Tag Archives: social media

On Being an Ice Bucket Challenge Party Pooper

There’s a reason it’s taken me seven days to write about why I didn’t (and won’t) participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge that has raised a buttload of money for the ALS Association

[Note: If you are not familiar, ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a hideous neurodegenerative disease that paralyzes and kills within a very short time. It is one of the conditions often cited by advocates of doctor-assisted suicide. That’s how bad it is.]

When I was nominated for the viral challenge by mother, I knew I wasn’t going to do it, but I couldn’t figure out exactly why. My instinct was that peer-pressure and popularity are not the reasons I want to participate in philanthropy, but it’s taken me a week and half a dozen  conversations to articulate my thinking.

So here’s where I landed:

Screenshot_8_28_14_2_04_PM-2From the reactions I’m seeing on Facebook and Twitter, I wasn’t the only one struggling to find the words on this one.

Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? An interview with a social worker friend.

Related Post: Complicated feelings about India, terrorism, harassment, gender etc.


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Filed under Media, Republished!

I’ve Never Started a Petition Before

Until today, I had never started a petition. I wasn’t that kid in high school who went lunch table to lunch table advocating for new textbooks, or better candy in the snack machines, or cheaper prom tickets. I preferred to write my feelings (and sometimes rant my feelings) and then to think that my part in the struggle was done because I’d said my piece.

Yesterday, someone sent me a Facebook page called “12 Year Old Sluts,” (trigger warning) in which the moderators (two adult men) post and repost pictures of teenaged girls (and sometimes younger) in provocative poses for their commentariat to rip to shreds. They profess to be teaching these girls “a lesson” about not being “slutty” on the internet. The comments at best are guffaws and jokes about the girls being ugly (a lot of “I’d rather fuck a cow/tractor/dog than her”.) At worst, they are threatening (“I’d tap that…with a truck full of explosives,” “She needs a hug, around the neck…with a rope”). Many of the comments are from other girls.

I reported the page to Facebook as a violation of their community standards (which include bans on violence, threats, bullying, and harassment). They responded: “Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”

I can’t remember the last time I was this blindingly angry. Writing a post didn’t seem to be enough. Ranting on Facebook didn’t seem to be enough. Tweeting my rage didn’t seem to be enough. This page’s sole purpose is to promote the harassment of women and girls, to limit the ways in which they can express themselves, to shame them into behaving a certain way, and to tear them down if they don’t. The men who created this page think they are doing someone a favor by shredding a girl’s self-esteem so she “learns a lesson.” All they do is perpetuate a cycle where women are valued strictly for how much men like to look at them.

I started a change.org petition to get Facebook to remove this page. It is currently filed under “Controversial Humor.” Here’s the full text of my letter:

Related Post: On Daniel Tosh and rape jokes.

Related Post: Anita Sarkeesian gets harassed for attempting to research violence in video games


Filed under Gender, Media

So What Do You Do Exactly? Social Strategy Edition

Welcome back to my jobs series, So What Do You Do Exactly?  Today’s guest, Ambika, is social strategist at the big NYC advertising agency BBH. She works on megabrands (rhymes with “schmoogle”), up-and-coming products, and non-profits to help them design and execute a 21st century strategy for connecting with their consumers.

What’s your actual job title? Social Media Strategist.

What would your job title be if it actually described what you do? Brand planner, helping brands find their most articulate, clever, effective digital and social selves.

What does a sample day look like? Since my job is to be well versed on all things social, I spend my mornings perusing Facebook and Twitter. I follow a ton of great digital guru sites (Mashable, PSFK, TechCrunch, Gawker, College Humor, BuzzFeed) that keep me in the know. I spend a good amount of time reading.

I am the only specialized social media strategist at my agency, so I get pulled into a lot of different projects. At the moment I’m working on two alcohol brands, a big non-profit, a personal care brand, a new business pitch for an e-commerce company, and some general thinking on how to make our agency more digital/social. Phew – I guess I never usually list it all out! I love that I’m empowered to think strategically and creatively and that my opinion is as valued as anyone else’s (despite my young age!).

In terms of actual work, I spend a lot of time prepping ideas for creative development, learning about target markets and their digital/social behaviors, adding texture to creative ideas, and mulling over word choice. Geek attack!

Do you think data drives the world forward these days? Totally. I’m a data girl by nature and planning puffery kills me. BBH is a traditional, creative ad shop, which means in the past, beautiful, qualitative insights have been tantamount (versus starting a process using data points). Think back for a second – did Don Draper or Peggy Olsen ever use syndicated survey data? Nottt really. But as the advertising industry shifts from serving solely a creative function to more of a consultative function, being able to validate initiatives and efforts is becoming increasingly important.

I always use qualitative research–consumer truths, behaviors, trends–at the beginning of my projects.  But on the back end, especially with social initiatives, quantitative results are absolutely necessary. Social is so new as a creative avenue that sometimes people simply don’t understand the ROI [return on investment]. Data is crucial in showing them that social is big.

You’re uber creative/artistic, how do you find the creative space in the work that you do? I am so lucky that my role at BBH is wonderfully creative. I’m always being challenged to come up with new ideas. People are evolving rapidly and changing everyday (especially on social!), and there are so many amazing ways that a brand can talk to them.

Strategists are often known for their way with words. And as a writer, this is totally up my alley. I find myself approaching client presentations in the same way I approach personal writing. I always aim to use beautiful, articulate, and succinct language. This, to me, is one of the truest exercises in creativity!

What does “brand management” mean? How does it apply to the average person? Do have a brand I need to manage? Absolutely. And interestingly enough, this is a very current, very emerging trend as of late.

To fill you in on a hilarious truth, I just finished writing a social media strategy for an individual. It was such an eye-opening exercise. I sat down and had him tell me his life story. What he loved, what his childhood was like, who his parents were, how he ended up where he was. It was totally and utterly fascinating (he’s a seriously interesting man in the process of launching a new brand – pretty badass). My job from there was to figure out how to express all of his brilliance/eccentricities through social media. It was actually really fun.
There’s a really interesting division emerging between one’s offline and online identities. People are very vocal (and mocking) when they feel that your online self is super hyperbolized. To best manage your brand, think through who makes you you – what do you talk about after a few glasses of wine. What do you really love? What’s your true voice? And embrace it, girlfriend! [Ambika has written on this very subject at her blog.]
Is advertising just manipulation in pretty colors, or is it helping people find what they need? Or both? Advertising just has a bad rap, plain and simple. All of the advertising I’ve done in my life has been based on some human truth.
At my last job, as a Customer Intelligence gal, we used a lot of data. This made for a really unique offering, and gave us hard, fast numbers to support everything we put on the table. Although my role now is not rooted in data, we still use numbers/insights/trends to confirm what we’re thinking. Being smart about your advertising is table stakes these days. If you can’t show that it’ll work (and how you landed up where you did), no one’s going to buy it!
I have never sent something out the door before giving it a conscience check, and I take a lot of pride in that.
In this day and age we all share so much info, are we making it too easy to be tricked? Or are we making it easy for companies to find exactly the right products for us? We’re making it easier define ourselves, and helping the world serve us content that we’ll love. Social media has helped people discover different sides of themselves. It has helped us refund who we are, figure out what’s most important to us, and serve that version of ourselves up to the world. This is really powerful! This is how some of the smartest people in the world, who happen to be super introverted too, build their chops!
And when people are open about who they are and the things they love, the web makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for. Take Google’s social search for instance – it can be a little scary to see articles/posts/content suggested by friends when you search in Google. How does Google know this is your friend? Why does it matter who your friends are? You just want a damn recipe! But, wouldn’t you rather use a recipe that’s been used and approved by someone you trust?
Privacy can be a scary issue, but being open on the web only makes your experience better. I may be a Google Chrome nerd, but the web really is what you make of it. 
To read more about Ambika and her social strategy brilliance, check out her blog Whole Creativity and follow her on Twitter/Instagram (@ambika_g). And, for those of you who want to really dig in, Ambika would love to hear from you, so shoot her a note at ambika dot gautam @ bartleboglehegarty.com.
Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? Social Work Edition.
Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? Photography Edition.


Filed under Advertising, Art, Guest Posts, Media


Apologies for absenteeism. Does anyone else ever get anxious that real life is getting in the way of all of the things you want to read on the internet? That doesn’t seem super healthy, but it’s honestly how I feel sometimes.

Are you familiar with the concept of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out?). From Psych Central: Teens and adults text while driving, because the possibility of a social connection is more important than their own lives (and the lives of others). They interrupt one call to take another, even when they don’t know who’s on the other line. They check their Twitter stream while on a date, because something more interesting or entertaining just might be happening.

I have relatively low social FOMO. I like spending time alone, and the idea that friends are out without me doesn’t send me into dizzying spirals of anguish about all the hilarity and bonding I’m missing. But is there a comparable acronym for virtual FOMO? Because that I most definitely have. vFOMO? iFOMO? FOMOlite?

The number of articles starred in my reader is insane. I knocked out five of them yesterday on a long bus ride, and I barely made a dent. They were all excellent (especially this one on a couple with one HIV partner), which is the real problem, because then I just think about all the other fascinating things that might be waiting in the queue. There’s also, of course, favorited tweets, which are almost exclusively reading recommendations, TED Talks that need watching, arcana that needs Wikiapedia-ing, and the actual physical pile of books that are calling out to be read.

About two months ago, my roommate told me to wikipedia the Pitcairn Islands. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s still on a mental list somewhere, and every time I’m at Wikipedia, I remind myself that I’ve been meaning to read about the HMS Swallow. Maybe someday I’ll actually do it, or maybe someday I’ll realize for the love of god, who cares!?

Related Post: Counting friends and other things.

Related Post: Pinteresting.


Filed under Books, Media

Pin Up

As if I’m not enrolled in enough social networks (I once counted ten), I’ve jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon. All the cool kids were doing it, and you know how I feel about being cool.

I’ve already talked about how much I like lists, and counting. I like anything that lets me display and organize things at will, like the sewing kit box I use for my earrings, or the binders I used to keep with laminated pictures out of Vogue (back when I thought I was going to be a fashion designer… HA). Had I been into baseball, I definitely would have collected and then constantly rearranged my cards. Pinterest is that… for grown-ups…. on the internets.

But none of this is new to you because, like I said, I’m uber late to the game. Whatever, I’m here now! Find me, friend me, follow me, pin me,….what’s the right verb here?

Related Post: Cory Doctorow on privacy, surveillance, and generation TMI.

Related Post: The internet is such a strange place, but it employs me!


Filed under Art

“What Do You Do for a Living?” Do You Have an Hour?

In fifth grade, like all public school students in Massachusetts (nationwide?), I went through the drug-prevention program D.A.R.E. At the end of the program, we each had to write essays about why we would never do drugs. The winners got to read theirs on stage.* In my essay, I detailed all of the ways drugs would prevent me from achieving my goals of becoming a soccer player, a teacher, or an artist (I was a naive 11-year-old). I did not become any of these things.

Those people in the back? Exactly how I feel about my job.

I do a job that didn’t exist four years ago. It’s a job that can’t be encapsulated in one word, and usually requires a good four sentences to fully describe. Even a paragraph doesn’t really explain how I spend my day. According to the MacArthur Foundation, 65% of kids in elementary school now will likely end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet.  This fact and its implications for education are the subject of Cathy Davidson’s new book, Now You See It.

The NYT review of Davidson’s book is a great read in and of itself. “And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture.” I’m not over 40, but I do find myself in the camp of the doubters and disparagers from time to time. Since signing up for Twitter I have wasted hours out of every week reading about Kardashian antics. However, I have also watched more presidential press conferences (the White House tweets links to livestreams), widened the range of my reading material, and learned about the death of Bin Laden, the Oslo attacks and World Cup scores instantaneously.

Blessing and a curse? For sure. But it’s here to stay, so I best get on board before those 8-year-olds steal my job.

*I did not win. For the record, both kids who did win spent the bulk of the next 8 years high as a kite. D.A.R.E. failed to make any statistical impact and was defunded in 1998.

Related Post: Cory Doctorow on kids, the internet, privacy and surveillance.

Related Post: I hit 1,000 Facebook friends and can’t shut up about it.


Filed under Education, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Counting “Friends”

Susyj87 tattooed 152 Facebook friends' profile pictures on her arm. See Youtube link below.

Here’s an embarrassing fact. I know exactly how many Facebook friends I have; it’s 1,000, on the dot. Though one might argue that that number is the embarrassing part, I’m truly embarrassed by the odd sense of satisfaction I get when looking at it.

I don’t strike most people as a list-maker. I don’t grocery shop with one. I rarely work from a to-do list, and I have been completely incapable of making gmail tasks part of my daily life. And yet, I could tell you exactly how many books I’ve read since November of 2000. I won’t, because my pride in that number is even more excessive (at least it’s more deserved) than the Facebook friends count. The point is, I like knowing.

I enjoy ritualistic counting. I have gone through phases where I’ve tracked every dollar earned and spent, phases where I’ve tracked every calorie consumed and expended. It helps me quantify my universe in obsessive, but satisfying ways. As I rounded the Facebook corner on the 990’s, I was itching for the big one-zero-zero-zero. Does it make any tangible difference in my life? Absolutely not. The percentage of these people I actually care about? A mere sliver. Even the percentage that I care about insofar as I’ll stalk their pictures or click their links? Only a slightly bigger sliver.

Somebody unfriend me, quick, so I can stop rambling about this.

P.S. If you want to watch the video of susyj87’s Facebook tattoo, click here.

Related Post: Cory Doctorow on Generation Overshare and Facebook Privacy

Related Post: Even these kids in Tokelau are all up on Facebook. They couldn’t wait to respond to the “RIP” wall posts.


Filed under Art, Media

Privacy, Surveillance and Generation TMI

Cory Doctorow, editor of Boing Boing, talks about internet privacy and generation overshare (photo: JonathanWentworth.com)

Last week, I read a phrase that really stuck with me, “digital birthright,” used to describe the instantaneous tech savvy of the up and coming generation of gadget users. For the life of me, I can’t recall where I read it, or who wrote it, but props to them for succinctly describing this texting/facebook/twitter/social networking generation.

And then yesterday, I read a Jezebel post about Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt that described our current epoch as the “Post-Dignity Era.” We are Generation Overshare, Generation TMI.

That’s the flipside of the digital birthright. The pressure (desire? expectation? obligation?) to participate in extensive sharing is strongly encouraged, and sometimes coerced, on these forums. One can’t really be a passive participant and still be a full member of the club. Hence, my parents are on facebook, but they aren’t really on facebook.

Cory Doctorow’s latest TED Talk delves into this conundrum, discussing questions of surveillance, privacy, and internet insurrection. He argues that parents monitoring their kids’ content on the internet teach kids that surveillance is to be expected. Monitoring demeans the notion of privacy and consequently, when Facebook/Google/the next big thing demands ever more information, kids are primed to give it without question. The goal, he says, is to teach your kids that every time a site or service asks for your social or your date of birth, your response should be, “why do you need this?”

The internet is, no doubt, a crazy place. I’m fascinated by how parents and schools will handle all of its wonders and dangers with upcoming generations. Although maybe the real question is, how much will kids teach to their parents?

Related Post: Another favorite TED Talk… Jane McGonigal on video games saving the world.

Related Post: Hans Rosling on the relationship between washing machines and Cat in the Hat.


Filed under Education, Family, Media