The internet – Essential service or equal right?

In the last couple of months there has been much news about the Canadian Radio -Television Communications Commission (CRTC) review on whether broad band internet service should be considered an essential service. The review is based on questions about what telecom services consumers rely on the most, if there should be a basic cost applied regardless of one’s location and more importantly should there be a minimum standard of internet service with a focus on rural areas.

As I discussed in the past the ability to engage in social media is strongly based on the internet access an individual has.

Lower income individuals may not have internet access at home and therefore rely on the ability to access it at a nearby library or other public venue. When we question the access of the internet in remote areas, which we have a lot of in Canada, is it fair to hike the cost of broadband access due to the area you live in? Also, in light of growing reliance on the internet and social media outlets by organizations, private and public, to broadcast new information, new product and services and as a way of hiring staff, accessibility becomes an important question. Should equal rights to the internet be administered into law as equal rights to education, to accessibility due to one’s disability or to gender equality?

I don’t agree with the idea that broad band should be considered an essential service. When I think of essential services I think of “do or die” type of services. I would hate to think that we are comparing the internet and information and or opportunities it brings to an individual, to the paramedic we call upon to save a life, or a police officer that intervene in a dispute, or the vast number of medical services used on a daily basis to save lives. The internet, not quite that essential. That said, access to the internet should be more readily available and affordable. I think we should review the question of equal rights to the service and opportunities internet access provides as a way of improving the economy and supporting communities that may otherwise be very separated from businesses and organization that support the community and the families in that community’s needs.

Less is More: achieving greater happiness – COMM0011

My own self-discovery in the pursuit of happiness; being content with less material possession and fight the urge of consumerism, is this the secret to contentment? In a world where the average family owns two cars, a home that includes a guest bedroom and now-a-days apparently we need a second family room because the basement isn’t good enough, an outdoor “living space” (a living room on your deck), at least two televisions, and endless electronic devices; tablets, cell phones, laptops, desktops, none of which we can share therefore each member of the family requires their own. Are we fooling ourselves in believing we are happy living this way?

In my own pursuit of happiness I have decided to act against my anxiety and society’s expectations of what it is to be successful, and sell my 1 acre property with a newly renovated house that includes the custom made dream kitchen I thought I always wanted. I had doubts; many, many, many doubts. My husband kept questioning my reasoning and asking “Are you sure you want to move”? I questioned myself, changed my mind and began to work on the idea of building an addition to the existing house I owned! Then took a few steps back and evaluated myself, who am I now? Rather than make a list of what makes me happy, I made a list of what makes me unhappy, what annoys me, what are the social situations that anger or frustrate me. Now I know, no doubts, I not only want to minimize and not buy into this world that pushes the need to have more, I need to do this if my goal is to be happier.

My goal includes changing my spending tendencies which evolve in accumulating material things that I bought into to conform to what consumerism expects. It’s Easter and therefore I must buy the related themed napkins, or ceramic bunny to decorate the living room, maybe I need a new dinnerware set to have a happy spring! Well not this year, last year’s bunny, if I can find him, will do just fine and the plates I have will do and we’ll use one of the many themed napkins I already have to deplete the inventory I have  accumulated. I believe the less time I dedicate to keeping up with my stuff whether its monetary, time spent shopping or maintaining what I own, the less stressed out I will be and will enjoy time with my kids simply reading the books I bought them last year, or hey, maybe even go to the library. The money saved I can use to go on the road trips we never go on because all the stuff I have needs to be paid for. I have made my list of where to begin minimalizing and how I want to introduce my family into this new way of living. I challenge you to look at your lifestyle and make your own list of what irks you in life and see if becoming a minimalist will lead to your happiness. Take a look at Graham Hill’s talk on his theory of less is more, let me know if you’re up for the challenge?

How much is too much? Government’s engagement with social media

Social media’s influence is making its mark on the way government organizations communicate their mandate and handle concerns and enquiries from the public. The question lies in how many sites should a government body engage in? As all organizations, in order to engage in social media, a plan, a strategy on what and how to use social media for the benefit of the organization is required as well as how to manage the risks involved. I don’t believe an organization, especially government entities; have to engage in every method of generating social meeting interest. This may be good practise for the individual looking to market him or herself, but for government two or three sites or strategies that fit with the organization should be sufficient to focus on. This reduces the potential reputational risks in having too many active roles in social media sites and not keeping up with a consistent message.

Another reason government bodies may choose to increase participation in the ‘e-government’ world in a limited capacity is for better control of where to refer the general public’s interest. Where do government departments wish their followers visit? Departmental websites that promote an official mandate, or set digital environment to submit any concerns or disapproval where the issue can be discussed in a private forum. Unless of course the feedback is positive in nature then we’ll be encouraged to Tweet ‘till our hearts content. Another added benefit to being involved in e-government is that government will not be perceived as falling behind. Government will be viewed as keeping up with the technology and providing access through new forums. But ultimately are government bodies simply creating an illusion of providing better and quicker response time, or have they found work around to addressing major issue the old fashioned way: quietly and discreetly?

The Underdog vs big Bussiness with Social Media: how to make corporation pay attention to your concerns.

No money to consult or hire a lawyer. No ability to take time off work and represent oneself in small claims court. No understanding of where to begin formalizing and addressing a complaint about an unfair practice by a business. Social media to the rescue! This digital tool that now-a-days most of the population is linked into one way or another, or can easily create an account through personal networks such as Facebook or Twitter is an effective way to make a complaint against a large corporation. Using social media an individual can get a business’s attention, draw a support group and more importantly gather media attention for a news worthy story. All this is a short time frame.

Take for example commercial airlines reaction to customer requesting refunds for tickets purchased to go down south due to the Zika scare. Were airline’s influenced by comments made on Twitter and Facebook pages? Did airlines see a reputational risk due to this digital chatter?

Eventually major airlines began to change their refund policies giving travellers options for refund or exchanges if originally travelling to a destination with active zika virus transmission,

Why choose social media over the traditional phone call or email complaint? Corporations of every type are more active in social media than ever and the trend is only growing. Corporations must consider the manner in which they respond to complaints from their clients due to the digital world that can become involved in the client’s concern. Businesses need to deal with negative feedback quickly, no longer are the days of delaying a response or brushing clients off for someone else to handle. A legitimate complaint through social media will be assessed and if the business is well run the client will be listened to and taken seriously. A business needs to not only take the risk involved in the negative feedback from their own Twitter or Facebook page but on other sites that offer reviews of services provided by said business (Trip advisor). Albeit the main goal of the business will be to keep the concern as private as possible offering a private online conversation to draw away attention from digital onlookers. As a smart consumer, stay polite, realize there is an etiquette that applies to social media for all parties, but keep the conversation public as this is your trump card.

Tipping Priority via Social Media; is this fair business practice?

Social media has made the most significant impact in my work environment, as it has paved a new road for people of all walks of life to bitch. Let me provide some background on what I do for a living. I lead a team responsible for client satisfaction for a government organization that provides a service to the public that is highly used on a daily basis. In providing this service we are highly concerned with customer service, but need to do this under constraints from government regulations that must be adhered to. In the past, handling complaints from the public followed a structured process based on `first come first serve`, received through our website, or by telephone, with a few clearly defined exceptions. Social media has quickly created a whirlwind in that structure that ultimately led to a change in how our complaints are handled. Thanks to YouTube, Pinterest and especially Twitter, we are a new addition to the communications branch and dedicated to decipher changing priorities based on how well a customer has used social media to formalize their complaint. And this is not a trend but becoming common practice in how customers complain.

Not to be misunderstood, I do enjoy my work, even if it is dealing with people`s complaints. What I dislike is being manipulated into taking one concern over the other simply because that concern reached out to a mass audience and a corporation must take reputational factors into consideration. It is survival of the savviest. Those most familiar with social media outlets routinely bump the queue to have their issue resolved first. The poor fool who has not tapped into Twitter, Facebook and or YouTube is left waiting for an acknowledgment of any kind to know his/her concern has been heard and will be addressed.

The biggest pain in my neck is Twitter. Not only is there a massive audience that has no reservations no providing their own opinion on a complaint but the issue is no longer a private one between the complainant and the organization. With Twitter the public plays a role in feeding into a complaint and giving it more emphasis, but in addition, stakeholders now can provide their two cents on what someone should have expected from our service. And most of the times these publicized expectations are incorrect. Twitter is like rapid fire, and keeps us on our toes to tame or put these fires out, professionally and courteously, attempting to resolve the issue in a private manner. Resolving complaints and ensuring the complainants are satisfied with the resolution to their concerns is now a continuously evolving challenge thanks to social media.

Should there be a process to avoid tipping the scale in favor of those who have used social media to make their concerns public? This raises the question of economic status and catering to those that can afford having the access to technology.  There is an existing “digital divide” between those who have access and and those less economically fortunate that do not have access to the internet and electronic devices used to participate in social media.  Is it ethical to leave those that do not have access to the internet and data in limbo for a response? Accessiblity rights are in place for the disabled to access a variety of venues and participate in our communities. The right to education has included children of less economically fortunate families to receive basic education. Will our future include digital rights to include all members of our communities equal access to what is becoming a primary way of making your voice heard?