COM0014 – Blog #2: Writing and Communicating the Right Way.

Surprisingly I have always thought of myself as a good communicator and that I am able to get my points and thoughts across in the correct way. Who knew that I was making some crucial mistakes? Over this week I had the opportunity to delve deeper in storytelling, communication styles, and encouraging interaction. I am going to go over what things I was doing incorrectly in my writing style and what I will be doing moving forward.

Girl writing on a black keyboard
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In my opinion, one of the most important things I learned and was definitely not following was: Do Not Bury the Lead. Yes, for some reason I have seen in my previous writing that I tend to do this. As the author states:

In journalism, there’s an expression: Don’t bury the lead (also known as the “lede”). Basically, it means you should write the most important thing first; each successive paragraph can flesh out the main idea for those who are interested in reading further. (Clarke, 2020, para. 1)

Previously I thought that if I left the reader guessing for awhile then they would continue to read. From now on I need to think of any of my blog writing as a formal paper and make sure that it has an introduction. I think that will allow me to remember the concept of the Inverted Pyramid Writing Technique.

Passive vs. Active Voice is another aspect I will need to work on. When looking back at my work I thought it was fine as long as their were no spelling or grammar mistakes. While passive writing will have no grammatical errors, writing in an active voice will be more clear for the reader and interest the reader on a larger scale. As the author wrote, “Nevertheless, the active voice is sometimes a far better choice, and you may use both in the same article depending on the context and content of your sentences and the section of your paper you are writing” (Wolfsen, 2020, para. 3). I decided that I will keep some desk aids printed out to assist me with using my active voice in writing.

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I recently updated my Microsoft Word and with that included a new feature I had not seen before. It assists you with being more concise with your writing. And I was glad to have it there. I soon realized that the program was assisting me more often that I ever thought it would. I realized then that I had to improve and be more concise in my writing. Readers have a short attention span and there is no need for all of the extras. Every time that help comes up in the program I am noting what issues I am having in hopes it will help me be more concise.

From this weeks reading, I am glad that I was able to see these errors and have some action plans going forward to work on them. What mistakes did you see yourself making? Did you find any resolutions to the issues that I have had in the past?

References

Clark, D. (2020). Don’t Bury The Lead. Dorie Clark. Retrieved from https://dorieclark.com/dont-bury-the-lead/#:~:text=In%20journalism%2C%20there’s%20an%20expression,are%20interested%20in%20reading%20further.

Wolfsen, M. (2020). Active vs. Passive voice: What’s the difference? What should I use? And why does it matter? AJE. Retrieved from https://www.aje.com/arc/writing-with-active-or-passive-voice/

COM0014 – Blog #1: What I did on my “vacation”

COM0014 – Blog #1: What I did on my “vacation”

Would you believe me if I said I have not been on a vacation since 2014? Maybe not, but after seeing this assignment topic I even realized some may not consider my type of “vacation” an actual vacation. When one thinks of vacation, they think of exploring or travelling far. Sometimes even crossing things off their bucket list. For myself, anytime that I can get away from work and school I choose to travel five hours more north to visit my family.

For years now I have decided to take any free time to visit my parents and my brother in the small town that I grew up in.

My most recent “vacation” that I took back home was from the 26th to the 28th of June. A quick drive to spend time with the people that mean the most to me. I feel like I am more inclined than ever to take these small trips as I now have a one and a year nephew named Bentley who I am obsessed with and want to see as much as possible. Due to Covid-19, I had not seen any of my family since Bentley’s birthday in early January.

Image source: Algoma Country

It began with me running out of the door after work on Friday afternoon, hoping I packed everything needed and remembering my dog who is always the best travel buddy. The drive was sunny, and I took a much-needed break at one of my favourite places named Katherine’s Cove. This beach brings me back to travelling as young kids and always begging for my parents to stop so we could swim in the frigid waters.

After a few hours of driving, I reached my brothers where I would be staying for the next two nights. Bentley was sleeping by the time I got there so we decided to watch a funny/lame show on Netflix called “The Floor is Lava”. Do not watch it, you will never get those minutes back. Went to bed with the anticipation of seeing my nephew in the morning.

The next morning and afternoon was spent outside with my family. Bentley had a great day playing in his pool.

Well, until he landed face first into a large bucket on my watch. With a little scrape on his face we decided that it was time to wrap up the pool and get dinner ready. It would not be a a good day outside without some barbecue.

As my brother was making dinner outside I was on Bentley watch. To keep him from running down the driveway and stay clear of the barbecue we brought out the chalk. After I was done with my masterpiece, Bentley was not prepared to be a part of a photo shoot way past his bedtime. After dinner it was time for him to go to bed and I followed soon after.

I woke up early in the morning to pack back up and prepare for my travel back to the city. I was able to eat breakfast with everyone and say my goodbyes.

After everything that has been going on in the past few months this is the exact type of “vacation” my soul needed. To be around the people that mean the most to me and make memories with them.

Perhaps by this time next year I will be writing blogs about my adventures to my bucket list places like Redwood National Park or The Wave but this is more than fine. Would you consider these types of trips a vacation?

Instagram removing likes?

Instagram removing likes?

Who would have thought twenty years ago that so many people would base their existence and importance in life on the amount of “likes” they receive on a picture posted on a social media platform? I did not. To be honest it confused me for a while how so many people would feel discouraged if a photo they posted did not receive the type of feedback they wanted. The need for constant reassurance is on a scale that no one predicted.

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Over a year ago, Instagram removed the amount of likes from Instagram pictures in Canada and then other countries followed soon after. Many people wondered why. It all boiled down to assist with mental health and the effect of comparing each other over social media. Instagram decided that removing likes would reduce the ability for people to compare themselves to others on social media and measuring each other through the amount of likes on a photo.

The thought was to be able to provide more authenticity to the app. However, taking away likes does not eliminate the inauthentic content on the app. It does not take away the filters that can be added to photos or the façade that some people put on to make their life seem more than perfect and idealistic. The author wrote:

“We want everyone’s experience on Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring,” a Facebook spokesperson told me in a written statement. “We’re increasingly making decisions that prioritize the well-being of our community over our business — for example, reducing pressure on Instagram by hiding likes. We will continue to work alongside experts to develop new features in this space, like time management tools, whilst continuing our efforts to lead the industry in the fight against online bullying.” (Lawrence, 2019, para. 16)

With this statement it is important to note that their efforts are to lead in the industry in fighting against online bullying, which has nothing to do with likes on a photo. Eliminating comments may have been a way to reduce bullying online.

Many influencers felt that a tool for making money and getting brand deals was taken away. As the author wrote:

But while the loss of likes might improve mental well-being, that little heart-shaped button has become a profitable tool for influencers, with 3.7 million brand-sponsored posts made on the platform in 2018. Influencers use likes as a means of attracting advertisers, and now they will have to recalibrate how they do business. (Leventhal, 2019, para. 5)

There are still ways for influencers to get brand deals. Brands can look at their follower account and use their comments to gage reach and engagement. Influencers can also send interested brands their analytics to assist with their decision. The ability to make money on the app was not taken away, the process was just changed.

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Some feel that taking away the view of likes somewhat resolved the issue. People can still see the amount of likes that they receive on a post, they can see their engagement and can compare to previous posts. You cannot see the amount likes on someone’s photo unless you click on it and then everyone who liked the photo shows up, you can then scroll and see if they are getting likes in the dozens, hundreds, or thousands. Still giving the ability to compare. Did they really resolve the issue of users constantly comparing each other? They have made it harder to compare but the ability to is still there in the photo itself.

Others say that Instagram wanted to deter brands from using influencers and use the app itself for advertising and sponsored content. With them removing likes it made it less efficient for brands to choose influencers to work with. What do you think the reason for removing likes was?

References

Lawrence, S. (2019, December 2). Instagram is broken. It also broke us.Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/12/2/20983760/instagram-removing-likes-authenticity

Leventhal, J. (2019, November 25). How removing ‘likes’ from Instagram could affect our mental health. PBS News Hour. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/how-removing-likes-from-instagram-could-affect-our-mental-health

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MLM’s being predatory through social media?

MLM’s being predatory through social media?

First question you may be asking is, “What is an MLM”? MLM is short for multi-level marketing. There are many businesses that have this model. Multi level-marketing involves selling products to others and recruiting others to do the same. It is important to know that when involved with an MLM you must recruit others to be part of your “business” for the potential to make any kind of return on your sign up investment. MLM distributors will make promises of six figure incomes, lie about their life to relate to you, and pretend they have your best interest at heart to make you their down line. MLM’s want you to think you are joining a community of genuine lady bosses who are all great friends. Their only concern is that by you signing up they make money. These are the businesses you want to stay far away from, to not purchase from, and to let friends and family know of the horrors within these businesses.

You may feel like you do not know anyone part of an MLM, but you may be incorrect. You may have even purchased from these. Some examples of MLM’s that you may be familiar with are: Beachbody, LuLaRoe, Rodan + Fields, Herbalife, Monat, It Works!, and doTerra. These are among the most popular, the most hated, and the most unethical.

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With the growth of social media, we have seen a growth of MLM businesses and their distributors. Why? MLM’s now have a perfect breeding ground to take advantage of people. They have the perfect breeding ground to create distributors that will lie and cheat to make a few dollars.

Promises of success is their key tag line, as the author states:

Another thing MLMs do very well is using language that echoes the dreams of their targets. They call their recruits “entrepreneurs” and “business owners” and encourage them to talk about themselves that way. The allure of suddenly being able to say “I’m a business owner” or “I’m an independent consultant” for just a small down payment on goods is very strong. (Bushnell, 2020, paragraph 12)

These direct sales businesses claim to offer a life of side hustles, being an entrepreneur, and making your own schedule. These women are spending all their time on social media lying to their friends, family and even strangers trying to recruit them to their “business” and selling subpar products if they cannot make them their down line. There have been instances that women have pretended to have had fertility issues or non-curable diseases to “relate” to these vulnerable groups and recruit them to the MLM. The author said, “They actively target people they believe to have limited employment options, limited understanding of local business practices, or both, and they sell them every line in the book to get their money” (Bushnell, 2020, para. 7). These recruiters have been seen to encourage signing up for a credit card or borrowing money to be able to sign up and be a distributor under them. Essentially, encouraging someone to go into debt, sign up for something that will put them further in debt, so the recruiter can make money.

The success rate of distributors is the most telling among MLM’s. You are lied to believe that these people see success and large incomes when it is untrue. As the author states:

The AARP Foundation found that only about 25% of those it surveyed made a profit with MLM, 27% broke even, and about half of them lost money. Of the quarter that made a profit:

  • 14% made less than $5,000
  • 6% made between $5,000 and $9,999
  • 3% made between $10,000 and $24,999
  • 3% made $25,000 or more
  • .05% made $100,000 or more

(Lilyquist, 2019, para. 13)

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With these results you can see that being part of an MLM will most likely result in failure. However, when wanting to get out of the MLM your coach or “upline” will state that you are the issue and that you are not putting enough work into the “business”. That more time and effort need to be put on invites and recruitment. Which sounds quite different to the initial tagline of having free time and it being a side hustle that requires no set schedule.

MLM’s have also been at the forefront of news due to class action lawsuits. One of the most known is Monat and their hair care causing hair to fallout and cause permanent damage to their scalps. With all these known issues you still see old friends on Facebook or DM’s on Instagram asking you to be part of their “business”. They have been manipulated by their upline to believe that these are false accusations and everything they are selling is safe.

One thing that provides my mind ease is that with so many people involved with MLM’s there is a rise on awareness and anti MLM content on the internet to be found. There are many dedicated blogs and YouTube channels whose missions are to bring awareness to these unethical businesses and their loyal distributors.

I think it is best to never support MLM’s even if it is something small like a mascara or essential oil. That is contributing to the large problem even if you think you are supporting a friend. What do you think?

References

Bushnell, M. (2020). Multilevel marketing companies target women, immigrants and low-income minorities. Business.com. Retrieved from https://www.business.com/articles/mlms-target-women-and-immigrants/

Lilyquist, M. (2019, November 16). The likelihood of MLM success. The balance small business. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/the-likelihood-of-mlm-success-1794500

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Finding birth parents and children through Facebook?

Finding birth parents and children through Facebook?

While many can find disheartening and negative aspects of social media, there is always one positive that sticks in my mind, the ability to stay connected or reconnect with others through social media platforms like Facebook. Without social media, I am sure I would have lost touch with many family and friends over the years. Now we can track down and reach out to others if we feel the urge to. For some, this has been a life changing ability for them. Some were able to find their birth parents that they were longing to find. The author wrote:

All over the world, people are using the Internet to seek out information about their roots. It’s now the norm for adoptees and birthparents to use social media to search for missing pieces of their biological puzzle without any need for detectives, red tape, agencies, or intermediaries. (Fancott, 2020, para. 1)

Decades ago, finding a parent or child you never knew was a lengthy and sometimes expensive process. Contacting the adoption agency and getting a first name of the adoptive parents was the beginning. You would then need to find out where they were located at the time of adoption. Often leads would run cold and there would be a need to hire a private investigator. Hiring that private investigator would not only be a long and expensive process but there was no guarantee of finding the child or parent at the end of the tunnel.

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Facebook has unknowingly assisted in the process. With the filtering tools, anyone can put in a name and location and hope to pull something up. Many have been successful in finding family they never thought possible twenty years ago.

There are always things to consider when looking for a family member in the realm of adoption. In both instances, either trying to find a child or a parent, they may not be interested in finding you. They may have also passed on and reconnecting is not an option at all. They may never be found at all. Before looking for someone, all these scenarios are important to consider. One would need to be okay with any of the possible outcomes.

A positive reunion happened for Alexander Dorf and his biological mother Terri Barber. Alexander knew he was adopted and had been waiting for years to hear from his biological mother. As the author wrote:

Sixteen-year-old Alexander Dorf stood at the top of the stairs in his Tenafly, N.J., home two years ago, grinning broadly at his mother, Jami. He had just gotten a message on his Facebook wall that he had been waiting for all his life. (Belkin, 2011, para. 2)

Terri, his birth mother, was able to find Alexander as she knew the adoptive parents first names and that they lived in New Jersey. This was a positive experience as they were both looking for each other.

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There are also Facebook groups dedicated to helping others find their birth parents. One larger group called “Find My Birth Parents” offers great resources, encouragement, and a platform that could help.

Everyone on Facebook has also seen a viral post of someone holding a sign looking for a birth parent or their child. Usually these signs provide all the information needed to be able to distinguish if this is a relative or not. These posts can reach thousands of people in days through likes and shares. There have been instances where birth parents have been found in hours after years of searching through different avenues.

Some argue that going this avenue can lead to problems. What do you think? After seeing tearful reunion videos for years now, I think that all these risks can lead to positive outcomes of families reuniting after years of searching.

References

Belkin, L. (2011, June 24). I found my mom through Facebook. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/fashion/i-found-my-birth-mother-through-facebook.html

Fancott, H. (2020). Finding family online. BCadoption. Retrieved from https://www.bcadoption.com/resources/articles/finding-family-online

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Twitter:

Finding birth parents and children through Facebook? Is social media the way to success in finding relatives? #adoption #findmybirthparents #searchingforfamily https://bit.ly/3736uGF

Is #fitspo doing more harm than good?

Is #fitspo doing more harm than good?

With the growth of social media in our society there have been many talks on how social media affects an individual on a day to day basis. How social media can affect someone’s mental health, and also how some posts that are made to make someone feel motivated and evoke inspiration can do the complete opposite.

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A fitness Instagram page, what could be so bad about that? As an avid Instagram user, I started to notice a lot of my childhood friends were heavily getting into fitness, and it resulted in them posting a lot on their social media about it. Sooner or later their page turned into one of those typical Instagram fitness pages with every post reading the hashtag #fitspo.

I started to notice how I would feel when seeing those posts and stories. I started to feel worse about myself. Their constant “inspirational” talks were making me feel lazy, subpar, and making the wrong choices in my life. At times I could hear over and over again in my head their “tough love” approach of, “Don’t make excuses you have enough time in your day”, and the typical, “Put the cake down or you are only going backwards”.

These accounts made me feel terrible and I later found out I am not the only one. As the author states:

As the researchers showed, looking at fitspo was so detrimental because the participants were comparing themselves to the people in the images. And when you think that the vast majority of fitspo images depict a narrow and largely unattainable body type, this comparison is going to be negative for most people. (Holland, 2016, para. 18)

Comparison to others is one of the most detrimental things someone can do. Constantly comparing to others will never lead to happiness and lead to a constant longing of being someone else. This can lead to women going to great lengths to achieve what they have been told is the ideal body. Not only will this lead to viewers engaging in acts of over exercising and eating disorders but the poster may also be engaging in some of these habits.

A study was done where women who posted fitness posts on Instagram were compared to Instagram users that post travel content. What the researchers came up with in comparing the two was alarming:

Nearly 18% of them were at risk for diagnosis with a clinical eating disorder, compared to just over 4% of the women in the travel group. The study participants who posted fitspiration were also more likely to experience feelings of shame and depression when they missed a workout—which is a key indicator of compulsive exercise, according to the study authors. (Naftulin, 2017, para. 4)

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So not only are some of these #fitspo women suffering from these issues, they are also causing others to feel the same way. It is not surprising that after repeated exposure to these posts and stories that similar behavior would start to happen with their viewers. To be promoting two workouts a day, feeling guilty for missing one, and constantly weighing food is causing others to pick up those bad habits and affect their mental health.

Many viewers may not been familiar with the term and disorder of compulsive exercise. This term is not mentioned often in hand with anorexia or bulimia however it can be just as damaging. The author states, “It is characterized by a craving for physical training, resulting in uncontrollable excessive exercise behavior with harmful consequences, such as injuries and impaired social relations” (Behav, 2017, para. 1). This can be commonly found within the #fitspo community. These women are in their home constantly exercising to post on their profiles and stories. They are not engaging with real life relationships due to it and also causing long term damage to their bodies.

While the importance of fitness is growing everyday with the help of social media, it is important to know that not everything you see is black and white. Not every woman posting #fitspo content is healthy herself and may be living with demons of self doubt and depression regarding their body image. With the current grey area of #fitspo affects in our society, always check in with yourself. If something you see makes you feel negative about yourself make sure to hit the unfollow button.

References

Behav, R. (2017, March 30). Compulsive exercise: links, risks and challenges faced. PMC. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5386595/

Haftulin, J. (2017, February 2). The scary reason #fitspo isn’t as healthy as you think. Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.com/fitness/fitspo-eating-disorders-study.

Holland, E. (2016, July 14). Why the ‘fitspo’ movement is damaging to women. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/why-the-fitspo-movement-is-damaging-to-women-60453

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