Another day, another social network to monitor. I first learned of ask.fm from my friend last week. She was in a flap. Generally, she is unflappable. My interest was piqued.
It’s horrible and nasty, you won’t believe what kids are saying on it, and ALL the kids are on it. Check it out.
So I did, and my unflappable friend was quite right to be flapping.
Ask.fm is an anonymous platform that allows users to post questions or comments to a user’s profile. It’s the social media equivalent to the wild west: anyone can follow anyone, and users don’t have access to who is following them, they can only see their number of followers.
In other words, it is a hotbed breeding ground for bullying, harassment, and inappropriate comments. If I could sound alarm bells here, I would let them ring.
You should know I’m not a helicopter parent. I have somewhat liberal views on social media, I believe it will play a role in our children’s lives and we need to keep an eye on things, while understanding that we don’t fully understand its (important) role in their lives. Whether we like it or not, it’s here, and it’s big.
That being said, I created an alias on ask.fm and followed my kid and her friends.
The questions and comments range wildly from inoccuous compliments to ranting insults, and everything in between.
Interestingly, as dismayed as I was with the content, I was impressed with the way she handled the insults, basically by laughing at the caustic comments or posting silly YouTube cartoon videos as a response. I suppose a sidebar of these social network sites is kids learn to deflect and stand up to haters. (I’m not sure I have the same capacity.)
But inevitably, others will fall victim to its nasty nature. Ask.fm is being blamed for the suicide of at least one teenager in England last month.
Apparently, you are able to block a user that is being abusive, and if you don’t respond to a question or comment, it won’t show up on your profile. This article, aimed at parents and teachers, will give you the lowdown on this potentially caustic site.
I can’t see the point of this network – it seems like nastiness personified to me, but I guess that is also its charm. My daughter tells me it’s just silly fun. When I was her age my friends and I stuck jellybeans up our noses for silly fun, but there you go. The times they are a changin’.
I am coming out of the closet, in my own small sense. I was nominated as one of Vancouver’s Top Mom Bloggers for 2011. A very nice nod of approval from VancouverMom.ca. If it’s the equivalent of a peck on the cheek, I’m presenting mine for a lipstick stained kiss.
Otherwise, I was content to keep this between them and me.
But upon further researching last year’s contest, I realized to my horror they show the results of the voting. Keeping this little secret to myself will be a big mistake when I register zero votes, and I look like the equivalent of the kid who gets picked last for Red Rover. Having been there and done that, I really don’t want to revisit my youth.
It’s down to the wire – voting closes tomorrow – so if you would be so kind as to click on this link and cast your vote, I would be forever indebted to you. In fact, I just might give you a Junior Mint the next time I see you.
As you can imagine, if you know me, this act of self-promotion leaves me squeamish and with sweaty palms. But saving myself from embarrassment ranks even higher on my list than asking for help.
It’s not about blogging domination, for which I clearly lack the killer gene. It’s about coming out of this contest with a marginal amount of composure, so that I don’t need to wear a bag over my MothersTonic face when running my errands around Vancouver.
Unlike our federal election, one vote really can make a difference – these are slim margins we’re talking about. Save me from becoming the blogging equivalent of Michael Ignatieff. And I did promise you a Junior Mint.
PVR’s and TIVO‘s may be all the rage, but what has really changed my life for the better are podcasts.
Gone is the boredom that plagues me while doing household chores like cooking and cleaning: listening to podcasts fills my head with great ideas and inspiration instead of mindless chitchat and commercials, although make no mistake I also blast top 40 hits upon occasion. That really gets the broom going.
But for more introspective moments, ITunes has a great library of inspiring and interesting presentations from TED talks, and I’ve been rapidly going through them. From TED I’ve segued to CBC radio. I love The Age of Persuasion with Terry O’Reilly, but seldom listen to the radio when it airs on Saturday mornings or Thursday afternoons.
Now I download them for free, and stockpile podcasts like the stray socks that come out of my dryer. I can get my groove on with Jian Gomeshi’s show, Q, or get inspired for a run with Marathon Talk, all from the comfortof my own bathtub. This is powerful stuff for someone who’s braincells cry out for stimulation, yet my laundry pile has taken over my house.
It’s a win-win. I am mentally uplifted while there is an extra sparkle to my kitchen faucet. Because the only thing worse than cleaning is thinking about the futility of cleaning as you clean. Far better for your mind to be millions miles away from the task at hand.
Sometimes, it’s much better to not be present. Podcasts take me to conferences and studios all over the world that in another life I would be at, but not in this one. While I’m waiting for someone to invent a transporter that will beam me up, Star Trek-like, podcasts can partially take me away from dirty dishes and floors.
I find namedropping TED presentations or CBC broadcasts into dinner party conversations is more scintillating than what happens to those socks. My popularity is on the upswing, people are looking at me with renewed interest. Or maybe they’ve tuned me out altogether.
Help enlighten me: what are your favorite podcasts?
When I visit my family each summer, I watch my nieces and nephews text each other furiously. Their fingers are working overtime to host constant communication. I asked if their professors had any trouble with this during lectures, and my niece replied that they all have their phones on silent, but can still easily text without looking at them.
So while a professor may see a sea of attentive faces, quite likely they are deep in thought texting.
Tcchnology has changed the way our children communicate. How you feel about this personally is irrelevant. Texting, skyping, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are only gaining in popularity and children are finding ways of adapting them earlier.
Your mission as a parent, if you choose to accept it, is to become versed in social media before your child has to teach it to you.
There are two reasons for this: If they are on Facebook or another social networking site, you can (attempt, at any rate) to be on their contact list, or ‘friend’, and therefore watch what they are doing more closely.
Being knowledgeble yourself in social media is to take away another layer of potential misunderstanding between you and your children. You are bridging a gap. If you are using social media effectively, your children are more likely to see you as an ally when they most need one.
Cyber-bullying is a nasty consequence of the proliferation of online communication. It’s easier than ever to be mean behind the cloak of anonymity. The rash of suicides amongst teenagers citing online bullying as the cause is rapidly increasing. As governments and teachers rush to react with preventative policies, teenagers will continue to circulate hurtful lists on their smartphones with a vengeance. They will start nasty Facebook campaigns and they will tweet nasty comments. Cyber-bullying won’t disappear, so arm yourself and your child against it.
Yet I know a lot of parents who know nothing about social media. They view it as a waste of time. They can’t get their head around it. They prefer traditional methods of communication. Knowledge is powerful, and learning this strange new world of interacting and socializing is to learn the language of our children.
Adapting the attitude that social media is child’s play will only keep you out of the conversation.
When major events happen while I sleep, Twitter informs me first thing in the morning as I wipe the sleep out of my eyes, hovering over my keyboard. I found out about Japan’s horrifying earthquake by watching a moving target of text decrying the devastation; learned of Egypt’s social unrest by a Twitter feed figuratively fist pumping the revolution.
It’s the de facto answer for late breaking news, the final stake in the heart of the printed newspaper.
So when people ask me why they should be on Twitter, I answer it’s where the world is. Are you in or out?
I have made lots of mistakes on Twitter. I have unknowingly used bad etiquette and snubbed those trying to be helpful. I followed all the wrong people. I didn’t know what to talk about, so stood, like a wallflower, on the sidelines. When I did start tweeting, I only talked about myself. Come to think of it, I made a lot of the same mistakes I did in Junior High School.
In an effort to save you from the same pitfalls, here is a list of dos and don’ts to make a smoother entry into the world of microblogging.
Do not set up a direct message reply to your new followers along the lines of “Thanks for the follow! Come check out my blog, http://www.spammer.com.”; I was perplexed by these: was I supposed to thank every person who decided to follow me? The easy answer is no, you don’t. In fact, mostly spammers send these out, and the word on the street is to unfollow anyone who has sent you one of these. If you didn’t know any better and set one up, now would be the time to cancel. Very uncool.
Do thank people who Retweet your tweets, at least once. If someone is paying attention to what you’re saying, and likes it enough to retweet it, then show a little love by thanking them, it’s the least you can do. At first I didn’t get this, what was a RT? To those people who I didn’t initially thank, thank you. I get it now.
Do not just talk, be a listener. Nobody likes having those conversations where you are waiting for the other person to take a breath so that you can get a word in. Take time to answer random questions in your feed, or respond to something that moves you. It’s not just a one-way conversation; social indicates a two-way street.
Do add value with your tweets. Again unknowingly (I really could have used some tips before I started, thus my present mission to help people…) all I did until very recently was post links to my own blog posts, hoping to gain a few new visitors. My mandate was completely selfish, never looking at other people’s tweets. Embarrassing. I didn’t understand that Twitter is actually one big love fest, a forum for highlighting good works and deeds. Now I tweet other blogs I find useful, YouTube videos that are inspirational, quotes I like. Follow Fridays (#FF), where you shout out to people who have been helpful to you, highlights that the mission of Twitter is actually goodness. I apologize to my followers for inundating them with my posts. Disclaimer: since this is particularly Twitterable, I will share this one, but nothing else for at least a week.
Don’t be all flash and dash. Pretending everything is perfect in your life doesn’t fly in microblogging, so leave your corporate mandate in the boardroom. Twitter is a more informal platform, a place to let your hair down a little, while not letting it all hang out. If you happen to have a personality, this can work to your advantage.
Do follow the right people for you. Someone once told me to follow who ‘good’ people were following. So I brought up a ‘good’ person’s list – an influencer, who had lots of followers and was in my target area of women who blogged, and simply clicked on people like a madwoman tasting jellybeans for the first time. This is so easy, I thought, as I watched my list of followings balloon to one thousand. But then I couldn’t add anyone anymore – Twitter had shut down my ability to add followers because my numbers were so out of whack – I had 1000 people I followed, but only 200 people following me. And thankfully, I might add. I had amassed a very random group of people, some of whom were of interest to me but many who were not. Painfully and over weeks, I looked at each person I had recklessly followed and weeded out people (and places, and objects) I had no business following. Not good form. As in so many areas of my life, it was the wrong approach.
Do join the conversation. Standing on the sidelines will only get you cold feet. Like the day I published my first blog post, I was nervous about publishing my first tweet. Everyone else seemed so smug with their @’s and #’s and clever short form, like they’d been tweeting their whole lives. It was like starting french immersion all over again; say what? It all starts making sense eventually.
Don’t expect a revolution overnight. Like anything that is worthwhile, developing your Twitter profile will take some time and energy. Keep things in perspective by setting small goals for yourself – maybe adding ten followers a week.
The day I started high school, I wore a neon pink shirt, only to realize pastels were the new thing. I walked around all day with my cheeks as bright as my shirt. Hopefully, my Twitter mistakes will be more quickly forgotten.
The internet is humming, and it is playing the same tune as people around the world click on a YouTube video posted recently by a 10-year-old in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Maria Aragon has become a sensation since putting a cover of Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” on the popular internet site on February 16. As of today her video, which shows her playing the piano in a simple white t-shirt and singing, has had over sixteen million hits.
It’s been a busy week and a half for the young Canadian. When Lady Gaga watched Maria’s video, she tweeted about her amazing talents, and since that moment Maria’s life has been turned upside down.
Less than a week after posting the video, Maria was on the radio interview circuit and appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Lady Gaga surprised Maria during one of her radio interviews by coming on the phone line, offering to sing a duet with her at her upcoming concert in Toronto.
Before performing on Ellen, Maria told the comedian that she chose this particular song because of its message. “Just be yourself, because God made you the way you are, and you are no different than anybody else,” she said. Maria performed her slower, acoustic version of the hit song in front of the studio audience and received a standing ovation.
This is what going viral looks like.
According to her website, she will soon be appearing on Good Morning America, which means a plethora of daytime media appearances will follow, as The View, Regis and Kelly and other morning shows clamber for an interview.
Hopefully like any good Canadian, Maria’s support group can stick handle through the barrage of attention and keep her feet solidly on the ground even though her voice is heading for the stars.
My mama told me when I was young
We’re all born superstars
She rolled my hair, put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir
“There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are”
She said, “‘Cause He made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up, girl and you you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”
-Lady Gaga, Born This Way
Don’t underestimate the power of the pound sign. Hashtags on Twitter such as #Mubarakgone, #Egypt, can produce powerful results.
Incredibly, some people believe social media’s main role is being a tawdry pick up place for stalkers and illicit romances. Today’s historic victory in Egypt, instigated and fueled on social networking sites, proves our new way of communicating can make the world a smaller and much better place.
Social Media is not only changing the way we communicate and market businesses, it is changing the world, one country at a time. As Mubarak lets go of his white knuckle grasp on Egypt today, in the wake of Tunisia’s similar uprising last month, other dictatorships around the world should be shaking in their boots.
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are mobilizing people who formerly had no voice. Together, as we have seen over the last eighteen days in Egypt, they are loud enough to be heard the world over.
Despite attempts by Mubarak’s government to stifle the uprising by shutting off internet service on January 28, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have already mobilized a country tired of 30 years of corruption, nepotism, and police brutality.
A few short years ago, protesters and political activists needed access to funds to deliver their message. They would do so by printing pamphlets, and then risk their lives delivering them to the public. Attempting to garner numbers and support was a life-risking task, and understandably hard to get momentum when the stakes were so high.
Now, uprisings can begin quietly and without any cost using Twitter and Facebook, providing one has access to the internet or a smart phone. Plans can be generated overnight, support can be easily whipped up by angry, frustrated people living in fear.
As the world watched the horrifying death of Iranian Neda Agha-Soltan following protests of the governmental elections in 2009, captured by amateur video and aired on YouTube, it became clear that a new day was dawning. With the help of social media, a message is being sent to dictatorships and anarchists: we are watching you.
North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, take note. You could be next.
I am over the moon excited to report I’ve been awarded something.
It’s called a Memetastic Award, and I’m pretty sure it’s the blogging equivalent of an Oscar.
As becoming the recipient of such an honour, bestowed on me by fellow blogger Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon, I was at my hair dressers having my grey hairs coaxed into a warm shade of brown when I got the word. It was hard to not spread the news throughout the salon. I may have let it slip, accidentally, to the woman getting coiffed beside me.
An award is an award, and must be celebrated. It would be foolish not to, they are a scarce commodity in my life. The last award I received was the Mayor’s Citizenship Award at my high school graduation, and not even the mayor knew what it was for.
On the way home from my hairdressers I trolled past BCBG and gazed at some gowns before settling on the black one: it was classy and would stand out on the red carpet, and I could wear it again if invited to a black tie funeral.
As I shopped I drafted my acceptance speech. So many people to thank! It wasn’t until I got home and read my email carefully that I realized the gown and acceptance speech were on hold, I would need to fulfill some criteria before waltzing into the sunset with my award:
- I must include the sophisticated award graphic that looks remarkably similar to my daughter’s kindergarten award for reading. (check)
- I need to write four untruths and one truth about myself, omitting the detail about which one is indeed true. (see below)
- I need to nominate five other bloggers for this prestigious award. (see below)
- I need to link to the Memetastic Hop. I can’t explain what this is or why I need to do it, however I’m 99 per cent certain it has nothing to do with spam, so you can relax. (check)
So without further ado, here are five fun facts about myself, one of which is totally accurate, the others not so much.
- I was a devoted Duran Duran fan when they were all the rage, infatuated with John Taylor. If you haven’t seen the video for “The Reflex”, go to YouTube right now, and you will see the sheer genius of this band.
- I have had tea with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace.
- I am the youngest in an Irish Catholic litter of eight children, and endured quips of ”not another Regan!” endlessly in elementary school.
- I have a freckle in my right eye.
- In University, I played scrum half on our women’s rugby team.
And now, drum roll please, for my blogging nominees. I’m new to this blogosphere, but discovering talented and creative writers online has definitely been the best thing about this experience. You should check these bloggers out, they are all more talented than I:
Nancy at Love Lucie is responsible for getting me behing the blogging wheel and driving fast – her blog is like a Vancouver based episode of Sex And the City – she is funny, honest and frank.
Marya Writes is a beautiful, thought provoking and informative blog about the challenges of writing and life in general, also a great book resource.
Single Dad Laughing can be either heart breaking or hilarious, depending on the day.
See Theo Run is an honest and informative account of an open adoption and living life as a mixed race family.
Listful Thinking is a hilarious read about some very random things, that will always put a smile on your face.
Again, thanks to my wonderful online friend and mentor, Kathy, for this show of support, I hope I have risen to the challenge. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an acceptance speech to draft. (It’s fun to dream. And probably pragmatic to have one of these in your back pocket.)
I am of two minds.
I’m not talking about my wild mood swings at monthly intervals, I’m talking about spelling.
Brought up and educated in Canada, I have learned to spell using British English as opposed to American English. British English generally houses a couple of extra letters, for example it’s colour not color, and analogue not analog. If in doubt, throw in a rogue “u” to make it Canadian. I write with candour, and clamour to make chilli for dinner (this is the British English spelling for chilli – doesn’t it look better to you?); whereas if I was born south of the border I would write with candor, and clamor to make chili.
You Americans are more to the point, more phonetically accurate.
In Canada, true to our bilingual mandate, we ask for the cheque in restaurants, not the check. We measure in litres,not liters, but don’t get me talking about our weather inconsistencies – for the love of god, is 75 degrees Fahrenheit shorts weather or not? You must agree the Celsius scale, which uses zero degrees as the freezing point, makes more sense.
Canada wins on the weather front, America on the spelling, where brevity is concerned.
Of course in this new marvellous (as opposed to marvelous) world where spell check conveniently underlines every word we misspell, getting it right takes on a new lustre, lest your document be egregiously underlined and marked up like a SoCal woman undergoing plastic surgery. It’s hard to press send or publish with red lines all over your page, which happens if the spellcheck program happens to be of a different nationality than yourself. This causes me no end of grief.
If anyone is a mixed bag it is I: I read roughly half American publications, half Canadian, and have a weakness for British classics and The Economist magazine. I’m bombarded by glaring spelling differences on a daily basis. Who to honour? My British heritage or geographic neighbour? Ignore all of those red slashes on my screen, or give in to the spelling my computer wants? Who wears the pants, the pajamas or the pyjamas?
We Canadians are clearly caught in the middle, victims of circumstance, fed by the leviathan of American marketing, yet still hearing echoes of the British English that we were taught. Not a stickler for details, I tend to be ambidextrous on the point, switching from one usage to the other depending on the word – I actually prefer skeptic to sceptic, for instance.
It seems congruent with our easy going nature that when it comes to spelling, Canadians can swing both ways. I hereby exempt myself from labouring the point any further, red lines be damned.
Twitter confounds me. Although I’ve never been to a rodeo, I feel like it’s the feisty calf that my cowgirl self can’t lasso.
I have had trouble wrapping my head around this site, and was immediately dismissive of its necessity. Who cares what Ashton Kutcher is saying about anything? And pith has never been my strong point, so that 140 character minimum equates to writer’s block for me.
But it’s hung around, and in fact is growing in leaps and bounds, getting harder to ignore. I had coffee with a Vancouver marketing dynamo, Jennifer Maloney, of Sip Publicity, and she encouraged me to get on Twitter. Her explanation was that Twitter was like one big cocktail party, where you meander around catching snippets of conversation which will occasionally interest you, and some which will not. Facebook, on the other hand, is more like a barbecue, where you are in the company of those you know personally.
Equating any site on the internet with a cocktail party is music to any SAHM’s ears. SIGN. ME. UP.
I love the game of cocktail parties, as everyone is ducking and jiving to have an interesting conversation with someone they barely know. I’ve used the old “I just need to refresh my drink” phrase in efforts to dodge conversations containing the words “projectile vomiting” on more than one occasion. Conversely I’ve lurked on the outskirts of tight circles discussing shoe sales or juicy tidbits of gossip, straining my ears so hard to hear that I practically fell on top of their cosmopolitans. Yet my social calendar is devoid of these swanky little numbers. Could Twitter really fill this crater?
I took a deep breath and created a Twitter handle, although I still had no idea what I should be tweeting about. The next step was getting a list of followers, because what is the point of tweeting if no one is listening? I already talk to myself far too much. Jennifer had recommended looking at lists that interesting people are following. If you’re interested in yoga, you might follow people who are following Lululemon. I know, that’s a lot of following for one sentence, but welcome to the Twitter world of tweets.
There are many different people on this social networking site for many different reasons. Like anything on the internet, watch out for spammers and anyone who tries to tell you how to make quick, easy money, and of course anyone who wants you to take your clothes off. In fact, it’s really no different from real life; spidey senses should prevail.
As with any worthwhile achievement, the key to Twitter is patience and perseverance. You are not going gain followers overnight, something that bothered me for a couple of months. It’s a numbers game, where people generally follow people who have a large number of followers. These people are called influencers, and there is a certain amount of notoriety to be gained from hanging around them. Exactly in the same way as everyone wants to be associated with the popular kid in school. We grow, but we never really change.
The Twitter world at first seemed like a strange universe, where people were speaking a language I had never learned, with weird symbols like @, #, RT and DM. But like skinny jeans, I’m slowly coming around to this fashion fad which seems to be here to stay.
The days of drinking and driving are firmly gone, but drinking and tweeting is encouraged! Mix yourself a cosmo and join the party.
It’s Rarely About Me, But Here Goes
I’m less verbose on TwitterMy Tweets
- Father’s Day Reflection
- June Bugs and Strawberry Shortcake
- Cheerfully, The Answer is No.
- A Teacher Who Made a Difference
- Ask.Fm: Where Wild West Meets Social Media
- The Maze of Uncertainty Under My Feet
- Running Towards the Smoke in Boston
- Stay Gold, Ponyboy
- Back Off Winter Sports, It’s Spring
- Holy Smoke
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010