#MariasBachBash IRL

One of my closest hometown friends and Taylor‘s sleepy roommate is getting married in 3 weeks. So Taylor and I (and 8 others) are deep in the Airbnb wilderness of Swannanoa, NC for a bachelorette weekend. Because both of us still have a blog post to do this week, we decided to take this margarita-filled experience and see if we could write about how social media has affected it.

But here are things we’ve done so far:

-played a game called “family”, in which everyone has to guess who wrote which famous person on a slip of paper (I give the game a 5/10)

-played Heads Up!

-talked (ugh, so last millennium)

-giggled

-read excerpts of “The Doctor’s Premarital Medical Adviser” – it’s from 1969 and hilarious with a sprinkle of racism and misogyny

Here’s an excerpt:

“If there’s an opportunity to participate in the activities of the “night off,” without causing inconvenience or unpleasantness, a spouse should try to do so. Many women learn how to bowl quite well, and they often can play poker better than men. Also, wives of ardent golfers should learn to golf!”

-learned to golf

-watched a movie together and people weren’t on their phones the whole time

Earlier this morning we started the hashtags #onelesshoover (the bride-to-be has 5 adopted siblings) and #MariasBachBash. We prodded the other girls to post on social media so we make a Storify and talk about how technological advancements in communication have changed decades-old traditions.

Taylor and I wanted something to write about. We were confident the other girls would race to their phones and flood social media with our boring hashtags. They didn’t. So here we are: tipsy with no blog post idea.

But mine and Taylor’s experiment isn’t all for nothing. For one, we grew closer. Also, we learned that social media isn’t a mirror of reality. By that we mean, despite all the ominous predictions made by older generations, maybe social media isn’t killing our social skills. There are still times when we would prefer to be offline. Interpersonal can trump the Internet.

On the other hand, we now have a small selection of tweets and Instagram posts that we can easily locate using our clever hashtags. After tonight’s festivities (can you say reservation for 10?), we will probably have a few more. The mountains are beautiful, and we both want to remember this time with our friends. Thanks to social media, we can do that. Our Twitter feeds and our Facebook timelines aren’t our biographies, but they can be used as a tool to tell our stories as long as we don’t forget to live out those stories first.

Photo on 2-28-15 at 1.55 PM

The Best Responses to #TheDress

I love when social media companies respond to social media trending topics. The great dress color debate of February 26, 2015 is a great example. Here is the dress:

Courtesy of Us Magazine
Courtesy of Us Magazine

Some people say it’s black and blue, some say it’s white and gold. As a journalist I am unbiased, so I will not reveal what I see.

But, the countrywide stir (it’s the number 1 trending topic on Twitter) over this homely dress is a great opportunity for companies on Twitter. Here are a few examples:

giraffe

      behr

lego

dogfish

pizza

And there are more.

But what’s the real value of witty company tweets? How do these tweets translate into profit?

I asked my friend Alex, an advertising major who is much smarter than I am, and he said these posts sparked “viral tendencies.” For instance, I don’t shop at Toys “R” Us (at least not this week) so I’m not their target market. But I thought their tweet was funny. So I retweeted it. A few of my followers have young children and they will see the Toys “R” Us tweet, even though they don’t follow the toy chain. And it snowballs from there. It’s not rocket science.

Social media gives companies an ocean of opportunity. No trend is off-limits. Why shouldn’t a paint company, toy store and pizza place weigh in on the color of a dress? It puts eyes on their page and indirectly reaches their target market. It’s black-and-blue brilliance.

#AskHerMore and ask her what she’s wearing

Everyone is talking about women in media. Our class talked about it. My housemates talked about it. I thought I walked in on my cats talking about it (they were chatting about Kiev, idk.)

Tonight people, (including Reese Witherspoon) are discussing how women are portrayed in media in Hollywood’s biggest night.

And it wouldn’t be a good, old-fashioned 2015 conversation without Twitter. During E’s Red Carpet coverage, Twitter exploded with #AskHerMore, a social media, star-studded campaign to inspire Ryan Seacrest* to go beyond the “What are you wearing?”

It’s kind of a fair request. Ryan asked some dumb questions.

“Did you ever think you were going to be an American actress?” (This was to Marion Cotillard, a French actress) <– I previously said she was British. I knew she was French but I am also an idiot who should reread her blog posts.

“I heard you look forward to going home after shooting to your family and your terrible dogs?”

“We would like to talk about your frittata. What went into your choices of what to put into the frittata?” (Is this sexual?)

These questions are shallow and trivial – but it’s the E Red Carpet. The 2-minute interviews aren’t the place for substance. I wouldn’t expect

While the #AskHerMore campaign might inspire more creative questions, the red carpet isn’t the place for asking an actress how she wants to change the world.  And I want to know what she’s wearing.

*Ryan Seacrest encompasses all red carpet reporters. Also, does he age?

You can have my personal information

One of the most interesting topics of this class to me is the balance of privacy and interconnectedness/communication/convenience/fast stuff/whatever we’re calling this new technology age.

I’m not a prude with my personal data. If you’re a company, government, or retail store that doesn’t have my email (kayferggggg@hotmail.com), you’re in the minority.

So I’m with Hallie, I’ve never cared about these technology overlords having access to my private information. For one, I’m extremely boring, not having an affair and (maybe) not a CIA agent. But most importantly is I don’t know that data-mining is an issue of privacy. To me, it’s a an issue of information-sharing. And it’s not information that I’m too hesitant to share. Because the personal information they have isn’t that personal to me. It’s not one of my tween diaries (aka national security secrets) or the heartfelt-ish letters I’ve sent.

Should I care about my personal data? Maybe, I’ll get back to you.

Live from Chapel Hill

Tonight is a Saturday Night Live special. It’s #SNL40 and the program is celebrating 40 years of America’s favorite (only well-known) sketch show.

In great timing, Tala posted about the humor gap in generations. She says, “we have been trained by the media, television, and Hollywood (interpret these titles how you want) to think something is funny by our generation.” I agree that humor is fluid, but as long as something is culturally/socially-relevant, it’s funny.

To me SNL is an example of “culturally appropriate humor”. I don’t know why I put this in quotes, I just made it up. What I mean by that, is that the jokes and the sketches and Weekend Update rely heavily on pop culture, current events and things we won’t remember in 30 years. So me, a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 21-year-old, seeing a sketch from 30 years ago won’t resonate in my funny bone like it would for an older audience. And vice-versa.

A lot of old SNL sketches fall flat for for me. But not all of them. There’s Schweddy Balls, the one with John Belushi as a short-order cook, Consumer Probe, Hot Tub Love-ahs, and of course, Matt Foley. These are sketches that aren’t glued to a year or generation, and they’re funny because they’re eternally applicable to life.

Because no matter where media takes us, humor is timeless.

Photo Courtesy of NBC
Photo Courtesy of NBC

“Simply Become Immortal”

“Simply Become Immortal” is the tagline for eterni.me, a website that claims to use complex algorithms to immortalize you in the digital realm.

Eterni.me’s founders met at the MIT Entrepreneurship Development Program and say the site uses a lifetime of information to create an avatar that isn’t subject to biological inevitability. This avatar “emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends, even after you pass away.”

eterni

My immediate reaction was a pit in my stomach. Algorithms can’t feel. Looking at an avatar with the lopsided smile of my high school friend won’t be the same as seeing that easygoing grin.

But it’s an interesting concept. And memorializing the dead in the virtual world isn’t new. Newsweek talks about eterni.me and other virtual graveyards. The one that stuck out the most to me was the Polish Virtual Graveyard. All graveyards are macabre and eerie, but these online graveyards are unsettling.

The graveyards seem too public, but maybe they aren’t. In our culture, bereavement is private. Grief is universal, but we grieve discreetly. Facebook’s “legacy contacts” and virtual graveyards are more than another consequence of New Media Age – they are fundamentally changing the way we look at death.

Sites like eterni.me are challenging the finality of bodily death. I am reluctant, the pit is still in my stomach. Yet, I am intrigued. Can our legacies live forever?

Nine years later, media needs to report with caution

My seventh grade science class was talking about the Duke lacrosse rape case. It was 2006 and Durham was rocked by the scandal. It was a scandal that epitomized the drastic socioeconomic divides in a city marred by centuries of racial segmentation. And I was 12. Sitting in a racially diverse classroom arguing that the scandal of the decade might not be a scandal at all.

I was reading the newspaper and watching the news, and the media didn’t paint a promising picture for the team.There was a disgusting email that didn’t make the team look good and news outlets ran with it. The case became a scandal and dominated national headlines and by the time defense attorneys had exculpatory evidence, the national narrative had been set: this was a gang rape of a black woman by three wealthy white men.

Unlike the Duke case, the shooting of three students in Chapel Hill on Tuesday is not a question of innocence or guilt. Although he hasn’t been found guilty, Hicks turned himself in. But we don’t know the motive. And that’s where the media step in. And the motive matters – it matters if Hicks killed the students because they were Muslim or if he killed them because of a parking dispute.

And the media is tasked with covering this. The media can’t call this a hate crime because if it was a parking dispute then it belittles the credibility of news outlets when they cover actual hate crimes attacks against religious or ethnic minorities.

There were consequences in the Duke lacrosse case because the media framed its coverage over the community’s reaction, not the evidence. There were stories about rallies and columns like this.

It’s thin ice, and local media should look at the Duke case as an example of what can go wrong when the narrative swings one way. The Duke lacrosse coach resigned, the season was cancelled and job offers were pulled – all before charges were filed.

And the narrative the media portray matters. It’s a narrative dictated by what news outlets cover, who they interview, how they write. Media are the first responders to public opinion and they shape community narratives – narratives that affect law enforcement, public actions and how cases unfold in the court system.

Racial and ethnic animosity is real and it needs attention. But it needs fair attention – fair to the victims, to the perpetrators and to the community.