Social media is now the judge and jury of all public actions?

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A woman recently took a train trip. According to this woman, a group of men sitting next to her allegedly spent the entire two hour train ride boasting about the affairs they were having while their wives (supposedly) remained blissfully ignorant.  

At some point, she took a picture of one man in this group. Then she posted it to Facebook where it has since been shared 197,038 times (as I write this). The average Facebook user has around 120-130 friends. Even accounting for overlap, that means millions of people have potentially seen this man's face with the message that he is a cheater. That isn't to mention articles and blogs that have posted the picture. (Sorry, you won't find it or a link to it here.)

I don't condone cheating, but this situation is sickening to me.  

This week, news broke that the US government is looking at users' call data. And the internet exploded with opinions on the matter. The most vocal are those who are against this kind of invasion of privacy. 

We don't like the government looking into our personal business (even when it's as seemingly innocuous as phone numbers and call times), but some are quite okay with the kind of public shaming that took place when a private citizen posted a picture of another private citizen with a serious accusation simply because he was having a conversation in a public place. 

I can't help but wonder if this is the direction we're heading. Will every public action we take be scrutinized, documented and shared with the world to be judged? 

If this is the way social media is going to go, I want no part of it. Assuming this man actually is cheating on his wife, can you imagine how humiliating it would be to find out that a) your husband is cheating on you (if she was unaware), b) millions now know about it, c) your kids (if they have them) could find out how many people found out before them.  I can only imagine the damage that would do to the immediate and extended family of this man and they don't deserve to be collateral damage.

There's no excuse for cheating. None. 

There's also no excuse for publicly shaming someone.

People are human; they make mistakes. Some people make more than others and some mistakes have much bigger consequences. I think there needs to be a little more Golden Rule in our actions and less cheering for the downfall of those who (allegedly) make mistakes.  

At the end of the day, we all screw up in big and small ways. Would you want your biggest mistakes broadcast across the internet for everyone in the world to see and comment on?

The Pinterest Project

Last year I got an invite to Pinterest and I logged in and saw some pretty pictures, re-pinned them and then walked away and forgot it existed. I just did not get how that was a tool that would have any relevance for me.

Beware of joining. It’s addictive.

Fast forward to last November and Lara made me write a post about Pinterest, knowing I’d do my research, invest some time and get some input from other users - and ultimately get hooked.

It takes only one look at my Pinterest profile to see that she was right. I have almost as many pins from the last 6 months than I do stumbles (StumbleUpon) in the last 18 months! So hooked.

But I don’t do anything with it. Yet. 

A couple of weeks ago I read my friend Becky’s quite humorous story of trying out a pin project (you should totally read her blog if you’re into blogs - she’s lovely!) and now I’m inspired to try out at least one Pinterest Project a month. And given the state of my linen closet, I do believe I will even take a stab at the organization idea Becky tried. And I am roughly 99.99% percent certain that my closet will resemble Becky’s!

I think the main focus is going to be on my Organizational Utopia board, because who doesn’t need to organize some part of their life a bit more or better? However, Yummilicious and Be a Better Blogger will come a close second and third. 

If you’re not on Pinterest, then I apologize for the teaser links that you can’t actually see anything on. However, if you’re interested in joining, you just let me know in the comments and make sure you include your email address and I’ll send you an invite!

I think this is going to be a fun part of 2012. 

Day 22 - Passion (#reverb11)

Passion - If you could quit your day job and your quality of life wouldn’t change, what would you do?

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I think about this all the time. It’s actually what drives a lot of what I do in my free time, because that’s when I finally get to work on the things that I really love.

If I were to quit my day job to do the thing I love to do, I would help businesses develop strategies to use social media effectively.

I’d continue to build up communities that are supportive and helpful.

I would spend a bit more time writing in this space where I get to chronicle the life I love and share my thoughts.

In some ways, nothing would change. And yet, this would make a huge difference for me.

Social media has been good to me for over 15 years

Today’s social media is both very different from the social internet in the 1990s and eerily similar. I’ve often equated twitter with the chat rooms I frequented back in 1995-1999ish. Twitter is like a 90s chatroom on steroids. It just wasn’t called social media at the time.

For a few months in 1996, I used my parents computer to log on to the freenet - in the days of dialup, freenet was the equivalent to using dialup now - pretty painful. There was probably computer access provided at my college, but it never even occurred to me to use it. I wasn’t there long anyway. I transferred to Florida State in the fall of 1996 and discovered the bliss of using a T1 connection at the school library, which seemed to be overflowing with computers.

I spent hours at various libraries - checking email, installing ICQ over and over again (IT wiped it out all the time), playing in the chat rooms and surfing the web. (Oh, yes, we surfed. Does anyone say that anymore?)

The best part about those chat rooms?

They introduced me to Sam, my first online friend in Canada. We were in touch as recently as 5 years ago. If I emailed her today, we’d have a great time catching up.

Mark, a guy who was originally from Ottawa but has mostly lived in the U.S. since I’ve known him.

Shawn, whose 11 year old son hacked into my computer while we were in an ICQ real-time chat. (Shawn was so mad when I told him, but I thought it was funny - too smart for his own good, that one!)

Anne, Shawn’s wife who wasn’t nearly as involved, but was always so nice to chat with.

Ryan, who I met in Orlando (after getting a whopper of a speeding ticket…ouch) and we did 3 Disney parks in one day - good times!

I met a couple of others in-person whose names have faded from my memory. I even exchanged letters with some, which I recognize as being rather odd at a time when email was becoming so prevalent. I used to chat with a guy from Russia who would catch me during my work day - very late for him - just so he could practice his English. Then there was the guy from Australia who was severely epileptic and admitted to drinking regularly and too much - a fairly big no-no with his drug regimen. He would email his writing to me to read and he was SO bloody talented. If I remembered his name, I’d be doing searches on Amazon for his book(s). Surely he’s been published by now.

People wonder why I take the time to use “social media”. It’s because I’ve been using it for all of my adult life. It’s because I’ve met so many wonderful people through it - including my husband. I’ve connected with people all over the world through the Internet for a myriad of reasons.

And it’s been good. Really, really good.

Capitalizing on Ottawa's social media conference void

It’s hard to describe the feelings I have right now about Social Capital. Four months of planning and working to pull everything together and the day felt like it flew by in a flash. Despite some blips, I think the day was an unqualified success. Yes, Ottawa’s very first social media conference - born and bred in this town - was really, really good. 

It only seemed appropriate that this inaugural conference in Ottawa be kicked off by Glen Gower, founder of OttawaStart.com and a bunch of other sites, who has his finger on the pulse of this town and knows community when he sees it. I loved hearing Glen’s take on the Ottawa social media scene from the very beginning. You know, back before social media was dubbed “social media”. Glen has made it his mission to promote these communities since the late 90s. Yeah, he was community-building before building communities was cool.

“Proceed until apprehended” - Stacey, with Keenan and Shannon to her left.From the morning keynote, I moved on to a session in which I was moderating a panel on social change through social media. The speakers, Shannon Smith, Stacey Diffin-Lafleur and Keenan Wellar, each had interesting stories to tell and words of wisdom for those in attendance. From Shannon’s insights about dealing with being unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight as an individual to Keenan’s bold declaration that “[many volunteer organization’s] processes suck” to Stacey’s motto, “proceed until apprehended” that clearly shows her indomitable spirit and commitment to her work.

All three have been learning how to use social media tools to advance their respective causes. This is one of the areas of social media that is inspiring to me - the sincere desire to bring about positive change in the world.

My friend, Cherie-Lynn, made me smile then caught it on camera. :)The second session I attended was Craig Fitzpatrick’s where he generated lively discussion after a presentation that, in some ways, challenged the way people looked at social media from a marketing perspective. “Community = Channel.” It was a great presentation that included advising users to choose to do things that are measurable and that Klout should rebrand itself “reach” instead of “influence”. Reach is measurable. Influence…well, it’s not so easy to measure.

The word “unconference” started being thrown around during Craig’s session in the tweets going through my stream. It was gratifying to see such energetic discussion about a topic that deserves careful thought.

By the third session, I was feeling slightly numb - probably due to waking at an unreasonable hour after being up to an unreasonable hour (funny how that works). So I know that a good chunk of the presentations from Kneale Mann and Dennis Van Staalduinen didn’t sink in completely. Kneale and Dennis came at the broad topic of social media strategy from very different perspectives. Kneale is a proponent of the human web and creating human connections. He brought up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and related it to employee motivation - a concept I’m not unfamiliar with from my days of working in an employee survey firm as it was the basis for our surveys.

When Kneale finished, Dennis got up and gave us a crash course on how a major brand with a major campaign that goes insanely viral can ultimately crash and burn, destroying the brand in the process. I already cringe when I hear someone say, “Let’s do a viral video!” Hearing Dennis’ story makes me want to stay well away from those who think viral is the answer to everything. People relate to stories and respond to simplicity. Going over the top sets the bar so high that there’s rarely anywhere else to go but down.

Is your head spinning? Mine was.

Talking Facebook - it was a very interesting conversation!After all that, I lead a roundtable about Facebook. It was a fantastic way to end the day. Some stayed in my group for the full hour and a half and others came and went so they could visit other groups to talk about different subjects. The discussion about Facebook ran from basic to strategic questions and challenged me to think about how I’d use this tool more effectively as well.

At the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted but on a happy high of success.

WE DID IT! And we did it well. It’s hard to say what I learned more from - planning this conference or attending it. Start to finish, it was an extremely valuable experience that I am looking forward to doing again.

 This is the Social Capital Organizizing Committee - Sara, Andrea, Becky, Me, Lara and Vicky who was unable to stay for the whole day. These are amazing ladies that I am honoured to have been able to work with.

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Thank you to my friends, Sara and Cherie-Lynn, for the fabulous pictures I’ve used in this post!