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#NoFilter

Since it’s the week after Spring Break, there are a surplus of pictures being uploaded to Facebook from the week prior.  This means that we constantly check Facebook eager to see the new pictures from everyone’s adventures whether or not they were in the same place as you.

I don’t have a waterproof phone case so I didn’t use my phone very much while I was in Jamaica.  The Wifi wasn’t stellar when we weren’t in our house either (and even then, it wasn’t always great) so the majority of the time I used my phone, it was in my house.  When we went to our pool, someone else’s pool, on a boat or to the beach, my phone was in a Ziploc bag to make sure it didn’t drown.  Yup, basically I was the coolest kid wherever I went.

That being said, whenever I got a picture of myself that a friend took of me, I had to edit it before Instagramming it or putting it on any other social media platform.  I would do this for pictures taken on my phone as well, but this step was just a little more evident to me when the pictures weren’t coming directly from my own phone.

What’s the big deal about unedited pictures anyways?

Well, it actually seems like a lot is wrong with it.  I’ve discussed this topic before: celebrities edit their photos and I expect that from them, but when brands heavily edit the models in their advertisements, I don’t enjoy that.  Aerie took a stand against this and stopped editing the models in all advertisements.

When pictures of Cindy Crawford were leaked showing her looking like a real person rather than an airbrushed flawless model, my classmate Caroline wrote about it.  She wasn’t shocked by this picture and liked that comments beneath the picture were supportive of her 50-year-old body.

When un-edited pictures of Beyonce were released, Mashable reported how the Beyhive (the army of Beyonce supporters) went crazy.

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**Disclaimer: I think that Beyonce is flawless and I haven’t been shy about saying that before.  That being said, I refuse to believe that those photos are real and that she doesn’t look perfect 24/7.  Half kidding.**

The above video is reference to what the Queen Bey looks like in L’Oréal ads so you can see the difference.

Some members of the Beyhive agree with me and refuse to believe that Beyonce doesn’t wake up *flawless*, post up *flawless*, ridin’ round in that *flawless*, flossing all on that *flawless*.

Okay, sorry I’ve gotten a little off topic… I’m watching Beyonce music videos now pretending that I’m her.  Ugh.  Why am I not Beyonce???

Sorry… back to the pictures.

Others used the leaked images as proof that images in the media are heavily edited and manipulated which, to some, is an issue.  I agree to a certain extent: I don’t think the images should be altered so much so that they don’t resemble the original.  In other words, even if your FB profile picture or Instagrams are perfect, we know what you look like in person.

Editing images to remove a blemish or adjust the colors and exposure of the image are fair game in my book.  If you erase part of your thigh to seem smaller like Target did, that’s not good (rumors say that Beyonce does this and I don’t have the heart to discuss that).

Though I still think that brands should steer away from manipulating images of their models, I think a slightly different standard exists for individuals.  I don’t care as much if Kim K makes her waistline slimmer because, well, it’s Kim Kardashian, a celebrity and I expect that from her.  It wouldn’t be as acceptable, or acceptable at all, if I made my waist much smaller than it is in real life.

But I’m going to continue using apps to make sure my pictures look great, but hopefully they still look like me in real life.

Hopefully.

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Snapchat, you’re rude

I’ve got a bone to pick with Snapchat.  I’ve written about Snapchat on multiple occasions, praising it for its innovativeness for introducing the Discover feature making this picture sharing application more news-y and, despite not being interested myself, I wrote how the introduction of a mini series on the platform was a great idea.

Still, Snapchat has turned on me.  And I’ll be bold enough to say that it’s turned on you, too.

Before I go into why I’m upset with a social media tool (Snapchat isn’t a person, FYI), I’ll explain how it, once again, Snapchat is being innovative and making the app more than where you send ugly pictures of yourself to your friends with the promise of the pictures disappearing in 10 seconds or less.

We’re used to My Stories, a feature where users can add images to show all of their Snapchat friends for 24 hours.  We’ve also seen many Our Stories, stories in which users in a certain location have the option of adding pictures to the story for everyone in that location (or in some cases, everyone that uses the app) can see for 24 hours.

Recently there has been a TGIF Snap Story every Friday (Thank God it’s Friday) with San Francisco, CA and places in Australia getting to add snaps to it.  I can view the story, but I cannot add.

There are actually two Our Stories happening right now: Los Angeles Life and St. Patrick’s Day.

The Los Angeles Life snap story starts with people going on a run with Manny Pacquiao.  Casual.  It continued with random snaps of people living in LA and then a man, who looked like he had just finished swimming, told viewers to go to Vice’s Snap page and see coverage of that man’s interview with President Obama.  So he wasn’t just a random swimming man: he’s a reporter.  There was even a Vice filter on that snap.

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I can’t go any further without addressing this.

I’ve never seen a brand-sponsored snap added to a Our Story before and I have mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I think this is a smart move for brands because a lot of people watch these snap stories so they’ll gain exposure quickly.  On the other hand, this makes these stories less authentic if brands are trying to sell you on their products.  Snapchat filters through all of the snaps sent to the Our Story and it ultimately decides what gets posted, so Snapchat knows that these brands are posting, and it’s approving it.  Is Snapchat getting a cut of the profits that Vice makes from the new visitors to the site?   Are these brands even making a profit?

I’ll have to keep my eye out for that and get back to you because I can’t find anything published about brands on My Stories.

The St. Patrick’s Day is what you would expect: beer and lots of green.

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Wait, I’ve gotten off track.  That’s not my point, but it’s relevant because it’s Snapchat.

What I was meaning to say was that Snapchat is going to use this feature for live sports broadcasting.  I’ve seen Our Stories for the BSC Championship game and for big rivalries in the SEC.  This isn’t new to me.

There was even an Our Story for the UNC vs. Dook basketball game held in the depths of Hell, uhh, I mean Cameron Indoor.

Rumors of a partnership between the NCAA and Snapchat open the door to the what these Our Stories could be: the stories could feature individual games (like Harvard vs. my boys in Blue on Thursday night), it could create the stories by rounds (Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, etc.) or it could create a story for each of the 4 regions of the bracket.

Regardless of how it’s handled, it highlights one of the reasons people are drawn to this app: Snapchat is what’s happening now.  Not last week, not a month ago, but right now.  The 24 hour stories are the least recent, or relevant, and the other content is new and rapidly changing.

The same can be said for the NCAA tournament.  There are always upsets (Lehigh > Dook and Mercer > Dook) and you can’t count anybody out.  The game of basketball is fast paced in general so this platform could work for it.

I’m anxious to see what comes out of this rumored partnership does for users.  Adding filters for users to add to their photographs could be a nice touch, but making it exclusively sponsored content like the Vice snap in the Los Angeles Life snap story won’t be a good move in my eyes.

Oh– I almost forgot to tell y’all why I’m feuding with Snapchat.  I’ll explain.

When UNC played at Cameron Indoor against Dook for the first time this season (remember? I wasn’t happy with how the game ended…), there was an Our Story entitled “Cameron Crazies.”  The vast majority of these snaps were of Dook students painting themselves in a gross shade of blue or camping out for the game.  In other words, it wasn’t fun to watch.

When UNC hosted Dook the Saturday that was almost perfect, a day you should definitely read about, there was no snap story.  None.

There should have been a UNC Tar Heels, or Roy’s Boys snap story at least.  But no, Snapchat, you let me down.

I don’t think I would be as upset if the first snap story was named something neutral, neither promoting the Devil or my Heels.  This, however, was not the case and Dook got a story named after them so we need one too!

During the first Dook game (when Dook had a snap story), I send angry videos to teamsnapchat in hopes that someone in a powerful position would see them and realize what a mistake they made.  No such thing happened.  Instead, Snapchat deleted proof that I sent them videos and ignored me.

Ugh.

Both games are done so I can’t do anything now, but this NCAA partnership could level the playing field for everyone to have a story when the game is held at home (at least for rivalry games).

Until that happens, I’ll use Snapchat to make annoyingly long, daily Snap Stories but will try my hardest to stop writing blogs about how great it is.  Wish me luck!

P.S.– Loving the filters for St. Patrick’s Day today, Snapchat.  I’m still mad at you though.

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No autographs, plz

I’m baaaaack! I’m sure everyone missed me but unfortunately, I can’t say I missed North Carolina.  Jamaica was beyond amazing and I’ve never had such an incredible trip before: an incredible house, incredible staff, incredible views, and even better friends all made the trip absolutely perfect.

But before I can get to that, I have to talk about something great that happened before my trip even started.  I’ll give you a hint: it involved UNC and Dook and an orange, round, bouncy ball.

If you guessed the UNC/ Dook basketball game, you’re correct!

Before Spring Break started, I blogged about my excitement for the game and for my trip to Jamaica, and at that point in time, I had a phase 2 ticket.  I wrote that I had given up my search for a phase 1 ticket and would be fine crying myself to sleep not ever standing in the risers for a game.

I’ll admit that I was lying about being okay about not standing in the risers: I was trying to convince myself that I would be fine but I wasn’t doing very well.

Luckily, I didn’t have to cry myself to sleep for that reason because there are great people in this world.  A friend of mine named Emily is one of those kind individuals.  Friday afternoon (almost a day after I had given up the search for a phase 1 ticket), I get a phone call from Emily.  She got a phase 1 ticket from the UNC Student Lottery and wanted to swap her phase 1 ticket for my phase 2.  She said she would rather go with friends in phase 2 than go alone in phase 1 and that she knew how much I wanted it so she’d rather me enjoy it.

When I heard her utter those words over the phone my heart skipped a beat, goosebumps covered my body in 1.5 seconds flat and I started jumping up and down while screaming.  In other words, I freaked out.

Even though I really wanted the chance to stand in the risers for the biggest rivalry in college sports, I was conflicted.  Emily is also a second-semester senior so why did I deserve this ticket more than she did?  I don’t.

I kept reminding her that she didn’t have to switch with me but she didn’t change her mind.  She’s an angel, y’all.

Now that I had acquired a phase 1 ticket, I started making plans with my friends with phase 1 tickets about the next morning: College GameDay.

Phase 1 and phase 2 tickets would be randomized at College GameDay so it didn’t matter how long people waited at the Dean Dome before that.  As long as we were in line with a numbered wristband on by 9:15 am, we would be randomized (and ahead of everyone else that didn’t participate in the randomization process).

We agreed to meet at 8:20 am and walk down to the Dean Dome together with plenty of time before the randomization ended.

I didn’t finish my laundry list of items to do that I blogged about until at least 10 pm Friday night so I only had a few hours to pack before I crashed.

Regardless of how little sleep I got the night before, I was ready to go on Saturday morning (with the help of a cup of coffee).

When we were finally let into the Dean Dome, I had some good luck again.  Someone working for the Carolina Athletic Association told us to go sit in section 104, a section that had 0 people in it at this point.  I ran all the way down to the floor and secured the first row of this section for me and my friends.

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As the morning progressed, we got free hats from State Farm and free tshirts from Carolina basketball. I don’t think I sat down for more than 5 minutes of the two hour production and danced around announcing that it was the best day of my life.

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UNC has a Snapchat account and my friends and I were filmed dancing with Rameses and put on its Snapchat Story.  This happened because I was dancing around the entire time (probably looking a little crazy) and they noticed us.

This lucky streak didn’t stop at that.  We were on television.  ESPN to be exact.

I can’t figure out how to attach the video but here’s a picture of our television debut.

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My friends and I would freak out every time we’d see each other on the big screen and would dance around like fools, but that’s okay.  We were having a great time.

After College GameDay finished taping, my friends and I started discussing our plan of action for the new hours before we had to be back at the Dean Dome for the big game.  We didn’t get very far when a man got my attention and asked if I could put my State Farm hat back on and come speak with him.  Confused, I obliged to this man’s requests because he was on the court so he had to be somewhat important.

He took me to a camera man and then explained that since I was so enthusiastic and (his words) a “super fan”, he wanted to interview me for ABC11’s coverage of the game.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

This seemingly perfect day kept getting better and better.  And now I would be on ESPN during College GameDay but I would be on the news too!

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My excited nerves were making me literally shake.  Not a cute shake either, I was convulsing out of excitement/ terror/ fear of making a fool out of myself on television.  I obviously looked a little ridiculous because the reporter told me to take a deep breath and try to calm down.

Uh, that’s easier said than done.

I took a deep breath and answered all of his questions as best as I could.  I’m not 100% sure what I said but I do know that I talked a tiiiiiiny bit of trash about Jay Bilas and Jay Williams predicting a Dook victory.  They’re obviously bias because they went to school there and they’re partial to some hideous shade of blue.  I may or may not have said that if it weren’t for the rivalry between the two schools, they wouldn’t have a job.

Okay that logic isn’t the most sound but whatever, I blacked out from adrenaline and that made my almost nonexistent filter completely disappear.

You can watch my interview in the video on the top of this article: I appear at 3:30 and 4:30.

My friends and I left for a few hours to return to the Dean Dome at 3:30 pm for a 9 pm game.  We got let inside at 6:30 pm so we played cards and some games to pass the time.  When we finally got inside, we had seats in the risers (omg dream come true) and it didn’t even matter that our feet hurt and we had to fly out of RDU early the next morning.

I spotted Larry Fedora, UNC’s head football coach, at halftime and yelled “Hey! It’s Larry Fedora!” and he waved at me.  About 10 minutes later, someone said hey to me and said we should take a selfie.  ‘Who was it?’ you ask, take a guess.  Y’all, I kid you not, it was Larry Fedora.  He even tweeted the picture of us!!! Like what??????

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He was kind enough to take a selfie on my phone as well, which I promptly tweeted as well.

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He’s smiling a little bit more in this picture, so we’re best friends now.  Yup, I said it.  Larry Fedora and I are best friends.

This day was incredible.. but not perfect.  Unfortunately my Heels lost to the spawns of Satan– uh, I mean the Blue Devils– despite a great game.

The camera man from College GameDay came and found us again, but this time he wanted to film me about to cry at the end of the game.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  I won’t be the girl crying about a loss on television.  I just won’t.

They day didn’t end as I had anticipated (I talked trash on local nightly news, so I’d say I was confident in how I thought the game would end), but it exceeded my expectations in every other way.

Thank you again to Emily for opening the door to all of these great things: you rock, never change.

Since I’m famous now, I’d appreciate if everyone bowed when I walked in and gave me chocolate ice cream every few hours.  Deal? Deal.

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Jamaica or bust

Y’all I’m so excited!  I’m going to Jamaica for Spring Break with some of my best friends here at Carolina (along with about 100 other Tar Heels).

I’ve never done anything extravagant for spring break before so this is a first.  Freshman year I went to Myrtle Beach, S.C. with a few of my best friends from high school.  Sophomore year, I returned to Myrtle Beach, S.C. but with friends from UNC.  Junior year I went home to Charlotte and eventually rode the train to Greensboro, N.C. to watch UNC play (and lose) in the ACC Tournament.  I had a good time all three years doing something low-key and, quite honestly, inexpensive.

Below is are pictures of the house 13 girls and I are lucky enough to spend next week in.

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I’m honestly expecting Ashton Kutcher to pop out at the airport and tell us that we’ve been Punk’d because that is outrageous.

Truth be told, this trip is making me a little bit anxious because I’ve never been out of the country so this is all new to me.  I’m bad at packing and always seem to forget something (despite my obsessive lists) and I don’t want to forget something when leaving the good ol’ U-S-of-A.

Discussions of what my friends are packing, what the menu of the week should be, who’s going to be there and how close we are to arriving are blowing up my phone with texts.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited, but I can’t focus on that just yet.

What’s holding me back from obsessing over my packing list and day dreaming about the beach?  Everything.

Thanks to the snow messing up all of my academic schedules, this week has been Hell.

  • 1 food diary.
  • 1 food critical reflection to readings.
  • 3 blogs on happenings in the media.
  • 2 blogs about me.
  • 1 blog for my internship.
  • 1 take home test due Thursday at 12:15 pm.
  • 1 take home test due Thursday at midnight.
  • 1 quiz.

Throw in a few Greek Groove practices to the mix and that’s basically how my week has gone.

I’m done with almost everything.  Except for 1 blog about the media (keep an eye out for that, I’ll most likely discuss how we keep track of what happens in life because I’m obsessed with taking pictures and turns out, that may be hindering my memory……. you can subscribe on the sidebar or below this post, depending on how wide you have your window…… if you want to….. you should).  And except for 1 blog for my internship.

I’ve made todo lists on sticky notes on my computer, in my agenda, in the margins of my notes, on random pieces of paper around my room and in the notes section of my phone.  I discouraged myself from doing this in another blog post, but I seriously need to list everything or I’ll forget something.

Don’t worry, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am getting closer and closer to being free of things to do.  Then I’ll be able to focus on packing.

There’s another super important event standing between me and Jamaica: the rematch between UNC and Dook.  We cannot have a repeat of last game for more reasons than one.

I was lucky enough to get a Phase 2 ticket from UNC’s Student Lottery despite it hating me for every other game this year.  I’ve never stood in the risers for a basketball game and I’m judging myself.  This is an experience every Carolina student should experience at least once, yet I didn’t make time to.

Enter distraction #1: finding a Phase 1 ticket.

I’ve pleaded with random people on Facebook and begged friends to give me their tickets.  Unsuccessful.  I’ve even tried to find another ticket so that I could trade my 2 tickets to get a Phase 1 ticket.  Unsuccessful.  Being in the risers may not be in the stars for me and I have to accept it.  I’m not even 5 foot 2 so it probably wouldn’t be easy to see the game anyways, so I’m okay with it (…. no I’m not but I’m faking it until I make it).

Phase 2 tickets are going to be randomized just like Phase 1 so I’ll be going to College Game Day on Saturday morning bright and early, so look for me on TV!  I’ll be in the Dean Dome until at least noon then go home, nap, pack more and return back by 5 pm to wait until 7 to get into the building… for a game that starts at 9 pm.  It’s going to be beyond worth it, but leaving Chapel Hill at 7 the next morning won’t be fun.

It hasn’t quite hit me yet that this is the last regular season home game that I’ll ever attend as an undergraduate student here at UNC.  I’m constantly reminded by my daily countdown on my dontmakemeleaveunc Instagram (which, by the way, was a terrible and depressing idea, why did anyone let me do this???!!) but it doesn’t feel real.  It’s unreal, and quite frankly, terrifying.

I love Carolina.  I love everything about it, from tripping on bricks during my walk to class to the hard classes that deprive me of sleep.  The late Eve Carson said it better than I ever could:

“I love UNC. I love the quad in the spring and the arboretum in the fall. I love the Pit on a sunny day and Graham Memorial Lounge on a rainy one. I love Roy [Williams] all the time. But what makes UNC truly special is not our beautiful campus, our distinguished reputation or even our basketball team. It’s us—the student body—who make UNC what it is.”

I could read that any day of the week, at any time, and get chills.

I’m going to stop myself because I’m already a ball of emotions and I don’t need to be crying.

What I’m trying to say is that Saturday’s game against our rival, Dook, is yet another last in my career here and I’m going to enjoy every last second of it.  After the game is over and– knock on wood– we’ve secured a win, I can start thinking about Jamaica.

I’ll make a few more lists until that happens.

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Finally an emoji princess that looks like me!

The day is finally here!!! There is FINALLY a brunette princess emoji and here’s another exciting feature: there are multiple brunette princess and their skin tones range from light to dark.

In other words, I will finally be accurately represented by an emoji!  I think I’d consider myself the first brunette princess to the left of the blonde princess, but that’s not the point.

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Apple has diversified all of its emojis, not just the princess one, making it a better representation of the skin types that people have (other than the creepy yellow ones, no one looks like that… I don’t think).

Reports state that these new emojis will make a debut with the new versions of iOS and OS X.  These diverse emojis won’t all be listed side by side, these variations will be found if you select and hold an emoji.  This is the same tactic that is used to get versions of letters with accent marks on them.

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This is significant for more reasons than the princess emoji (though I still think that’s pretty great).  For one, it makes emojis more inclusive of the diversity in our country.  I always wondered why there wasn’t more diversity in emojis, but the emojis were popular in Asia before coming to Apple, not the United States.

There will be 300 new diverse emojis, including the faces and hands (so you can text with a thumbs-up that looks like your own hand).  There will also be 32 flags added to represent more countries as well as more emojis to represent same-sex relationships.

I think this is a great move for Apple to include diverse emojis for a few reasons: Apple has business in multiple countries and including icons that reflect its customers is a good move and adding diversity can’t hurt anyone.

If Apple had removed some emojis in order to make room for these new ones, I’m sure there would be controversy.  That wasn’t the case.  This move is becoming more inclusive of all people so I can’t imagine that there would be serious issues against this decision.

I actually ignored the comments section of the articles while writing this article (in light of my last blog post) so that I didn’t pick up on any opinions from those sections, so I’m not sure if anyone is up in arms about this move.

I’m happy about the change and I’ll definitely use some of the new emojis.

I’ve always identified the closest to the emoji below but I’ll have to switch my go-to emoji to the brunette princess.

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Undecided on comments

When I was in Introduction to Interactive Media, I had an assignment of building an website for myself that would house my portfolio and resume so that employers could see my online presence.

At this point in the class, I could code HTML and CSS well enough to get by, but WordPress uses PHP to code.  We weren’t going to learn PHP coding entirely, just how to find the HTML and CSS within the PHP, or in other words, we were going to be experimenting with our websites and trying to problem solve as best as we could.

I knew what I wanted to accomplish– remove the sidebar and make everything one column, make everything pink (I wonder if y’all could guess my favorite color) and remove the commenting features– but I wasn’t entirely sure how to do it.

Eventually I figured out how to remove the sidebar and make the main color pinkish red (rumor has it pink isn’t professional) and to remove the comments.

Or so I thought.

I created my site so that commenting on the posts and pages wasn’t an option, but it wasn’t until I started blogging regularly that I realized that it’s possible to comment on my homepage.

This isn’t that big of a deal, but people are posting comments.  Mainly spam comments with a few nice once mixed in, but comments nonetheless.

I knew that I didn’t want the commenting feature on my website before I even started creating it: I don’t like that someone’s thoughts can be on your site without your confirmation, and quite frankly, I don’t think the comment box is attractive.  I also don’t like the idea of giving someone an open shot at criticizing me.  On the other hand, allowing people the option to speak their minds and start a conversation is appealing to me– just not on my site.

My discussion about comments was prompted a few weeks ago after reading a creatively-written blog post by my classmate Dylan Howlett (I recommend reading it if you have a few minutes).  He went on to reference a New York Times column written by Anna North analyzing studies about online comments.  Turns out, certain words within the comments that appear beneath an article, even if only glanced at, are picked up by the reader and help influence his or her opinion.

Dylan went on to cite a study done by Washington State University that suggests that comments sway public opinion more than a public service announcement.  These comments are often unregulated and as long as you have a valid email address, you can post whatever you want.

Yes, I think the First Amendment is a great thing, but I think that because (almost) anyone has the ability to post on the internet, there are billions of things they can say including hateful things.

I don’t think that it is productive to have mindless, hateful comments posted beneath an article (as Dylan showed with fabricated users within his article) don’t help anything.  This is especially frustrating to me because if the study by Washington State University is correct, these comments are very influential on the minds of the viewers.

Here is another issue I have with this.  I know that comments can be written by people that want a rise out of people or those that want to stir the pot and I know that these people are likely not experts on whatever subject they’re referring to.  Everyone doesn’t know that.  I see proof of this all over Facebook when people post stories from satire sites like The Onion or stories from unreliable sources that are obviously hoaxes.

My classmate Nicole Siegel also blogged about comments pointing out that some sites, like the Washington Post, don’t allow comments at all and some sites, like the Charlotte Observer, require a user’s Facebook login in order to post.

I like the Charlotte Observer’s take because when the comments are attached to a name rather than a made-up username, the person has accountability for what they say.  Otherwise, the conversation can get out of hand with people posting comments about their conspiracy theories, hatred for people in power and other random things.

Okay, I’ve been beating around the bush, but I’m not a fan of comments.

Unless they’re genuinely contributing to the conversation (which I very seldom see because I can’t help but look at the comments section of some sites), I’m not a fan.  I think people should be able to think and say what they want, but I don’t think beneath an article is the place for that.

So if you want to be able to comment on my blogs, sorry about it.  I have my Twitter account on my website in multiple locations so instead, I invite you to tweet at me if you have any questions, comments or concerns.  My username is @anastasiabowden if you don’t want to look.

So while I try to figure out how to disable comments on my site altogether, see if you notice the comments under a news article or see if you have an opinion on comments.

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I’m talking about Facebook, again

Facebook has released a new feature so naturally I’m going to discuss it.  I’ve already discussed the somewhat morbid feature that authorizes a user to control your Facebook profile after you die.  I also discussed the partnership Facebook created with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) so that the platform can post Amber Alerts to users close to the affected area.

Facebook launched a feature this past week that is aimed at suicide prevention in a partnership with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  If one of your Facebook friends posts something that seems like its suicidal, you can report it to Facebook.  The post will then be reviewed by a third-party who will then decide whether or not to reach out to the user.

If the user needs to be contacted, they will be met with this popup.

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Only the user will see this popup and no one else will know that his or her post was flagged.  This is especially important because privacy is important, especially during a potentially difficult time.

The user will see this popup next.

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The user will have the option of seeking help from helplines or from a friend.  The user also has the option to skip this altogether, in the chance that they are not feeling suicidal.

I think this is a great move by Facebook because it’s tough watching people post worrisome things on Facebook and not feeling close enough to them to reach out.  I think the fact that the reporting feature is anonymous will encourage people to use it: the friend won’t see that you flagged his or her post so they can’t be upset with you.

About the launch of the new feature, Facebook Safety’s Facebook page had a post that said, “Besides encouraging them to connect with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings. All of these resources were created in conjunction with our clinical and academic partners.”

Since feature was created with experts in the medical field, I think that it’ll have the resources that those struggling will need.  Whether or not they will be willing to take the help is another issue in itself.

That being said, I think the success of the feature is dependent on whether or not users flag potentially suicidal posts and whether or not the users that really need help accept it.

If you see someone posting anything suicidal on Facebook, be sure to use this feature and help out a friend.

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/foto_db/12163234065/in/photolist-jwPKJa-8NxprY-8NuiNM-8Nxpqj-8NuiMg-c82ejh-8Gc7wk-bmsghX-5hbmCn-6uBeA-7ANv3i-dJ8DA8-6rGCWv-FLzNq-49teyP-3L7gCW-5yXTdW-2aQM9P-8yGvHY-8Gc7Ka-8yGvRb-8yGvpL-jwQWqg-BvnXr-BvnVq-BvnTP-53Yjr-8czJap-aPAcHH-7sKk1H-afzUgS-FLBck-jwRSJ7-FLCEz-FLyCf-3npxFZ-fSDF2T-fSEM8H-fSELsK-fSDDgu-fSEHHA-fSEJcc-fSF3rX-fSEEuo-7LK63w-mFZTS-fSF5v6-FLD4g-3YM1s3-5JSY39

Chocolate > privacy

There are very few things I wouldn’t do for a piece of chocolate.  I wouldn’t get anywhere near a spider, I wouldn’t give up my faves Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson from Law and Order: SVU, I wouldn’t throw my phone in water, but beyond that, I’m pretty much game.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s proof.

This past Tuesday in class, my professor John Robinson asked the class who would give him the password to their email account for a miniature Twix bar.  He had a piece of chocolate in his hand so I was already prepared to shoot my hand up into the air before he finished his sentence.

Once I heard what I’d have to give up, my hand went up.  Only a few other hands were raised and Mr. Robinson instructed me that I couldn’t delete anything and that I’d have to email him the password after I got the candy bar.  I agreed because, honestly, I don’t have anything to hide and if I do have stuff to hide, it’s not on my email.

After I happily ate my chocolate and did a little food dance, I sent an email to my professor with my UNC email and password.

A few of my classmates were hesitant to give up their passwords because they use the same password for multiple accounts.  I’m guilty of doing this, but my Carolina email is my ONYEN (only name you’ll ever need) and the password changes every 90 days.  That being said, I don’t use that password for anything else because it’ll change and I’ll forget about it.

Mr. Robinson asked the class if anyone would give him their Twitter password and sure enough, someone volunteered for a mini candy bar.

He then asked the class if anyone would email him their social security number for a mini candy bar.  The class was silent– well, almost.  A classmate of mine sent her SSN to our professor in an email for a piece of chocolate.

While we all discussed the reasons we did– or didn’t– give up our information, the issue of privacy was the main subject in everyone’s reasoning.  I don’t care about the privacy of my email, some people really care.

Ironically, we all read an article written by Dan Barker about how much information Buzzfeed records about its users through the many quizzes on the site.  Buzzfeed tracks what answers you choose in a quiz as well as tracking what answers you don’t select.  This may not be an issue if you’re taking a quiz about what character in Frozen you are or a quiz testing how well you remember the lyrics to Britney Spears’ songs, there’s nothing personal about the questions.

I got Olaf and obviously got a perfect score for Britney lyrics.  Is anyone surprised? No.

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Other quizzes ask more personal questions and it’s more intrusive when Buzzfeed records your answers.  Barker brings up the quiz “How Privileged Are You?”  Depending on what answers the user selects and doesn’t select, Buzzfeed could figure out many things about the person taking the quiz.

For example, if the person doesn’t select the choice “I have never had an eating disorder,” Buzzfeed can determine that the person once struggled with an eating disorder.  The same can be said for the answer choice “I have never taken medication for my mental health” or “My parents are heterosexual.”

These bits of information may be private to the individual and not realize that he or she is giving this information away.

I’m okay with this information being recorded in the same way that I’m okay with my cell phone service provider tracking my location and my internet provider tracking the sites I visit.

I don’t have anything to hide, I’m not doing anything illegal nor would I be upset if the government keeps track of what I do.  I have nothing to hide, and if I did, it’s probably a good thing that I’m being monitored so it could be handled.  In fact, I’d prefer that we’re constantly being tracked so that people that are dangerous and plotting to hurt others can be found and stopped.  Maybe that’s me being paranoid and dramatic, but it’s true.

Maybe now you understand a little bit better why I would give up my password for a 50 cent piece of candy.

Would you do the same?

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Breaking down the dress

Last night after stressing about a pretty ugly dress on the internet, I decided to let the world know that the dress was, in fact, white and gold.  You can read the post here.  I saw only the colors white and gold and no matter what I did to manipulate the photo, I couldn’t fathom how anyone could possibly see black and blue.  Below is said dress (but you can reference the original image in a Buzzfeed article).

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I think I’m losing my mind because when I attached this image I saw white and gold…. and now I see blue and black. SOS HELP

 

I analyzed the dress and talked with various people for an hour and a half then wrote the blog post, so upwards of two hours were spent on a picture of a dress.  In an effort to remove this dress from my mind (and get ready to hang out with friends), I took a shower and played Missy Elliot’s Pandora station.  I got ready and hiked in the snow to get to my friends’ house.  I wasn’t surprised to hear discussions of the dress when I got there, considering I had already spoken to a few of them about this conundrum.

I was staying strong about the fact that I saw gold and white when I looked at the image above, the images in the Buzzfeed article, the image on my phone and on my computer, images on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter then the unimaginable happened.

I saw blue and black.

Now this may not have been such a big deal if I hadn’t tried every trick in the book to make myself see those colors.  Nope, it happened when I was trying to prove my point to those blue-and-black-seers.

I legitimately thought that it was a fake picture and someone had altered the image to be black and blue but then I looked at my blog post (with an image I had previously seen white and gold) and I saw blue and black.

I immediately started screaming and threw my phone away from me (I’m not dramatic at all……..) letting everyone else know that I, too, had seen the blue and black.  As I write this post, I feel that same sense of panic because I attached the above image maybe 2 minutes ago and it was white and gold and now it’s blue and black.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

Sorry, I’ll go back to the moment I lost my mind.

After running across the room and trying to make sense of this as everyone laughs at me, I finally worked up the courage to look at my phone again.  Still, I saw blue and black.  I can’t compare this to any other experience I’ve ever had because it was as if reality had switched and that what I had previously seen as facts, were now false.  What else was I seeing wrong?  Have I lost my mind?  Why did I once see white and gold?  Why do I now see black and blue?

The chaos subsided after few moments until I started seeing white and gold again.

More than 12 hours later, I still don’t understand why this happened, nor do I understand why I was starting to see different versions of the image.

Yeah there are explanations on Yahoo! and Wired.com about how we perceive light and that the image is over exposed so we’re interpreting it as white and gold but once you adjust the colors in the image to make it less exposed, it’s a blue and black dress, or something like that.  Mashable even claims it knows where the dress can be purchased, but I’m still not convinced.  This is some sort of sorcery and aliens must exist.

Kidding.  I’m sure once I relax and forget about this dress, I’ll be able to see the validity in the explanations, but until then I’m still confused.

Alright, now that I’m done rambling about my own experiences with the dress, I think it’s important to look at why and how everyone is talking about this dress.

The post was already on Tumblr and had received a lot of attention, but when it was posted to Buzzfeed at 6:14 pm it was getting ready to go viral.

A friend of mine tweeted this link at 7:09 pm and I replied saying I saw white and gold at 7:13.  I have no proof of this considering I wasn’t on the journalistic hunt (shame on me) but the article had only 9 comments.  I puzzled at this optical illusion and sent it to a lot of people.  An hour and a half later when I decided to blog about it, I looked at the comments section of the Buzzfeed article again and it had 189 comments.  The top comment had hundreds of likes (you’re going to have to trust me on this) and it had only been a few hours.

Discussions of the dress were on Twitter happening between my friends, random anonymous Twitter accounts and even celebrities took to this platform to share their opinions (Justin Bieber thinks it’s blue and black and a friend of mine thought that Justin claiming it to be true made it the truth…… no).

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Instagram users hopped on the trend too.

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The last image is a play on Drake’s new album cover that’s written in that style reading “If you’re reading this it’s too late.”

Snapchat wasn’t left out of this and I saw videos of my friends in arguments about what color they thought the dress was.  Snapchat stories, including mine, were full of mentions of the dress and it was great.

It’s not like there’s a listserv for life that everyone gets when something cool happens, like Alert Carolinas or emails sent to members of an organization like a sorority listserv.  That didn’t happen here, so how did this become viral?

An article on Fast Code Design analyzed an interview of Gawker’s editor Neetzan Zimmerman on the Wall Street Journal as well as analysis from Wharton behavioral scholars.  The article attributes emotional content being a leading factor to whether or not something will go viral because emotions are contagious.

On the surface, the dress doesn’t seem like it’s emotionally charged but Mindy Kaling said it best:

Read the bottom tweet first then the top one because that's the order they were written.

Read the bottom tweet first then the top one because that’s the order they were written.

It doesn’t matter what two colors you see the dress as, you see it as the truth.  “Seeing is believing” is a popular phrase that many of us use to determine the validity of something but it works against us in this case.  When I could only see gold and white, I didn’t want people telling me that I was wrong or that I was doing something wrong and seeing those colors because of an error.  I was also trying to not tell others that they were wrong, because in the back of my head I knew that it was possible (other than when I thought everyone was in on some joke that I didn’t know and that it was a conspiracy).  Gold and white was my reality so it was my truth.

I was confused and stressed when trying to figure it out, so yes, emotions were most definitely involved.  A classmate of mine (that I won’t name) told me that she cried about the dress.  Yup, emotions are definitely involved in the dress.

When I saw black and blue after only seeing white and gold, I had a lot of emotions with confusion, panic and excitement being the most intense.

Whether you see blue and black or white and gold, you can probably agree with me that how quickly and how far it spread is incredible.

That being said, I don’t want to see that dress ever again because I’m losing my mind trying to figure out the truth.

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THIS DRESS IS WHITE AND GOLD

Y’all I’m distraught.  Before I can explain, follow the link below and decide what colors you think the dress is.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/catesish/help-am-i-going-insane-its-definitely-blue#.kaMXxeKEw

I see a white and gold dress and have no earthly idea how anyone could see anything different, especially not the color black.  I’ve been discussing this with my friends, family, pledge class, classmates, roommates and looking at tweets on Twitter and there are people that genuinely believe that the dress is black and blue.  For some reason I think that everyone saying black and blue is joking and in on some elaborate scheme to fool the world, but maybe they really see black and blue.

But again, THAT DRESS IS WHITE AND GOLD.

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I’ve turned up and down the brightness on my phone, looked on my computer, closed and opened the link upwards of 10 times, squinted my eyes, focused on the background of the picture, stared intensely at the dress, put my phone across the room and put the phone up close to my face.  Still white and gold.  My friends have even been putting images of the dress on their Snapchat stories and again, I see white and gold.  On Twitter, pictures of the dress appear and still, I see white and gold.

The friends of mine that see black and gold are flabbergasted that I see white and gold (I spoke about vocabularies and how they’re evolving, and I think flabbergasted is on its deathbed).  People are getting into legitimate arguments about what colors they think the dress is but I’m unwavering in what colors I see.  I’ve been told to squint and put the phone far away from my face but I’m not convinced.

I even tweeted at NASA asking for answers (not even joking) but they haven’t replied so we’ll see if they reply.

I’ve lost an hour of my life trying to understand this picture and I’m just as confused right now as I am now.  My sister read somewhere that it has to do with the rods and cones in our eyes but my friend said negative emotions make you see black and blue and if you’re feeling happy or content, you’ll see white and gold.

This reminds me of arguments I’ve had my entire life.  I see something one way and someone else sees it a completely different way.  Perception has a lot to do with how we go about our lives, and I truly believe that perception is reality meaning, what you perceive to be true is true for you.  It doesn’t make it true for the person next to you but it’s your truth.  My classmate Elyse blogged about this earlier in the semester and it rang true with me because I’ve heard it hundreds of times.

Whenever my sister and I get into arguments, we’ll both interpret the exact same event, phrase or action differently and we want the other one to understand how she is wrong.  My mom is normally the referee for these and she tries to make us understand that neither of us are wrong: we simply have differing interpretations of the same thing, meaning our perceptions are different.

This is difficult to grasp sometimes but it makes sense.  Maybe she took my comment as an insult and maybe I’m thinking about what she said too much.  That being said, it’s important to realize that just because you don’t see it the way someone else does, doesn’t make it any less true.  In the book Emotional Intelligence, it is said that empathy is a great indicator of emotional intelligence and I understand why.  You have the ability to understand what someone else is going through– or thinking– without experiencing it firsthand.

This lesson is a tough one and it isn’t the easiest thing to put into practice, but I know it to be true.

I think the dress situation is a little bit different because I’m sure the genetic makeup of our eyes has something to do with it, but maybe it has a little bit to do with perception.

But once again, the dress is white and gold!!!