Activism Without Action

I recently had a peer criticize me for sharing an activist post on Facebook, but not actually doing anything outside of social media about the issue. She complained that so many people think they’re so righteous for sharing content online, but never go the extra mile to do anything about it. Although I was slightly annoyed by her criticism, it made me realize that she had a point. I get all worked up by certain posts, but I never actually take action outside of sharing articles online. So am I really making a difference?

There are so many people that use Facebook and other outlets to promote ways to make a difference. That same peer that I just wrote about, she’s constantly sharing protest events on Facebook to rally support and get more people to attend. She goes out to these events and takes action for a change. I just sit behind my computer and click “Share.” She drafts opinionated posts and updates people on all the great work she’s doing. I just read articles and agree with them.

Social media is a great platform for activists to spread the word and promote their causes. They can blog about their experiences, share charity events and protests, use sites to raise money, create petitions, and spread their thoughts and opinions for the world to see. Because of social media, activism has grown in leaps and bounds, reaching the eyes and ears of more people than ever. However, because Facebook, Twitter, etc., have made activism so widespread, it’s almost too commonplace and too easy to participate. For example, you have people like me who simply read articles and click “Like” or “Share,” yet do nothing further. defines this phenomena as ‘slacktivism,’ meaning people don’t really have to do much to engage in activism. The power behind issues can be diffused because rallying behind something can be as simple as clicking a button, which means campaigns are able to spring up one after another without any effort. Topics and trends come and go without seeing any real effect.

Today, as I scroll through Facebook, I notice that every other article on my timeline has to do with Brock Turner, the rapist who received a six month jail sentence. Capture.PNGIt occurred to me that most of the people who are sharing these articles are in the same boat as me; people sitting at home on their computer who decided to share an article because it made them feel a certain way, even if they plan to do nothing about it. None of us can call ourselves activists, but each and every one of us contributed in some way to exposing this injustice and making people talk about it. The other day, I happened to read an article about a man who raped a woman and got the bare minimum sentence and didn’t think much more of it other than the fact that it made me angry. Overnight, this story became more than just an article that I stumbled across in my timeline; people were writing about and it and sharing it non-stop. I couldn’t log on Facebook without coming across another post about this crime.

The easy “sharing” aspect of social media caused so many people to see this article and share it with their friends. What could have been just another activist post, turned into a trending topic that everyone was talking about. But, then came that hint of guilt because we were all talking about it but who was really doing anything about it? I happened to scroll to the bottom of one of the posts in the comments section and noticed someone had mentioned writing to the judge of the case. On that thread, people were sharing various ways to contact people involved in the case to hopefully try and make a difference. There were so many people pledging to take action and it made me realize this is why we click “Share.”

So, yes, there is more that I could do to take action and make a difference, but I realized when I share a post online, it has more impact than I think. Posting online about a social issue causes more people to take notice of the problem and brings it to the attention of those who will actually act on it. People get more involved when something becomes a trend online, because public figures cannot ignore something that people feel so strongly about. So next time you see a post that evokes some sort of emotion in you, make sure to share it.

Source – Digital and Online Activism, 


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Grandma on Facebook…”Like”

What do you do when your grandma comments on every photo you post on Facebook? “Like” naturally, of course! There are so many reasons why this is an amazing reason to celebrate. And yet, it is also a bit alarming.

When my grandmother was a little girl more than eighty years ago, she could have never imagined having lived long enough to see four generations of her family all living at the same time – let alone, keeping up with all of them on social media. Now, at her ripe young age of ninety-three, she is embracing each and every photo posted on Facebook. This can annoy many people when their relatives comment on every photo. Personally, I find this to be somewhat amazing.

Facebook is a great way to keep the elderly folks young. There is a tendency to slow down mentally as you age, but Facebook keeps their elderly minds active. They are staying in touch with people that they might not otherwise. And, they are conversing more through this social media tool than they would on the traditional phone call. It is the quick and easy nature of Facebook that is actively engaging their minds and keeping them interested. Facebook is not just another social media tool being used by innovators and early adopters…Facebook is bridging generations together.

Facebook is tying many generations and many age groups together. There are young kids (with their parents supervision), teenagers, young adults, adults, middle-aged folks, and older people all involved on the same social media tool. Facebook does not discriminate against age; in fact, Facebook encourages as many interactions as possible, without trying to appeal to one age group more than the other. The focus is more on content, and who all would be interested in that content. For example, you might have two individuals that are fifty years apart in age, commenting on the same funny animal video. This variety of opinion or interest can offer a very dynamic approach to social media. And yet, this is a marketing success. The target audience involved on Facebook spans so many generations. With only one post, a company can touch millions of individuals.

The older folks can provide a nice variety to Facebook. They can offer input based on their decades of knowledge and experience. Their scope of exposure is far greater than a twenty year old or even a forty year old. By a single post, they may be able to offer a perspective that may not otherwise be present if the focus was towards only one particular age group. This would be limiting. When Grandma posts that one awkward reality, we should embrace and learn from her honesty. Or, if she posts a memory from her early years, we should take the time to recognize the significance of her viewpoint and experience. This is true innovation.

Technology comes and goes with the changing trends, and most of this is targeted towards the millennials and other innovative and early adopting groups. Facebook is a marketing sensation in that it has appealed to all groups, young and old. We need to learn from this. The older folks are naturally marketing Facebook. They have proven to be the most adaptable group by learning to post on Facebook. They have proven that Facebook is easy to use, and really, a way of life.

Grandmas have been adapting to technology for many, many years. They are truly amazing in that regard, and can offer great insight on our social media tools. So…the next time your Grandma posts something on Facebook, don’t forget to hit the “Like” button!

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A New Era of Fame


We are living in an era where it seems like the only thing keeping most of us connected is social media. When we come across someone who doesn’t have a Facebook or an Instagram, an immediate response might be, “How can you not have a Facebook?! Even my mom has one.” As a generation that is so submerged into the social media culture, it has become a potential career choice where popular figures among social media are treated in the same respect as celebrities. A very controversial job in the industry is being a Youtuber. Many people criticize Youtubers of getting paid for nothing else but just sitting in front of the camera and talking to it, but are ignorant to how much work actually goes into producing a video. Youtube stars can make over a million dollars in a year, for example PewDiePie, who generates video gaming content ranks first in top earnings with over forty-four million subscribers, made over twelve million dollars in 2015.

I’ve been an avid Youtube watcher since I was in middle school, which in those days, people made videos and posted them online as a hobby. Nowadays, Youtubers are making sponsored videos, starting their own business such as a clothing line or selling a book that they’ve written. Many Youtube stars that I’ve been watching since I was really young are now very successful, doing collaborations with companies, getting featured in magazines, and even being on television. We are living in a day an age where we are no longer restricted to conventional jobs such as being lawyers or doctors or accountants. We have the power to generate content that will attract others and get paid for it.

It is amazing to see the number of views and subscribers that some of these Youtubers continue to maintain and gain. On the surface, creating videos and posting content online seems like an easy job but behind the scenes, it takes tons of time and effort. It requires creativity to generate interesting material and hours of editing to make a video appealing and engaging. The ones who create attractive content are the ones who companies reach out to, where Youtubers are sent products for endorsement and they make a video that is sponsored by that company. Of course being a Youtube star brings fame and many amazing opportunities, but sometimes it can cause backlash from viewers. I have personally witnessed comments from viewers criticizing certain Youtubers of “selling out.” Sometimes viewers feel like these Youtubers are only in it for the money, that they may be altering their opinion or personality to get these sponsorships. I have watched a video before where a girl had explained her decision to quit Youtube, because she was tired of companies wanting her to act a certain way and she felt that doing Youtube wasn’t a hobby anymore, it was no longer fun for her.

Although it can be difficult to not get caught up in the fame and money of being an Internet star, it can still be a great platform to express who you are. Youtube is perfect for all types of content, whether you’re into fashion, video gaming, comedy, music, or anything else. Most Youtubers enjoy creating videos because they want to share with others what they love doing and the great thing about Youtube is that anyone can do it. You can make videos of whatever you’d like and inspire others to do the same. Essentially, there are no boundaries and you can make what you want of it, just remember to remain authentic.

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Just Think!

Lately I find myself scrolling through my newsfeeds on Facebook or Twitter and I’m finding more devastating news than I have ever seen before. It seems that today we are starting to see more and more traumatic things happening to young people. And it makes me sad to think that one decision can impact the rest of your life so quickly.  Some of these decisions have ruined people’s lives and some have taken people’s lives forever.

Today when we watch or read the news we see nothing but negative things happening. We see tragedy due to Mother Nature, people are addicted to drugs, shooting others, and some are driving drunk or driving under the influence of other substances and taking the lives of innocent people. I know we cannot control good ole’ Mother Nature but we can control the other things. One day I want to go on my Facebook and Twitter and see nothing but happiness. I know that will probably never happen but just imagine how amazing that would be. I never watch the news or go on the news websites other than finding information about sports because I am sick and tired of hearing about tragedy that can be avoided. If only we lived in a world where problems could be solved rather than using retaliation to get even and making the issue larger than it already was. Some of these issues that we are seeing more and more today can be solved easily and that is by thinking first. At this point in time there are so many options that allow us to make safer decisions. We don’t see many people using cabs anymore but they are using other services such as Uber and Lyft. These services are inexpensive, easily accessible and simple to use.

Imagine going to a party and saying you are not going to drink. But instead you agree that you  will drive your friends home at the end of the night. So while you are at the party you decide that one drink isn’t going to harm anyone. Then a half an hour later you decide you are okay and you are going to have another one. Well those two drinks later turn into a two, three, maybe four more drinks and now its time to go home. Your friends ask you if you are okay to drive and you say of course that you only had a few drinks and you are good to go. Everyone gets in the car and you begin to drive off.  A few minutes later you lose control of the car. You wake up in an ambulance and you begin to freak out because you have no idea what just happened. You later learn that your best friend, who had been sitting in the passenger seat of your car, has passed away. You then go in shock and don’t know what to say or do other than blame yourself.

I know this is a scenario that is more common than not. Maybe not to this extreme but many of us have gotten behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks and were not thinking of the consequences of that decision. Many people are lucky enough to make it home okay but some people are unfortunate not to. And what comes from that decision of driving or getting into a car with someone who had been drinking impacts more people than anyone could possibly imagine.

I unfortunately have known quite a few people who have made decisions to get into cars with people who had been drinking and lost their life due to this decision. I have also known a few people who have done the right thing and still ended up loosing their life. Some of these incidents I learned about on social media. Scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing what had happened was shocking and incredibly heart breaking. So many people have lost their lives because someone else made a decision, which lead them to take another person’s life in a blink of an eye.

Just last summer, a drunk driver killed a friend of mine. My friend Emily (picture above), was completely against drunk driving especially after another friend had passed away from it. She and her boyfriend went out to the bars and decided they were going to walk home afterwards. As they were walking back an SUV hit her and she had passed away. It was found that the young woman driving the SUV had been drinking.

It is very hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of driving drunk because I have made a promise to myself that if I have more than three drinks in two hours before getting into the driver’s seat, I will not drive. I will wait it out for a while or I will call someone to pick me up. I am far too young lose my life or ruin it by harming someone else. In a perfect world I would always think before I act. But I know I don’t always but in cases where there could be serious consequences I know that I do. I know I can’t solve this issue on my own but I just wish more people would learn from other peoples mistakes and before they act, JUST THINK!

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Patchwork Symphony: YouTube as an artistic channel

I recently tuned in halfway to an NPR interview featuring a female vocalist singing a-cappella, as captured on a homemade video posted on YouTube. Moments later, the same female, singing the same melody began, however this time furnished with a musical ensemble consisting of piano, guitar, bass and drums, augmented by a string quartet and  a series of futuristic synthesizers added further colour to the arrangement.

As music today is predictably trendy, formulated specifically to target audiences with clever lingo disguised as lyrics, sung in syncopated phrasing over incredibly well produced backing tracks, the immediate appeal is as emotional as it is subconscious. However, this track sounded, well… different. Different in texture and different sonically; the song and all of its parts existed separate, despite the achy undertone captured in the vocals with each passing minor chord, bringing the collective parts together, united by one lover’s lament.

The interview then continued with the creator of the song, an Israeli musician and producer named “Kutiman”. Kutiman revealed that the song, and all of its respective musical parts, comprised of individual musicians performing original songs (he) found on YouTube. In a time-consuming, meticulously structured exercise of edit, copy and paste, Kutiman aligned various music samples into one cohesive patchwork symphony,                all without leaving his workstation, or even having spoken with the musicians.

In fact, this type collage music production has been a staple of Kutiman’s creative repertoire for nearly ten years. With two albums (“Thru You” 2009 and “Thru You Too” 2015), both comprised of various tracks and samples found on YouTube artistically mashed into individual songs, Kutiman harnesses his own creativity and utilizes the musicianship of others to create a unique style of music that would top both Indie and Top 40 charts, without the trendy polish of current popular music. Kutiman’s approach to producing music speaks to the possibility that exists in the social world: the possibility to share unlimited information, culture and perspective

Kutiman’s work is an ideal example of this possibility. Kutiman, in Israel, views Princess Shaw’s video on YouTube; a video made halfway across the world in USA. Kutiman then scours YouTube for appropriate music samplings to support Shaw’s vocal styling’s where he finds a string quartet from Germany and a pianist from Australia. In any other setting, the musicians would have spoken by email, by phone or by Skype to discuss the song then compose the music. The musicians would enter a studio to record their parts, most likely in their native countries, and Kutiman would then do his magic in the studio. Instead, Kutiman used great content that already lived on YouTube and binded the parts together, bridging kilometers, cultural differences and personal perspectives under the collective umbrella of art, collaboration and passion.

This type of unification for one specific cause exists every day in the social world; the role social media played to organize protests in the Egyptian uprising, or how world health organizations share information about potential health threats aimed at keeping the public safe.

It is the natural aspect of the human experience to share ideas, feelings and opinions, sometimes agreeable, sometimes not, however social media, as demonstrated through the work of Kutiman, allows individuals to have an outlet, a voice, a safe place to express themselves. For Princess Shaw, the authentic tone in her voice speaks of an experience and the residual pain that was felt singularly, however the feeling in Shaw’s song is one that is known to all at some point in life and as we recall that moment we are unified in the specific cause of healing, one beat and chorus at a time. Without YouTube, Princess Shaw would have still have had a broken heart, and Kutiman would still produce music, however it is unlikely their paths would have crossed to be able to share and create this special moment.

To some, Kutiman’s music may just seem like an interesting experiment, however, judging by the comments on his YouTube page, the music holds special meaning to many people. You can view Kutiman’s YouTube channel and watch the music video for Princess Shaw’s “Stay Here” by clicking here.

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The Unfiltered Truth About Social Media

The age of social networking has profoundly transformed the way we communicate and ultimately live. It is a prevalent outlet for Millennials to interact, generate content, and stay in the loop with what’s happening at any given moment. Adults seem in on the action too as they devote time and continuous effort to navigate this virtually tumultuous world.

Being an active user of one of the many social networking sites can make you feel connected to a larger community and simultaneously, desolate and despondent behind your computer screen. You lose a sense of your authentic self outside of a filtered instagram post and forget what it means to thoroughly enjoy being in the moment rather than instinctively snapchatting it.

Intended to connect, SNS seems to be the culprit for making us feel disconnected as well as giving the false impression of perfection and eternal happiness. Content is filtered to feign bliss and contentment, leaving your followers wanting more from your seamlessly fabulous life. The number of retweets you get or the rate of likes per second on a photo seem to dictate your social standing and quality of life. Not to mention, the greater the discrepancy in your follower to following ratio, the more credible your social presence is.

I’ll be the first to admit, I am one of those self-absorbed, compulsive social media users who abides by the socially constructed dogma in an effort to filter my realities and embellish my idealities. I mean it is essentially my career, but I have gradually come to the realization that it has relentlessly consumed me in a personal sense.

I’ve always been a social media fanatic, obsessed with the thought of publishing my own thoughts and visually capturing highlights of my life to broadcast out in the open. I am that crazed friend who has to snapchat everything because pics or it didn’t happen?

I’ll be doing something as simple as strolling through the city on my way to work and I instantly feel the unwavering urge to whip out my phone to snapchat the skyscrapers in my view.

It will take me hours to complete a task that should take merely 20 minutes or so but I find myself perpetually distracted by snapping shameless selfies or aimlessly browsing twitter for the latest trends and gossip.

So cue the irony because I am ready to speak without a filter.

What was intended to be a creative, communicative outlet for users to share bits and pieces of their lives as well as network amongst each other has transfigured into this toxic apparatus that distorts reality, resulting in a ruptured self-esteem and a wandering mind.

Essena O’neil, a 19-year old Australian instagram model made headlines when she abruptly announced that she was “quitting social media.” O’Neil described the platform as “contrived perfection made to get attention.” She attempted to ignite a movement for others to refrain from using instagram as well.

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Despite the fact that O’Neil benefitted lucratively from the network, by marketing products to her 612,000 followers, she promptly deleted over 2,000 pictures that she claims “served no real purpose other than self-promotion.” That is not all, O’Neil audaciously modified the captions to the 96 pictures that remained in an effort to unfold the underlying truths behind the photos.

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Like the majority of us, O’Neil confessed to checking her like count on instagram periodically-almost a full week since uploading it.


There is such a thing called “prime insta hour” where users intentionally hold off on posting a picture until they are relatively sure it will generate sufficient attention. This is where self-validation comes into play, it being the purpose for our social media use.

“I was so hungry for social media validation … Now marks the day I quit all social media and focus on real life projects, O’Neil announced to the world through her social platforms.

In the case of 19 year old, Madison Holleran, a University of Pennsylvania runner who committed suicide in 2014., the online version of her had her followers and family fooled. Her instagram consisted of scenic views, victorious smiles at meets and lively parties. No one knew that those were just “the highlights and not the real story.”

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ESPN reporter, Kate Fagan, covered the tragic story of Madison Holleran, in her piece, Split Image that focuses on the correlation between anxiety, depression and social media.

“I’m trying to rebuild the online version of Madison. I’m stripping away the filters and decoding the emojis in an effort to get at some core truth. Then, once absorbed, rebuilding the filters, reinserting the emojis, and showing just how easy it was — and of course still is — to pretend.”

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So why do we pretend and glorify ourselves publicly through our social media networks? Why are we so determined to mask our inferiorities and existing struggles. We put countless effort into capturing and showcasing the perfect shot that we miss important parts of the story, our story.







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Solving Everyday Problems with Social Media

Technology has consistently been taking over our lives. Today, however, the phenomenon goes deeper; social media is now becoming something that we cannot live without. Through social media, we can easily keep up current relationships and build new ones, share our experiences and learn from others’, find opportunities and (with careless presence) lose them. Many people enjoy social media, but many overlook what makes it so great. Is it the mere idea that we can express our happiness or understand someone else’s sorrows through an Instagram or Facebook post? Or is there more?


There is one particular aspect that I have found to be particularly underappreciated, and that is how social media can be used to solve your everyday real world problems. This concept has been present ever since the beginning of social media, and is continuing to evolve with the progression of social media as a whole. From borrowing that vacuum from your dorm-mates upstairs to selling concert tickets to people you trust, to determining the best route home from work to finding the hours of your favorite café in Amherst, social media is consistently present in our lives even when we may not even realize it.


Selling to someone you trust

Prior to websites like StubHub and SeatGeek, concert tickets were much harder to resell in the event that you couldn’t make it to the show. In 1995, however, eBay and Craigslist were founded, and many ticket resellers would use those (in addition to just word of mouth) to promote and sell their tickets. The drawbacks, however, were (and continue to be) that eBay charges a fee, and on Craigslist the potential purchaser is anonymous. When StubHub rolled around in 2000, the anonymity and money guarantee issue was resolved, but the fee issue wasn’t. Social media has opened up a whole new realm. Not only is there no fee being collected by some third party, it is far more comforting to be selling to someone that you know or someone that you are somehow connected to (for me at least, I’m not the biggest fan of the anonymity of Craigslist). By posting on Facebook or tweeting, word can easily spread about the tickets you are selling, and the result is a buyer you can trust. This is not necessarily just because you know the buyer, but also because the buyer will feel more responsible for following through.


Posting in a common group

Another common use of social media today is seen all over Facebook groups. I am a member of several groups and like several pages on Facebook; UMass class pages, dorm pages, and floor pages, just to name a few that I have belonged to. Freshman year, there were countless circumstances where someone would post in the dorm group looking for a vacuum cleaner, needing help moving furniture, or just asking a general question that dorm-mates might know the answer to. This also happens very frequently in the class pages, particularly the Class of 2017 page (the one I belong to). Similarly to the concept covered in the previous section, a simple post in the Class of 2017 page is a great way to let people know you are selling that couch in your living room or that intro to geology textbook you may never use again.


Social Media Location Analytics

Data analytics is one of the most booming spaces in today’s tech world. Social media has properly adopted analytics to solve many of your everyday problems. One of the most common is finding the best route to get somewhere: You are on your way to an interview, and you naturally use your Waze app as your GPS and way of knowing how to get to this office building you have never been to before. All is going well and then all of the sudden your phone buzzes, stating that there is an accident ahead and automatically calculates an alternative, quicker route. Waze is able to do this with the help of location analytics and people who are near the accident “reporting” it. This is a prime example of an overlooked social media impact on our lives. Similarly, anyone who has an iPhone is probably aware of the location-sharing feature (and if you aren’t then you should be!), which enables you to show anyone in a group message where you are located at any given point in time (which of course can be creepy or helpful, depending on its purpose).


If none of this is helpful or relevant to you, then you are probably not on social media and have just wasted your time reading this. For the rest of us, there are several everyday problems that are solved (or at least made easier) by the simplest of social media integration. As we look ahead into the future of the technology space, it is exciting to consider the great possibilities and solutions that could become possible with the evolution of social media.

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