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Twitter’s “While you were away”

The appeal Twitter has for some people is what makes others stay off of this platform.  Twitter offers you the ability to write short messages, up to 140 characters, quickly.  This makes it easier to post multiple times, unlike platforms that often get lengthier posts like Facebook.  Many of the people I follow on Twitter live-tweet sporting events, chronicling what happens during the game for all of their followers to see.  Now I get to what keeps people away– the overwhelming amount of tweets that accumulate when you don’t check it often.

Twitter now has a solution to help users catch up on what their friends have been tweeting while they were gone.  Launched on January 21, this feature is called “While you were away” will show users some of the best tweets during their hiatus tweets to help bridge the gap between the last visit and now, determined by engagement with users as well as some other features not disclosed by Twitter.

I’ve only gotten this feature once since it was launched, January 27, so this feature may not be useful to me.  I immediately took a screenshot because I wasn’t sure what this feature was and wanted to document this unfamiliarity.

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I frequently engage with Kasey and Kareem (Big Reem is his name here) on Twitter so I can see why they would be included, but I followed John Robinson just the day before.  John is the professor of my Current Issues in Mass Communication class, the class that urges us to write about changes we notice in the media and mass communication.  He compiles the blogs written for this class onto this website and if you have a few minutes, I’d check it out.

I don’t check my Twitter timeline all day long when I have class all day– and definitely not while I sleep– but Twitter doesn’t consider me to be “away” even during periods of absence.  I find myself checking Twitter many times throughout the day, besides the periods I previously mentioned.  Though Twitter doesn’t consider me a user that’s away from the platform very much, I’d like to see it more often because I haven’t decided if I would like it or not.

None of the people I follow on Twitter have mentioned it.  None.  Zero out of 206.  This makes me think that “While you were away” was not targeted at college students that have their phones glued to their hands at all hours of the day.

An article I read on the Search Engine Journal made a great point about the feature that I suspect will go over well with users: it will only include tweets from people you actually follow.  No ads or “recommended tweets” as Twitter calls them but are advertisements.  Only people you care about.

Unless my habits change, I probably won’t see many “While you were away” updates, but I’m interested to see what my friends have to say about it when they actually notice it.  Don’t worry– I’ll keep you updated.

Follow me on Instagram at dontmakemeleaveunc :) Do it!

dontmakemeleaveunc

I have an obsession with taking pictures, I’ll be honest about it.  I currently have 3,037 pictures on my phone, and I deleted hundreds over Christmas break.  I’ve actually deleted hundreds of pictures on multiple occasions but I keep taking more.  The first pictures on my phone are from sometime in the beginning of my junior year of high school…. five years ago.  These pictures aren’t perfectly composed or even closely resembling an image that would be seen in an art gallery, they’re just snapshots of, well, everything.

Why do I have an excessive amount of pictures on my phone? Can’t I upload them to my computer and get rid of them?

For starters, I’ve always liked going through my pictures and reminiscing, but that has been amplified by using the app Timehop.  Timehop syncs with my social media pages and my camera roll showing me exactly what was going on in my life in the past, in yearly increments.  This can be both incredible and excruciatingly awkward, depending on the day (why was posting song lyrics as your Facebook status okay back in the 10th grade????) but I check it every single morning, like clockwork.

I have almost all of these pictures on my computer, but I like being able to pull up a certain picture after I reference it in a conversation.  Maybe I’m a hoarder of pictures, but I don’t care: I want to remember everything that happens, and pictures help me do this.

I recently realized that there were a little more than 100 days left of my undergraduate career.  After having a panic attack and realizing that I will actually have to leave college one day, I decided to do something about it.  I have decided to combine my obsessive picture taking disorder with my love for my school.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present my new Instagram account: dontmakemeleaveunc.  There are literally 100 days until graduation on May 10, 2015 and I’ll be using this Instagram until that day (and maybe afterwards to mourn graduation).

Follow me on Instagram at dontmakemeleaveunc :) Do it!

Follow me on Instagram at dontmakemeleaveunc :) Do it!

Time has gone by faster and faster each year, with freshman year seeming like it was the longest.  Last semester flew by and I anticipate that my last semester will go by even faster (ugh).  To ensure that I make the most out of these last days, I made this Instagram so that I’m actively pursuing ways to enjoy this beautiful campus filled with incredible people.

Posts could vary from my favorite cinnamon sugar bagel from Alpine to a UNC basketball game or anything I’m doing on campus that day.  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  But since I know this time is going to be gone before I know it, I might as well document it (and this is where my photo obsession comes in).  I love Carolina and I hope this will allow me to show you exactly why this truly is the Southern Part of Heaven.

I invite you to follow me during this journey.  100 days left…. unreal.

Homepage of Snapchat's new Discover feature

Snapchat = news source?

In between classes on Tuesday, I saw tweets about the new update for Snapchat that was really throwing everyone for a loop.  Snapchat had made a change, and I was eager to know what it was.

During class, I was told that the change was Snapchat’s decision to add a Discover feature to the picture-sending platform that news sources could post tidbits of news for all viewers to see.  News sources ranging from CNN and Yahoo! News to Cosmo and ESPN are included with content created by each platform ranging from news stories to promoting shows on its network. Below is how Snapchat introduced the feature to its users.

Now this isn’t the first time Snapchat has upped the ante in an effort to stay relevant in the minds of its 25 and under user base: the introduction of the ‘Story’ feature, in which a user may add pictures that all of his or her friends may see for 24 hours, as many times as they would like.  This eliminates the need to click the names of every one of your friends if you take a particularly hilarious snap that you want to show everyone.

Soon after, stories from across the globe were introduced featuring content created by other Snapchat users called “Our Story” centered around a particular event or location.  The World Cup was one of these features, including the celebration following the conclusion of the game.  This became very common during the NCAA Football season, with rivalry games having an Our Story feature and it continued through playoffs with games having a feature, and finally in the championship game.

The Our Story feature is an expansion of the story feature every individual user has the control over, so it didn’t make that large of a splash. The Discover feature is creating something new, as nothing similar to anything found on this social media platform since its creation.

By incorporating news into an app that revolves around taking pictures that will disappear in under 10 seconds, it is making the app more mature.  Sure, selfies are fun and all, but when the user base grows out of the phase in which they’re comfortable taking pictures of themselves while making ugly faces, there won’t be a market for Snapchat.  The news is targeted at an older audience, so Snapchat can grow with its users.

I’m already at the age that I want to know what’s happening on in the world so I know that the younger users probably haven’t made this transition yet in their lives: Snapchat may be the first social media application that prominently features news content, so Snapchat has a real advantage in gaining their attention.

I’ll be sure to check the Discover feature in between selfies.

Credit: https://flic.kr/p/9gKkn5

RIP SkyMall

 

Before you start reading this, you might need to sit down.

Are you sitting now?  Good.

SkyMall as we currently know it is about to be gone.  After 25 years of having its in-flight catalog full of unusual items for the viewing pleasure of airplane passengers, SkyMall’s parent firm filed for federal bankruptcy court protection due to a funding crisis.  The parent firm, Skymall LLC, is also seeking a court-supervised sale of their assets.

So SkyMall isn’t technically dead, but it may be under new management soon.

Before we start mourning this loss, let’s look at the changes between 25 years ago and now.  For starters, the Internet was created 25 years ago.  I say this just to put the flying experience into perspective: you couldn’t watch television on the back of the seat in front of you and you certainly couldn’t watch a movie on your iPad.   Reading– or sleeping– was an activity people used to kill time during flights, making SkyMall’s publication perfect.  In other words, there was a market for the publication (not necessarily the unusual knickknacks found within the pages of said publication).

This is a great example of how the landscape of print publications is changing.  We’ve already seen this already with the decline of newspapers.

“With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog,” SkyMall’s CEO Scott Wiley said in a statement Friday.  “The substantial increase in the number of air carriers which provide Internet access, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s recent decision to allow the use of electronic devices during take-off and landing, resulted in additional competition from e-commerce retailers and additional competition for the attention of passengers, all of which further negatively impacted SkyMall’s catalog sales,” he continued.

Wiley hit the nail on the head.  People have other things to do while among the clouds and SkyMall suffered because of it.

No matter what happened to make SkyMall fail, I’m going to miss having the option of ordering something random while on a plane.

RIP.

Credit: https://flic.kr/p/6p5vRy

Anastasia and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Some days suck.  That’s just how it is.  Sometimes you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and it’s all downhill from there.  Maybe you have an overwhelming amount of homework, step in water while wearing socks, or get in a fight with your very best friend.  Maybe all of the above.  Regardless, some days just don’t go our way and all of a sudden, you’re in a terrible mood.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I’d consider myself a pretty happy person. Well, as long as I’m well-rested and fed, I’m a happy person.  I’ve already mentioned that I’m a planner, so I plan every part of my life out.  When things go in a way I didn’t predict or in a way I’m not prepared for, I get rattled.  I don’t always get really upset, but I did yesterday.  My plans shouldn’t be etched in stone because life is going to come and change things.

Because I very rarely have “stay in bed and wallow in sadness” days, I’m okay with having one.  Or two.  But I’m not going to make a habit of that so I’ve made a list of things to do next time I have the urge to stay in bed and watch television all day when I should actually be doing something worthwhile.

1.  Make coffee.

I love coffee.  It starts my day off in the right way and the caffeine doesn’t hurt either.

2.  Take a shower.

Showers have this great way of making me feel brand new, and that’s exactly what you need on a bad day.  Start fresh by jumping in the shower.

3. Sing along to your favorite song.

I try not to do this when my roommates are home (for obvious reasons) but sometimes you need to jam to Destiny’s Child or N*SYNC and forget about what’s bothering you.  I use driving around as an excuse to sing at the top of my lungs to every song playing.  It’s therapeutic.

4.  Call my mom.

Since I’ve been known to make a mountain out of a molehill, my mom’s great at bringing me back to reality.  For you, maybe that person is your best friend, your sibling or a significant other.  Either way, it helps me to talk to someone about what’s bothering me.

5.  Exercise.

Like the great Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”  Ignore the part about killing husbands because I don’t have a husband to kill, but she’s right.  Working out makes you feel good and look good.

6.  Eat chocolate.

Maybe don’t eat chocolate right after working out, but do something that makes you happy.  I’m not saying eat your weight in chocolate because that won’t help anything, but it’s okay to indulge every now and then.

7.  Realize that it’s a bad day, not a bad life.

This is a tough one for the queen of dramatics, but put things into perspective.  Will this matter tomorrow, next month or next year?  Chances are, it won’t.  Try to look at the grand scheme of things and realize that it’s a speed bump.

While I play catch-up on homework I didn’t do yesterday, I’m going to remember this list for when the next bad day comes my way.

Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Dove_III.jpg

“Love your curls”


While mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook timeline the other day, I stumbled upon a friend’s status update that shared the link to Dove Hair’s “Love Your Curls” commercial. I’ve shared the video below.

At 2 minutes and 45 seconds, the video is much longer than a traditional, for television advertisement, but it is still—at its core—an advertisement. It doesn’t come out and say that Dove Hair products will make your hair shinier, your curls bouncier and your love for those curls grow. This being said, this heart-warming video is still attached to a brand: Dove.

Aside from the fact that the video made my eyes water for emotional purposes, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I wouldn’t see this entire version in the places I normally see ads.

The video is much longer than the usual 30-second or 1 minute long ad spaces we see on televisions, which made me realize that it wasn’t created for where we expect to see ads.

Campaigns with longer videos are put on YouTube so that people can see a more developed and elaborate message. This can be done by making a long advertisement and running a shortened, 30-second version of it on television but posting the original video online. Though I don’t think running shortened versions of these advertisements will ever stop, I predict that many companies will, too, share longer campaigns on YouTube.

Personally, I think this is genius. It’s very rare that I can connect with a commercial enough that I almost cry. I won’t say it’s never happened because I’m sure I’ve gotten emotional once or twice to a 30-second ad, but that’s not normal for me.

Longer campaigns or adverstiesments that are posted online, however, are more effective in pulling my heartstrings.

For example, look at the “Like a Girl” campaign done by Always.

At 3 minute and 18 seconds, this campaign is much longer than the slots made for television on a normal day. I’ve seen shorter portions of this ad on television, but it wasn’t nearly as effective in its shorter length than in its entirety. To be honest, I thought the ad was a good idea, but I didn’t think about after the 30 seconds were up. After I saw the whole video, I had a much different reaction.

I think this is—or should be—the future of advertisements. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want advertisers to abandon the television ads, but these developed campaigns posted directly to YouTube are much more effective in getting the intended message across.

Reacting to the love your curls ad, I loved it. I think Dove hit the nail on the head about curly hair and young Anastasia would have probably said similar things about hating her curly hair.

I even caught myself saying to my mom a few weeks ago about how it’s so much easier to “get pretty” when my hair is pretty. And by pretty, I meant straight. My mom shook her head, also full of curly hair, in disagreement to the statement but it wasn’t until later in the night that I realized how wrong that was.

I very rarely straighten my hair, so why not love the hair I have in between the straightness? I’ve definitely come a long way from hating my hair, but I still have a while to go.  My curls are really tight (and they’re looser than they used to be because I get my hair relaxed—I’ll get into that another day) and some people pay for this. I get it for free!

In fact, I’ve been making an effort to wear my hair half-up, half-down to class because it’s not hard to do and why not?

I’ll keep you posted on how long I wear my hair down, and if I stumbled upon another ad that’s longer than traditional that pulls on my heartstrings.

Credit: https://flic.kr/p/mUnBU

Thankful for Dr. King


Every year on the third Monday in January, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a federal holiday. The day without school or work is often filled with parades in his name or philanthropic events to carry on his legacy. Many share his quotes as inspiration, post pictures of racially diverse groups, and offer anecdotes of how Dr. King has impacted our country.

Yes, I’ve shared some of his quotes that I find powerful and I’ve gone to parades, but it shouldn’t take a national holiday to remind me to be thankful for what he worked so hard for.

For starters, I’m a child of a mixed-race family: my mother is white and my father is black. Growing up, I didn’t realize that my parents were from different races. I did, however, know that we were different colors. “Daddy is brown, mommy is yellow and I’m yellow,” my mom remembers me proudly stating when naming the colors of things around me.

I never woke up one morning realizing that my family was different. My life wasn’t shattered when the concept of different races really sank in with me. Even to this day, I don’t think my family is any different than any of my friends—well, at least based on race (we certainly put the fun in dysfunctional, if you know what I mean).

This wouldn’t have been the case if I had been born in the Jim Crow south. I would have known that my family was different. Not just different, but wrong. My family would have been wrong. Thanks to Dr. King— among others— this isn’t the case.

Today we honor Dr. King by attending parades and listening to speeches about equality, but the real way to carry on the legacy he started is by how we live every single day.

We honor Dr. King by looking past the color of someone’s skin to see the substance inside of him.

We honor him removing prejudices from our minds.

We honor him by removing hate from our hearts.

That being said, I challenge myself to use race as an identifier unless necessary for the story. No longer will I say, “Today walking to class, I helped an Asian woman find Carroll Hall.” The race of the woman has no effect on my story, so I won’t include it.

I challenge myself to keep phrases like, “He’s cute for a black boy” out of my repertoire, and to encourage others to do the same, because though they may have positive intentions, the phrase sounds negative.

I agree with the 2-year-old version of myself. We’re all different colors, but beyond that, we’re the same. Let’s try to remember that between today and January 18, 2016.

I’m thankful for you, Dr. King.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963 on the March on Washington.

Credit: https://flic.kr/p/omphtm

Going with the flow


There are some people who schedule every little part of their lives, always on a schedule.  There are also people that see where life takes them and go along for the ride.  Though I’m not necessarily proud of it, I fit into the first category.

I make to-do lists all day long.  On my to-do lists, I have reminders to update my to-do list.  I color coordinate classes in my agenda and have a system dictating what color pen is used to write certain types of activities.  I schedule every moment of my day– down to if, and when, I can take a nap and when I’ll eat, literally– when I’m overwhelmed.  I’ve even gotten pretty rattled when a friend of mine took my agenda and added her birthday to my agenda.  It’s not that I don’t care about her birthday, that’s not the point– I like order.

Before you start thinking I’m a not fun, tightly-wound control freak, let me explain.

I like getting things done.  And not just getting it done to check an item off of my to-do list, I like getting things done and doing them well.  My mom has always told me “If you’re going to do something, don’t half-ass it.”  I can’t say I’ve always followed this advice, but if I’m going to do something, I’m going to try to do it well.

That’s why I have to-do lists on my computer, in my agenda, on my phone and written on anything I can get my hands on.  When I’m doing homework, taking a shower or even when I’m driving, I’ll think of something to go on a list (a big thank you to my little sister Alexis for always being willing to write down my ramblings as I drive.  You the real MVP, Lex).

Okay, maybe I am a little tightly wound.  Hi, my name is Anastasia and I’m a tightly-wound person.  Admitting it is the first step, right?  I’m not sure what comes next in the 12-step program, but I’m going to change it up a little.

I’m going to stop.  I’m going to let things happen without scheduling every moment of every day.  I’m going to enjoy what’s happening around me, rather than focusing on what’s due tomorrow or next week for some class that won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Enjoying my last semester of college– now that matters.  Spending time with the people I love– that matters.

I know all of these things: it’s not like I had an epiphany this morning.  I made a poster for my wall this summer that says “Do more of what makes you happy” so I’m aware I need to let loose a little more.  I’m just going to make the change now.  I’m not abandoning my love of to-do lists, but I’m going to leave parts of my life unscheduled.  I’m going to go with the flow.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Wish me luck!

Credit: https://flic.kr/p/fiqyhS

Using Facebook for good


Back in 2010, I used Facebook significantly more than any other social media platform. I made statuses, posted pictures, wrote notes, liked everything my friends posted, and wrote on my friends’ walls more than I should have. Today, I barely use Facebook. I still get on and look at pictures my friends post and, whenever I get around to it, I post pictures of what I’ve been up to. Beyond looking at my newsfeed and the occasional Facebook-stalking session, I don’t use it for anything meaningful.

Though I’m no longer a Facebook-enthusiast, the site is still experiencing success. Facebook Newsroom reports that there were 1.35 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2014. That’s an incredibly large number considering the world’s population is more than 7 billion people.

Many have realized that Facebook offers businesses a great opportunity to reach a large group of people, and advertising is used in many places in the site. As a user myself, I’m not a fan of sponsored content, or ads that line the sidebar of the page though they benefit businesses.

Facebook is partnering with an organization that I expect will garner a different reaction than when one sees an advertisement. Facebook has joined forces with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The NCMEC sends Amber Alerts to law enforcement, news sources, transportation agencies, and now to cell phone users through the Wireless Emergency Alerts program, when a child has been abducted. The Department of Justice’s Amber Alert program describes the goal of an Amber Alert as “to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.”

This program developed with Facebook and the NCMEC will post Amber Alerts to the newsfeeds of users on both desktop and mobile versions of the site, targeting those near the search area. All Facebook users will be automatically enrolled in the program and do not have the option to opt-out of the alerts.  It went live yesterday, January 13.

I think this program is genius. Why not take advantage of this massive network of people who log in almost every day to help save the lives of missing children? A better question is, why haven’t we done it until now?

By placing the Amber Alerts on the newsfeeds of people in the area the search is taking place in, it increases the chances that someone will have a valuable piece of information to help find the missing child. Using this technology and reaching so many people at once, and being able to update them throughout the process, wasn’t possible 50, or even 20, years ago.

I can’t say I look forward to getting an Amber Alert (for obvious reasons), but I imagine I’ll see one sooner rather than later and at some point, I’ll forget there was a time we didn’t see them on Facebook. But until that day happens, I’m excited about this partnership. I hope it can help bring more children home safely.

Credit: http://files1.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_319/3190355/file/newspaper-news-and-opinions-small-17797.jpg

Blurred boundaries

In addition to the introspective blog posts that will end up here this semester, there will also be posts that cover the media and how it affects the world around us, and me specifically.  I’m required to blog for another class, as well.  John Robinson’s class is entitled ‘Current Issues in Mass Media’ and will discuss (you guessed it) current issues in mass media.  This class is also in UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and will push us to observe media developments and see how journalism is evolving.  The blog posts my classmates and I write will be compiled at www.rebelmouse.com/smj240/ so feel free to check it out from time to time, or subscribe to learn a little bit from us.

As many of my friends know, I’m a skeptic when it comes to believing what people tell me they “read in a news article” because, let’s be honest, anyone can get published on the internet (I’m living proof of this).  I always ask what source the information is coming from because it’s unlikely that I’m going to trust data from NewzInfoHereYall.com opposed to a source that has proven itself to be credible.

Even when I’m reading the news myself, browsing Twitter and Facebook or glancing at Google News, I pay attention to the source the information is coming from.  I probably credit this practice to being in a journalism school: I appreciate quality journalism and despite poor journalism because I have learned the difference between the two.

I enjoy reading The New York Times and I’ve noticed that I tend to trust the information more if it’s coming from this publication.  I may need to proceed with caution with The New York Times from now on after reading this article by Margaret Sullivan, the public editor, also published in the New York Times.  The article addressed opinions being included in news stories, an issue that blurs the lines between commentary and news.

Sullivan included commentary from both readers and members of The Time’s editorial staff in the article, and both groups call for a separation.  Andrew Rosenthal works at The New York Times running the opinion-based content.  “I believe that an important line is crossed when first-person, clear opinion or advocacy make their way into the news pages, whether in print or online,” said Rosenthal.

The article went on to pose potential solutions to this issue: the articles could be required to stamp themselves either “News” or “Commentary” or including a logo to signal to readers that it belongs to an opinion-based section of the newspaper.

When reading a story I thought was news, I find it frustrating to find opinions packaged into the content, sometimes in more obvious ways than others.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate writers that write informally and colloquially, but unless I’ve specifically decided to read his or her opinion on a matter, I don’t want it buried in my news.

I hope some sort of solution can be reached at The New York Times, and across news sources everywhere.  The lines need to be drawn.