There’s No Right Answer

I wish there was something society could do. Public shaming is certainly an issue and one that has only been magnified in the last decade due to the birth of social media. Monica Lewinsky perfectly articulated her horrifying experience with the issue in her recent Ted talk.

Monica talks a lot about society needing to become more compassionate in terms of social media. I agree with her however, I don’t foresee that happening in the near future. Maybe this is just my inner pessimist shining through but I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. It’s a sad reality.

Monica Lewinsky isn’t the only figure to be publicly humiliated. While her case happened in 1998 before social media was a thing, it laid the groundwork for future cases. It’s terrifying to think that something stupid myself or one of my friends does at this age can so quickly be turned against us publicly and out of context. Young adults have been doing stupid things since the beginning of time, but now for the first time those actions are being placed at the center stage.

Justine Sacco is the modern day Lewinsky in a sense. Her tweet, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white” went viral while she was flying to South Africa. While this doesn’t settle well in my stomach, and while I think Monica Lewinsky probably shouldn’t have fallen in love with her boss, I do think that we need to protect the person using their right of expression just as much as we are protecting the backlashers using theirs.

When Justine Sacco finally turned on her phone, she was bombarded by tweets from everyone who’d seen her post. Read this NY Times article for more information on how one tweet completely ruined her life. People make mistakes. It’s a shame that these instances are happening more often than not on such a public platform like social media. Literally anyone in the world can see, judge, and comment without knowing the context or the author personally. Bullying is easier than ever today because of social media, which means that more and more of it is happening.

It’s fine and dandy for me to sit here and say “social media needs to become a more compassionate place.” The fact of the matter is, this issue is not going to go away unless someone decided to step up and do something about it. In the mean time, everyone can do their part and stop clicking so frequently on these stories that have no worth.

 

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Lions and Tigers and Media, Oh My!

Last week I went to the Nebraska Humane Society where Creighton journalism alum Elizabeth Hilpipre talked about running a social media strategy for the shelter. She touched on how she uses metrics and the good and bad of social media.

Walking into the presentation, I was unsure of exactly how a social media person spends their day. I understand now that this is a job that can require a whole team to do. I was immediately struck by the huge amount of work her job actually is. I think a common misconception made by a lot of people is that social media isn’t very much work. I mean, how much time can a few posts a day really take? The fact of the matter is that Elizabeth spends her time strategically planning each post. She looks at all of the analytics, carefully words each sentence, times out her posts throughout the day, and makes sure she targets the right people.

Elizabeth uses metrics to determine how many people her posts are reaching. If a post does well, she will do something similar again. If a post does not have many impressions then she will go back to the drawing board. Something interesting that she does is reply back to all comments, negative or positive. I can’t imagine how much time that must take. This is used to her advantage though because it makes the organization very transparent. They aren’t hiding anything and people are probably very grateful to hear a response back.

A lot of the ideas Elizabeth comes up with are humorous. Everyone loves a good laugh and a cute kitten picture. She talked about the time that she posted a picture of a sheep named Gage with a Christmas sweater on. The post quickly became viral and soon the entire country was talking about it. Through the “magic of the internet, Gage was reunited with his family.”

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to listen to her. If I only walked away learning one thing, it’s definitely that social media has more uses than the conventional ones. It can be used to raise money, awareness, reunite animals with their families, or sell a dog that’s been abused. Whatever the problem is, social media can aid in the solution.