The Voice of …. #Winning!

Everyone is twitter-happy. If you have a twitter, you love to use it and tweet more than 15 times a day (#notacceptable) and if you don’t….well, you’re just a little behind and I strongly suggest you catch up.

And by catching up I mean merely getting a twitter account. I do not expect you to obtain more than 20 followers by the end of the week. Unless you’re Charlie Sheen of course…who just set the new guinness world record of the Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers. He did this in 25 hours and 17 minutes.

But Sheen is the highest paid actor on television, so that makes sense, right? Wrong. Sheen has been all over the news since his bizarre interview with Alex Jones of InfoWars bashing his producer Chuck Lorre of his show Two and a Half Men. Since then, Sheen has been interviewed by various other news and media outlets making even crazier statements that have been in the headlines for weeks (#winning, anyone??). This is what has made Sheen so infamous and is the reason why he got so many followers. And now that he has one, more and more people are hearing his voice, his crazy remarks, and loving (or hating) him because of it.

Sheen has proved how easy it is for one to gain a voice in this new media world and maintain it. You don’t have to be a notable scholar to type 140 characters and have followers. Nor do you have to be an intelligent and crafty writer who has worked in a newsroom for 10+ years to really be taken seriously on social media sites like this. In fact, it is sometimes best if you are just the opposite. So heres to your Average Joe!

There really is no science to it at all- Charlie Sheen my case in point. It is all about being authentic and relatable. In essence, you just merely have to be a human to tell any story or craft any message on these sites. Any voice, no matter how small it is, will make an impact.

According to Lou Kerner of WedBush securities, Mr. Sheen’s success illustrates how others, including corporations, can leverage Twitter’s platform to rapidly build an engaged audience.

And an engaged audience he certainly has. But, like all of these Twitter and social media phenomenons, this one will surely die down. So Sheen should really take it all in. These might be the most famous few weeks of his life. #WINNING!


Hiring Someone To Tweet For You?

Many companies have begun to tap into the twitter world. This is such an opportune way for it to reach its customers directly and develop an on-going conversation with them. When done right, the company’s twitter page can build up the brand and company image and ultimately build a better relationship with its supporters.

Though I do think this is a smart way for a company to enter the social media world, I do not think company CEO’s who decide to tweet should have someone do all of this “dirty work” for them. A CEO should have a twitter account only if they want to develop a more personal relationship with their customers and talk to them on their level, not as an intimidating businessman who is just after their money and wants them to buy his or her products. A CEO should want to have a twitter page to maintain a certain image they want of themselves. In turn, people will view them as more personable.

Some companies hire a social media person to build their brand in certain social media spaces such as Twitter. In turn, the company or CEO voice becomes the voice of one person. This could really be dangerous. What happens if this person leaves? Now who owns all of the content they’ve created and all of the followers they’ve gained for this specific company’s site? New employees are becoming mere spokespeople for the companies they work for, and if the company isn’t careful and doesn’t keep an eye on them, that company’s image can be ruined forever by one dangerous tweet or Facebook post by that spokesperson.

I think companies should be VERY cautious when they are first building themselves in different social media spaces. Furthermore, the CEO of the company should almost never hire someone to tweet for them. Twitter is designed to write how you feel in 140 characters, not write about how you think someone else feels. Twitter gives people the authority to craft their own message and have their unique voice heard. No one should be the voice of anyone else but his or herself. This most definitely will take away from the human element of the brand.

Some recents mishaps with companies and their hired twitter employees have barked the question: “Why can’t you just tweet for yourself” It takes so little time!” It seems so impersonal and fake when one discovers that the company or CEO they have been following was actually just a young social media intern who could care less about their job more or less the company they are tweeting for.

The Voice That Started A Revolution…

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, not only does information spread more quickly, but people are able to organize in larger and more efficient ways than ever before. This was not yet seen on such a large scale until the massive protests in Egypt that occurred on January 25th. The world is just getting a glimpse of how Facebook and this interconnectedness could really startle a nation and shock the world, and now there is no turning back.

One man, Wael Ghonim, a 30-year-old Google marketing manager, organized the online campaign that sparked the first protests in Egypt on January 25th. Through his passion, he became a symbol for the youth organizers in Egypt and represented their strength and courage.

Mr. Ghonim is the creator of the social media campaign that galvanized the protests. He created theWe are All Khaled Said Facebook page which helped to raise awareness about police abuse in Egypt and connect human rights organizers with Egyptians.

Because of Facebook and Twitter, people now have the power. In some cases, as seen in Egypt, this power can even overturn the government. The power dynamics have shifted. This proves that the effects of the Internet are quite strong and can only get stronger. It is confident and emotional voices like Mr. Ghonim’s that either use or will begin to use these social media sites as a platform to be heard and make significant changes in their countries. I don’t doubt that in the next couple of days, and years, we will see more leaders like this who are educated and tech-savy and will use the internet to change the world.

In many ways, Ghonim exploited a loophole in the way that some governments work. Because Facebook isn’t censored and can’t be blocked, the government has no way of regulating it. That is why Facebook has become to popular and that is why Facebook will become a crucial tool for those living in countries where all forms of  media are owned and regulated by the government.

But still, many argue that a “revolution can’t be tweeted.” In many senses that is correct. An entire revolution can not possibly be described in 140 characters or less. But thats not what some of these people aim to do when they tweet. It is all about speed, getting the message (any message) out there to the people, and ultimately allowing individuals to speak their mind and create an on-going conversation.

And in that sense, the Egyptian Revolution, and those that follow, can and will be captured and organized by young ordinary people who seek to make a difference and have their voices heard.

It is no small wonder that Wael Ghonim is an icon not only in Egypt but recognized as such nationally. And I don’t doubt that through Facebook and Twitter many more people will rise up and incur more changes. Everyone’s voice now has a chance to be heard, whether that person considers themselves large or small, influential or not influential. And everyone should follow Mr. Ghonim’s lead and take advantage of this.

When Inserting One’s Own Voice Can Go Too Far…

Laura Ingraham on Wisconsin Union Protest Hateful Rhetoric

This past week in Madison, WI, local public employee unions protested at the capitol after Governor Walker’s proposed budget plan that requires public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, cutting their pay by around 7 percent. As a student here in Madison, I have been actively engaged in the rallies going on both inside and outside of the capitol building. It has truly been an exciting yet concerning week.

Wrapped up in my excitement during the first few days of the protest, I failed to see the hateful rhetoric that people were both saying out loud and had written on their signs and posters. I had easily been too consumed with what was going on and got lost in the crowd (both physically and mentally) and missed the actual problem and incendiary violence that was going on. However, on Friday when I walked up to the capitol again, my eyes and ears were consumed with the provocative signs and speech that filled the air.

Many protestors were describing Scott Walker as analogous to President Mubarak who just resigned in Egypt. Signs everywhere compared him to a “Mini-Mubarak” as if Walker’s actions are really comparable to the tyrannical nature of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Similar signs also compared Governor Walker to the dictator Adolf Hitler.

In large parts, these protestors have sensationalized the problem too much and therefore are failing to get their point across. What may look like a peaceful demonstration has actually turned into one that may incite violence. In their efforts to have their voices heard, these protestors have actually diverted the attention away from what they are fighting for.

But then again, some reporting journalists are doing the same thing. And if these reporters, who are supposed to be unbiased, are reporting these protests using the same rhetoric, then this becomes a never ending cycle. In these cases, it would be best if the reporters’ own voices took a backseat and did not reflect or cause the hateful discourse of these protests.

Many people have become disgusted with the rhetoric in this country, from both left and right, but it is important to understand what these protestors are actually doing. When I was at the capitol I spoke to some of the people who were holding signs of Governor Walker as Adolf Hitler, and was surprised to hear what they had to say. For some of these protestors, as a way to get their voice heard and point across, they are deliberately resorting to certain images and words that they know will get more attention and provoke certain people to respond. In that regard, they have definitely succeeded. But what excuse could the reporters use? How far is too far with these hateful forms of rhetoric? Where should the line be drawn?

It is important not to get too caught up in our hateful speech so as not to offend anyone and digress too much from the real problem at hand. However, it is also important to factor in that these protestors may not be taking their own signs too literally and it may just be their way of directing the media’s attention towards them. For some, it is as if they are using their sign as a springboard to get their actual voice and thoughts heard. But no one will ever know this from just looking at pictures and videos of these signs.

I do think we need a new tone in this country and that starts with changing our political discourse and disabling news reporters from using hateful rhetoric.  It is also important to determine the extent to which our hateful and violent speech creates an atmosphere where people will act in hateful and violent ways.

Me, Myself, & I

I’m sitting here in the living room of my sorority house, laptop on my lap (duh, where else would my LAPtop be?), the Grammy awards on the big television screen, and 10 of my other sorority sisters on the couches beside me. You would think that we haven’t moved in a week because this is exactly what we were doing last Sunday, same time, same place, except a little thing called the Super Bowl was on.

Looking around this room, I realize that we are all media-obsessed (and that is a relatively light adjective to use). We are sitting here on our laptops, tweeting, facebook posting/stalking, bbm-ing, yet all seemingly focused on the main media event of the evening, whether it be the Grammys or the Super Bowl. Interestingly though, even with all of these distractions, we still find a way to talk throughout the entire show. So not only are we expressing our opinions on our own blogs, tweets, and wall posts, but we are also verbally expressing how we feel openly and honestly.

During the Super Bowl most of the conversation was around the commercials, commenting on which commercials were well-done and which were just plain stupid. Whether it was praise, critique, or just a plain statement, every single girl had something to say about even the most trivial part of every commercial shown. But it was not enough for us to express it out loud; we also wrote how we felt on every social media site we were an active part of. And of course tonight is no different. But I truly like how opinionated we all are.

In this media-frenzy society we now live in, some people argue that it has made us less connected to others in ‘real’ life. I have definitely always believed this, as I consider myself guilty of just that. While in a sense we all do look pathetic as we sit here surrounded by all forms of technology, I feel even more connected to these girls and what we are watching. While we are “hiding” behind our computers, we are also engaging each other in conversation, just in a different way.

These social media sites are structured in a way so that everyone has their own voice. Everyone talks about themselves, “likes” certain things, “follows” certain people, posts about certain subjects. Because these sites have enabled people to be themselves and carve out their own identity, people have done so in “real” life as well. It is now becoming a social norm to say what’s on your mind at any given time because we do that anyways on Facebook and Twitter.

What I have to say about all of this is: Cheers to Individualism! Gone are the days where we just sit and watch what is going on. As media consumers and producers, we actually have a voice and love to use it when possible. Social media has provided a platform upon which we voice our own opinion and connect with those that feel the same or disagree. Either way, now more than ever we are engaging in an open dialogue. So while I sit here on Facebook and Twitter, watching the Grammys, I am also listening to everyone’s comments out loud gaining more insight and keeping the conversation going, at all times.

Right now we are all talking and posting about Lady Gaga’s outfit. She is individualism personified, and I love every bit of it and her eggshell (?!?!) costume.