COM0011 – Blog #6 – R-E-L-A-X

Just relax they say.

Sure, if only it were that easy.

Stress comes from many places in life. Tough day at work, big project due at school, sick kids, rent going up, your car breaks down, your crush is dating that person so obviously wrong for them…

No matter how old we are, stress finds us. Some factors will be present for most of our lives, others visit us for short periods of time. The part I find interesting is whether people can identify and rectify (if possible) the causes of their stress and what they do to try and get it out of their system.

I worked at a grocery store in my late teens/early twenties and it was around this time that my fascination with the subject began. From 5-6 PM was the massive after work rush as people would make a pit stop to get what they needed for supper that night. Day after day after day, this was also the worst hour of the day when it came to how we were treated by these customers. I’d try to prep myself for that hour and go around to the cashiers and other front end staff just before the rush, try to remind them how awesome they were and that nothing we’d deal with for the next bit was anything personal. You couldn’t be overly nice to most, especially not fake nice as that would just make it worse. But it was pointless to get your back up or to take anything personally as a lot of the customers were just blowing off steam. Some were leaving a job they hated for whatever reason, others were heading home to a situation they didn’t want to be a part of. We never knew or could assume the story, but more often than not we were receiving the repercussions for a day or an experience or a soon to be situation that they would just as soon avoid.

It took me a few years of working there to really flip the switch and to feel bad for people who treated us like that rather than be angry about it. Realizing that the minute they stepped out of the store that they wouldn’t even think about us again but that some of us would carry that negativity forward and possibly treat somebody else the way we had been treated was enough for me to take it in stride and to try and be a positive moment in their day instead of a confrontation.

It also made me self analyze a bit more and to reflect on how I handled moments like that in my life. Being a sports nut, I had found a great outlet for myself prior to that that served me well for many years, even now even though much less frequently. Few places make me feel more serene than being at the batting cage. Shutting out all other thoughts and focusing on the seams on the ball as it hurtles towards me. The satisfying lack of sensation as the bat makes contact while hearing the crack it makes, well, 5 to 10 reps in and I can’t help but have a smile on my face. On a particularly bad day I’d stay in there until I couldn’t lift my arms any longer, go home and sleep.

Over the years, different situations call for different methods. Working as a graphic designer I had to go for walks when I was stuck. Rather than staring at the screen and wanting to scream, taking 5 minutes away from the screen did wonders. During my time studying computer programming, it was going for a hot shower. I will likely never be able to tell you why, but numerous times the answer to a missing bit of code hit me there instead of when I was trying to decipher it while staring at a screen covered in code.

This may sound nice and poetic but I’ve also tried many stress relievers that didn’t do the trick for me. Stress balls, meditation, jogging, massages and mandalas are a few that haven’t been good answers for me so far, but each of those has been a great method for people I know.

I try to lead by example as much as I can. I try to recognize when I’m getting tense or riled up or when I’m getting close to making a comment I’ll regret later. To be a calming presence and influence, but in the end, we all need time to ourselves when we get stressed. Identifying our own triggers, moods and what works for each of us to unwind rather than unload on others is a great skill for people to have.

What works for you when you’re stressed? How easy is it for you to admit to being stressed without taking it out on others?

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COM0011 – Blog #5 – How Do You Spend Your Sunday?

As a NFL fan growing up in Canada, I had to rely on information from print media like Sports Illustrated or the always popular season preview magazines to the rare article in the local papers or the five minutes of coverage the league would get on TV. By the time the news made the papers or the magazines were available for purchase, most, if not all of the information was already out of date or incomplete.

How times have changed.

Now I can stream Seattle sports talk radio over my phone on my way to and from work as I check for updates on twitter from the dozen or so NFL related accounts that I follow that end up re-tweeting numerous other accounts and information sources. Despite being 1270 km away from where the team plays, I feel as or more plugged in than most fans of the team. Come game time Sunday, my TV is on mute and instead the local radio broadcast is blaring through my computer thanks to a subscription to an online app. A few seconds of fiddling with the pause feature on the PVR syncs up the two feeds perfectly and gone are the annoying Fox broadcasters in favor of Warren Moon and Steve Raible.

It’s an hour to game time and no longer am I tuning into the national pregame show. I’m scanning twitter for last minute injury updates so I can set my fantasy football lineups. Four different teams on three different sites, three different league structures and all four have different scoring systems. One league I’ve been in since the late 90’s, back when we had to track all the stats the day after when the local newspaper would print the boxscores. Now it’s all automatic, not just the day after, but real time as the games are going on, another tab open on my browser as I plug into the day.

Ten minutes to opening kickoff for the early games. Lineups are set, twitter is ablaze with updates on weather, injuries and other last minute news. I’ve already gone through the three plus stations showing different games so I can quickly go through them with the previous channel feature, but still feel a bit of sadness that I don’t have the redzone channel. Whether the Seahawks are playing or not, the next three hours are reserved for flipping through the games as each play ends, hoping that they don’t all go to commercial at the same time, refreshing twitter to see what big plays I’m missing and checking the live updates on NFL.com to see how my fantasy players are doing. I try to ignore the fantasy football sites at this point, only checking the scores there once the evening game is done on Sunday night.

It’s almost 2 PM now. The morning games are wrapping up, but of course the one that’s on the same station that the Seahawks game is on is running late. I listen to the radio broadcast to catch the first few drives until the TV broadcast joins in progress. Now twitter becomes a truly special place as the accounts I follow descend into madness, euphoria and at times, both depending on how the game is going. As is typical, they’ve likely fallen behind early or squandered some drives leading all the interconnected feeds developing a communal tidal wave of panic and usually despondence of a wasted game, glaring holes that weren’t addressed and pronouncements, usually in all caps, that the season is over.

Halftime.

Then again as usual, the Seahawks come out, make some adjustments and going into the fourth quarter, the game is within a score. For better or worse, thankfully usually the better side the past few years, the game ends with a close score and the panic that was seen in the first half is replaced by a more measured tone, unless they just played the Rams in which case most are left wondering how Jeff Fisher keeps his job despite a .500 or worse record year after year while asking his players to push the boundary of ethics all game long.

That’s the first six hours of football and there’s still the Sunday night game to go. My feed will have shown over 1,500 tweets in that time and if I’m not at home and trying to keep up, I’ll have been locked out of twitter for too many refreshes at least three times in that span.

Before next Sunday, I’ll listen to 15 or more podcasts, read a few dozen articles and who knows how many tweets. Then it’s time to do Sunday all over again and bask in the glory of being so plugged in.

And to think that my parents thought I was wasting so much time when I poured over the box scores on Monday after school.

COM0011 – Blog #4 – Christmas in September

As a NFL fan, Christmas is almost here. The preseason is over, the fourth and final game of that section of the season mercifully put to rest. Roster cut downs have come and gone and while every team is down to 53 players on their roster, most will still make a few changes before the season officially starts.

But for the players, the coaches, the teams and the fans, it’s countdown time. Thursday marks the official start of the season as the Panthers visit the Broncos. Then it’s prime time on Sunday when 26 more teams start their journey. Monday features the last two games of the opening week and suddenly there are only 16 weeks left to go.

2016/17 NFL Predictions

AFC East

  • New England Patriots – No Brady, no problem. Even if they only win one or two out of the first four, this is still a double digit win team in a bad division. Brady will come back looking to make a point and I’d be stunned if this team doesn’t go deep into the playoffs. 11 wins
  • Miami Dolphins – Maybe the last chance for Tannehill to prove he can be more than an average quarterback at the NFL level. Gase comes in as a reputed quarterback whisperer and will need to work some magic. Foster and Ajayi should give them a solid run game and their receiving core is deep. They boast one of the most talented defensive fronts in the league, they just need them to play like it. I’ve got Miami making a 3-4 win jump this year and leap frogging the Jets and Bills. 9 wins
  • New York Jets – Getting Fitzpatrick back and adding Matt Forte helps, but as solid as this team is at most positions, I have a hard time believing in them. Most of their top end talent is on the wrong side of 30 and depth across the board isn’t a strength. A two or three game step back this year drops them to third in the division. 7 wins
  • Buffalo Bills – I want to like this team. A dual threat quarterback recently signed to an extension, a former All-Pro RB and an ascending top WR lead the way on offense. The defense is solid if unspectacular but I still can’t get excited for them. I hope they prove me wrong but I have a hard time seeing them repeat the .500 record they had last year. 6 wins

AFC North

  • Pittsburgh Steelers – They start the season down one of the top RB in the league and will be short an electric WR all season, but they’ve proven in the past that they can overcome those hurdles. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, this is a double digit win team and the division comes down to who comes out on top in the season series vs the Bengals. 11 wins
  • Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton is back, but it’s looking less and less likely that Tyler Eifert will make much of an impact in the first half of the season. Short one of their main weapons on offense, it’ll fall to the two headed rushing attack and the phenomenal talent of AJ Green to carry the load. The big question on defense is how many times Burfict and Adam Jones will cost the team with penalties and in a race as close as this division will be, wild cards like that could cost them the division. 10 wins
  • Baltimore Ravens – An aging team trying to make a run before their window shuts, they’ve got a lot of once elite talent with a lot of pride. Unfortunately for them they’re in a division that will punch them back harder than they can dish out at this point and what was once a physicality advantage for them has slowly eroded away. 6 wins
  • Cleveland Browns – The rebuild is fully underway and while there is a lot of young talent, they’re two to three years away from being able to put it together consistently enough to threaten for a playoff spot. 4 wins

AFC South

  • Houston Texans – Watt is back, Osweiler looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback in the preseason and Clowney isn’t on injured reserve. This may be the best the Texans look all season, but if, and it’s a big IF, they can stay healthy, they have the best roster in the division. A nine win team last year, they improve by a win or two this year to take the division. 10 wins
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – A five win team last year, the Jaguars get a huge talent infusion this year with their rookie group as well as their first rounder from last year after Fowler missed the season due to injury. The passing game likely regresses due to being in closer games more often, but the balance they’ll have on offense along with a much improved defense makes them the most improved team in the league this season. 9 wins
  • Indianapolis Colts – Luck rebounds this year but while they may have one of the top air attacks in the league this year, the lack of offensive line talent and, at best, league average defense means a lot of frustration in Indy this year. 8 wins
  • Tennessee Titans – A culture change has started in Tennessee and their is reason to be optimistic. Mariota looks like he has a bright future ahead and there are some nice youthful pieces on offense with him like Derrick Henry and late round steal Tajae Sharpe. The Titans will look to rely on an aggressive ground game to limit the number of plays each game, keep things close and to keep their defense fresh. There will be growing pains but they’re poised to make strides this year and reveal what pieces they’ll need to add next offseason to put them into playoff contention. 6 wins

AFC West

  • Denver Broncos – Odd to see the defending Super Bowl champions having a quarterback tryout process, but as concerning as that may be for Bronco fans, almost any option is likely going to out play what the ghost of Peyton Manning gave them last year. Siemian starts the year under center, but if he doesn’t excel, it’ll likely be rookie Paxton Lynch ending the season there. The Broncos are set up about as well as possible to bring in a less experienced QB. A dominant defense, plenty of talent at the skill positions and, well, it sounds a lot like how Russell Wilson broke into the league. They’ll rely on the running game to open up the passing game and for the defense to dominate and while I think Oakland challenges this year, the Broncos still take the division. 11 wins
  • Oakland Raiders – Plenty of young talent spear heading the offensive charge here. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray give them a great group to build around. They also have a great complimentary group on the offensive side of the ball with Crabtree and Walford while also featuring one of the best offensive lines in the league. Defensively, there will be a lot of wow plays as Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin will create nightmares for opposing offensive lines. The defense still needs a few pieces to be reliable enough, game in and game out to stop other top offenses from out scoring the Raiders, but they’re getting very, very close. 10 wins
  • Kansas City Chiefs – An 11 win team last year that relied on consistency, I see them being surpassed by the Raiders this year and regressing to being an eight to nine win team. A lot of people kept expecting them to do this last year as well so I may be falling prey to the flash and upside of the Raiders youth, but the health of Jamaal Charles, the hold out of Eric Berry and their seeming lack of commitment to featuring Kelce ends up seeing them fall back this year. 9 wins
  • San Diego Chargers – Mildly improved from last year, but still far and away the worst team in this division. Adding an aging run stuffer in Brandon Mebane will help, but the inexplicable handling of rookie Joey Bosa’s contract situation has him entering the season well behind the learning curve, a huge blow given how much they had to have hoped he’d help the defense. Rivers is nearing the twilight of his career and while some of the younger talent on offense looks to take the next step, they’ll need to get their QB of the future soon or they may find themselves a ship without a captain sooner than later. 5 wins

NFC East

  • Washington – Washington continues to improve under the roster building acumen of Scot McCloughan. A productive offseason still likely comes down to whether or not Kirk Cousins is the answer at QB. If he is, they emerge as a threat to make a deep run into the post season. If not, they still might be good enough to win this division. 10 wins
  • Dallas Cowboys – The loss of Tony Romo wasn’t so much a matter of if but when. Now the question is, does he come back this year, and if so, how long does he last? Odds are that the Cowboys are going to find out if Prescott can be the answer and he’ll have every offensive advantage he could hope for. The best offensive line in the league, a top five WR in Dez Bryant and the odds on favorite for offensive rookie of the year in Ezekiel Elliott. It’ll be interesting to see how they adjust their offensive for the rookie signal caller as they made sure to heavily favor play action and rollouts during his preseason time, but now that opposing teams will be game planning and designing looks to confuse the rookie, they’ll need their offensive line to be all world early on. Defensively, well, they’re really hoping that their offense will be very productive this year. Lucky for them they might be in the worst division in the league this year. 7 wins
  • Philadelphia Eagles – Gone is Chip Kelly and his up tempo offense. Gone too is just about every player that Chip Kelly brought in during his brief tenure as GM. So new coach, a returning GM, a new QB after trading their thought to be starter a week before the season starts and nothing but questions in Philly. The offense has loads of talent at the skill positions but question marks on the offensive line. The rookie QB will hopefully grow as the season does and if the offense can be even league average, it may not take all that long for the Eagles to reload and become a threat in the division again. 7 wins
  • New York Giants – Featuring arguably the best player in the division and maybe the best WR in the game at this point, the Giants don’t have a lot else going for them. A six win team last year with an uninspiring offseason, they fall to the bottom spot in the division this year. 5 wins

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers – Rodgers had an off year last year, or at least that’s what Packer fans hope it was. Overall the offense is a lot healthier than last year and Eddie Lacy seems to be closer to where he was two years ago which would be a big step ahead of where he was last year. The late preseason cutting of Josh Sitton raises some questions, but this should be your division winner with the injury to Bridgewater. 11 wins
  • Detroit Lions – A few days ago I would have had them third in the division, but the injury to the Vikings starting QB flips the script a bit. The Lions lost their superstar this offseason but appear ready to replace his production through depth rather than through one individual. Golden Tate has a chance to emerge and establish himself as a legitimate WR1 in a volume passing attack. SPARQ monster Ameer Abdullah will see a lot of action out of the backfield if he can stay healthy and his ability as a pass catching back could be a big weapon for the Lions this year. The addition of Haloti Ngata on defense may be the anchor they need, but the defense probably still ends up being the difference between them being a playoff contender or not. 8 wins
  • Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater seemed poised to take a big step forward this year, then suffered likely the most tragic injury of the preseason. Sending a first and a conditional fourth to the Eagles for the oft injured Sam Bradford was likely an act of desperation, but with Adrian Peterson nearing his twilight, they know their time has to be now. Unfortunately, as solid as the defense is and as well as they’ve build their WR group, by the time Bradford is up to speed, it may very well be too late, and that’s assuming he doesn’t get hurt, again. 7 wins
  • Chicago Bears – They got an unexpected gift when the division rival Packers cut Josh Sitton. However, even with an extra All-Pro added to their roster, the Bears are too mercurial to threaten. They may have as much physical talent as any other team in the league on offense, but they have yet to show that they can put it together consistently, especially at the QB position. Their defense has taken hits the last few seasons as aging stars haven’t been adequately replaced. 5 wins

NFC South

  • Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan is poised for a big bounce back year and the Falcons feature one of the most talented offenses in the entire league. Devonta Freeman exploded onto the scene last year and it’ll be tough for opposing teams to focus too much on him so long as Julio Jones is healthy. A sneaky weapon added in is rookie TE Austin Hooper who could be a red zone dynamo for the Falcons. Defensively they look to take a step forward as their young talent, led by Desmond Trufant, have another year of experience together. 11 wins
  • Carolina Panthers – Biggest regression on the list but still a likely playoff team, the Panthers really had nowhere to go but down after winning 15 last year. Losing one of their best defensive players in free agency allowed them to keep their front seven in tact, but the drop off at corner will be an issue. Offensively this team goes as Cam does and while he can carry a team like few others, it’s hard to imagine that things will fall nearly as well for them this year as they did last year, especially with the rest of the division improving around them. 10 wins
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A six win team last year, they take a step forward this year as Winston continues to learn his craft. An excellent offense across the board, they get that much more dangerous as Winston gets more and more comfortable at the NFL level. Defensively they should be able to shave a few points off their average from last year to give them about an overall four point swing per game that should mean a couple more wins. 8 wins
  • New Orleans Saints – Still led by Drew Brees and always a threat to beat you through the air thanks to the draft (Michael Thomas) and free agency (Colby Fleener), the Saints have improved the reliability of their running game. That said, until they can prove that they aren’t where defensive stars go to die, it’s hard to rely on a 37 year old quarterback to be the difference week in and week out. 5 wins

NFC West

  • Seattle Seahawks – They’ve featured some interesting story lines the last few years. First it was the supposed Super Bowl hangover, the drama with Percy Harvin, not giving it to Lynch in their Super Bowl loss against the Patriots, then Marshawn Lynch’s swan song last year. This year it’s getting Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham back from injury. Going into the season, Rawls appears to be ready and while the jury is out on Graham, this looks to be the strongest roster the Seahawks have had since their first Super Bowl win. Their core remains in tact and age wise, should be in their prime. They have to prove it on the field, but with young talent like Tyler Lockett and Jeremy Lane emerging to provide quality players at former spots of weakness, they could be in for a big year. 12 wins
  • Arizona Cardinals – It’ll be a brawl between the Seahawks and Cardinals this year, not just to win the NFC West, but to lay claim to being one of the best teams in the league. The Cards need Palmer to stay healthy, for David Johnson to live up to the hype and for their defense, especially Tyrann Mathieu to stay on the field all season. 10 wins
  • Los Angeles Rams – Moving into their new home, the Rams will shelter their QB of the future for at least the start of the season. They’ll continue to make life hard for their NFC West rivals but until they can learn to win outside the division, they won’t challenge for a playoff spot. Whether Goff sees extensive action or not this season, they’ll be lucky to match their record of last season. 5 wins
  • San Francisco 49ers – Maybe the worst roster in the league at this point, they’ll have a tough time grinding out the season. Vance McDonald will look to use this season to emerge as a legitimate starter at tight end and the Niners are hoping that Hyde can stay healthy. If not, it will be a LONG season for the defense. The defense still has talent but is dealing with almost continual controversy with the different legal issues that face the group. This is a team that needs to stay really healthy just to approach five wins and given the injury rates year in and year out, the odds of staying healthy just aren’t all that high. 3 wins

AFC Seeding: Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Texans, Bengals, Raiders

NFC Seeding: Seahawks, Packers, Falcons, Washington, Panthers, Cardinals

AFC Championship: Patriots over Steelers

NFC Championship: Seahawks over Packers

Super Bowl: Seahawks over Patriots

COM0011 – Blog #3 – Using Fame and Social Media to Spread Awareness

Some celebrities dabble in social media, some ignore it, others have somebody run theirs for them. Then there are those that take a personal interest in their online presence and not only interact with the fans, but try to use their status to enact positive change.

I first noticed this after following Stephen Amell, the lead actor from the show Arrow. It was one of the first times I had followed an actor and I was pleasantly surprised to find out, as much as you can through social media, that he seemed to be a pretty interesting and down to earth individual. Through the time I’ve followed him, I’ve appreciated the fact that he seems to appreciate the success he’s had and the fans that follow him. I’ve enjoyed living a bit vicariously through him as he’s used his status to check off a bucket list that my friends and I would do if we had the chance. From taking batting practice with the Jays to wrestling a pay-per-view match with the WWE, starting his own winery to a major role in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, Amell has used his success to follow his dreams.

The thing that really caught my eye though, was the his online F— Cancer campaign that he joined thanks to a photo taken of him while his mother was undergoing chemo. The results were beyond anything he had expected and it not only led to his fans supporting him there, but to him supporting one of his friends, Jared Padalecki, one of the lead actors from the show Supernatural.

Padalecki, in his own words, was doing well in life. In his mid twenties, headlining a successful show, family and friends that he loved and loved him in return, but he was suffering from depression. As his understanding grew about what he was going through, seeing what Amell had accomplished with his campaign and the prompting of friends including Amell, Padalecki decided to launch a campaign of his own, aimed at spreading awareness and support about mental illness. Joining forces with co-star Jensen Ackles, the two work hard to help reduce stigma about mental illnesses. This was very inspiring for me as this is a major component of what I do where I work on a daily basis. Their efforts to help spread this message and their appreciation for the love and support their fans have shown them is a great reinforcement about the good that can come of celebrities looking to make a difference with the power that social media affords them.

It doesn’t stop there of course. Their Supernatural co-star, Misha Collins, is hyper active on social media and is a co-founder for Random Acts, a non-profit organization aiming to spread kindness around the world, one random act at a time.

Nathan Fillion of Firefly and Castle fame (and a local favorite as he is from Edmonton) has used his celebrity to try and get his fandom to support the causes above as well as his birthday wish every year of bringing clean water to people/areas who otherwise don’t have the resources to do so.

Recently, Michael Landsberg started his own campaign to put an end to the stigmas surrounding mental health. His passion for the subject started with his own struggles but as he’s grown, his #sicknotweak campaign has inspired so many and it is fantastic to see the success that he’s had with it already.

Thankfully, there are so many examples of celebrities using their fame to help further causes like these as well as companies like Bell who are doing what they can to make the world a better, safer and more understanding place as well.

And who can forget, the viral sensation that was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Who do you follow that has inspired you in some way you weren’t expecting? Has somebody you followed to see if you might get a sneak peak or two into their projects ended up showing you a charitable side that surprised you? Thankfully, I can answer yes to both of those questions numerous times now and I hope that trend continues.

COM0011 – Blog #2 – Extra, Extra, Read, Tweet, Post and Blog All About It!

Later this month my wife and I will spend a weekend camping with a group of our friends having fun, sharing stories, tubing down a river numerous times then remembering the next morning how much less we used to hurt in our younger years.

Camping. The one weekend a year my wife and I do anything at all like this. The only weekend that we dust off the tent and make sure we have the inflatable mattress to try and get something resembling a good night sleep. It’s also the one weekend a year that the readout on my phone reads “No Connection Available”.

We just spent a day at the site we’ll be using shortly, visiting my in laws while they do a two week camping trip of their own. During the lulls of the day the reflex to check twitter, Facebook, email or texts was met with that message of rejection every single time. Instead, my father in law handed me a copy of the Sun, and for the first time in close to a decade, I read the newspaper.

I remembered how to do it. After all, my parents subscribed to that same paper while I was growing up, but I had to laugh at how alien it felt. I used to pore over the baseball box scores on a daily basis to keep up with what was happening in the majors. I didn’t recognize any of the comic strips at the back of the paper but a lot of the headlines looked familiar as many of those stories were ones I had seen online the day before.

Newspapers, radio and television had established a long term time share when it came to the topics that people would discuss around the water cooler. Then the internet arrived and evolved. While I sat and read that paper I reflected at how quickly I had moved away from reading the Sun when I moved out, not bothering to subscribe myself. I rarely ever watch the news on TV or tune into anything on the radio other than music or sporting events. I don’t have a single news outlet website bookmarked and only end up on their pages if I’m linked through something I see on Facebook or twitter.

When we got home, my curiosity piqued, I looked over the list of people I follow on Facebook and twitter. Of the 126 accounts that I follow, only 22 are people that are paid to report news themselves. The rest are either unpaid bloggers or professionals of other sorts that I have some sort of interest in to follow. Out of the people I follow on twitter, I’m rarely caught by surprise during a conversation when the hot topics of the day are brought up.

As technology progresses and we have near immediate access to the latest happenings worldwide, I can’t help but feel for the old guard. When I follow a link to an article on a newspaper site and I’m greeted by a pop up saying something like “Thank you for visiting our site, enjoy your first of four free articles this month before registration is required.”, it’s a reminder that while technology keeps moving forward, the older methods are forced to adapt or die.

In August last year, Parse.ly published a report showing that Facebook accounting for 43% of the traffic to their network of media sites, surpassing Google who came in at 38%. Their collection of sites included more than 400 major news and media outlets (both print and digital) with around 6 billion page views and over 1 billion unique visitors per month. So even in the digital world, we’re seeing more and more people following the posts, tweets and various other ways of socially sharing stories rather than having to search them out ourselves.

So my question to you the reader is, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the world today?

COM0011 – Blog #1 – Quick to Post, Quicker to Haunt You

I took on a new role just over a year ago and part of the job description was social media manager. I had an account on Facebook that I used to organize my rec level sports teams and to keep up with family and friends. I checked twitter a few times a day to keep up with technology trends and my favorite pro sports teams. But neither had been a part of my life until I was in my late twenties. Now it was not only time to run a social media program on a professional level, but to also coach students in a post secondary setting on how to represent themselves safely and professionally. To the internet I went.

I had ideas on what some of the pitfalls might be, what many of the dangers that lurk in the anonymity that permeates every forum, platform, app and website might look like, but I had only scratched the surface. Part of the process I’ve undergone was attending a seminar at a conference in June where Jesse Miller from Mediated Reality presented information specifically aimed at post secondary student social media transgressions.

He touched on how companies would employ or bring in specialists who could monitor social media posts in real time or dig into the history of those involved with their companies. Any posts made publicly, whether currently live or thought to be deleted, even with the best of intentions, could come back to haunt students on practicum or work placement. Some examples were of an innocent if naïve nature, including a picture meant to show off a new water bottle which also included confidential patient information on a piece of paper elsewhere in the photo. More egregious examples included a snap chat showing a student taking a drink of beer from a bottle that had been hidden away in the work place. Another was a picture tweeted of an unknowing patient along with some disparaging remarks about the patient and the students’ work day. In all cases, the intended recipient never brought the posts forward, all were found by people hired to protect these companies and to enforce the social media policies that all of these students had agreed to when given these work placement opportunities. In each of these cases, the offending student had been removed not only from the work assignment, but from their program entirely.

In discussing examples like these with the students I work with on a regular basis, the consistent theme is how quickly and easily a post like those can be made, either without realizing the ramifications of the content or not taking the time to realize what else might be included in their pictures and videos. Just as emails can be easily constructed in a moment of anger and sent before cooler minds prevail, social media posts can damn the sender, but to such a wider audience, even faster. As fun and expressive as these platforms can allow us to be, seeing how easily a single erred post can be found and made to undo years of hard work, the gravity of their social media presence has magnified in even my short time with them. I’m glad to see that it hasn’t scared them off, but encouraged them to be more thoughtful and responsible when participating in the social media world.