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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Do you know what VidCon is?

Is VidCon the Golden Globes for new media?

It sure seems to be and so much more. If you are an outsider of the new media and you are out of their demographics, VidCon does not ring any bell for you. Nevertheless, for video content creators (YouTubers, Snapchaters, Viners, etc) this thing is huge and growing at a fast pace.

VidCon is a conference of social media creators that just took place in Anaheim, California. It is a very serious, although not at all solemn, teenagers' conference. Video creators and their fans just met for three days in a huge convention center for the 7th year in a row.  Most of them post on YouTube, Snapchat, Vine, Beam, etc and continuously praise the platforms as being life changing. I would call them game changing.

So as to understand it better I followed the live feed broadcast on YouTube for the three days of the event, and I came up with a few conclusions for the uninitiated. Here they are:

1. There are various types of YouTubers and they organize by their guild: pranksters, beauty gurus, gamers, tech savvies, family and children, DIY, music performers, interior designers, vloggers, food, comic, travelers, LGBTs, to name a few. These guilds share a community of fans, rules, threads, a lingo and leaders. To entertain the community they organise meet-ups with fans, they do "colab" videos and they go to gatherings such as VidCon to meet in person.

2. All creators want is to branch out into different businesses or other creative endeavors, so that  they can better monetize their stardom. This is why the usual route for a video creator is to grow a steady community of followers and then develop a business (or several businesses), write a book, start an online course, produce or star in movies, go into mainstream media, etc.

3. There are a few of "industry" rules. One would be that video creators don't copy each other, they are "inspired" by each other. They look rather ordinary and that makes them extraordinary. This point might come across as sarcastic, but it is not. 90% of the social media famous video creators would not stand the slightest chance to make it in traditional media because they are either too common, not too fit or not too good looking, not smart or educated enough, not networked enough or not appropriate enough. On the other hand, in this youth led community, the more you are not like in the mainstream media, the better chances you stand at getting liked and followed. This is simply because these kids are relate-able, they are open about their problems and struggles and are willing to take all the "hateful" comments so as to create a community around them.

4. Their discussions are simple yet profound. While watching VidCon I never heard hard talk or professional discussions, neither questioning of the establishment, but rather a sort of  positivist existentialist talk about discrimination, struggling and growing up, hard work and being consistent, creativity and self expression. The atmosphere/vibe was enthusiastic, playful, energetic. Isn't that great?
5. Blue hair was in fashion at this year's VidCon. So watch out for your teenage relative hair!

6. Video creating on social media is hard work. Most of them might have not finished high school yet, but they sure know about cameras, lenses, lights, exposure, about video editing, about flying drones, SEO optimization, demographics, copyright and reading traffic stats. And this is on top of their ascribed turf which they have to master so as to be convincing. Tough job for a teenager, right?

The reason I am writing this post is to give you a glimpse in a world you might have not yet dived in, but your child, little brother, nephew or neighbor could be totally into. This gathering also fights the common understanding that the young generation is growing disconnected because of the development of the Internet, and their lack of real life social connections. From what I have witnessed, they all cherish the communities they've nurtured through the Internet. All in all, we have to stay in touch with the game changers so as to prepare for what is to come, right?

Let me know if you found this interesting. I might follow this up with a comparison between media and social media.
Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (6)

Hello there,

My last post was about the EU Referendum in Britain and my prognosis failed miserably. I must be Scottish at heart, as the result I predicted came close to the Scotland result.
Nevertheless, life goes on, within or outside of the EU. We spend roughly 3 to 5 hours on the Internet (at least this is what Google says) and we need interesting and useful places to go to. Therefore, I am here to propose this week's three "gems" found on the web. Today's theme is education. And not education in the strict sense of the word, but entertaining, high quality and spot on education

1.
CrashCourse is a YouTube channel consisting of 5 to 10 minutes lessons about various topics such as world history, science and philosophy. The channel is very useful if you are trying to sediment your knowledge or get familiar with complicated concepts in an easy and entertaining way. The Green brothers who developed this channel are really awesome and have various other projects that are equally interesting. You should check those out, too.
2.
Coursera - says it provides universal access to the world’s best education. It partners with top world universities such as Duke, Stanford or Tel Aviv University to offer access to a huge variety of online courses. The courses usually include video content as well as access to all the ascribed readings, and this in itself is a huge resource and privilege. I am currently enrolled in a big data course and I love it. Watch out that not all the courses are free. Usually the old ones are free of charge.

3.
Ted Ed - is my third pick. It is the younger sister site of the huge and transforming website called Ted.com and it focuses on education in 10 minutes clips on a various range of topics. The videos include animation, high quality videos and easy to understand content. Some of them have quizzes at the end making them applicable in formal education settings. It is a must if you want to start using your time online and learn or systematize your knowledge.
By the way, starting first of July they are launching the July challenge. If you sign up you will receive a video lesson followed by a short quiz every day in the month of July, so that you will learn 31 new things next months. I signed up here!
There are plenty other resources for learning online, depending on your interest or inclinations. Nevertheless, these are the choices that, from my perspective, are the least time consuming and the most entertaining of them all. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Please write back if you have other suggestions.

Have a great Tuesday and thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Britain's EU Referendum - 5 Less Obvious Social Media Conversations and a Prognosis

As a bachelor in Political Science and an avid admirer of the United Kingdom, I cannot shy away from discussing tomorrow's EU Referendum. That is why I am bringing you 5 conversations  related to it that I came across on social media. I will stay away from the main points and keep a closer eye to the "not so obvious" topics that came up:

1. The EU Referendum and booze  -
this association is for real and has been done several times and on several platforms. Basically, one of the arguments used by the "Remain" campaigners was that the Italian Prosecco wine would get more expensive because of the custom duties that would be imposed on it in the absence of the free market. As UK is the most important consumer of Prosecco (apart from Italy), campaigners invited UK citizens to vote remain for the sake of a good cheap Italian glass of wine if not for a higher cause ...

2. Second generation immigrants complaining about immigration -
Yes! It is a fact. After building solid lives on UK soil as immigrants themselves, they now want to vote to get out of the EU because opened borders will bring in more immigrants. Is it ironic, amusing or hypocritical of them? Well, none of the above. It is actually very pragmatic. Immigrants usually compete for lower wage jobs and for social benefits. Bringing in more immigrants would mean harsher competition and diminishing social benefits.

3.Drawing parallels with the US elections -
"Obama says to stay IN" while "Trump says to LEAVE the EU". Interestingly, campaigners have not used Hilary Clinton as an "IN" advocate but have tricked Obama in as he is highly popular in Britain.
Furthermore, some threads on Instagram take advantage of the physical resemblance between Boris Johnson, ex mayor of London and lead "LEAVE" campaigner and Donald Trump, trying to discredit the former by association and by portraying them both as radical and hasty decision makers.

4. Food conversation -
On the same note as the wine conversation, posters claiming "Remain" votes use word play to emphasize the supplementary costs on import goods such as the Romaine Lettuce ("romaine" = "remain") or the French Fromage ("Fromage not Farage "(Neil)).

5. Cat conversation - Could cats stay out of it? No, they could not. How would cats vote on tomorrow's referendum? Well one article says that they would vote to LEAVE and then refuse to go :-) There is a myriad of threads involving cats on the topic of EUReferendum and the #catsagainstBrexit hashtag has huge coverage on all platforms.
Media outlets such as the BBC and Forbes have also joined the conversation.

I am sure there are plenty out there I am not aware. this is what I could spot today on social media, I will make further updates if other noteworthy conversations do pop up.

Finally, I would dare a prognosis for tomorrow's vote based on the vibe I got from social media. The "Remain" campaign seems to be more articulate and data driven, while the "Leave" campaign seems to be that of the restless and nonconformists.

Results tomorrow: 65% Remain - 35% Leave.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments bellow or on our Facebook Page and Twitter account.
Happy Wednesday!

UPDATE: I am in dismay! Social media mislead me :)) Farewell Britain!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Three Gems of the Web - Every Tuesday (5)

Hi there,

Sorry I didn't post too much last week, but we were away in a very special place, and we have been running all day long to absorb as much as we could of the vibe of my favorite city in the world, London.
Nevertheless, I couldn't miss my series post. Every Tuesday I try to suggest you places on the web that I come across and find interesting, useful or amusing. Here are my picks for this week:

1. Overheard in New York -
we all know that New York is a world's cradle for innovation and creativity. This website is no exception. It started around the idea that New Yorkers would contribute to the site by submitting snippets of conversations they have heard around the city. It then became such a success that it spread across the globe and developed new versions of the first thread such as "Overheard in the Office" or "Overheard at the Beach". Go and have a look if you are in the mood for a little laugh and a lot of genuine absurd :))



2. ReWork
is a platform developed by Google aiming at sharing their acquired knowledge and practices regarding work, productivity, and all the things related to it. It offers step by step guides to achieving work related goals, access to videos and documents, a blog, access to a LinkedIn community and several case studies. It is worth checking if you are a manager or considering a management position in the future, or if you want to improve your work environment. So many good ideas!


3. Quora -
a social media platform that answers all of your questions.
Here is how Carl Logan, a top writer on Quora describes it "Ever wanted to know why the sky is blue? What are the best vacation spots within two hours drive of x? Want to help others in their pursuit of knowledge? Sure you could do a google search for a answer to your question "How do I meet members of the opposite sex?" ....you might fish around on the internet for hours without any success whilst Quora is like asking your Grandparent who will give you some advice and provide a funny anecdote of how they met their significant other during World War II. " 
Dive in, you can use your Facebook account!

Hope you like my three picks! If so, check the previous "Three Gems of the Web" posts here and here. Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

10 Ways in which Social Media Changed Us

1. We are not allowed to forget - the people we met or the instances we lived. Throughout our lives we meet huge numbers of people, most of them stay for a few days/weeks or months in our lives and then, they disappear. Or at least they should... Not if you add them to your social network. If they come in, bam!... they are here to stay.. for a long time. Moreover, even if you don't add them to your network, you get a friend suggestion, you see them comment on a friend's post, you see them in a picture, and all the memories come back. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I have a hint that we only have a threshold of people we can connect to and care about at a time.
2. Always thinking about reciprocity - we have to be very careful not to hurt the feelings of others when we decide to let them go and take them out of our network. If they figure they are out they can get offended, although we only want to keep our network simple and make it work best for our present circumstances. We also have to struggle with reciprocity in many other circumstances such as liking one's posts or saying happy birthday.
3. Our popularity is quantified and displayed - we now have a measure of our social success. Although it does not necessarily reflect our popularity, it is the first time in history that popularity is worn like an emblem on our social media account. Many go even further measuring people's worth by their follow-ship on Twitter or Instagram. Right? Surely not!
Popularity has thus become misunderstood, perceived as an end instead of a mean to do something meaningful and positive in our communities. Not to mention that popularity mistaken as the worth of individuals can take us to a myriad of wrong places. I will come back to this in a future post because this thing interests me quite a lot.
4. Humbleness in not trending -  Yes! Being humble is not a value that society appreciates and encourages, not through social media anyway, because, guess what, there are not many means to show humbleness through social media. Want to show off? Please do! You can show pictures, videos, rant all you want, criticize, shout, wear costumes, you name it. Want to be humble and do your thing well? Again, please do! But there is not a platform for you to showcase your example. You can display your achievements but the long hours of striving and hustling that got you there, remain in the darkness.
5. Emotions are torrential - sharing an emotional episode on social media, such as a wedding, birthday, professional achievement, will definitely burst your experience, but it will also make it last significantly less time, just like a torrential rain. As the social media hype ends, we tend to let go of the happiness and get back to our livelihoods, just like everybody else. Is this a good thing? I would dare to say it is not. The beauty of fulfillment is to make it linger as much as possible, with every time we share it to the people we love, every single one at a time.
6. We don't miss each other as much - I don't know whether it is just me, but I feel that this constant contentedness doesn't give us the space to miss other people the way we used to.
7. Suddenly, we all have a voice - though I think we should not. I think that earning one's voice is a necessary journey to take in everybody's life. Now, we have a tribune, we carry it around in our mobile phone and we make use of it whenever the opportunity comes: we are at the beach - we shout, we are taking an exam - we shout; we are wearing a flattering garment - we shout. Of course, not all of us do this. Discerning when to make use of our newly acquired voice requires experience, a healthy sense of appropriateness and a good deal of respect to the people in our community. Let's imagine one day in which all the people in social media would make efforts to share considerately and thoughtfully, making sure they take note of the necessities of others, how would it be?
8. We all chew the same information - we have the sensation that we are informed but it is actually hard to get away from social media and acquire information in  a systematic and methodical way. We read an article and suddenly we know a little on the subject and feel there is no need to go deeper because there is so much to apprehend. We feed our ever increasing curiosity by stopping at each catchy title and we have a false sensation of accomplishment. Nevertheless, there is little value in the information trending on social media, as it is generally meant to grab attention and it is less meant to educate and increase knowledge.
9. People who "do things" are becoming more remarkable than people who "know things"- knowledge is now at our fingertip so we stopped appreciating vast knowledge and intellectual vocation. Instead, we applaud people that actually do something with palpable result (be it painting, building a chair or surfing).
10. We never get bored - whenever we have an off time we have games, Netflix, YouTube, books, chatting or google on our screen usually standing an arm-length away. Boredom is not an option anymore, although boredom is a very useful psychological phase in which we sediment our experience and we  explore our emotions. Daydreaming, manifesting, planning, all happen whilst we are bored.

Hope you liked my 10 points. Please join the conversation and add to these ideas. I want to go deeper into each point in future posts. Would that interest you?

Say hello to us on Facebook at our Social Media Geek Page or on Twitter at @socialmgeek

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

"Three Gems from the Web" - Every Tuesday (4)

Hi there,

Today's "Three Gems from the Web" series is about people. Through this I want to underline that the Internet can be used to meet people and get inspired, not only to search for facts or information. Of course, most of the time, these meetings are not proper two-way interactions, although at some point, this can become true as well. Nevertheless, if you are on the look for models, inspiring and successful people that are willing to share their core ideas, the web is full of them.

Here are my picks. They are all women, they are all positive and they all know what they are talking about because they have put in the hours, day, months and years to master their professions.

1. Brene Brown: - is an author, researcher and storyteller. She speaks about vulnerability, shame, fear and overcoming them by embracing and not by dismissing them. Her presence on the web is discrete but engaging and powerful. You can find a lot about her activity on her website and follow her interview on the "30 Days of Genius" series I mentioned in last week's picks

2. Elisabeth Gilbert: - again, an author, and one that you probably know very well. She is the author of the bestseller "Eat, Pray, Love" but she is now again in the public eye because of her new book called "Big Magic - creative living without fear". I listened to her book on Audibles, it is narrated by Gilbert herself, and as a consequence, I feel her now as a close friend. She is so personable, sensitive, yet inspiring and strong, and her new topic is so close to my current obsessions that I had to include her. As a follow up to her book, she launched a series of podcasts that continue her conversation about creativity with people struggling with it. You can find them on SoundCloud or iTunes or on her website. And, by the way, one of her interviews on her podcast is with Brene Brown.

3. Marie Forleo: - is the host of MarieTV, entrepreneur and life coach. The reason I include her here is that she has inspired me with her joyful personality and positive attitude towards life. I've met her on her YouTube channel and then continued to watch her and meet her on various other platforms. Her content is about entrepreneurship and mainly addresses self-starters and small businesses. Her added value is sheer inspiration and great spot on advice.

Enjoy these three beautiful persons or whomever you decide to discover on the Internet!
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

How to stay safe on social media?




 
 Social media has become an integrated part of our lives as we are using it more and more for personal reasons but also for business reasons. It's not rare that we access social media from our personal devices but also from our business ones. And it isn't rare that we are accessing social media accounts at work, especially in areas like marketing, public relations.

Although many of you may think that the only thing worth protecting on social media is privacy, things are a little more complicated, as increasingly, people give privacy up willingly and consciously. According to 2013 Cisco Connected World Technology Report 91% of generation Y employees believe the "age of privacy" is over, and one third of them are not worried about their personal data being stored by private companies or government agencies, as they are willing to sacrifice personal information for socialization online. As a matter of fact, many generation Y employees globally said they feel more comfortable sharing personal information with online retail stores than with their own company IT departments.Indeed, we could easily presume, based on these findings, that the Y's are more likely to weaken the cyber security in corporate environments by their excessive sharing attitude.
 

As cyber security touches every topic related to technology and the attackers usually go where the masses are, social media seems to be the perfect place for hackers to get their job done. A lot of personal information is exchanged through social media. Moreover, we often use social media accounts to access other services, so peeping into your social media account might seem like a good opportunity for the attackers.

Even though the age of privacy might be over for some of us, although I don't entirely agree with this statement, cyber security on social media is much more than privacy, as I am trying to argue further on. Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report mentions that "the highest concentration of online security threats are on mass audience sites, including social media", while "online advertisements are 182 times more likely to deliver malicious content than pornography sites". Users spending time on social media are very likely to click links that come from trusted friends, from friends of the friends or just links that they see on their timelines/walls. According to an article on heimdalsecurity.com "because social media users usually trust their circles of online friends. [...] more than 600.000 Facebook accounts are compromised every single day!" Also, 1 in 10 social media users said they’ve been a victim of a cyber attack and the numbers are on the rise.

Therefore, I will try to be of use and present a useful classification of the types of attacks targeting social media and explain their potential impact on the user:

  1. Victim's manual sharing – this type of threat actually comes from a "friend" that just got infected and unknowingly posted on his friends' walls some malicious content (fake offers, intriguing videos, viruses etc.).
  2. Fake Offering – a scam used to invite users to join fake pages and presumably be rewarded with fake gifts. Joining usually requires giving up the credentials or sending an SMS to an overcharged number.
  3. Likejacking – users are tricked into clicking fake Like buttons that may install malware and further spread by posting malicious links on the victim's wall.
  4. Fake Apps – sometimes malicious content comes in the form of a fake app that appears to be integrated for use with a social network, but it's only used for harvesting personal data or infect devices with malware.
  5. Comment Jacking – the attacker tricks the user into submitting a comment about a link or site, which will then be posted to his/her wall.
  6. Phishing - an old technique brought to live by social media; an attempt to collect personal information through a fake post or tweet that impersonates a trustworthy entity.
  7. Social spam: unwanted content that can appear in many forms, including bulk messages, profanity, insults, hate speech, malicious links, fraudulent reviews, fake friends etc. 

Whatever the type of the attack, results are pretty much the same: your personal data are compromised, you are helping somebody promote some suspicious activities by sharing and liking, you get infected with other malware that can further compromise your computer/device. As you may notice in the graph on the left (source: Internet Security Threat Report, Internet Report Volume 21, April 2016) using the victim's social network for spreading the scam by manual sharing seems to be the preferred method for hackers.

What can you do to protect yourself from these types of attacks?

1. If you are an individual

  • Don't click on suspicious posts, especially when they contain links.
  • Always verify the source and whether or not the message might have been sent unwillingly.
  • Pay attention to what you post and upload, never post sensitive information.
  • Choose your friends with care and do not accept friend requests from people you do not know.
  • Protect your work environment and avoid reputation risk.
  • Protect your privacy online by permanently checking the privacy settings offered by the platforms. Here's a little tutorial on this: http://www.techlicious.com/tip/complete-guide-to-facebook-privacy-settings/
  • Always report abusive content as this will help you and others.
  • Always do some reading (of this blog for example) and be aware of the types of threats targeting different social media platforms.
  • Install anti malware solution that are capable of protecting you from social media threats.
Although many antivirus producers offer special social network modules, one of the main technical capabilities of such a solution should be to scan all links that are shared on your profile. Identifying phishing sites is also an important feature. Of course the solution must be non-intrusive and (computing) resource friendly. You can find a detailed review of the suitable solutions here.

2. If you are a company

  • Develop a social media policy and emphasize the importance of cyber security.
  • Regularly educate your employees through awareness programs.
  • Use cyber security solutions that are capable of protecting you from social media threats.
All in all, I would sum up by saying that defending your privacy is not enough to stay safe on social media. Stay skeptical and beware of the risks! Let us know if you found this post useful and if you want more posts like this.


References:

1) This article was edited using considerable input from Internet Security Threat Report, Internet Report Volume 21, April 2016.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (3)

Hello,

It is Tuesday, so I am bringing you other three gems from the web. This week's topic is creativity and innovation. They are three sites I like to visit often to read inspiring texts, see inspiring interviews and find inspiring ideas. If you are into creativity and innovation, I am sure you will like my suggestions.

1.
First pick is another YouTube Chanel, and I am suggesting it because it just released a series of interviews called "30 Days of Genius". The interviews are conducted by Chase Jarvis, a really inspiring individual himself, who talks to creative entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and believe me, he's got an impressive display of famous overachievers. I realy enjoyed it and it helped me discover people such as Brene Brown, Arianna Huffington or Elle Luna, on top of already famous Tim Ferris, Jared Leto or Sir Richard Branson. All the interviews are inspiring and fun to watch, you can acquire plenty of ideas and a nice creative spur. 

2.
The second choice for this week is www.brainpickings.org. It is a really useful and exciting website focused on books and artworks. They debunk meanings, they explain trends and artistry, they collate ideas, they basically give you already "digested" knowledge, easy to comprehend, easy to apprehend. Go and have a look, make use of the search engine to go straight to what you are interested in, or just browse and discover. You will become addicted! 



3.
Last, but definitely not least, is www.trendhunter.com. This is another place to dive in and lose yourself for hours and hours. But don't do that! This is a site founded by Jeremy Gutsche that gathers innovative ideas in almost every sector (fashion, tech, design, architecture, culture, business, etc) and then organizes them in sections and subsections and gives them ratings regarding freshness, popularity, activity and also describes demographics. So, if you are into innovation, in whatever sector, go on this site and search for your relevant field and see ideas close to yours and their ratings, or even subscribe your own idea. If not, go have a look at the latest innovations in whatever area you fancy (be it stationary, home decor or whatever). Hope you like it!

Let me know what you think of this week's three picks. I am sure you will enjoy them as much as I did. Have a nice Tuesday!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Bucharest Local Elections 2016 in social media

What does social media say about the Bucharest local elections on 05.06.2016?


Bucharest Local Elections - Twitter - The upper-left corner Gabriela Firea, Social Democratic Party, the upper-right corner Nicusor Dan, Save Bucharest Union, and the lower left quadrant Catalin Predoiu, National Liberal Party

In the picture above you can find a rather simple semantic analysis taken out of Twitter for the first three contenders to become the mayor of Bucharest, Romania's capital, in the 2016 elections. I will not go into too much detail on them but I would say they speak loudly of the campaign strategy of the three candidates. While Gabriela Firea focused excessively on visuals and Facebook contents, she also introduced topics that would appeal to the older female electorate such as religion, health, family. On the other hand, Nicusor Dan focused his campaign on himself and rallying his electorate for a good turnout. Last but not least, Catalin Predoiu focused his campaign on attacking the front runner (Gabriela Firea) and the allegedly corrupt PSD leaders. He also focused more on government than on local issues.  

All three candidates have a rather modest presence on Twitter, but fought quite tough on Facebook. 
Here is a short analysis of the strategies of the three candidates on Facebook

Catalin Predoiu, PNL - roughly 70 000 page likes. His hashtag of choice was #SolutiaSerioasa (#theserioussolution). His presence on social media was stiff and minimal. Most of the posts including his core hashtag were endorsements from party members and press releases. No personal photos, buttoned up, hardly any smiles.

Gabriela Firea, PSD - more than 400 000 page likes (gained a significant number of followers on election day, over 40 000). Her hashtag ‪#‎rezultatepentrubucure┼čteni (#resultsforBucharest). Her presence was aggressive and overarching. Pictures with children, biking, sweeping streets, visiting construction sites, book launch, religious ceremonies. Also, we could see several videos and professional photo-shoots, mostly outdoors, seemingly active, frequently blue figure-hugging outfits. 

Nicusor Dan - USB, little over 100 000 page likes, strange profile picture (weird blue hue) Personal photos, relaxed look, a variety of videos. Had a child born a few days before election day, far more text than the other two candidates, hardly any professional photo-shoot, significant number of shares and comments as opposed to the other two pages analyzed. No hashtag.

Last but not least, of the three candidates, only Gabriela Firea has an active Instagram account. 

I will let the others do the math, but I have a hint about who is going to win this election.




Thursday, 2 June 2016

Selfies

The selfie is viewed as being symptomatic of the negative influence social media has on our lives and our self-portrayed images. There is also no doubt that selfies trigger our curiosity because they are both ubiquitous and admittedly morally questionable. They are largely associated with young females searching for social approval but they can be observed on all walks of life, from president Obama and Pope Francis to Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. Most of us have taken a selfie, although we may, or may not have posted them on social media.

Apparently there are various types of selfies and some of them are more acceptable than others. Thus, group selfies are more acceptable than individual ones, female selfies are more customary than male selfies, outdoors are better than indoors, selfies “for a cause” or “with a purpose” are more acceptable than “show-off” persistent selfies.

There exists an incredible array of selfie genres that have emerged: belfie (bottom selfie), the relfie (relationship selfie), the helfie (hair selfie), the welfie (workout selfie) and the felfie (farmer selfie). Most commonly, selfies are made from rather strange angles, they are taken at an arm’s length so they implicitly cut out one of the arms of the author (if not both of them), they are rarely centered correctly and are most generally taken with a smartphone. Last, but not least, they have to be put out there to become selfies. If they are not shared, they are not selfies.  

Taking selfies is therefore a solitary endeavor that people presumably take up so as to take control over their self-portrayal. The increasingly advanced technology we have at our disposal in our mobile devices and the apps that come along with them, allow people to experiment, to take as many shots as they want and therefore to perfect their knowledge and skills of self-portrayal. Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons or meanings selfies could have for various people or circumstances. 

Here are ten types of selfies I came up with:

  1. The “experimenting” selfie – most commonly happening to women who have a good hair day and find themselves in a moment of loneliness or sheer boredom. They start taking pictures of themselves, use filters on Instagram or other feature enhancing apps, and, they come up with an unexpectedly good portrayal of themselves. Why not share it with others?
  2. The “naive” selfie – again, mainly young females fall for this type. They generally symbol a cry for attention and validation. And indeed, young people tend to define themselves based on the opinion of their peers.
  3. The "status-quo" selfie -  is the selfie that adds up to the already constructed social media persona. In this case we are generally dealing with people who benefit or work towards building a social media branding for themselves. They might have any kind of public interest or notoriety, and selfies are a handy way to consolidate their construed image . 
  4. The selfie "with a story" - People generally like self-taken shots as long as they have a compelling story behind it. Either that the story is told through the selfie itself or aside from the selfie, it has to be there to gain viewership. Needless to say that some of the stories are more legitimate than others, but there is nothing worse than seeing self-loading persistent posts of someone’s selfies. In conclusion, what we blame are not selfies themselves but the lack of a meaningful story to accompany it.
    Cindy Crowford in the social media campaign No Makeup 
  5. The "artful" selfie - there is a myriad of artists that have taken the selfie to another level, and I am not talking only of photographers. Take for example the @mirrorsme Instagram account where an attractive blond female successfully publishes mirror selfies, but makes them interesting by drawing doodles on her mirror. 
  6. The "collective" selfie - is not as disregarded as individual selfies, and some argue it is only taking advantage of front cameras on mobile phones. There is no reason to leave one person out of the frame, right?
  7. The "event" selfie - generally taken in public places, crowded. They have to be cool events, cool spaces and they stand testimony for someone being there and fitting in.
  8. The "humorous" selfies - there are plenty of goofy and humorous selfies out there.
    People might use add-ons or context to become humorous and because they are playful they generally receive positive feedback. The main issue is for the person to appear consistent with the goofiness of the image.
  9.  The "adventurous" selfie - reportedly people have lost lives trying to take spectacular selfies, but they do it anyway. Apparently, virality on social media is the new opium. 
  10. The "scenery" selfie - many pictures of beautiful natural or anthropic scenery have a face or two sticking out. That is because most people prefer to look at photography that includes people, rather than still nature. It is also a way of authenticating the natural occurrence of the backdrop; meaning, if we are in the picture we have witnessed this impressive scenery, so it is authentic. 

I am sure there are plenty other types of selfies. What do you think? Is selfie a bad thing after all? I will try to expand on this in another post.