We Are the Future

The headline “Teen Takes Educators to Twitter School” caught my eye on Mashable today. The article is written about a 15-year-old girl named Adora who spoke at an educational conference in front of 3,000 educators in Austin, Texas this month. This teen has also spoken at Mashable Connect, and has given a Ted Talk – all before the age of 16. The positive response that she received from her audience (on Twitter), exemplifies educators who see the importance of not only listening to their students, but also continually updating their teaching methods by educating themselves:

This semester especially I have been told by my professors that my generation has something that older generations do not have: social media knowledge and skills. This knowledge gives us an edge in the professional world. Recently, I have been working with a local non-profit on developing a social media plan, and I quickly learned that social media is a foreign language to those who have not grown up with it or need it in their jobs. Though they seem like just another normal part of my life, I hope that these “special skills” that I have will help me in the work world.



Building Relationships with Social Media

Two posts ago I wrote about an article that gave several examples of ways that non-profits can successfully use Twitter to gain more interaction between their organizations and the people in their community.

As I have expressed in earlier posts, I dream of working for a non-profit organization some day, and I am always on the lookout for ways to increase interaction with organizations in my community. So when I came across this tweet, I had to share it:

This is the official Twitter account for the Habitat for Humanity Organization, not a local branch, but the organization is using Twitter to interact with people who are interested in Habitat all over the world.

The key to successful non-profit organizations like Habitat is not just funding, but it is volunteers. That is why I get so excited when I see non-profits engaging with people like Habitat did through this live chat. Social media is an exciting way to get people involved with any organization because many people are already on social media, so meeting them where they are to show them that the organization is willing to interact with them can make a great impact.

Home Sweet Home

Home. Most people have one of these. Me? I’m not so sure. My university is in my home town, but “going home” does not feel the same as it did when I began college a few years ago. As graduation draws near, I find myself getting anxious about where I will end up living and working in just a few months from now. Part of this could be from moving around so much as a college student. From dorm rooms to apartments to rental houses, I have not lived in one place for a long period of time since I lived at home in high school. One place that I have considered working is a large city far from my home town. I would live in a smaller town about 30 minutes from this place, so working from home would probably be incorporated into my new job (whatever that new job may be). I began thinking about the increasing amount of people who work from home. My mom is a professor so she does some work at home such as grading papers, but many of my friends also do work at home outside of their offices. So, I went searching for information about how common it is to work from home. I found the following infographic on Mashable:

How cool is that? Working from home used to be considered a negative thing, and it definitely can be if all you do at home is work. It can save you a lot of money, gas, and time, however, and can even help you eat healthier! Whether or not I end up moving to that big city or not, I will keep this graphic in mind when considering jobs.

Leaders and Tweeters

Mark Schaefer tweeted a blog post today titled “Do Non-Profit Leaders need to be great tweeters?” by Niceworknj. The blog gives advice to non-profits about different ways to tweet successfully. I would love to work full-time for a non-profit, so this information was a great way to study examples of tweets from all types of non-profits. The screenshot below is from Salvation Army of Newark’s Twitter account:

This tweet seeks to make its followers aware of a power outage, but doubles as a method to get followers talking about the event and Salvation Army by adding the “Salvation Army” hashtag, along with the local branch “Team Newark” hashtag.

So, do non-profit leaders need to be great tweeters? Yes. “Twitter is an excellent tool to connect, inform, inspire and share conversations with constituents and stakeholders” (Niceworknj). Twitter is about connecting and interacting with followers. Using it purposefully will not only increase awareness of an organization, but it will also connect people with the organization and hopefully get them involved in the community through the organizations they are following.

Degrees of Separation

I came across an article and video on Mashable today called “Facebook World Map Reveals Unexpected Trends Between Friends”. The article features a video about an interactive map that shows the friendship connections of the one billion active users on Facebook. The Mashable video pointed out an interesting fact about this map. It shows the top five countries that have the most connections with the country that the user clicks on. Many countries still have strong relationships with the countries that colonized them such as the United States and the United Kingdom. I am currently taking a world civilizations class, and the most recent lectures have focused on the “scramble for Africa”, or the fight for African lands by the greatest powers of the world at that time. Those countries believed that in order to be a great power in the world, and to have great influence, they must claim as much land as possible. It struck me that even though the majority of the colonizing countries treated the natives of their colonies horribly, those lands still have strong connections with those colonizing countries today. No matter what, people are connected- even through evil acts such as slavery. What does this say about our relationships with the people within our own lives? Are we willing to forgive and move on? Maybe that is a discussion for next time…

Keep Your Eyes Open

Tomorrow I get to spend part of my day with some amazing kids who I have gotten to know over the past few years. These kids live in a government housing project here in my city, and I look forward to seeing them each weekend for soccer. Sometimes I get to see them during the week, or outside of soccer. It really makes my day to get to love on these kids, and I don’t say that to make myself look good.

I can’t believe that there was a time that I didn’t even know that this place existed. I grew up in a blessed home with everything I ever needed. It was not until late in my high school years that I really got to experience first-hand what it looked like to be in need. I’m not going to preach about the incredible amount of poverty in our world, but I would actually like to be selfish and attempt to reflect on the blessings that I have gained through pouring myself out to others who haven’t been as blessed as I have.

I used to be afraid to step out of my middle class world and get my hands dirty by helping others. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help them, but I was afraid of what would happen if I did- would they be offended that this rich girl was being charitable? But I quickly learned that it is not about me. I’d like to repeat that- it is not about me. Whoever I have been in contact with, whether it is playing soccer with kids in a government housing project, or holding dirty naked babies in Haiti, the moment I let go and just loved these people I realized that they were just that- people. And what they wanted from me wasn’t perfection, it was love. It really didn’t matter whether or not what I was doing to help them was perfect. The fact that I was there to love them seemed to be all that mattered. And yes, giving water and clothing to a child who had none was a huge blessing to them, but holding them was what made the difference. I have learned a very important lesson over the past few years, and this lesson has been resurfacing in my life the past few weeks: life is messy, so get your hands dirty and care about people! This is the only life you have. Do you want to look back with regret because you were afraid of getting too involved? I have decided that life is not long enough to sit around and debate about whether or not it’s worth it to put yourself out there and love people who might not love you back. So keep your eyes open for opportunities and see what happens. I can guarantee you’ll be surprised…

Better Late than Never

After traveling to Nashville to visit my brother, ingesting some grass-fed beef at Burger Up, and spending some time downtown, I found myself observing those around me. It struck me that an overwhelming amount of people, many being tourists, were taking photos and using different social media platforms to share them. Though I hate to look like a tourist, I took a few photos at lunch, used PicStitch to make a collage, then tweeted the collage. Sharing photos has become a routine activity to me, especially when I am able to share something visually and in written form. I have been learning to be more concise in my writing, and I attribute that to Twitter. Yes, I give Twitter the credit for helping me improve my writing! I love photography, and when I can share a photo of something that is meaningful to me, or even just something that catches my eye, it is a challenge to describe it in less than 140 characters (because the link to the photo uses up some of those precious characters that Twitter allows).

Blogging has also allowed me to explore my writing skills. I have never been much of an eloquent speaker in person, but when I can write out my thoughts it seems to ease the difficulty of expressing exactly what I want to say. I wish I had begun blogging and tweeting earlier in life, but as they say, better late than never!

In honor of my visit to see my brother in this great city of music, I will share this great song:

Just 30 Words

Who are you? Or perhaps more importantly, who do you want to be, and how do you express that through your blog? Today I read an article via Twitter called “30 Words Every Blog Needs” by Jon Acuff, a writer and speaker. Jon’s inspiration came from a blog called “Pocket-Sized Stories.” This blog features a statement at the top that, in 30 words, explains exactly who the author is and what the blog is about. This is such an important part of a blog! “Short”, “quick”, and “easy” is what readers want. If it does not grab someone’s attention, they probably will not keep reading.

Here is the Pocket-Sized Stories identifying statement:

So, how do you accomplish this? You should have a theme for your blog. This can be a loose theme, like social media, or it can be very specific like the “Pocket-Sized Stories” blog (he writes about the things that are in his pockets at the end of the day as a kindergarten teacher). Take a look at Jon’s blog as well. He has written two best-selling books, but he admits that he could not identify his blog in 30 words or less. Jon has a great variety of topics on his blog, and he uses humor in a way that still informs his readers.

I think it is ok to stray from your blog’s theme every once and while, but for the most part it is important to give your readers a consistent theme with your posts. I am definitely working on keeping my posts consistent, so if you have any feedback about how I can do that, leave a comment below!

I will leave you with one of my favorite songs (no, it’s not about blogging!)

Purely Preferences

As I start my day, I pick up my iPhone 4s to stop my alarm and check my messages and emails. I get out of bed to get ready for the day, and I check the weather. As I wait for my coffee to brew, I check Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. And on and on the day goes…

I could bore you with details of how I use my phone, but I think you get the picture. Instead I will say that I use my iPhone constantly, and for just about anything. I love Apple products because they have never let me down (and because they are pretty). Recently, the iPhone 5 was released, and has taken some pretty heavy criticism. I looked to Mashable.com to tell me about this new product when it was released. Since then, articles like “iPhone 5 Compared with Competitors” have been published. These articles do not make the iPhone 5 look like the wonderful creation that it is, but instead they point out what is not good enough about it. To all those skeptics out there who are disappointed with the iPhone 5, I would just like to say that an iPhone can do a lot for you that other smart phones cannot.

When I find a product that is more of a help to me than a hassle, I stick with it. The iPhone is such a great help to me that I would never go back to any other brand. This is purely my opinion, but none of my Apple products have let me down, and I do not intend to use any other brand to access my daily needs like social media, my alarm, reminders, weather, phone, email, and even games. Today I choose reliability over everything else. It is purely preferences that make me want to defend this product over and over again.

No Regrets

A couple weeks ago, I made a post called “Death, and the Life of Social Media”. Little did I know how close to home this would hit me just eleven days later. On September 16, 2012 around 7:30pm, my nineteen year old cousin, Chandler, passed away in a car accident. He was driving down a road he had driven a thousand times before. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a power pole. He was pronounced dead on the scene when help arrived.

When I decided to blog about this, I was not sure how to approach it. When I began thinking about what I loved most about my cousin it became clear; I had to write about my cousin’s love of life. Not even two months ago, he tweeted this:

Chandler was constantly spending time with friends and family, and doing whatever he could to have fun and make the most of the day. He played sports, loved being on the water, riding dirt bikes, and other crazy and fun things. It touched my heart to see him play with his little niece and nephew who loved him so much. He loved people, and loved life. He tried to live without regrets. This might be cliche, but it is true – you never know when your last day will be, so live today like it is your last. It is easy to slip into the thinking that “this is not fair”, or “his life was cut too short”, but I cannot let myself dwell on those ideas. I believe that God has a reason for everything. He did not cause this to happen, but He allowed it. I do not understand the reason, but that has to be ok because He sees the big picture and I can only see a small part of this world that my life is embedded in.

Chandler turned nineteen a week before he passed away. This is a tweet from the day before his birthday:

In some ways it is wonderful to be able to visit this trail of memories that he has left behind, both on Twitter and Facebook, but in some ways it is hard to revisit them. In another way though, it is almost like a little part of him is still with us, making us laugh and reminding us of this young man who we miss so much.

One of my favorite artists, Lecrae, says it best:

“And when it’s over then something else starts. The only thing that’s really gonna matter is that hope inside your heart.” -Lecrae