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Archive for September, 2016

Is the history of social media repeating itself ?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

They say history repeats itself, but that’s not a phrase that is typically associated with technology. But with the rapid growth of Snapchat and social messenger apps, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Before the rise of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, back when we still had to wait for a dial-up Internet connection, the trendy form of online communication for young generations was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Kids would sit online for hours a day having one-on-one conversations via instant messages with friends. AIM became the new, electronic version of the “note” passed in class. However, with the creation of Facebook, MySpace and other social media channels, AIM quickly became a thing of the past. Younger generations began sharing their information and communicating with each other via these new, public, social media forums.

At first, Facebook was just a place for college kids to share updates with friends (users even needed a college email to create a Facebook account) and only young, like-minded people used the latest social media craze, Twitter. These social sites became the new way to pass an old-school handwritten “note” during class, because no “teachers” were looking. But as the popularity of these social media platforms grew, so did the number and diversity of users. Suddenly, the average age of Facebook users began to trend upward and the parents and grandparents of those college kids started to join in. Immature language, incriminating photos and silly banter among friends became much more visible. Concerns about privacy, the effects of social media on job searchers, and the separation of personal and professional online personas became the forefront of conversations.

For a few years, it was simply accepted that anything put online would inevitably become public information that could be used against an employee, a daughter, or a job candidate. Younger generations began to wise up and limit their participation on the traditional social media sites. Why would they want to post photos from a party on Facebook for their parents, grandparents and college admission departments to see?

Then voila! Snapchat and social messenger apps emerged. Like most new technology, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter definitely have their niche. They’re still relevant and play an important role in the online social experience with much of the young generations still engaging to keep in touch with family and long-distance friends, as well as share PC, college approved photos and updates. But by growing up in a world filled with technology, they’ve grown wiser than the college students before them. To chat with close friends on a regular basis and share private, sometimes immature shenanigans, they use private forums like Snapchat and social messenger apps. Although these apps certainly have a few more bells and whistles than the old-school AIM, are they really much different? Or, have we spent more than a decade developing social media, only to end up right back where we started?

Jupiter, Mars or Earth ?

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Keeling Photo-5

Surface and sky found anywhere in the universe.  What signals this as Earth, is life….

Shot by: Jon Keeling

Do we really need everything right now ?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Social media sites address us personally and feed us information based on our personal lives and interests, Amazon suggests the products we need and delivers them to our homes in a matter of hours, Netflix pre-selects shows we enjoy based on our viewing habits and delivers them to us instantly, pre-prepped frozen meals and fast-food restaurants make meals to fulfill personal cravings in under five minuets, and 3D printers allow people to create anything they want, when they want it. While all of these modern conveniences are, well, convenient; is there such a thing as too instantaneous?

The virtues of patience and compromise are imperative to the success of any well-adjusted adult today. No matter how far technology advances, it will never fix all of life’s hurdles. But, as we become more accustomed to everything on-demand, will we become increasingly more agitated when things don’t go our way? Some people become infuriated when their Internet connection goes out and they have to choose from the basic channel selections. Or, some adults feel entitled to belittling and scolding restaurant staff when their food isn’t served to perfection. As technology and personalization efforts continue to advance, will the inability to adjust, problem-solve, and cope with unforeseen situations become the norm?

What about the generations to come? Instead of being taught to wait patiently for their food at a restaurant, many children are given electronic devices that contain their favorite games, shows or other forms of entertainment to occupy their time. Instead of being forced to eat whatever is on the table at dinnertime, many family meals are now made to order, with children getting their choice of whatever frozen meal they prefer from the freezer. There’s even now a new 3D printer that can create food toppings and dessert decorations that match a child’s favorite color or character, so each child can have their own personalized cookie for dessert. When they have a science project due the next day that they didn’t prepare for, they can simply Google the steps and order the items from Amazon to be delivered within an hour. Some children are raised to believe the world revolves around them, and they should be consistently catered to and these new technologies are only enforcing that behavior. But what happens when today’s kids are asked to practice patience or compromise? What happens when there is a world full of adults unable to wait for a table at a restaurant or throwing fits because a storm hindered a package delivery time or Internet connection?

As technology makes our lives easier, how can we continue to embrace the important virtues needed to deal with life’s uncertainties, and how can we pass those virtues down to our children? How can we teach them that the world doesn’t revolve around them, when almost everything in their world is seemingly made, just for them?

The daily fight for equality.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Last month’s annual Women’s Equality Day flooded the Internet with infographics and information that shed a harsh light on the gender gap that still exists today. Stats such as, women still make up just about 20-25% of elected officials at the state and federal level, and female full-time workers make only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent.

Despite these undisputable facts, there are still many people who disagree with the idea that women are unfairly discriminated against. This ignorance is plainly exemplified in a recent segment from The Daily Show where critics insult the U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s fight for equality and equal pay. The U.S. Men’s Soccer team is ranked 26th in the world and they have never won an Olympic gold medal or a World Cup. The U.S. Women’s Soccer team is ranked number one in the world. They have won three World Cups; four Olympic gold medals and hold the record for most viewed U.S. soccer game for both men and women teams. While the men’s team lost $2 million for the U.S. Soccer Federation last year, the women brought in $17 million in profit. Despite these differences, U.S. women soccer players make $1,300 for every game they win, and $0 for every game they loose. The men? They make $17,000 for every game they win and $5,000, even if they loose.

Sports aren’t the only area where gender inequality is glaringly obvious. It’s also exemplified in entertainment. After Sony Pictures was hacked in 2014, it was released that the lead female cast members of American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams, were paid $1.2 million while the male lead cast members, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale, made a reported $2.5 million. Before critics ask, both Lawrence and Adams have more Academy Award and Oscar nominations and wins than Bale or Cooper. Lawrence spoke out about the inequality in a candid blog post. However, the actress took a different approach to the issue than most. She said she was not angry with Sony, but angry with herself for giving up on negotiations early. She admits that a part of this was because she wanted to be liked, and didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled”.

Despite the efforts made by a few great companies to close the wage gap, many of them still struggle to succeed in doing so – why? Perhaps women’s inequality isn’t an issue that can be corrected solely by policy and laws (although they’re certainly needed). Perhaps it’s fueled by ideas that are engrained much deeper into our society.

Reach for the sky.

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Keeling Photo-1

Long nose, short overalls and BIG arms.

Shot by: Jon Keeling