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

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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

Cut the Loop

I follow a lot of bloggers on Instagram and lately there has been a trend of ‘Loop Giveaways.” These giveaways are basically where a group of bloggers or shop owners team up and pool their money together to get a several hundred dollar gift cards some kind of designer item, iPad, or any other high ticket item. They then all post a picture announcing the giveaway. To enter you have to like the picture, and then click to see the person who is tagged in the picture in your feed and go to their page and follow them and like their picture. This continues until the ‘loop’ is completed and you get back to the person whose picture you liked first.

These are a great way for new bloggers or shop owners to get more followers and it is an easy way for me and everyone else on Instagram to have a chance to win something cool. So when these first started popping up I entered almost every single one of them, because – hey, why not!

I am a huge Instagram fan and check it more times per day than I can even count or would care to admit. To me it is almost a sacred space filled with people who I care about and am interested, and also things that inspire me. It is a very creative space.

This is where my hatred for the giveaways comes in. Even though I followed a lot of people or brands I don’t know, I still knew who they were. After entering a lot of giveaways, my timeline is full of people and things I not only don’t know – but also don’t really like. They’ve turned Instagram from a haven to somewhere I barely recognize.

Now this is easily fixable by going and unfollowing people, but that takes a lot of effort and I don’t want to unfollow someone on accident that I actually like. So even though I have the chance to win huge prizes simply by liking and following people, I’ve given that up simply because I hate having my timeline cluttered with people I don’t care about.

I do have to admit that as I’m typing this it sounds crazy that I’d rather pass up a chance to win $600 to keep my Instagram the way I want it, but it’s true. Instagram means that much to me.

Emma vanBree

Addiction or Habit?

In my last blog post I touched on the subject that we are on our phones so much that sometimes we do it without even realizing it. For many people it takes more of a conscious effort to stay off of our phones than to be on them. While I do believe some people do have Internet addictions, I think excessive phone use for most of us is simply out of habit.

I was a recruitment counselor last year and part of the agreement was that I had to delete my Facebook for several months and make all of my other profiles private. I knew that I could definitely handle this challenge, but it was going to be just that – a challenge. When D-day (Deactivation day) finally came, I nervously clicked through the steps and before I knew it I was Facebook-free.

At first it was difficult not only because of FOMO but because I kept going to check Facebook out of habit when I was bored or when I needed to look up someones birthday. More than anything Facebook serves as a social register for me and it was hard to break off my relationship and dependence from this resource. I do admit to cheating a few times and signing back in because I desperately needed to look something up. However, after a month or so something miraculous happened – I stopped feeling the urge to check Facebook and finally felt content with my Facebook-free status.

After several months Bid Day finally came and I was allowed to get my Facebook back. Instead of rushing back to my computer I actually held off for several weeks because I had come to enjoy my life sans-Facebook. Part of the appeal was the challenge of resisting it but the other part was the freedom that came with recognizing I didn’t need to know everything that was going on in my friend’s lives. I actually only got it back because my friends kept nagging me because they couldn’t tag me in pictures.

I know that this is only one case, but I know that if people actively tried to cut back on phone and internet time they would have an experience similar to mine. Just like forming any new habit it is hard at first, but once you get into a new routine you no longer miss your old one. This truth is proof that for many of us media over-consumption is simply out of habit and not actual addiction.

Emma vanBree

Texting on the Job

I think we can all admit to being a little overly attached to our phones, so much so that I sometimes find myself on my phone without really realizing it. And although there aren’t many major consequences for this when you are at home, there can be severe complications when you’re on the clock.

A friend of mine recently lost her job and one of the reasons her boss listed was that she seemed distracted and was on her phone too much. This all came as a complete shock to her because she didn’t feel that she was on her phone too much and her bosses had never said anything to her that would make her think they weren’t satisfied with her quality of work.

This raised a lot of questions for me like how much time spent on your phone is deemed too much by your boss. You could think your use is infrequent, but this might still be too much in the eyes of your boss. Also, are we so attached to our phones that we sometimes find ourselves on them without even noticing? I definitely find myself on my phone almost constantly if I don’t have anything going on and could see myself definitely using it without realizing. When I hear my phone make a noise now it is basically instinct to check it.

When she talked to them more about their decision they said that they had a meeting once while she was employed where they mentioned that everyone should be better about not looking at their phone, and they thought that this should have covered the topic. She said that this meeting was soon after she started working with them and they never mentioned it again in the several months she worked there.

In this day in age is just mentioning something once, especially when it comes to cell phone use, enough to really get people to listen and comply? In my opinion it is not. You can’t mention something to anyone once and expect them to remember it or make changes, especially after several months. Because people are so attached to their phones this should be something that is probably mentioned weekly at meetings.

I think employers should be a little more explicit about how much time spent on a phone is acceptable and they should also remind employees more frequently, potentially at weekly meetings. This is unfortunately an issue with today’s culture and it is a hard habit to break. People can’t be penalized when they didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong.

Emma vanBree

An Argument for Increased Surveillance

I strongly dislike the idea of anyone being able to watch my every move, whether in real life or on the Internet. However a recent event involving my sister has caused me to rethink my ideas of security, particularly in public.

A couple weeks ago, my sister was hit by a car while she was on her moped and the driver of the car that hit her left the scene. The car had been trailing closely behind her, and when he/she tried to pass her he/she ran her off the road and hit her from the side. And because there were no traffic cameras that could have captured the license plate, there is nothing the police can do to try to catch the driver. Which means that this careless person has been allowed to go about their business with no consequences, while my sister has had to take some time from school and have many doctors visits to make sure that she is okay.

Thankfully she didn’t sustain any major injuries, but it still hurts me that the person that did this has been able to get off scot-free.

This has led me to believe that having surveillance cameras on roads might bring more good than harm. I don’t think that this video feed should all be monitored or that data should be extrapolated from it to track people. However I do not see anything wrong with a video feed that gets deleted after a few hours that is only consulted when there is an accident.

Not only would this prevent people from getting away with fleeing the scene of accidents, it would clear up any confusion of who caused a more major accident if there is a lot of dispute.

After being personally affected by this issue, I think that the pros more than outweigh the cons. If a little camera could prevent anyone from escaping justice, I’m all for it.

Emma vanBree

#FunFactFriday – Bling Bling

If I’m ever bored I can always count on Reddit to entertain me with mindless content, and also really interesting things I never knew before. I did a #FunFactFriday post a few weeks ago and thought I’d bring it back.

This week as I was browsing Reddit I stumbled upon this TIL (Today I Learned) –

TIL diamonds aren’t rare; their demand is a marketing invention. In 1938 De Beers hired an ad agency who arbitrarily decided that a diamond engagement ring is worth 1 month’s salary. It worked so well they increased it to 2 months’ salary. De Beers carefully restricts supply to keep the prices high.

While I had heard this of course, I thought I’d share it again with the world because I am an advertising major and have to acknowledge the best advertising campaign of all time. I can only hope that I will ever be half as successful in my own career as this campaign was.

What’s crazier is that even though many people know its true, it hasn’t really changed the way most people feel about it. Even though I am well aware that diamonds aren’t as valuable as they are made out to be – I still like them. It’s been so drilled into my head that knowing the truth doesn’t even change my mind.

Emma vanBree

Do I know you?

Bailey’s post about the awkward struggle of accepting family members and family friends’ friend requests and the ensuing judgement got me thinking about all of the friends I have on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts.

While I am *blessed* to have somehow dodged that sticky situation myself, I do face another struggle almost every day. That issue is that I am friends with a lot of people that I have only met in passing or have never met at all. This is all good and well until you run into these people in everyday life and you have to make the decision to:

  1. Say hello to your acquaintance
  2. Ignore them and pretend they are a complete stranger

I often times (and by often and I mean all the time) choose the second option for fear of being the awkward person saying hello to someone who doesn’t know who I am. If someone says hello to me, of course I will say it back. But I always air on the safe side to avoid putting myself in a socially awkward situation.

Although it sounds really silly, this problem is only growing more severe every day as our real-life communities become even more intertwined with our digital ones. People share so many details of their lives on social media that I begin to feel like I am actually friends with them without ever having a conversation with them. Once you have been friends with someone on Facebook for a while you see people grow up and achieve things and reach major milestones. You see their successes and their failures. These details are far more intimate than ones you would ever know about them if they were not part of your digital community.

A girl that I went to elementary and middle school with just had twins and she posted pictures from the hospital on Facebook – and I saw them. She shared these photos so friends could see them, but these posts get seen by IRL friends and everyone else you are ‘friends’ with on social media. This was an extremely personal moment that I (who am basically a stranger) got to see. And that’s really weird.

Social media is great for keeping up with your friends because you share your life with them. However once you start adding people that aren’t IRL friends, you begin to keep up with them, too. This results with you knowing just as much about complete strangers than you do your real friends.

Emma vanBree

Wide Awake Wilson

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I am from Wilson, North Carolina – a fairly small town of around 50,000 people that is about 40 miles east of Raleigh. Although many people have never heard of it Wilson is was once the tobacco capital of the world (yes, the world), the birthplace of the bank BB&T, home of both Parker’s and Bill’s barbeque.

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But more importantly (in the context of this blog), Wilson is one of the few counties in the state that created their own, independent, cable and internet service, Greenlight. This is somewhat of an anomaly because shortly after Greenlight was created, North Carolina made these independent services illegal. However, much to the delight of its users, Greenlight was grandfathered in and still provides internet to many Wilsonians.

My family has yet to make the switch to Greenlight, but everybody I know who has has been much happier than they ever were with Time Warner Cable. My boyfriend had Greenlight and he was always thrilled with the service they provided. In the several years that he had the services, he had only a couple of problems. This is a big difference from my TWC experience, where problems happen every few months.

While the service is by no means new, it has been in the spotlight this week because the FCC agreed to hear the “City of Wilson’s petition today calling for it to override North Carolina’s law against municipal networks” on Thursday. This was an effort to over-turn a 2011 law that imposed numerous conditions that effectively prevented Wilson from expanding Greenlight service into neighboring counties, even if requested.

And by a 3-2 vote by the FCC it was successfully overturned.

While this is a big win for Wilson, it is also very telling as to what the FCC will do when it votes on net neutrality, which is coming up very soon. By allowing Wilson’s Greenlight to have more freedom to grow their business, it seems like the FCC is definitely thinking with a pro-net neutrality mindset.

While this is all speculation and nobody will know until the vote happens, it is a very interesting and precedent-setting vote.It’s fun to see my hometown playing such a big role in the decision making process of the future of the Internet.

Emma vanBree