family and friends, expressed their thoughts and feelings, shared common interests and more.  There are specific sites centered around professional growth and job marketing, such as LinkedIn for example.  Professional sites are tools for career growth and can help you network in your field of work and possibly land you a job.   There are different uses for each type of social media site, one can say you use one for business and one for pleasure.  Companies and businesses today have started using traditional personal social media sites as tools for marketing and advocating themselves, creating many instances where the personal and professional overlap.  What are the issues with that you may ask?  Well, several things in my opinion.  The line between personal and professional become fuzzy.  Let’s take Facebook for example.  Facebook started out as a social networking site for college students.  As popularity grew, it became more and more open to who could join Facebook and now anyone could have a profile.  When going through the hiring process, many businesses are now reviewing applicants personal Facebook pages and this is where those pictures from college your friends tagged you in years ago could influence your career. Some businesses even request access to your personal account in order to work there.  Nowadays, one has to censor posts and pictures and change their privacy settings to friends only in order to avoid possible ramifications. But what happens when you start a new job and your boss or colleagues want to be friends with you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter?

This topic came up on my favorite morning radio show the other morning on my way to work. People were calling in describing how their personal Facebook account has effected their professional life and has gotten them in trouble and even fired. A woman caller described her experience of having to “defriend” her boss from her friend list on Facebook after feeling it was best to keep her personal and professional life separate   She was followed up promptly with an email from her boss asking why she had defriended her and thought it was extremely rude.  Another woman caller said she had written a comment on her personal Facebook expressing her frustrations working with several “catty” co-workers. When she went to work the next day a friend on Facebook had told her boss what she wrote and she was threatened to be fired if she did not apologize to her women co-workers, even though no names were mentioned.  Possibly being fired for what you write on your personal Facebook page has become a rather controversial topic.  Moral of the story is, as businesses and non-profits move to social media platforms originally used for social networking, it is important to learn to the does and don’ts when looking to get hired and not fired.

Read more about this topic in this article

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.” ― Karl Marx

Writing my first blog makes me look back on my experience with technology and how much it has grown. When I was in middle school the coolest form of technology I had was a pager and I only used the computer for AOL Instant Messager as soon as I came home from school (after our dial-up internet connection decided to work). Now the sound of dial-up brings chills down my spine as I am open to a whole new world thanks to ipods, cell phones, tablets, and super fast internet connection. I can get the answer to any question simply by Googling it. Even now when I call my mother for some advice on recipes, how to clean something, or when my dog is sick she simply replies, “Nikki, just Google it. “With technology changing so rapidly in the last few years it has not only changed the way I am educated but also how children are being educated. It has transformed how children receive learn, do their homework, and communicate. This made me wander what is the good and bad sides to technology and education in our youngest generations and where are we headed in the future.

One Sunday morning my boyfriend and I went to brunch at our favorite spot. We are escorted by the host to a table and end up facing two families sitting in booths back to back. One family is a woman and her two children about ages four and six. The other family is a mother and father with three children one little boy and two girls about eight and eleven. As the families are awaiting their brunch I noticed that the single mother is drinking her coffee while the two children each have an Ipad and are playing games. They are quite and the kids look like they are in a gaming trance. At the same time the other family is using the place mats and the jar of colored-pencils and each drawing something and completing the mazes on the paper. The father is trying to show the little boy how to hold the pencil and helping him color and asked him to name each color.

I asked my boyfriend what he thought about the contrast between the two families. In my eyes, I saw the woman drinking coffee and the children playing on Ipads to be missing out on some quality family time and the kids missing out on a chance to color and refine some fine motor skills. In his eyes, he saw a mother who was taking a break and letting the kids entertain themselves at a restaurant. Maybe this is so, but it got me thinking of how much things have changed due to technology and made me consider how I would end up raising my kids. Nowadays, kid’s at very young ages have cell phones and Ipads. Is this wrong? There are very educational games and activities to play and cell phones is a way to communicate with your kids in case of an emergency. Are we as a society relying too much on technology for education, communication, answers, and entertainment? Is what Karl Marx predicted bound to come true where the production of useful things creates useless people? It will be interesting to see in the future the good and bad to technology influencing our younger generations.

Good or bad?

Good or bad?