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Mindful Social Media

Monday, February 16th, 2015


Today is a day of links, rather than paraphrasing previous posts and a new article from the NY Times that’s garnering a lot of attention.

In 2006 I wrote An Employee Dilemma—What Would You Do?— be sure to read the comments, because they are critical in juxtaposition to the Times article.

The article is How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.

Sacco is actually one of many whose mindless actions on social media provided repercussions beyond anything they could have imagined.

Of course, imagining repercussions requires mindfulness.

As does social media.

Image credit: Jason Howie

Foot-In-Mouth Advertising

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015


Procter and Gamble is known as a marketing powerhouse and no novice when it comes to social media.

So it makes you wonder how one of its divisions could have stuck its foot so deeply into its mouth on Twitter.

Vicks, maker of NyQuil, DayQuil and ZzzQuil tweeted the following

SLEEP LIKE he finally proposed. And you have been dating for a decade. #SleepLike #engaged #shesaidyes pic.twitter.com/r3MQNNjZM6

— ZzzQuil (@ZzzQuil) January 23, 2015

and was lambasted for 19 hours by women and men alike.

While the tweet sucks as an attempt at humor, it is right in line with two TV ads currently running.

In case you aren’t familiar, one is for dads and one is for moms.

The dads take NyQuil so they can go to work, while the moms take DayQuil so they can stay home and chauffeur the kids around.

Seems like all three would play better in the 1950s than now.

I suppose you could blame Vicks advertising agency for them, but Vicks marketing must have signed off on them.

It just goes to show that even the savviest companies can trip if they lose site of who their customers are, as opposed to who they were.

Image credit: theimpulsivebuy

Expensive Distractions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

 2832163100_81db3c85d1_mWould you be surprised to know that interruptions cost business $650 billion dollars a year.

“A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times… data from 40,000 people who have tracking software on their computers, found that on average the worker also stops at 40 Web sites over the course of the day…”

Would you be more surprised to know that was in 2008?

650 billion dollars in lost productivity.

And that was before smartphones, texting, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, etc., etc. (These days bosses are worse.)

Can you imagine the cost in 2014?

Flickr image credit: underminingme

Look at Me; Look at Me!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014


When you were little and did something you were proud of you probably yelled “look at me; look at me” to your parents or whomever was there.

These days the desire to be noticed doesn’t stop as people age, it merely moves to social media.

People have taken to putting themselves out there in all kinds of ways, producing — in words, pictures, videos — the shared stories of their lives as they are transpiring. They disseminate their thoughts and deeds, large and small (sometimes very small), in what can seem like a perpetual plea for attention.

They do it because their friends do; to raise their Klout score; to prove they matter.

The desire to matter is ancient, probably all the way back to our caveman ancestors, but it was the Greeks who named it—kleos.

Kleos lay very near the core of the Greek value system. Their value system was at least partly motivated, as perhaps all value systems are partly motivated, by the human need to feel as if our lives matter.

The difference between the Greeks’ idea of kleos and our current focus on klout is the difference between internal and external.

Mattering wasn’t acquired by gathering attention of any kind, mortal or immortal. Acquiring mattering was something people had to do for themselves, cultivating such virtuous qualities of character as justice and wisdom. They had to put their own souls in order. This demands hard work, since simply to understand the nature of justice and wisdom, which is the first order of business, taxes our limits, not to speak of then acting on our conclusions.

Of course, that kind of deep thinking is out of favor these days, since it doesn’t provide instant gratification or lend itself to shouting ‘look at me’.

Flickr image credit: Pat

A Question of Conscience

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Would you say

“If I lived in Boston I’d put a bullet in your brain.”

“you are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you.”

“Amanda, I’ll fucking rape you. How does that feel?”

“I am 36 years old, I did 12 years for ‘manslaughter’, I killed a woman, like you, who decided to make fun of guys cocks.” “Happy to say we live in the same state. Im looking you up, and when I find you, im going to rape you and remove your head.” There was more, but the final tweet summed it up: “You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this.”

to your wife/girlfriend; your mother; your sister; your female colleagues, etc., because their opinion of a movie, joke, politics, etc., differed from yours?


Then why do you accept it or just shrug it off when it’s done anonymously on social sites like Twitter?

And while anonymous trolls are bad, having it done openly and accepted is significantly worse.

What especially alarmed me about what happened to Ms. Harmon and me is that it was set in motion by people and organizations who are out in the open — a signal that this kind of attack is broadly seen as acceptable, or even funny.

Last week I shared several links that looked at some of the problems that keep women from STEM careers.

However, I seriously doubt that girls and young women who read these posts and attendant comments are encouraged to makes themselves into career piñatas.

Edmund Burke said, “All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing…”

Are you one of the few?

Flickr image credit: Andy Ramdin

Pity for a Generation

Monday, November 18th, 2013


I feel sorry for the current generation and all those who’ve bought into their ethos.

Everywhere I go I see them; eyes locked on a tiny screen desperately seeking the latest indication that they fit in; that they are accepted; that they are liked.

But what they find on that screen is an illusion; one that leads them away from the real connections all humans crave.

Studies show that American college students spend, on average, three hours texting and an hour and 40 minutes on Facebook every day. One of the more recent studies centers on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale: Norwegian researchers have observed that excessive Facebook use leads to higher rates of anxiety and social insecurity.

The proof is in what happens when they’re in public and you take that screen away.

“I gathered my things and bolted out the door,” one student wrote about her reaction once she finished her meal. “I was glad that I could feel like I belong somewhere again. . . . What I hated most was being alone and feeling like I was being judged for it.” Another student echoed this experience. “By not having my phone or laptop to hide behind, it was amazing how self-conscious I felt.”

How sad is that?

In short, no screen equals no confidence

“I realized something disturbing after doing this. If I don’t feel connected with others, I automatically feel alone, unpopular, less confident.”

The feedback of online connections may provide instant gratification, but that’s cold comfort when what you’re longing for is warmth, intimacy and a hug.

Flickr image credit: nicubunu.photo

Entrepreneurs: Jane Smorodnikova

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

LikeHack logoJane Smorodnikova, founder and CEO of LikeHack, is a client of mine.

When we first met in January she told me that she started the company out of desperation when she found herself drowning in information.

Everybody knows that there is just too much information out there, but people can’t (won’t) stop reading their social media because they have to stay in touch with the industry and people they follow and I am no different. I was constantly checking my Twitter updates and wasting valuable time on useless information and that was the inspiration for LikeHack—I needed to stay in touch and still be productive. During my recent trip to Boston many people, from designers to investors, said they needed it, too, and now I see them among our users.

Jane is a smart, talented, serial entrepreneur (four companies and counting) located in Moscow, Russia.

Social media isn’t my thing, but those I know and work with see it as both boon and bane; research shows that active users receive around 284 stories everyday, but read only ten.

That’s a lot of chaff to plough through to find the wheat.

A healthy lifestyle means not only eliminating junk food from your body, but also getting rid of mental junk food, AKA useless content. For some, entertaining themselves by chatting, skimming and looking at funny cats on social media makes sense, but many of us use Twitter and Facebook as a content source for our professional lives. We designed LikeHack so people could receive curated content from people they trust.

So what exactly does LikeHack do?

  • It filters the clutter from your social media stream to give you a digest of interesting stories using the magic of crowdsourcing by like-minded people;
  • takes the complete history of shared links and builds a filter utilizing similar people who like the same links from the same sites as personal content curators;
  • adds full text search to all the user’s content, including incoming content and all stories that were ever liked, shared or tweeted; and
  • supports Facebook, Twitter, Gmail (to collect links shared via e-mail), RSS, as well as importing Google Reader history, while future versions will include LinkedIn and Google+ integration.

And in case you’re wondering, I do content development and write, including the scripts for videos like this one.

Image credit: LikeHack

Three Categories of People

Monday, June 24th, 2013

all-knowing-leaderPeople have longed for an all-knowing leader who they can mindlessly follow and abdicate their decision-making, since time began.

Some seek this all-knowing leader in religion; others look to politics, while still others believe that business is a better source.

Their time would be better spent accepting the reality that no such thing exists anywhere in any walk of life.

Then there are the people who aspire to be that all-knowing leader.

To that end they amass thousands of friends and followers, network their way well beyond what’s needed to be a LinkedIn Lion and work ceaselessly to raise their Klout score.

Finally, there are those who know without doubt that all-knowing leaders are in the same category as the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Clause and they aren’t them.

Which are you?

Flickr image credit: Warning Sign Generator

Social Change

Monday, February 11th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/6875893248/I admit it; as anyone who is a frequent reader I am not a Facebook devotee; for that matter, I’m not a lover of social media in general, which includes MMOG sites such as World of Warcraft.

What people who know me don’t understand is that my dislike goes beyond my personal feelings.

Gently put, I am tired of and disgusted with number of intelligent, talented people who contact me for help balancing the demands on their time.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to help people and rarely charge for one-off questions, but it’s getting ridiculous.

For years I found that the problem wasn’t so much one of time management, but one of saying yes too often.

But, as the saying goes, that was then and this is now.

Now, after a week of time tracking exercises and analysis they come back and admit to two, five, eight or even more hours spent on various forms of social media.

Most are surprised; they had no realization that the number was so high.

I suggest they cut back and use the time where they feel pinched—the reason they contacted me in the first place.

Some are sheepish, others are defiant, but most are reluctant to reduce their time.

I didn’t need to read about “FOMO addiction” (the fear of missing out on something or someone more interesting, exciting or better than what we’re currently doing), I was hearing about it directly from the addicts.

So it was with great delight that I read that there is a growing rebellion.

The main reasons for their social media sabbaticals were not having enough time to dedicate to pruning their profiles, an overall decrease in their interest in the site, and the general sentiment that Facebook was a major waste of time.
About 4 percent cited privacy and security concerns as contributing to their departure. Although those users eventually resumed their regular activity, another 20 percent of Facebook users admitted to deleting their accounts.
(…)The report found that 42 percent of Facebook users from the ages of 18 to 29 said that the average time they spent on the site in a typical day had decreased in the last year. A much smaller portion, 23 percent, of older Facebook users, those over 50, reported a drop in Facebook usage over the same period.

Perhaps people are finally kicking their FOMO addiction, facing up to their time usage and figuring out that there is more to life than what’s online.

I find it most interesting that the decrease in Facebook usage is twice as high in the young (18-29) than in the over 50 crowd.

Who’d a thunk it?

Flickr image credit: birgerking

Ryan Block (and me) on Social Media

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/5473016884/It’s well-known to my readers that I’m no lover of social media; that I think it’s a giant time-waster; a black hole for energy more rewardingly spent in the real-world and with the serious potential to ruin a person’s career and even life.

But, as I am constantly told, a digital dinosaur such as me has no real ability to evaluate, let alone judge, the value of social media to others.

For all of you who feel that way, and for all your friends who don’t know me from Adam, I have proof from someone whose credentials can’t be impugned.

I’m referring to Ryan Block, former editor in chief of AOL’s Engadget and the co-founder of tech community gdgt.com.

In a guest post he explains why he quit Instagram and muses on the value and role social media should play in a person’s life.

We’d all be much better off simplifying our technological footprints and consolidating our trust in the few services that provide us the greatest value with the fewest unintended side effects. In the end, I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m a quitter.

And you should be, too. People wondering what there is to gain by thinning their online accounts sometimes ask: “Why quit?” Instead, I think every once in a while we should all ask ourselves: “Why stay?”

So before you tweet his post or add it to your Facebook page, why not take a few minutes and give some thought to your own actions in light of Ryan’s comments.

Flickr image credit: kris krüg

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