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General

  • Social Media and its Role in Politics & Religion

    I spend a lot of time on social media and the internet for a variety of reasons: Reading, learning, researching, marketing, and communicating to name just a few.

    I have always respected the internet and the information that is so easily accessible. I remember the first time I browsed a website when the internet first became “live”.  Yes, I can still remember that day in the early 1990’s very clearly.  I even still have my original Hotmail email address that I created in that first exploratory reach into the unknown. Although I learned very little in the first foray, I did understand and appreciate the power such a tool would have in the future. Attending college never really inspired me to want to learn…it took being “romanced” by the era of technology for me to delve deep, learn, read, learn and read and learn some more.

    At the time, I worked for a small direct marketing and research firm based out of Berkshire, and I was a true database and direct marketing geek. I was well-known throughout the direct marketing industry and I would get calls from all over Europe asking my advice about how to manage a direct marketing campaign and what criteria should be used to target a captive audience. Ironically, it was the people who worked in marketing at this time that developed the initial idea around identifying client personas without really realizing what we were doing.

    The company’s client base was purely information technology and I was lucky enough to have worked with the greats: Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, 3M to name just a few. I also worked with a lot of small companies who were dipping their toes into this exciting and rapidly developing industry for the first time. Being a part of a small company and its first timid steps has always inspired me, and even today I get excited when I am talking to a new client.

    Social Media wise, I think my first account was on MySpace.  At the time MySpace was mostly sharing pictures and music.  It could have been so much more, but Facebook hit the market and MySpace slowly lost its way. Yahoo groups was also a fun zone to be in…chatting with people across the globe, learning and expanding horizons. I must admit, I never really saw the bad side of what the internet had to offer.  My focus has and always will be “a glass half full attitude”, and a positive outlook.

    Never did I imagine pedophiles hunting down and talking to young children to persuade them to meet up, never did I imagine political parties sharing false information to win elections, never did I imagine massive churches taking money from parishioners in the way that they do today through online books and fake information. I guess I was still living the life of a young, hopeful adult that could only imagine the positive from this massive wheel that was only just beginning to spin.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still see the massive positives that the internet delivers every single second of every hour in the day. I read extensively, and still value the available information, but I have learned to accept this information with either a small pinch or large bucket load of salt, depending on the website I am reading. I think the challenge a lot of people have when reading information online, be it a website or social media posts, is that they believe 100% of what they are reading and do not make a judgement call based on the source of the information.

    People seem to have forgotten the old saying about “don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper”. The internet seems to add a level of truthfulness about topics…I mean, if they say they are “Doctor”, they must be a “Doctor”…right??!?

    I do not think anyone understands or has information about how Russia supposedly affected the 2016 US Election or if there are “bots” flooding the pages and groups online. To try and keep track of all the memes, images, comments, news articles that travel across social media and to check them as they are posted for accuracy is by far, an impossible job. No matter how much we beg our family and friends to stop sharing inaccurate information, they continue to do so.

    What I do think though is that everything should have its place. Each social media platform is different and has a job. Let us review the top 4.

    1. Facebook – Platform for consumers to share information and stories and for businesses to sell and promote themselves to those consumers and other businesses.
    2. Instagram – Platform to consumers and businesses to share images and to promote their ideas and services to their followers.
    3. Twitter – The favorite medium of the current resident of the White House, Twitter is a news feed platform that allows you to share short news alerts and information with your followers.
    4. LinkedIn – Platform for businesses and professionals to network and promote their services and skill sets.

    All these social media platforms are great for the small business owner through to large conglomerates promoting their services and sharing their news. Of course, the more we use them as consumers, the richer the owners/CEOs get but everyone gets something out of them if they log in to their account.

    Without Facebook, I would not have recently got back in touch with my best friend from school. Without WhatsApp, I would never be able to afford to speak to my daughter in England every day for sometimes an hour at a time. We all have similar stories.

    My question today though goes back to the social media platform’s job. Should any of their jobs in the widest sense of the platform’s definition include politics and religion? Politics and religion are both taboo subjects over the dinner table, so why are they not also taboo on your social media timeline. Facebook and Twitter are now so infected with politics that I do not believe there is a chance to reverse the rapid spread of a pathogen that is a major part of today’s industrialized society.

    Instagram and LinkedIn are so far almost protected from the political/religious virus. Sadly, today I spotted a few political and religious posts creeping into my LinkedIn feed. I have been on LinkedIn for 6 years and have over 3500 connections and I review my feed and connections daily. I have always been quietly happy that LinkedIn has kept to their job of networking, job searching, business promotion, and marketing.  It has been my breathing space from a world gone a little mad!  That now appears to be changing.  It seems that inappropriate posts are creeping to onto my news feed that include obvious political and religious grandstanding.

    Who is willing to fight for LinkedIn and the clean job that it does? Who is willing to stand up and say NO to RELIGION and POLITICS on LinkedIn?

    Will it be the product managers at Microsoft who will put their foot down and announce to the world that anyone on LinkedIn promoting a political or religious agenda will be removed? Or will it be all the professionals who have proactively used LinkedIn since 2002 when it was launched? Either way, action needs to be taken, and I hope that the managers at LinkedIn and Microsoft take note and keep LinkedIn politics and religion-free.

     

  • Necessity is the Mother of Invention – A Positive note!

    The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has both challenged and changed the world’s perception of individualism, materialism, greed, organization, and the many uses of technology.  This pandemic has driven people to avariciously hoard items that are needed by EVERYONE in the world, and to vainly attempt to make money from others dire privations.
    I am, however beginning to see a dim pulsating light at the end of the tunnel.  People are beginning to realize that there is a “Smarter” way of living and that humanity is at a point where it desperately needs a course modification geared toward togetherness and teamwork.  We are at a place on our road of existence where we should seriously consider which direction we plan to take.  Do we continue straight on, driving our planet into oblivion, or do we take the road less traveled, and save our world and society from recklessness?
    “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed,” Gandhi.
    The last few years have demonstrated how anger, hostility, greed, and prejudice can drive a wedge between friends, families, communities, and even countries!  The last few weeks have shown us that these “wedges” and “differences” are useless when fighting this new invisible enemy (COVID-19).
    Materialism and greed have created a society driven by a need for the latest and greatest with the insatiable urge to have everything and anything.  Materialism, desire, and hoarding are now a big part of our society.  Human beings are social beasts, and this need to “socialize” and possess more has driven us to engage with our peers via new and exciting communication channels based on the developing technology available.  Businesses and educational institutions now utilize on-line options for courses in-lieu of in-house meetings and classroom activities.
    Ironically, there are always several silver linings to every cloud.  This cloud is a giant, evil black monstrosity called COVID-19, an invisible enemy, that not even a murderer or criminal can evade. In many ways, we’ve already adopted the concept of “social distancing” during the era of social media and technology. Yet this ability to distance ourselves socially may be our saving grace.  With no vaccines available, you are safest at home in front of your computer or smartphone in your hand.
    Unification of families is now a reality brought on by COVID-19!  Crime is down because of the mass hysteria that the streets are not safe.  Restaurants and grocery outlets have more efficient delivery and pick up services, which minimizes travel, and therefore accidents.  Doctors are once again making house calls to elderly patients who are too frail to take on this new invisible enemy.   Society is on a path to healing from an enemy that we cannot yet embrace.
    Yes, we can survive as individuals, even in quarantine, and still, be part of a caring community.  In this globalized world, our lives are so intertwined that we need to view ourselves, as individuals, as communities, as nations, and as a uniquely privileged species. It has taken a virus to show us that only through togetherness we at our most reliable, most alive, most human and that we understand what is most important.  We are all bound together as part of a miraculous web of life on planet Earth!
    A final thought though…Will society remember this most-important-lesson learnt after the virus is no longer the enemy, or will people, communities, and countries go back to business as usual?
    By Marold Studesville & Alyson Stasek