Oct 15

Go Away, Social Media Experts

For what seems like the 95th time this year [Editor’s Note: Only 44 times.] there has been a school shooting in America, and news is breaking fast and furious on Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, we learn about these tragedies faster than we did even five years ago.

I’m not saying it’s bad or good. I’m just saying that we do.

As details emerge, so do the tweets, shared by either a respected journalist or a random person sitting at their Mac. We are so quick to share that we don’t have time to confirm what we are tweeting is true.

Soon enough, our timelines are inundated with more information than we could possibly sift through.

But while individuals are struggling to keep up, there are always outliers who either haven’t heard the news and continue to tweet on their merry way, or have scheduled tweets to run at the worst possibly time.

Thankfully, Twitter is also full of the Twitter Police who are quick to tell those people and brands who have scheduled tweets to STOP. And, really, what would we do without these Good Samaritans?

But, honestly? I could give a shit what a brand tweets on Twitter when a crisis is developing.

As a father with two small children, I’m much more worried about their well-being when I’m not with them than I am about yelling at a brand to turn off their scheduled tweets. Even if the aforementioned tragedy does not affect me, it still affects me, you know?

And if Marshall Field’s scheduled a tweet for a Back To School sale to run at the same time? Well, it really doesn’t matter to me.

If the company wants to be tone-deaf to what’s happening around them, that’s fine. I’m not going to spend my energy getting mad at them. If they can’t properly manage their social media staff to pay attention to current events, then they’re probably not long for social media anyway.

Yet, the “experts” are still going to come out in full force to yell at them, which is ironic, because these same people are using a national tragedy to show off just how smart they are.

When tragedy hits, we’ve been told to clear all communications channels so authorities can communicate unobstructed and share valuable information.

Maybe we need the same rule for Twitter.

Sep 15

10 Instagram Accounts You Should Follow

The Instagram app is one app I don’t imagine I’m going to delete off of my phone any time soon.

With its popularity continuing to rise, the amount of breathtaking photography that will continue to roll through my stream will likely get better before it gets worse, especially now that it’s easier to share landscape images & videos. No longer restricted to a stringent box, the way these pictures look is bound to get easier on the eyes with more options for formatting.

It’s one of my favorite apps to use on a regular basis. Hell, even the sponsored ads are nice to look at.

Are you a fellow Instagrammer? Here are 10 Instagram accounts I think you should follow to get the most out of your Instagram experience.


Visual Contrabrand is the Instagram account of a freelance photographer in Houston, Texas who pushes the limits when it comes to his photography.

Sure, he posts pictures of half-naked women, too, but sometimes he takes a picture of a city from above while his feet dangle off the top of a thousand-foot building.


This is the Instagram account of Geoff Livingston, a marketer, writer and photographer who I have followed online since the dawn of social media.

I didn’t associate his personal brand with photography until I stumbled across his Instagram account. It’s full of sunsets, bodies of water, and other pictures of things that make you happy to be alive.


The premise is simple: Taren takes a picture of the latest book she’s read (usually on a background that contrasts nicely with the colors of the book cover) and posts a brief review on her page. It’s a visually compelling account, but it’s also a good place to go if you need a book recommendation.


Who knew West Virginia was so beautiful? The person who runs this Instagram account, that’s who. West Virginia shares a lot of similarities with Pennsylvania, a state I spent a lot of time in growing up. Maybe that’s why I like this account. You will, too, if you give it a follow.


This is one of those accounts I can show my kids when I’m scrolling through my feed because it shows off the best parts of the Detroit Zoo. As the official account, it gives a daily dose of Vitamin Z that makes you want to shut down your phone and make your way to the zoo.


This Detroit-based explorer is sharing some of the coolest shots of the Motor City, usually from unique viewpoints. While the city continues to be the darling of American cities everywhere, Cadillac_Flatts backs it up with images that jump off your iPhone screen.


I don’t watch the Smithsonian Channel. In fact, I’m not sure I even get it on my cable system. But that doesn’t really matter when I can peruse their Instagram feed. I don’t need to watch the content if I can just see the behind-the-scenes pictures from upcoming episodes. I’ll let my brain fill in the rest.


Yep, that TSA. The official Instagram account of the Transportation Security Administration is made up mostly of images of confiscated items passengers tried to bring on-board an airplane. You won’t believe what we they find.


This is probably my favorite of the bunch. Adam is a pilot who takes amazing aerial photography of the United States. I first encountered his work when he did some work for GE and I haven’t been able to look away since.


I first became aware of Kevin Dugan (the man behind the account) through his Bad Pitch Blog – a blog I never wanted to be featured on. A few years later, I realized he’s exploring Cincinnati with his phone and a camera, and the results are pretty spectacular. I’m a big fan of Midwest cities, and this certainly fits the bill.

Sep 15

Donald Trump and the Mainstreamification of Misinformation


Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to spread information.

When my kids are old enough to do book reports, and I regale them with stories of a time when I used to go to the library to research the topic in actual books, I will seem downright archaic (If I haven’t already).

But with this onslaught of information comes the challenge of wading through it to find what is accurate and what isn’t.

It’s somewhat ironic that even though it’s never been easier to find information, there has never been a time when more misinformation has been spread so quickly.

Either because we, as a society, are too lazy to do the research necessary to find out what’s true and what isn’t, or because we’re afraid that the the truth will go against our beliefs, we’re content to spread this bad information to our friends and family as easily as the click of a button.

Until now, though, this epidemic was confined to our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Rarely did anyone stand up in public and spout information that was clearly wrong. That is, until someone stood up in public and spouted information that was clearly wrong.

At an event in New Hampshire last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump (have you heard of him?) took a question from a member of the audience.

Here is how the Washington Post described the question:

What followed were a series of remarkable statements made loudly and clearly into a microphone. America has a problem: Muslims. President Obama is a Muslim. There are terrorist training camps operating inside the United States. When are we going to do something about that?

Even though this statement has been confirmed as false many, many times, this man is still operating under the belief that it’s true.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s response did nothing to sway this man’s thinking. If anything, Trump acted a lot like that family member of yours who shares articles on Facebook that have no factual backing by nodding his head and seemingly agreeing with this person. Even if that’s not accurate, at the very least, he didn’t disagree. A classic case of agreement by not disagreeing, I guess.

While most of us sit and wait for Donald Trump’s presidential dreams to crash and burn, the more time he spends in the spotlight, the more he lends credence to anything he has said in the past that is false. (We all remember how he fought to have President Obama release his birth certificate, right?) And as we’ve come to find out, a lot of people think the way he does.

He has become, whether intentional or not, the hero of the misinformed. And he’s using it to stay in the race.

From my perspective, as someone who deals in truths, this is scary shit.

I’ve railed in the past against people who have posted images to their social channels that are false, and I’ve had to bear the brunt of their retorts. But I stand by my conviction that we should do our due diligence before sharing with our community. At the very least, it’s a responsibility we all share.

But aside from having our very own Snopes.com representatives with us at all times, it’s imperative that we ensure that what we are sharing is accurate, no matter how innocent we think it is.

We might not be running for president, but bad information can lead to very bad things.

Sep 15

Maybe Work Is Enough


It seems like everyone has a side hustle these days.

No longer is it okay to go to work, put in eight hours, and come home to spend the rest of your day with your family, followed, perhaps, by a few hours of mindless entertainment in front of the boob tube before calling it a day.

Now, it seems, the world looks down upon you if you’re not getting the most out of your self; maximizing every single minute of the day that you spend on earth. It’s like, we all have creative endeavors bouncing around in our heads, but we must pursue them lest we live a life that has not been fully realized.

The idea of work is so ingrained in us — in our species — that it’s now part of our regular output as human beings.

It’s just what we do.

But now we have to go above and beyond to feel like we are making a difference; making our days count. To supplement our incomes.

What if it’s okay to work all day, come home, crack open a beer, and put your feet up?

Those precious hours spent outside of work should be spent however we please, not under pressure to perform to the level of everyone else’s expectations.

We put in a full day, five days a week, so that we can rest.

Maybe our work is enough.


Sep 15

How I Learned To Stop Hating And Love The Facebook


I used to hate Facebook.

Well, first I loved it. Those first few months after I created an account were magical, at least from a social media perspective.

I re-connected with people who I thought I would never see again, let alone talk to. They were friends I grew up with, went to school with, worked with.

It became a convenient way to stay in touch without having to see them in person, which was nice, because quite a few of them lived in other states.

Facebook was the ideal solution for personal interaction in a world where we spend a lot of time not interacting with people.  If you went a few weeks or months without seeing a friend, you could log into Facebook and immediately be brought up-to-date on what was happening in their life.

It was nice. It was easy.

But somewhere along the way, something changed, and the fact that all of this was so easy was probably the reason.

Facebook’s tentacles began to spread beyond its digital roots. I found myself having more and more conversations with people about what they had read on Facebook, as opposed to what they were actually doing.

“Did you see what so-and-so posted yesterday?” I would hear.

“I haven’t seen her house, but I saw the pictures posted on Facebook” others would say.

This tool that enabled us to stay in touch was now becoming the de facto way of staying in touch, and there was something very, very wrong about that.

So, in true blogger fashion, I started writing about Facebook. A lot.

And when I got fed up — I don’t remember the straw that broke the camel’s back — I deleted my account. And, again, in true blogger fashion, I wrote about why I deleted my Facebook account.

For four months, I was fine. Proud, even. I had managed to laugh in the face of the world’s largest social networking service.

One billion people could be wrong.

When I read about users complaining about a new site design or algorithm change, I smiled smugly to myself, secure in the fact that I had stuck it to the authority and didn’t have to waste my time worrying about trivial matters.

I was free and clear of all of that manufactured drama. I could now focus on the important matters in life.

But then it struck me that conversing with those long-lost friends and relatives was important.

I hear a lot of people talk about how they need their social networks to provide them some value in their life in order to keep coming back.

Facebook, at face value, seems to provide minimal value.

But, at least for me, when I started looking at it as an ongoing conversation among people who I know in real life (and a conversation where I don’t have to be professional 100 percent of the time) that was where I found the value.

Not real, professional value, mind you. But social value. A way to keep in touch with people who I can’t keep in touch regularly, for whatever reason. Or my friends, who I don’t see regularly because of, well, life.

As for those who complain? You’re going to encounter them anyway, regardless of whether or not they’re on your computer screen or sitting across from you at the dinner table.

Facebook is rightfully a target of scorn occasionally, but it does have some value, so I’m just going to use it, okay?