The Times They are a Changin’

For our final blog post our professor asked us to think about the most important thing we learned all semester. Since then I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on all of the things we’ve discussed all semester and wondering where the time went. (I’m a graduating senior so please excuse my sappiness). Because we discussed so many different topics I struggled for a little while to decide what the highlight of my semester. However, once I started to think about things more abstractly I finally realized that my biggest takeaway from this semester is not just one thing from a day’s lecture, but the overwhelming realization that the entire world around us is changing because of the advances we are making in technology. This isn’t only effecting newspapers or the music industry, but every part of our personal lives and business and the economy. And not only are things changing, we also aren’t sure where they’re going.

Things change every day. And this isn’t something that you should try to fight. Change is inevitable and if you aren’t constantly willing to evolve you will fall behind. My professor changed the lesson plans several times to take advantage of the opportunity of discussing recent events, like the Chapel Hill shooting. We discussed this a lot more in detail with the field of journalism, particularly about newspapers. It’s not a secret that print is dwindling in favor of online and digital publications. Most newspapers have moved online but are struggling to figure out a successful business model. This is also true in the music industry. So many people give away news and music online for free that people refuse to pay for a subscription. And a new norm isn’t going to be reached until someone finds something that sticks, which is (unfortunately unpredictable). The future can be intimidating because you don’t know what will happen, it is just trial and error until something (for whatever reason) finally sticks.

When we’d have group discussions about what we think the future of an industry should be, I would get a little overwhelmed because I’m just a college student, not an expert in the field. But then I would realize that not even the experts have been able to figure it out, so it is anyone’s guess. And the chances are pretty good that it is not going to be an industry expert who figures it out, it will be someone young who is capable at looking at things from a different perspective.

This quote also exemplifies another aspect of change that I learned this semester: you can’t be scared of change. Nothing will change and evolve – and most importantly, improve – if we don’t accept change. Nobody knows what reality will be in 10 years from now, we just have to make educated decisions (or guesses, if you will) and hope they pay off.

I appreciate this lesson now more than ever because I am graduating in just a couple of weeks. I’m not afraid to admit that I can be a little reluctant to change in my life, so this time has been very stressful. In one week I will be completely done with school forever and it is exciting, terrifying, and depressing all at the same time. It is very easy to get overwhelmed sometimes when so many of my friends are making plans around their new jobs and I still have no idea what I’m going to do. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to move home after graduation, but just because I am doesn’t mean I won’t ever have an exciting career. If anything it will allow me to be more selective and not feel pressure to accept a job until I am offered something I am excited about.

Overall, I have enjoyed this semester so much and couldn’t have asked for a better last semester. I appreciated this class so much for truly challenging me and teaching me so much. I learned so much more from having thoughtful discussions than I would have ever learned from just listening to a lecture. Thanks for helping me end my college career on such a great note Professor Robinson!

Emma vanBree

E.I. E.I…. Uh Oh

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I saw Nelly this weekend at the Azalea Festival in Wilmington and it had been a few months since I’ve gone to a concert. While it was great to see Nelly live after listening to his music for so many years, it was crazy to see how many people hold up their phones at concerts now. I had forgotten how much the landscape has changed, from people just having their hands in the air, to hands interspersed with the bright light of phone screens.

I do have to admit that I was guilty as well, Snapchatting and recording several of my favorite songs. While I didn’t want to be on my phone the whole time and not really get to enjoy the actual concert, it was a once in a lifetime event (most likely) and I wanted to be able to relive some of the moments again later.

Nothing really highlights this generation’s phone dependency quite like a concert – when the phone screens shine brightly in comparison to the darkness. Everyone can admit that they are on your phone too much, but its hard to see how prevalent this tendency really is until you are in a large group of people. When you are surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people and you see how many of them are using their phones at once this point is driven home further. It’s like a real life infographic.

It’s such a delicate balance between capturing and sharing moments with friends (and then keeping up with what your friends are doing) and living through our phone screen. With as advanced and engaging as technology has become, it truly does become harder and harder to maintain a balance between digital and real life. Although we can all admit to getting caught up in it a little bit, when you have moments like these everything suddenly gets put into perspective. Whether its a concert or out to dinner with friends, moments occur when you realize how much time you spend focused on a screen and you know that you can’t let yourself be completely sucked in to this vicious cycle quite yet.

Emma vanBree

Down the Rabbit Hole

Last night I finally made the jump from a  PC to a brand-new, shiny Macbook Pro. I got my HP computer before coming to college and other than the fact that I had to replace the hard drive once (which surprisingly only cost 50 bucks) and a few scares that turned out to just be overheating, I really loved the computer. However this year it just started to quite literally fall apart at the seams.

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I never dropped it or mistreated it, but one day the joint cover came loose and after a few months it turned into this. But seeing as having a computer these days, especially as a student, is 100% necessary and my PC was a ticking time bomb, my mom generously let me go ahead and update as a little early graduation present.

While I do feel like I have sold out a little bit by getting a Mac, I know that I will not regret it because they are unarguably the best computers out there. Even though I am still in the adjustment phase, I think my new computer and I will become the best of friends in no time.

However, I do feel like I’ve started down a slippery slope of connectedness. Before my laptop was a laptop and my phone was a phone, now they can communicate together seamlessly. My photos automatically load onto my computer – I no longer have to email them to myself or plug in my computer. And even more dangerous is that my messages automatically come to my computer now. If I put my phone away during class, I will still be just as connected as I was if I was on my phone the whole time. While it is undoubtedly convenient, it is equally frightening.

The whole impending reality of the Internet of Things now seems very real to me in a way it hadn’t before. If a phone and computer, and any other Apple device you have (cough cough, Apple watch) can work together, it really isn’t far fetched at all to make the mental leap to all things being connected. While it seems even more real now, that makes it even more frightening. As we continue down this path we could lose our ability to think for ourselves because we have become so dependent on the smartness and connectedness of devices.

Emma vanBree

Insta-Update

I’ve seen some buzz on Instagram last night and today about a new feature that Instagram has rolled out where you can supposedly sign up for push notifications from your favorite accounts so you never miss a post.

As TechCrunch mentioned, this is good because:

1. You get alerted when content you really care about is posted.

2. It helps you keep track of your favorite content as you follow more people.

3. It’ll be a good feature once Apple Watch rolls out.

While it is cool that you can get notifications from people you absolutely don’t want to miss, part of what I like about Instagram is that it is always a surprise when I check it, I never know what I am going to find and who will have posted. I’ve turned off all my Instagram notifications so I only see new updates and notifications when I get on the app. I spend so much time on the app already I don’t really want more notifications when I’m not on the app.

Another thing that is a little concerning about this update is what it means for the future of Instagram, mostly if they will start using some kind of algorithm in their feed which will change the way users see content. I can understand that Instagram can get overwhelming if you follow a lot of people – I follow 1,244 people – but it is a little concerning about what this means for the future of the app. What I like about Instagram is that it is just people’s content in the order it is posted, and I don’t want that to change.

Expanding Your Horizons

I had to do a project on Snapchat last semester where I just had to gather all the information about the app and the ability to advertise on it. It was fascinating because it was a very new platform and even while we were working on the project things were changing and growing. That project not only taught me all about Snapchat, but made me realize the potential it has.

Almost all of my friends and people my age use Snapchat to not only send ugly selfies to our friends, but also to share bits and pieces of our days. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes pretty or envy-inducing, but it is always real.

It seemed to me like something that would only be between me and my close friends, however “Our Story” showed me the potential Snapchat had to allow people to see first-hand glimpses into world events and other peoples’ lives.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of the bloggers I follow on Instagram have started mentioning their Snapchat accounts and suggesting all their followers follow along with them on it. I have added a couple of them that I am most intrigued by to see what more they share about their real life on Snapchat.

It has been interesting to see several moments throughout their day and hear their voices, something that definitely doesn’t come through on Instagram. Although it has been a change to have people I don’t know show up amongst my friends’ stories, it has been interesting to see glimpses into other people’s lives.

I firmly believe that Snapchat is live version of YouTube. By growing your friends on Snapchat through who you follow on different social media you have unique, always changing content on it that is constantly being updated.

I never thought that I would be friends with anyone I didn’t know personally on Snapchat, but now that I have seen what that looks like (aka it’s not all ugly selfies) it has really opened up my mind and further strengthened my belief in Snapchat as a medium.

Emma vanBree

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

The Internet and social media is a great way to stay in touch with people’s lives and share your own. However, sometimes life events make you resent the level of publicity in your life.

To be completely honest, I recently got out of a pretty long relationship. And I have been (unpleasantly) surprised about how many extra steps I’ve had to take because of social media. These days things definitely aren’t as easy as just returning and reclaiming some belongings.

That is obviously the first step, or at least was for me. But what was even harder was making the changes on social media, there are so many little details you don’t think about until you are forced too.

Thankfully we didn’t have our relationship status on Facebook, so that saved me from one thing, but so many people do these days. It seems like such a great idea at the time, but I don’t think that the excitement is ever worth the processing of having to change from ‘In A Relationship’ to ‘Single.’ Just thinking about it is uncomfortable.

The other main thing is profile pictures, and just pictures in general. Realizing I had to change my profile pictures was an unpleasant dose of reality, made even more unsavory by the fact that I didn’t have a picture that I really wanted to use. Searching your Facebook and phone for a new profile picture is a very depressing experience. On the same note, so are all the pictures I decided to post on Facebook and Instagram recently. It’s weird that these happy moments are still very fresh on all my feeds, but are a far cry from the current state of things. Deleting them seems wrong, because they happened, it would just be nice they could be filed away somewhere where they didn’t have to be center stage.

Generally, I love social media. However, sometimes it seems more like an enemy than a friend.

Emma vanBree

Babybook

Now that I’m 22 and an “adult” my Facebook timeline becomes more and more filled with pictures of growing baby bumps and then growing babies. I swear everyday I see a new person announcing a pregnancy or welcoming their new child. Every. Single. Day.

So needless to say, I am less than enthused about Facebook’s launch of their new Scrapbook feature. Scrapbook “lets you create a photo tag for your child even if he or she isn’t on Facebook and then create a Facebook album of the photos in which he or she is tagged.” And when they’re old enough to have their own Facebook (aka 13) they will be able to transfer all of these images over to their profile.

I’ve always thought the “Born” feature on every person’s profile timeline was odd, but I think it’s even weirder now that it will actually serve a purpose in a few years when these Scrapbook-ed babies get their own profiles and have images spanning their entire lives.

Leave it to Facebook to find a way to get people to share even more personal data with them. Now people will be encouraged to share even more baby pictures under the guise of this ‘Scrapbook’ being a pseudo baby book. Which will not only clog up my timeline, but put the next generation at risk. These kids will likely have their own Facebook data profile before they are even allowed to be on the site. If Facebook doesn’t allow children below 13 to have their own profile they shouldn’t have the opportunity to collect data on young children.

This also sacrifices a child’s privacy at a very young age.Putting all of this information out there robs a child of the opportunity to make these decisions for themselves. You would think parents would want to protect their children from the internet invasion as long as they can, but now they’ll be broadcasting everything from day 1.

While I know parents share things on Facebook already, and I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional picture, I think the ability to culminate this information all in one place is very dangerous. By creating this Scrapbook parents are setting their children up for heightened privacy concerns in the future.

Emma vanBree

Live Stream Lies

Periscope and Meerkat launched recently as a way to live stream your everyday life. While both work with Twitter, Twitter recently acquired Periscope and has been trying to promote it while simultaneously squashing Meerkat. They both serve the same purpose and are hoping to become the new social media – the ultimate way to share your life with your friends.

It sounded to me like Snapchat minus the best part of Snapchat – being able to watch things on your own time. Yes, you only have 24 hours, but you can find a few moments in that time to view something. Periscope and Meerkat require you to watch something as it is happening, and once its over its over. Apparently you can save a post, but you have to have been watching to be able to do that.

While I appreciate the effort to come up with something new, I feel like what makes these apps different will be exactly why they fail. They’re live streaming, you can only see what’s going on while you are on the app, and that also means you probably have to pick and choose what you view as well. People don’t even watch scheduled TV as much, so why would anyone think they’d be willing to tune into this app to maybe catch their friends do something cool? I don’t want to be glued to the app all the time simply waiting for something to happen.

Snapchat has a good thing figured out. They figured out the semi-live streaming, and these two new apps just seem to be ripping off their idea. I expect these apps to fade away as quickly as they came on the market. In the end I feel like this will end up being a great thing for Snapchat and will make it a more respected medium. I think people will take a few looks at these new apps and realize what they really want is something that Snapchat has already offered up.

Emma vanBree

Mis-Communication

For months I have been seeing the “Talk to Your Children About Alcohol” commercials, and while I recognize that they do bring a topic to light that often gets overlooked – I don’t feel that they accurately portray the issue.

They show a mom putting earrings and a corsage on her daughter presumable for prom but then the mother starts crying and they show the daughter in a coffin.

Another shows a father mashing up some bananas and talking to his child in baby talk, and then shows him feeding his adult son who has brain damage.

While I obviously agree that this is a topic that needs to be talked about, I feel like the commercials put the blame on alcohol when the real problem is the poor decisions that are made around alcohol. There is nothing wrong with having a few drinks once you are of age, and I don’t even think it is bad to let younger adults and teenagers have a drink at home occasionally. I think that the bigger deal you make out of it, the more kids are likely to make stupid mistakes. If you let your kids have a few drinks it removes the mystery and makes them less likely to sneak around and do it because they don’t feel like it’s a big deal. In Europe you don’t see teenagers drinking to excess because it has never been this substance that has been kept from them, so when they come of age it isn’t a big deal.

I think the commercials should focus more on making better decisions around alcohol – not drinking in excess, not drinking and driving – not just that alcohol itself leads to brain damage or death. I get that alcohol can lead to poor decisions that have very negative consequences, but the alcohol itself isn’t necessarily responsible for that. I don’t think that shaming someone into thinking alcohol is this horrible that will kill them if they drink it is the right message to send – it’s overly dramatic and just isn’t true. Media has the power to speak to millions of people, so you want to make sure you are sending an accurate message.

Emma vanBree

Bashin’ Fashion

Late last night I was helping my roommate dye her hair and I showed her a picture of a blogger’s hair that I thought would look good on her. I then got sucked into the black hole and ended up stalking her on Instagram back to her college days. The funny thing is, they weren’t as far away as I thought, which raised a lot of questions for me because she lives an extravagant lifestyle now and she nor her husband seemed to work other than for her blog – which is successful and all but still, it’s just a blog. Things just didn’t seem to add up to me, how can one get engaged while still in college with a huge engagement ring and then blog full-time and afford to be constantly taking vacations and buying extremely expensive clothing. I swear she never wears the same thing twice and any one thing she wears on a daily basis would be a once-in-a-lifetime splurge for most people.

I was hooked and immediately went to Google to see what dirt I could dig up. And boy, did I hit the jackpot. I came across the website GOMI – Get Off My Internets – which is basically an online community full of different forums about different types of bloggers. It is mostly a place for people to do a little (okay, a lot) of shi*t talking about bloggers and to try to figure them out.

I quickly discovered that my intuition was right, this girl is by no means living an average life. Her husband’s family started the company that m3akes Duraflame logs and other wood products so they are loaded.

Even though I know that people’s finances are a very private matter, something really rubbed me the wrong way once I put together that she is basically making (somewhat) of a living off of spending her husband’s family’s money.

She put’s herself in the spotlight and it suddenly seemed disingenuous that she was just trying to come off as normal and a real person. Less than one percent of people will ever be able to live this kind of lifestyle, so why is it something that should be aspired too? This is completely a fairytale, yet so many will continue to follow her and feel dissatisfied or unaccomplished because their life isn’t as glamorous. When in reality this is an isolated case – her situation is the exception, not the rule.

It is so easy to let people’s live on the Internet and social media make your own seem sub-par when we don’t even know these people in real life. We only see what they want us to see, not the complete truth, and we shouldn’t let their ‘perfect’ lives make us feel dissatisfied about our own.

So if you ever want to get the real scoop on these ‘perfect’ people you see all over the Internet I would highly recommend checking out this website, it’ll help put things in perspective.

Emma vanBree