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Digital Divide: The Global Difference

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class, we discussed the digital divide on global, social and personal levels. The one I found most interesting was the global divide – the difference in technology between industrialized and less industrialized nations. Wealth, language, lack of reading ability/education, etc. are all factors that contribute to the industrialization of a location. The thought of life without Internet made me think of how lucky we are as a nation to have it.

It isn’t only not having the Internet that is crazy to me, but the lack of opportunity in some countries, such as Eritrea. In America, we are able to go to school and get a proper education to prepare us for our future beyond school. In addition, if that isn’t easy for some of us, there are usually plenty of options for us to obtain an education. It is expected of us to get an education.

Now, we have the Internet to give us even more opportunities. We can look for scholarships, apply to college, learn new languages, go to school, etc. – all online! We are SO incredibly lucky to be afforded these possibilities that sometimes we take them for granted. When we think of the global divide and the countries who aren’t offered the same things we are, we have to remember to be grateful for what we have and what we can do with our lives, because there are others out there wishing they could do what we can.

It’s imperative to help others when you can. That’s a big thing I do in life. It’s important to think of how you can make a difference in the world, and to act on it. So, how can we help other countries become industrialized enough to get Internet? I would love to hear your ideas! It would be great to all come together and be able to make someone’s life by giving the gift of the Internet.

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Social media – How has it changed your social life?

Many say social media has made us more social, while others say the opposite. Social media allows us to connect more with others on new levels. On the contrast, we are able to hide behind social media when we are too nervous to speak to someone in person. It all depends on our personality and the social activity. According to Imtiaz Ali’s “Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society” article, we can see the clear positive and negative effects of social media. While there are several points to list on the impacts of social media, I am going to highlight one positive impact from the Ali’s article, and a negative impact I view for myself.

One of the positive impacts mentioned says “social networking sites is to unite people on a huge platform for the achievement of some specific objective. This is very important to bring the positive change in society.”

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Toby was our first rescue dog as a couple. Read more about Toby here.

I believe the above statement is true. There are so many groups, events, etc. where people who share the same interests can come together to achieve an ultimate goal. For example, I have a passion for saving animals – so I’m part of many local and national pet groups on Facebook where I can share fundraisers, animals needing foster homes or advice. This has helped me make a difference in many lives – I know I wouldn’t have been able to save as many lives as I did without Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. Another positive note is I have made many animal rescue friends along the way! I know this has made me more social because I’m able to speak on my beliefs more freely than I have before.

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Sammy, Scrappy, Eli & Moe wouldn’t be alive if social media didn’t exist.

A negative aspect about social media is a person’s need to share content to make his or herself feel good. To me, this is not a healthy way of thinking. People share selfies, some over-the-top information on their relationships, where they are eating or where they are traveling to – there is no privacy. I understand if you are excited about something and want to share it, I do that as well; but everyone knows those particular friends who stick out and do a lot of it solely for the attention. What happened to just calling up a friend to tell them your happy news? These days, we are expected to broadcast our news on the internet – for people to like or dislike – then decipher that person’s motive. It somewhat makes us less social because we can’t just tell people news in person; we have to wait for their reactions, if any, on social media.

There are numerous other reasons why social media has made us more and less social. Social media has definitely impacted how are society acts and thinks compared to how it did previously. I do think, overall, social media has helped bring many people together for causes and other endeavors – this helps make a difference in the world – something I’m always a fan of.

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The Internet: Making the World Smaller

In this week’s “Introduction to Digital Communications” class, we discussed how we define the Internet. We broke off into five groups – I was with Brenna and Jenny. My group came up with the definition below.

Internet: A global environment that connects people, enables communication, and fosters the sharing of information instantly from any location on a wide variety of devices.

While we were thinking of ways to come up with this definition, Jenny noted that the “Internet makes the world smaller.” I thought this was a very interesting thought; it is so true. Almost everyone in the world is connected to the Internet; thus, making it easier to spread global news stories, communicate with others, etc. I think it truly does make the world smaller because we share more with all Internet users than we would if we didn’t have Internet at all. Websites have even “died” – such as myspace, askjeeves.com, and BabelFish – because the Internet keeps evolving. We all become globally connected and learn more about each other this way – whether it’s a person, country, industry, etc. – it connects us deeper than ever before.

Internet gives us everything quickly. We are able to find answers to questions, connect with others more through social media, shop online with just “1-click,” and much more. The Internet has changed our lives indefinitely, and it makes you wonder what life would be like now if we never had it.

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How digital convergence has changed us

Digital convergence is coming together of multiple media entities over time. This combination of media platforms allows us to view content in many ways. For example, we no longer get the news just from the newspaper or television; we can get it on social media and mobile applications, too. The way we read or listen to the news is a combination of the five eras of communication: oral, written, print, electronic and digital (Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (2016 Update), 10th ed.. Macmillan, 2016.). The way we define digital convergence focuses on one, some or all of these eras.

Along with the various ways we get our news, comes “fake news.” How do you know the difference between real and fake news? It can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes be hard to determine. People share articles without reading them (they just read the headline) and we may not know if they’re valid unless we do some investigating. Here are some ways I verify real news:

  • Check for grammatical errors.  Editing is key with breaking news! If there is an error, that means the person or organization is not paying close attention to how users will view the content.
  • Check other news-related websites to see if there is a similar story. If I don’t find another story that is related to the original article I saw, especially if it’s breaking news, I won’t believe it until multiple news channels push it out.
  • Check out the source who pushed out the news. With all the satire websites out there, it’s important to check where the news is coming from. I typically will trust the national organizations (CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc.) and some local channels.

The examples above were some of the verification procedures we discussed in my first “Introduction to Digital Communications” graduate class. While there are many other ways to determine fake news, I believe the three above are the most important. The way digital media has changed news, it’s more important than ever to fact check the article.

Digital media has completely changed the way we function in society – it truly amazes me how different the communications world is from when I was little and how it is now. My age group was probably the last group to experience childhood without cell phones and know what life without social media was like; however, I do see the advantages of social media and I embrace it! Social media has been very good to me. Here are some things that I was able to achieve with it:

  • My job. I was living in Columbus, Georgia and was trying so hard to find a job in Syracuse for when I knew my husband and I were moving back. I luckily was able to find my job, Web Specialist II at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, through a LinkedIn post.
  • Maintain relationships. Digital media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the country. Not only am I able to share updates with my Facebook friends on my life, but it’s another way to communicate via messenger, photos, status updates, etc. One great example is when my husband was deployed overseas. He had no access to a phone, but with the magic of Facebook, we were able to talk almost every day. Back when my mom deployed in 2002, I unfortunately did not have this advantage. I’d have to wait days to get a phone call from her.
  • Save lives. I am a huge advocate for animal rescue. When I lived in North Carolina, I learned how harsh animals are treated in certain states. Through the power of social media, I was able to connect with others at numerous shelters, especially Harnett County Animal Shelter, and join groups to help save lives. I can honestly say my family was able to save many lives all because of social media!
  • My dream of doing a flash mob! It was always been a goal of mine to participate in a flash mob dance, and I was able to successfully do this on our wedding day! It sounds crazy to include this as an example, but it really is crazy how it all came together with a group of girls scattered across the country – thanks to private Facebook groups and other social media outlets. You can read more about the flash mob here.

With that said, I think my age group had the best of both worlds – life with and without social media. I can truly say that I benefited greatly from both times in my life. While digital media has been around for many years now, it still continues to change. I’m excited for what the future holds!

V-WISE San Antonio

Earlier this month I had the opportunity of a lifetime to embrace my social media skills. I was asked to take the lead on social media support for the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Conference in San Antonio. V-WISE holds conferences in various locations across the U.S. where veteran women and military spouses come together to enhance their business ownership skills. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) has many programs for veterans, service members and military families – V-WISE being one of the most popular ones. The Whitman School of Management created V-WISE as part of their entrepreneurship projects.

My supervisor told me V-WISE is an amazing experience because the women are so passionate and emotional about their business ideas. He was right – this was a very touching and motivational event and I know I learned a lot from it.

On the very first night, I met Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, U.S. Navy Chief of Information – first woman to hold this position! She was acknowledged as the FIRST honoree for her outstanding accomplishments.

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The instructors were all well-known across the country and really knew how to motivate the women and provide them with the proper knowledge needed to run a successful business. It is great that they all take time out of their busy schedules to set aside a weekend and spend time discussing entrepreneurship with these incredible women.

Not only were the instructors inspiring, but so were the participants. The journeys these women have that led them to attend V-WISE is remarkable. I interviewed three featured participants – Tia Copes, a military spouse who became a grief counselor after her husband was killed in action; Lila Holley, a veteran writing books to share stories of military women in their own voices; and Tara Hutchinson, a wounded veteran who began her own jewelry business. Read more about these inspirational women here.

The last night ended with keynote speaker Nicole Baldwin, a V-WISE graduate, who had to overcome many obstacles, including tragedies, in life to get to where she is today with her business. She reminds us all to never give up on our dreams no matter what comes our way!

The final day of the conference ended mid-afternoon, so my colleagues and I went out exploring. The San Antonio River Walk is impressive! It was also great visiting the Alamo and learning more about it.

It was so fun to be part of this conference and run the social media channels! You can learn more about V-WISE at San Antonio by reading this news post, or by following the program on Facebook and Twitter.

Waterspouts at Hilton Head

My friend Kevin lives in Hilton Head and sent me this picture of two waterspouts on Hilton Head Island Beach. He said there about 25 waterspouts throughout the day! It would be so cool to see one of these in person!

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VA Secretary visits SU campus

So this is not related to the weather at all, but I had to blog about this moment! U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) and other places on campus. We had a staff photo taken with him and I had to make sure I was in the front :)!

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I always geek out when well-known or famous people are around me. My friend Kellie, who I worked with at Fort Benning, always got excited about people visiting too. We got to meet Capt. Kristen Griest together. I definitely miss her being around for events like this!

Before he came to IVMF, he spent time and talked business with the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities-SU 2016 cohort at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. He also received a “Real Veterans Wear Orange” shirt! (Side note: check out #EBVSU10 on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram – it was EBV’s 10-year anniversary this year and we celebrated by featuring some veterans in the program. Very inspiring stuff! Glad to work at a place where I know I am helping others. Read more about the 10-year anniversary celebration here – be sure to watch the tribute and thank you videos – they are amazing and show the impact EBV has had on veterans and their families!)

After McDonald met the leadership team and got a photo with us at the IVMF, he did a presentation on “Values Based Leadership” at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU. Watch the video below to learn more about his presentation and visit.

Storm over the State of Liberty

Check out these beautiful pictures of a storm brewing over the Hudson River and the Upper New York Bay last night. Thank you to my friend Samantha for sending these to me! I wish I could have witnessed this in person!

Tornado coverage: May 9, 2016

This last Monday brought lots of tornadoes and destructive storms to several states. The video below states more than 150 severe weather reports were issued in eight states, with more than 20 tornadoes that touched down. The video below is a must-see. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with tornado videos — I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Many, many prayers to all the families and pets who had to go through these tough times — especially to those who lost their lives and their families. Please take a moment to honor those lives lost, and to pray the places hit return to normal quickly.

Tornadoes are extremely dangerous. Many states are known for their intense tornado seasons, but sometimes tornadoes can occur in places that are not known for tornadoes as well. Make sure you are prepared for when severe weather strikes. Click here to read FEMA’s safety tips and how to prepare for upcoming tornadoes.