72 hours Without Social Media

I work as a digital community manager, which is a fancy title for someone who is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. all day. As much as I love social media, it’s like loving a dragon: majestic and intriguing, but at any moment it can swallow you up in flames. Sometimes it sickens me to think about how much time I waste scrolling through feeds or mindlessly flipping through photos.

There’s the classic debate that the Internet is ruining the way we interact with each other and the world. You’ve heard it before: we’re a society more focused on our screens than each other. We’re too plugged in. Some say social media makes us depressed. It makes us obese. It makes us dumb. The list goes on.

Since my friends and family describe me as a social media addict, I decided to try a little experiment — a 72 hour social media cleanse. I wanted to see if I could handle three days without checking anything, and how it would impact my mood. Does social media really ruin my life? Is it a waste of my time? Can I be more productive without it?

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Just like 127 hours. Except it’s 72 hours, and I don’t have to cut my arm off.

The Rules

Since I work in social media, it’s unavoidable. I can’t unplug my computer and fall off the face of the social media planet because it’s part of my job. The main rule was that I could not check personal social media platforms for 72 hours via any device (notable examples: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). To make sure I didn’t cheat, I stopped all notifications entirely. My phone wouldn’t alert me if someone commented on my accounts. I took off all of the sites from my browser bookmarks, put the mobile apps in a special folder titled “DO NOT USE THESE” and downloaded software to block the sites for 72 hours.

The Night Before the Cleanse

According to my recent browser history, I checked my personal Facebook 28 times over a 10-hour period. This doesn’t even include the times I checked from my phone, which I would guess is relatively similar if not more. The worst part is this is less than average usage. I typically check Facebook 50+ times a day. I estimate around the same for Twitter and Instagram. It’s a habit as engrained in my everyday life as brushing my teeth or biting my nails. I don’t even think about it when I do it. This is going to be rough.

Day One

I crave it.

I’m too much of a wimp to ever try hard drugs (you’re welcome Mom and Dad) but I assume this is what intense withdrawal feels like after a lifetime of heroin addiction. My entire routine felt empty. I usually wake up and check each site before I even get out of bed. I scroll through my newsfeed like it’s the morning paper. The bright light of my screen is a nice transition to the real world.

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The internet is full of weird things…

This morning, I woke up and felt deflated. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself, so I stared at the ceiling. My streetcar commute dragged on with nothing to hold my attention. I became impatient as each stop lingered for what felt like hours. During my work break, I daydreamed of red notifications. I even tried to convince myself I could check LinkedIn because it’s “work-related” but thankfully got a hold of myself. No cheating.

I guess I’ll read a book I thought melodramatically, as if reading is the worst thing in the world. What is wrong with me?

Day Two

I’m annoyed at the fact that I can’t do something I want to do. I’m anxious and bored. It’s like being a child and Mom says you can’t watch TV anymore. I’m starting to feel extremely disconnected and lonely. Most of my friends communicate through Facebook groups because it’s easier than endless group texts flooding your phone. It’s not even that I feel like I’m missing out on things, but more that I don’t have freedom to do what I want to do.

People probably think this is pathetic. “Why don’t you…?

You don’t get it. I need constant entertainment. I’m so used to always doing something, even if it’s as trivial as reading through a newsfeed. I kept myself busy today. I exercised, cleaned, read a book, embraced nature — I was productive. But I can’t keep myself entertained for the in-between-activity time. What do I do while I wait for transportation? What do I do during commercials? With 2 minutes left on the microwave? Wow, I’m impatient.

Not to mention, this was a crucial day for sharing because I had an adorable puppy on my lap all day. A SLEEPING PUPPY NESTLED IN MY ARMS! The world needs to see this precious pup snoring.

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THIS IS WHAT YOU MISSED OUT ON, WORLD. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Instead, I bombarded my friends with picture messages. I feel like I’m bothering people. With social media, people can check it at their own leisure and deal with the information however they please. You could even hide me from your newsfeed. I feel like I’m intruding on people’s space when I send them a million text messages. I’m unavoidable. I feel like a burden (I mean, I think adorable puppies are crucial but that’s just me…).

Day Three

I think I finally got the hang of it. I kept myself busy all day. I planned every hour so I could feel like my time wasn’t passing slowly. For the seconds I wasn’t occupied with activities, I was lost in thought. I’ve gotten really good at staring out windows or wandering aimlessly.

I also know it is the end. Knowing I only have 24 hours left gives me the last motivation I need to push through. I don’t feel more productive though. Even writing this last entry for day three is painstakingly difficult. I don’t know what to say, and I don’t feel creative. I lost my drive because I’m at a point where I don’t know if people even care about what I have to say.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I am so reliant on validation, even if it’s a dumb Facebook “like” that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. However, since I feel so out of touch with everything, I wonder if people even care. Should you care? What am I proving? Why does what I’m doing matter?

Three days without social media and you can revert to the unplugged life seamlessly. You can go through the motions — wake up, go to work, go to sleep, repeat. But you’ll also feel disconnected and meaningless.

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The Verdict

During my cleanse, a few friends emailed me (old-school!) an article that resonated with me about a guy who quit the Internet for one year. It also makes me laugh because I could barely handle 72 hours. In the article, Paul Miller says he expected to have some sort of grand revelation about life. He imagined himself becoming more productive, more personable, and more of the way he should be before the internet ruined everything. After one year, he realized it’s not the Internet — it’s him.

“I can’t blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet.” — Paul Miller

I don’t regret giving it up. It was a good challenge allowing me to reflect on myself, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. More than anything, it was stressful being unable to use it at my leisure. I felt limited because I couldn’t connect to people that matter to me.

Social media does not give my life meaning, but relationships give my life meaning. Without it, I wasn’t able to keep those up easily. Face-to-face interaction is necessary, but depends on other conditions out of my control. Most days, I only see my coworkers and my roommate. A phone call is great, but once the other end clicks, I’m back to nothing. A text is fine, but it’s reliant on the other person responding quickly, and I feel like a burden if I don’t have useful information. People are busy. They can’t text me all day long or spend hours on the phone. I forgot birthdays. I missed events.

Without social media, there’s no way I could stay in touch with everyone. It’s just how we connect these days. I’m sure someday in the future there will be another addition, and we’ll think “how did we do it before this!”. The underlying point is I like staying in touch with people because I care about what’s going on in their life. That’s something I didn’t realize before I did this challenge.

It is exciting to hear from someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, or find a common interest with a new friend you would have otherwise overlooked. It’s encouraging to see people getting jobs, spreading good news, or feeling excited about the future. You never know how someone is going to affect you. Humans are social creatures by nature, but it takes work. Frankly, I’d rather make it easier to connect than harder.

Users, not customers: Skyping with Aaron Shapiro

Today, I had the immense pleasure of listening to a skype lecture with Aaron Shapiro, CEO of the digital agency HUGE. He also wrote a book called Users, Not Customers, which discusses adapting businesses for the internet.

First of all, let me just point out how awesome it is that technology allows us to have skype lectures. It’s so strange to think that only a few years ago, this type of experience never happened. Now, we can listen to a CEO across the country from a simple internet connection. Incredible.

I learned a lot of valuable information from Aaron, but I wanted to pull out some of my favorite insights:

“It is hard to connect that statistics are real people. It doesn’t feel real. It’s a mental shift companies need to get around.”

“The internet is more about DOING. Make marketing that’s useful, and helps people do things.”

“Understand the core reason people will use a product, and make that GREAT. Forget everything else. Think about what users want.”

“There’s no such thing as an offline business.”

“The most important skill set is learning technology. You need to understand how technology works, and manage with the user in mind.”

Aaron’s main points surrounded transformation. He explained that 50% of all consumer purchases are a result of digital. Digital commoditizes everything, which means it is crucial to set yourself apart. Now, we’re in an age where companies need two businesses to run: the core business and the online software layer. Any interaction should be available through a digital interaction as well.

As he put it,

amazing self-service + even better full service

Technology isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it will keep growing and evolving. If companies want to keep up, they need to grow and evolve as well.

Thank you, Aaron for taking time out of your day to speak with us!

Take THAT, book buybacks!

My fists pumped in excitement as I exited my last creative writing class. Deep down, I was secretly holding back tears because I truly enjoyed every moment BUT the end of classes means that I can return my books for some sah-weet moolah (which I desperately need, if you read my  post about my online shopping addiction).

These days, I purchase my books in a digital format to save money. However, there are always those exceptions — my creative writing textbook — unavailable in eBooks format. At the beginning of the term, I paid $107.00 for the book (yes, my mouth dropped when I saw the price tag too). I strolled into the bookstore with confidence, thinking that I would at least get $50 back.

I slapped my book on the table smirking at my impending satisfaction, and gave the lady a “here ya go” wink.

“So, it looks like we can’t take this book back.”

My reaction:

“There’s slight water damange”

I wanted to shove the bookshelves over and scream, “OBVIOUSLY THERE IS WATER DAMAGE!!! WE LIVE IN OREGON YOU @#*%” but of course, I responded awkwardly with “Oh…Thank you” and walked out.

My hopes were shattered, but not all was lost. There was still the Smith Family Bookstore! Good ol’ neighborhood bookstore. They would take my book back! Right…?

WRONG.

“Hmm…Let me check and see if we have this book in stock.” (They Didn’t)

“Well…I can offer you…Eight dollars for this”

Ugh.

I almost felt like a criminal for having a book with water damage. Clearly, my book just wasn’t good enough for anyone even though the so-called “water damage” was minimal. Sad, depressed, and money-less, I walked home like this:

Then, I realized there is one thing I can ALWAYS count on…THE INTERNET! Huzzah!

I raced home, and started an Amazon seller account.

There aren’t many brands that I am a “die-hard” supporter of,  but Amazon truly takes the cake. Amazon has always been praised as a good brand, but the reason behind their success is due to their usability. I’ve never sold anything online before because I assumed it was too complicated. However, Amazon makes it extremely easy. They sell your product for you, they manage the shipping and handling for you, and you walk away with a happy transaction without breaking a sweat.

What Amazon does isn’t new. The difference is that they view customers as people. They make things relevant to us, and they make things easy. Other brands should start to take note.

Hitting the Iceberg: My Run-In with Online Shopping Addiction

It’s no secret that I’m pretty impulsive with my purchasing. For some reason, I convince myself that I do need things like head massagers and pirate eye patches. If you ever let me roam free in Hirons, I’ll come out with a truck load of useless purchases.

For this reason, I’ve stayed away from online shopping. Until one fateful day…
It started as a normal sunday afternoon. I woke up and began my usual morning routine of surfing the internet before any forms of human interaction, as usual. I proceeded to google puppies, as usual. I started to play my turn on the Draw Something app on my iPad. And that’s when it all went downhill.
The word was “ICEBERG”. I thought nothing of it, and proceeded to draw an elaborate portrait of Jack and Rose holding each other exclaiming that they would never let go aboard the Titanic. Little did I know that I would eventually hit that metaphorical iceburg and send myself into the chilling, deathly waters known as online shopping.
I NEVER click on advertisements in applications, unless it’s accidental. But you got me this time. Oh, you got me good. I put the final touches on my masterpiece and accidentally clicked an advertisement, which lead me to an application called Coffee Table.
I was about to click out, when I saw that this app could be somewhat cool. It intrigued me because it’s an app that puts various store catalogs into a digital format. The app even includes special deals like free shipping based on the catalog that you’re viewing.
My childhood nostalgia for the PB teen catalog combined with my early morning drowsiness caused me to download the app. Fast forward to thirty minutes later, and the next thing I know I’m racking up my credit card bills because I want to get the free shipping deal. I fell into your trap, you sneaky marketers. I hit the iceberg.
But was it really a trap? No. What it was — and the reason why I believe this app is so successful — was the usability. This application lets users view catalogs in a digital format, and then you can easily purchase items with a single click. It’s connected with Paypal, and so it is extremely easy to buy within seconds (and extremely detrimental to your wallet).
Instead of hassling with a phone call and placing your order, the purchase is completed within seconds, all with a flick of your finger. It encites consumers by putting all of the catalogs in one layout, and also providing deals that are relevant to you. The application is successful because it recognizes consumer lifestyles, and makes things easy.
 Everything is shifting towards mobile.  It’s crucial that companies understand that if you want to be successful in mobile, you need to make it easy. As my professor explained, “if you have to explain how to use it, you’ve already failed.”
So, I applaud you, Coffee Table. While the app may be the reason behind my sinking bank account ship (don’t you love all of the sea metaphors?) they understand the way I use technology, and I purchased items I didn’t anticipate because it was so easy.
Now, if you need me, I’ll be trying to find a job to repair the damage I’ve done to my dear Titanic.

A Week of Googling

This morning, I began my usual morning routine of surfing the internet before any forms of human interaction. My life is sad and embarrassing in that the internet is the first thing I turn to when I wake up, but I digress…

Much to my parent’s dismay and complete disapproval, I’ve recently decided that I desperately need a puppy in my life. I spent all last night and all this morning google searching puppies, adoption, and the like.

How could you say no to that face??

Don’t fret mom and dad, I won’t actually buy a puppy because I know I’m too irresponsible and poor for the time being BUT the whole situation reminded me of the 2009 Google Superbowl commercial that brought me to tears, and still remains one of my favorites.

The cursor blinks. The piano cues. The typing begins, and we’re transported into a beautiful love story via Google searches.

What do my Google searches say about me? I decided to investigate. I went through my browser history for the past week and recorded all of my recent Google searches:

SUNDAY March 4, 2012

Puppies. Adopting puppies. Hipping urban dictionary. Schiperke. New York City. Stuff to do in New York City. Weiner dog. Dachshund. Puppies. Adopt Dogs Eugene. Baby Animals. Oregon Humane Society. Puppies. Mutt Ad agency. Rush Limbaugh. Draw Something app. Multifaceted definition. Creative week New York.

SATURDAY March 3, 2012

Swedish meatball recipe. Facebook. Twitter. Facebook. San Francisco. Jobs in San Francisco. W+K. What agency did JCP rebrand. JCP Ad agency. Wieden Kennedy. Ad agencies. List of Ad Agencies in San Francisco. Tribal San Francisco. Ad Age. Top ad agencies. Best agencies to work for.

FRIDAY March 2, 2012

Morningside Inn New York. Manhattan New York. #FB. XO Urban Dictionary. Wiz Khalifa Amber Rose. Shakira Attacked by Sea Lion. Writing Manifestos

THURSDAY March 1, 2012

Grammar Effects vs Affects. Cliche. Well known Cliches. Adding slideshow to cargo website. How to add keynote to cargo website. Hulu. Watching TV online. Oregon Ducks Basketball Score 3/1/12. Sleeping problems? Identifying sleeping issues. Insomnia. Lack of sleep. How to sleep.

WEDNESDAY February 29, 2012

Leap Day. Hostels New york city. Snooki Baby. 30 Rock Leap Day episode. Usher new song climax.

TUESDAY February 28, 2012

(**Note: I was working on a class project this day – I swear I’m not a creep looking up underwear!)

Awkward gifts. Underwear. Awkward underwear gift. gifts. Bad gift to receive. Worst gift ever. Giftiki. Gum. Gumball machine. Dynamic vs static advertising. What do you want a large amount of. Whatsoever a word? Falsetto. YOLO. American Idol finalists. Attitude. Outlandish. Synonyms attitude. Irks. The Rock

MONDAY February 27, 2012

sex and the city cw new show? originality. Roosevelt hotel New York. Sex and the city episodes. Craig Smith blazers. Ohio School Shooting. Stop the Violence program. University of Oregon. School of Journalism and Communication UO.

So, clearly my life is not as romantic as the commercial, but I found it fascinating to see what my searches say about me (besides the fact that I’m a neurotic insomniac that desperately needs the unconditional love of a puppy and relies on urban dictionary for street credentials).

I noticed that Google searches truly have an archival aspect to them. Most of the things I searched were relevant to my life at the moment. For example, I will travel to New York in May and most searches related to the trip. On Wednesday, I worked on a project that caused me to search for strange things like “underwear gifts” (I swear, your honor, it was for learning purposes!). My numerous searches of puppy adoptions also hint at the fact that I tend to impulse buy…

I also found it interesting that I searched for websites on Google instead of going to the website URL. Instead of typing in “Hulu.com” or “Facebook.com,” I googled it. It seems strange to think about now, but while in the moment, it seemed like second nature to type it into Google rather than a URL.

I noticed that instead of saying “I searched for it”, I automatically say “Google it”. Google has turned into a verb, and  completely consumed our idea of online searches.

Now, a life without Google seems almost impossible to me. I use it even for the simplest searches. I think my dependence on Google has a lot to say about the shifts in our culture.

I’m not sure if this new “search culture” is a good thing or a bad thing. It may be good that we can easily access copious amounts of information with a simple search, but has it made us too impatient to discover answers on our own? I get easily frustrated when I can’t find a quick answer on Google. I’ve become dependent on Google for many aspects of my life, from finding restaurant phone numbers to navigating streets.

How will this affect the way we learn and behave in the future? What would happen if Google ever shut down (cue horror movie screams and visions of apocalypse)?

Until then, I’ll just focus on googling puppies and maybe someday finding a parisian love of my own.

This is Trey, the puppy I wanted to adopt after hours of Google searching

UPDATE: I’m not the only one!

The Curse of the “Forevernet”

Ughh...That horrible awkward stage. Note the Hollister jacket...

The year is 2002, and I am a freshly pimpled preteen whose main concerns in life are popularity and overpriced Abercrombie ripped jeans. Due to my desperation for acceptance, I decided to attend the local high school football game. Like most middle schoolers, I grazed the outside of the track and spent each quarter gossiping, not actually watching the game. It was at this very football game that my crush (who shall remain nameless) asked out one of my best friends.

Pure. Devastation. 

Of course, at this exact moment it started to rain, and I was left alone on the track with tears welling in my eyes. Straight out of a teen movie — How Cliche.

Immediately, I went home, locked myself in my room, and began blasting emo Evanescence songs. Suffering from my recent heartbreak, I decided to write terrible poems about the situation because let’s face it, MY LIFE WAS RUINED!!! This is where the problem arises…

Remember, the year is 2002. The internet was now an increasingly popular resource among my generation. I spent all of my time on AOL Instant Messenger and the act of sharing every last detail of my life developed into an innate evolutionary trait. Unlike my previous years of furious diary writing, my innermost thoughts were now poured into my Livejournal.

This is what I like to call the “Curse of the Forevernet”. Being part of a generation that was old enough to use the internet but young enough to be completely irresponsible with it left me with a curse. Don’t believe me? One word: MYSPACE.

I spent many years carelessly posting and sharing content that reflects my naivety. I’m not the first person who survived puberty, but the problem is that my experience is more public than the generations before me. I’ve tried my best to delete my accounts, but what is posted on the internet is circulating the inter-webs FOR ETERNITY. My immaturity is now forever embedded on some server, somewhere in the world. I didn’t realize that when I was younger.

See? Why did I ever think this was okay? It's embarrassing.

Now that I’m “older and wiser” (that’s in quotes because I’m still young and stupid) I wish that I could delete all history of 6th-9th grade. I was always told to be careful what you post, but as a typical preteen lacking frontal lobes, when did I ever think about my actions before I did anything?

Luckily, I was a very well-behaved young cherub who never broke rules, so nothing I posted was too outrageous. Yet, I would be absolutely mortified if anyone ever found a shred of my emotional turmoils of middle school yesteryear. Now I can laugh at my embarrassing past, but there’s still a darker side that reminds me it’s all still out there, somewhere.

To this day, I’m still surprised with some of my friends that unmindfully post things that probably shouldn’t be publicly shared. This isn’t to say I’m not guilty; we’re not all perfect. I’m sure I’ve shared some things recently that may not provide any meaningful value towards my future.

However, my point is that my generation has a cross to bear. We grew up using the internet without questioning it, and as a result we need to be more careful about the way we represent ourselves. It’s okay to be yourself and let your personality shine through — just make sure it’s the personality that you want the world to see for many, many years to come.

Car Trouble: My Dependency on Mobile

There I was, singing at the top of my lungs and mindlessly bumping along to the latest Rihanna song (guilty pleasure) when all of a sudden, there was a massive BABUMMP BABUMMP BABUMMP…

Next thing I know, my tire exploded and I’m skidding down the freeway on just the rims. In my head, I saw it as an intense action scene from 007 where I manage to calmly pull my car over like a pro. In reality, it probably looked something like this:

When I finally regained a normal breathing pattern, the first thing I did was take out my phone and call AAA. Following the AAA phone call, I dialed my parents, and proceeded to text my friends about my recent fiasco. To pass the time as I waited for the tow truck to arrive, I checked Facebook and scrolled through tweets.

While waiting, two different police officers pulled over, and asked me if I needed assistance. In addition, two kind souls stopped to see if they could help me as well. Unfortunately, I’ve become paranoid after watching too many episodes of “I Survived”, and so I automatically assumed they were potential serial killers, locked my doors, and motioned, “I’M ON THE PHONE WITH AAA, IT’S COOL!

This is where the point of my blog post comes in: It was completely instinctual for me to grab my phone as soon as trouble arose. I didn’t think twice about using my phone as a resource to get me out of a distressing dilemma. However, it was also instinctual for me to lock my doors at the first sign of human contact. The thought of actually letting strangers help me didn’t even cross my mind. WHY?

I justify my actions with the fact that I was alone, it was dark, and the reality of the situation is that we live in a dangerous world full of crazies. Sadly, females need to keep their guard up these days. But it did make me think about how dependent I am on my mobile phone. The first thought that came to mind was: “Wow, what would I have done without my cell?”

I thought back to those days I like to refer to as the “dark ages” when cell phones didn’t exist. As a millennial, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around life without a cellphone – especially in emergencies.

In this situation, my phone was my savior. It allowed me to call for reliable help in the safety of my car, and stay connected with my family and friends. At the same time, it gave me an excuse to avoid the people who tried to help me because I could easily say “I’ve got the situation covered, thanks to my ability to call AAA!”. I felt safer because I had my phone.

Our technology provides us with a sense of security. When we need help, we can get it at the push of a button. Phones provide us with a sense of comfort. But at what cost? Car trouble scenarios aside, are we becoming a culture that exiles each other because we would rather use our phones as a resource? What happens when we DON’T have our phones with us? Personally, I get a tinge of anxiety when I forget my phone…

What behavioral traits have shifted as a result of new technology? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

This debate on behavioral traits and technology is nothing new. I would like to discuss my personal opinions in a separate, more in-depth blog post. But for now, what do you think? Are you dependent on your mobile phone?

A Day Without Internet

January 18th — the day that modern field hockey became a sport. Rapper DJ Quik was born. Seven-year-old Leo II succeeds his maternal grandfather Leo I as the Byzantine emperor.

And now, it is the day that will forever live in the hearts of many millennials and tech-savvy crowds everywhere.

For those of you living under a rock (sorry, Geico Caveman), January 18, 2012 was the largest online protest in history. In other words, Internet users banded together against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). The goal was to show the world the potential consequences that would result if the bills passed. Below is a comprehensive video that explains why users were against SOPA and PIPA:

“In short, Protect IP won’t stop online piracy, but it will introduce vast potential for censorship and abuse while making the web less safe and less reliable”

And then, something incredible happened.

It started with the whiny complaints that fogged up my newsfeed with “Why is the Google logo all black? How am I supposed to write my research paper without Wikipedia?” and it evolved into knowledge.

The most-used sites on the Internet like Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and even WordPress (which I use to write my own blog posts) “blacked-out” their websites, and encouraged visitors to educate themselves on the issue. Almost 1,000,000,000 people were blocked from websites. Before the West Coast work day ended, over 2,200,000 people had tweeted about #SOPA, and over 10,000,000 signatures filled a petition to against the bills. Those are some incredible numbers.

From my own observations, I saw first-hand that those who were initially confused about the issues surrounding SOPA and PIPA shifted from complaining to action. Profile pictures were changed to say “STOP SOPA”, and people tweeted their own form of “black-out” messages, or encouraged others to become involved.

On January 20th, two days after the Internet blackout, Congressed shelved the bills indefinitely.

Recently in my Digital Social Branding class, my professor Dave Allen made a point that the web is people powered. SOPA and PIPA are a perfect example of this. As a result of feeling what life was like without the Internet we know and love, people took action – and it worked.

The Internet is constructed around the idea that it connects people. You can’t win a fight against the owner of the gun factory with butter knives. Similarly, you can’t win a fight against the Internet when you’re trying to control the very thing that it was created for.

You can take our money…You can take our electrical outlets…BUT YOU CANNOT TAKE AWAY OUR INTERNET! The nerds WILL fight for their revenge (and we’ll win)!

Why will we prevail? Because the Internet is a beast that cannot be tamed. I like to think of it as the “Wild West” for my generation. No matter how hard you try to control it, people will always find a way around the regulations.

Instead of trying to fight and censor the people, why not work with them? Use the power of people to your own benefit.

What do you think about the SOPA and PIPA situation? Can the Internet be tamed? Is working with Internet users too optimistic? Please comment with your thoughts and opinions.

Facebook Birthdays

The month of April means one thing to me: birthday month. Since I tend to be a closet narcissist, I was thinking a lot about my birthday. Not because I would be another year older, but because I was thinking about who would be writing on my Facebook wall. How many notifications would I be bombarded with (maybe I am a not-so-closet narcissist…), and what skeletons from my closet would emerge with a “happy birthday” post on my wall after years of not speaking?

This got me thinking…How has the idea of a birthday evolved with the advancement in social media?

Back in the day, I was a master at birthday perfection. I was known for always picking out the PERFECT present and I would never forget the special day of a close friend. I should have gotten trophies for the amount of times I dominated in Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I had all of my friend’s birthdays memorized and I never forgot one. I may be a closet narcissist, but I ultimately care most about my friends, and ensuring that they have the best day ever. Gift-giving is one of my favorite past times. The feeling that I get when I see a friend’s eyes light up with each tear of glittery paper is one the best feelings in the world.

Flash forward. These days I am horrible at birthdays. I can not even remember the last time I put on a party hat. Perhaps it is the fact that I am busier than I was in my younger years, but lately I have been blaming this bad habit on Facebook Birthday notifications.

Since the invention of Facebook Birthday notifications, I dismissed the fact that I need to remember the birthdays of my friends because Facebook always reminds me. I log in, look to the sidebar, see that 3 people have a birthday today, and send them the proper “Happy birthday _____ have a GREAT day!” etc, etc. Then I forget about it.

Facebook takes away the awkwardness out of forgetting someone’s birthday. But in my opinion, it also takes away the specialization and personal touch of birthday yesteryear. Due to Facebook birthday notifications, I noticed that I commonly forget to give the perfect gift (one of my BEST qualities) as a result of becoming too reliant on reminders. Out of nowhere, the birthday of a best friend pops up.  Since I am so accustomed to wishing happy birthday to mere Facebook acquaintances, I forget the more important birthdays of closer companions. The special feeling is lost.

Not everything about Facebook birthday notifications is bad. Lets be honest, the most important aspect about birthdays is recognizing that you are loved and remembering that others care about you. Getting a post from a person who I have not talked to recently and knowing they still care is heart-warming. It is great to reconnect with old friends. For me, it is so easy to forget about people who I do not see on a daily basis. One of the best parts about Facebook is catching up with them.

Yet overall, I noticed a change in the way that I treat birthdays as a result of dependence on social media. Maybe I am becoming more forgetful! I did find a gray hair…As for now, I will blame my reliance on birthday reminders.

What do you think?