09
Jan 15

That’s What He Read – First Edition of 2015

That's What He Read

That’s What He Read is a look back at five of my favorite articles from the past week. It covers all topics, but you’ll usually find the focus on writing, social media, and storytelling. I try to add some color to spice it up, but I usually fall flat on my face. Anyway, enjoy!

Mitch Albom Must Be The World’s Most Miserable Sports Fan (Awful Announcing) – If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I loathe Detroit Free Press sports columnist, Mitch Albom. The sad part is that he used to be my favorite sports writer. Now he’s like the old man who sits on his front porch and yells at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. Anyway, Ian Casselberry nails it in his description of how far Mr. Albom has fallen. I suggest you read it.

The Shameful Triumph of Football (The Atlantic) – Contrary to my tweets last Sunday during the Detroit Lions playoff loss, I’m not a big fan of the NFL. The league’s popularity has soared even during a season that has it’s fair share of controversy and negative PR for certain players. Tuning in each week tells the league everything’s fine, even when we tell ourselves it’s not, but we can’t tune out.

The 51 Greatest Articles on Writing I’ve Ever Read (Buffer) – Whether you’re a PR person, a novelist, a content marketer, or just someone looking to write better, you’ll surely find something in here that will capture your interest.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media (Medium) – I found this post to be quite insightful, even though it told me a few things I already suspected. Namely, teens hate Facebook, love Snapchat. But hearing why they love and hate certain channels was a peek inside the mind of most brand’s target demographic. Who needs million dollar research budgets when what we want is right in front of us.

Atlanta Hawks Host Tinder Night (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) – I would’ve expected a team like the Philadelphia 76ers or New York Knicks to host a Tinder night, not the Atlanta Hawks. Bad teams need to keep fans interested, but the product on the floor in Atlanta is good enough that fans don’t need a diversion. Still, the same team whose CEO sent a letter excusing fans from staying up late to watch the team play on the West Coast hosted a night based on a popular matchmaking app. Not something you’d expect to see, but maybe that’s why it worked.

Did you read anything this week you want to share with the class? Tell me in the comments!


03
Jan 15

Deleting Facebook: Four Months Later

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It has been close to four months since I deleted Facebook from my life, and I’m happy to report that some things have changed.

I eliminated Facebook, in part, because I didn’t like the person I was becoming, at least on social media.

Those people whom I hid on Facebook were the people I found myself most drawn to; I had to seek them out to confirm that they were still humble-bragging about their daily lives. Rather than avoid them, I made a point of finding them. And I hated myself for it.

But without Facebook, I no longer have the means to hate-read those status updates. The urge to peek is gone; my opinion of them no longer colored by how awesome their personal and professional lives seem.

And since I deleted the Facebook app on my phone and iPad, I can be more “productive” when I use those devices.

Before, the iPad and phone were just Facebook machines masquerading as marvels of technology. Now that it’s gone, I am exploring other apps (like Elevate) that might be beneficial to me. The certified time-waster that is Facebook is no longer a temptation.

What has surprised me, though, since giving up is how often people talk about Facebook outside of Facebook.

It’s a real part of our organic lives, whether we like it, or not.

Anything that makes it’s way to your Facebook feed — a Swarm check-in, an Instagram post, a tweet — is now fair game to be talked about in real life.

It’s both absurd and a sign of the times.

My wife and I learned of a friend’s engagement and a death in our extended family last week from her Facebook feed. We certainly would’ve gotten the news sooner or later, but it was posted to hundred of people instantaneously, which ensured we learned of the news right away.

The ease in which we can share news with friends and family makes it no surprise that this digital application has effortlessly nestled into our physical lives.

I don’t feel the same away about Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat, even though they are arguably more popular with the crowd that makes things popular.

Maybe Facebook is the elder of the group; a service that has been around long enough that it’s just there now. We no longer think of it as social media. Like the radio in your car, or the TV in your living room, it’s ubiquitous.

One thing I do know for sure is that, contrary to what you read, Facebook is never going away. 800 million users can’t be wrong.

If anything, it will evolve into something different; something that only our parents, aunts and uncles use.

But for the lot of us, we’re too entrenched in the service. It where our lives are stored for all to see.

It’s damn near impossible to let that go.


16
Aug 14

Is Social Media Guilting Us Into Activism?

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Two mornings ago, I awoke to find that my brother-in-law had tagged me on Facebook to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

For those who are somehow unaware of this social media activation, it’s exactly what it sounds like: you dump a bucket of ice water on your head to raise awareness for ALS.

Secretly I hoped nobody would tag me, because nobody wants to dump a bucket of ice water on their head, but I guess the odds weren’t in my favor. When a social cause has reached the point where celebrities like Bill Gates and Jimmy Fallon are doing it, it’s only a matter of time until us regular folk get involved.

To date, the challenge has raised more than $4 million for the cause. That’s more than double what they raised last year.

But like anything born on social media, there are dissenters.

The publication Quartz says that all of these donations to ALS are taking away from potentially donating to other charities.

The Huffington Post plays the “slacktivism” card to say all this challenge has done is get us talking about the disease, while conveniently ignoring the fact that it has raised millions of dollars.

I’ve even seen people flat-out not accept the challenge because they’d rather write a check. (Or, maybe they just don’t want to document being icy water poured on their head.)

I’m more interested in whether this is merely social media guilting us into doing something we’d rather not do.

When your friends are calling you out publicly to participate, you can’t exactly not do it, lest you want them to give you a hard time about it. So you do participate, then challenge three other friends to do the same because, well those are the rules.

By doing so, we are essentially clearing our conscience and putting the onus on somebody else to try and not break the chain.

This challenge brings together two polar opposites to accomplish the goal: calling out people on Facebook and Twitter to participate (which is the worst) and donating money to a good cause (which I endorse).

When the final numbers are tallied, we will undoubtedly see that it was a success. And, who knows, maybe that dollar you donated will lead to a cure for this terrible disease one day.

But peer pressure to participate in anything is the worst kind of pressure, and this is taking it to the max.

For the record, I shot a video and challenged three of my friends to do it, both because it’s a good cause and because I didn’t want to be the one to break the chain.

It’s a double-edged sword, this Ice Bucket Challenge. And with its success will bring many copycats looking to get in on this trend.

I’ve even heard that an organization is working on something to bring awareness to depression in light of Robin Williams’ death.

If that becomes a success, we will never stop this train.

We live in a world where, thanks to social media, you can communicate with practically anyone. It’s an amazing thing. But with that brings the ability to tap into our guilty consciences simply by tagging someone from the comfort of our living room.

I’ve yet to determine if that’s a good thing, and I’m not sure I ever will.

 


02
May 14

That’s What He Read – May 2, 2014

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Well so much for that blogging commitment, right?

My only excuse is that I was traveling for work, so I didn’t have a lot of time to put my pen to paper and flesh out some of the ideas I’ve got kicking around in my head.

The upside is that I got to spend a few days in Washington D.C., although it was pretty wet. But as a father of two little girls, I got an entire evening to myself. It’s one of the perks of business travel.

I hope your week went well.

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It’s been said by those of us in the communications industry that numbers are the enemy. But that couldn’t be further (farther? I never know) from the truth. There is a renewed focus on making data work for us. Now we just need to find the right story to tell to accompany it.

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It’s well-documented (at least in my head) how much I despise Facebook. A big part of that is because of the inanity that we see every day as we scroll through our feed. I was never a big user of MySpace, but it’s starting to resemble that failed social site, but now with new and improved quizzes. Thankfully, a researcher at the University of Colorado Denver has figured out the posts that turn us off. Maybe if we can ignore those, we won’t hate Facebook quite so much.

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I’ve always wanted to run my own journalistic endeavor. But that’s probably never going to happen. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to this idea of content creation. I mean, in a sense, if you’re running a content enterprise for a company or client, you need to act like a publisher.

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The world is warming. And it’s unlikely we’re going to find the silver bullet that turns this trend around. What we have to do is get away from this hero mentality that someone’s going to swoop in and fix the problem, and learn to survive in this new climate. The faster we realize this, the faster we might adapt and learn to live with what we’ve got.

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What did you read this week?

 


24
Apr 14

That’s What He Read – Week of April 21, 2014

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Blogging.

It’s one of those things that I want to do all of the time, but I end up doing it none of the time. Then, while I’m perusing the Internet when I should be doing more important things, I suddenly get the urge to put words down on my digital domain.

But when I turn off the Web and stare at the box where the words go — whoosh! — the inspiration is gone.

So things need to change for me. I feel better when I write, even if it’s something as unimportant as a post about the Elf on the Shelf.

I figured, since I like to share things, I ought to resurrect the ‘That’s What He Read’ posts to get the writing bug again. So that’s what I’ll do.

Stick around. You might start to see more of me.

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I have a long-running hatred of Facebook, yet, I continue to use it because it’s so easy to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away. But I also use other social sites; sites that are designed with one purpose in mind, as opposed to Facebook, which is designed to be the dog’s breakfast of social. Maybe I would feel better if I ditched it and used the other sites for what they were designed to do?

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I once tried to read Nick Hornby’s autobiographical book about his support of the English soccer club, Arsenal, but I just couldn’t get through. It bored me. But as a struggling writer (by that, I mean, I struggle to write) it’s encouraging to hear how established writers struggle at times. Gives me hope.

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I don’t read The Everywhereist religiously. It’s one of those blogs I like to read, but can go weeks and months without visiting. But then something will happen to remind me of it, and I come rushing back. While perusing it earlier this week, I came across a post on donuts that, well, who doesn’t love donuts?

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All of us could use more time in our day. But do we really waste 70 percent of our time in a given day? That seems a little bit hard to believe. You know what’s even harder to believe? A full hour for lunch.

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What did you read this week?