Why I Said Goodbye to “Selfies”

selfies

It seems like everyone has a strong opinion about “selfies.” Of course, most folks will say, “I think they’re stupid!” and then take a selfie 2 days later feeling little remorse. You know how I know this? Because I do this. My friends do this. You probably do this. Continue reading

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Social Media is Making Us More Insecure

Social Media Insecurity

Disclaimer: a lot of you are probably going to disagree with me on this, and that is fine. I want to disagree with me.

After all, social media isn’t just a hobby for me. It’s my profession, which hopefully makes what I’m about to say a little more validated.

Social Media is making us insecure.

Specifically, people (skewing younger) are misusing the social media tools given to them and creating false impressions of themselves that are fueling their own insecurities, as well as the insecurities of their peers.

Plenty have researched the link between social media sites and depression. A 2012 study found that there is, in fact, a high correlation between depression and use of major social network, Facebook. The study assessed the risk of depression among high schoolers and compared the risk rate to links between depression and TV use, to name one.

Other studies somewhat disagree. Huffington Post discussed a few related findings and found that there seems to be a stronger case that social media doesn’t cause anxiety or depression, it just pushes already at-risk people off the figurative cliff.

I find that difficult to know for sure, and I gravitate more towards the idea that we have yet to see the true effects of what social media use is doing to the youngest of us.

See, the originators of these studies, and the writers like me who are interpreting them, are a different generation from the one ahead of us.

Yes, I am a millennial, but I’m also a little older. I didn’t grow up linked to social media like children are today, which means that we can only discuss what is happening in real-time with younger users.

And it’s not pretty.

It’s easy to make the argument that insecurity and low self-esteem is evident in teenagers, after all. We have millions of people logging into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, bragging about the great things that are happening in their lives. We know this because we see it every day.

Forget for one second how bragging is a result of insecurity. Focus on the result of this social competition we’re seeing before us. Kids are getting on Instagram and seeing pictures of people they know doing something that they aren’t. It can be overwhelming for someone between the ages of 13 and 16 to feel like they are missing out on something.

Honestly, we’ve all felt like this at one point, so you know that social jealousy can be a lot more impacting when you’re a teen, that stage of life when your self-esteem is at an all-time low.

Thus, teens like to lie about their lives in order to feel slightly better about what they think they’re missing out on. Why do you think Catfish seems to resonate so quickly with people? Most of us have been “catfished” or have even “catfished” someone else.

Social media is an anonymity paradox. On the one hand, we are more anonymous than we would be in a face-to-face interaction with someone. On the other hand, we are using social media to essentially make ourselves public to the whole world.

Now, I don’t mind being public about a lot of things, but I certainly don’t want some things to be so easily accessible. No one really does. The problem we need to address, then, is how we educate ourselves and those younger than us. 

Throwing money at the problem or forcing kids to stay away from it won’t help. Kids are way too far ahead of their parents for them to regulate social media use. Instead, kids (and us) need to be taught how to temper our concern and fixation over social media.

Would that solve the whole problem? No, but it’s a start. I’m convinced that a lot of the depression and anxiety complexes developing from social media can be prevented by good parenting and willpower.

And, of course, social media has just as many benefits as it does pitfalls. It’s strengthened relationships between friends separated by distance, given brands the opportunity to grow, provided many jobs, and overall, it’s been a great outlet for entertainment and leisure.

Just remember to be cautious of its ills.

So, when your friend tells you that they want to take a “break” from Facebook or Twitter for a few weeks, don’t mock them for it (which I am guilty of doing). Encourage and cheer them on.

You could even join them if you’re brave enough.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out New Professional News, a list of headlines essential for any new professional, updated daily at 8am.

How to Create Your Content Machine

Content Machine

“Whoa Jon! What’s a content machine?” Great question, voice in my head. Your content machine is how you take in content across multiple channels daily.

It’s simply a collection of all of the news, blog articles, tweets, and one-offs that are being put in front of you by way of Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Reddit.

We often don’t put much thought into our content machines and how we’re setting up channels for consumption. Most of us just go to our favorite sites and happen upon stories we find interesting.

That said, creating your content machine is essential to ensuring that the stories you happen upon are the best in your network, and setting up your channels to do this isn’t very complicated.

The first step is recognizing what your content machine already looks like.

Ask yourself, “What do I find myself reading a lot? Newspapers? Whatever randomly pops up on my Facebook?”Which bookmarks am I actually checking?”

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge what sources influence you the most. From there, you can fine-tune these channels to supplying you with great content whenever you need it.

Next, let’s go through some of the more common channels and see how we can make them work for our content machine more effectively.

1. Email. 

I put this at the top because this is the apex of my own content machine, and probably yours as well. It’s a given that your email is where most of your subscriptions funnel in, so I would recommend starring the websites you find most useful.

Or you can be more proactive and research some great news aggregation sites that will send you great links to explore every morning. I rely a lot on PRSA for example, since I am a member and receive great stories from them. (Subscribing to jonnegroni.com can’t hurt either)

2. Twitter.

Yes, there is more to Twitter than just gaining followers and playing with hashtags. Making Twitter work for your content machine is a little trickier than email, because it requires a little more work than just subscribing to great stuff.

You want your news feed to be filled with great content you can access on the go, so I recommend following the followers of your passions. I love to blog, so I follow a lot of bloggers. The payoff is that my news feed is full of great stories that are relevant to me and whoever I share them with.

If you have a cluttered feed beyond repair, remember that you can always create lists and bookmark them for daily use!

If you want to use Twitter for fun and professional networking, consider making two separate accounts.

3. LinkedIn.

Similar to Twitter, your updates feed on LinkedIn can work wonders for your content machine. Thankfully, LinkedIn is a little easier for sorting good content from sillier updates, and you can always customize what shows up in your feed.

Be sure to also join a lot of groups with like-minded people, as this will give you great updates and content to digest and share. Oh, and PLEASE check out LinkedIn Today. 

4. Google+.

I’ve spoken on this recently, but Google+ boasts a very content-rich community that is active and engaging. Because there are less active users, there are more meaningful interactions, and the service does a great job of simplifying how you get great content.

I find myself searching for what’s trending a lot on Google+, which lets you use the search bar at the top to discover great content from people you don’t follow (yet).

5. Facebook.

I say this tongue-in-cheek, but there are very useful ways to make Facebook an asset for your content machine. While I mostly prefer to use the site for recreational use (unless it’s for work), I can’t deny how Facebook’s massive network works well to deliver new content.

Okay, there are certainly many reasons why your news feed is filled with mundane information, but utilizing Facebook’s “list” function can allow you to filter posts from friends that do like to share interesting, useful content from the rest.

Conclusion.

Now, these are just some of the ways you can get to work on your content machine. Whatever network or platform you’re using, remember to always set time aside in your day to read and follow-up with as much content as you can. It’s a great habit, and it will no doubt grow your skills and awareness of whatever industry you commit to.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out New Professional News, a list of headlines essential for any new professional, updated daily at 8am.

5 Steps to Branding Yourself Online

Brand Yourself

If you have profiles on various social networks, then you have a personal brand. The problem is that you may not be keeping good track of this brand and how you’re perceived online.

Luckily, there are simple ways for you to start creating a more consistent presence online, rewarding you with a tighter, more influential network.

1. Craft your ideal brand. 

Before anything else, you absolutely need to have a clear idea of how you want to brand yourself (this can be broad, so don’t panic.) Simply put yourself in the shoes of someone who just stumbled upon your LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever else.

What do you want them to see? Do you want them to find you fun, energetic and engaging? Do you want people to like your writing and creativity? Do you want to come off as professional and business-oriented?

In my case, I want my identity to feature what I can do as a writer and how well I get along with others online. I go for the creative youth identity that I know I excel at.

As long as you’re realistic and honest about what you really represent, coming up with an identity game-plan can be an extremely fun exercise.

2. Update/Create all of your profiles at the same time.

Time to get started. Once you know exactly what you want your personal brand to be, it’s time to implement it across all of your channels.

If you want an online identity that sticks, you need to have a cohesive theme between your major networks. The best way to accomplish this level of consistency is to edit them all at the same time.

They don’t have to be identical (and definitely shouldn’t), but they should at least match each other in terms of language and presentation. Your “About Me” on Facebook should make sense alongside your Twitter bio, even though they will no doubt say different things.

For example, your  Facebook may say that you are a lawyer at Earth, Wind, and Fire Legal (Fresh Prince of Bel-air joke), but you LinkedIn, in contrast, says you are a legal consultant for the parent of the firm. Even worse, your Twitter could say you’re a paralegal because you haven’t updated it in a year.

Use the same language and verify that your online brand is as up-to-date as possible.

3. Leave some information out. 

This may seem counterintuitive, but a big mistake some people make with their online identity is that they talk about themselves too much. Yes, you want to inform people and make your bragging rights known, but being an open book can have negative consequences.

You don’t want people to feel like there’s nothing else they can learn about you, so try to keep an air of mystery that will open the door to future conversations.

4. Change your profile picture.

I’m a firm believer that you should have a different profile picture for the social networks you use the most. This is because each network is different, and you want to communicate separate (but equal) things about yourself across your profiles.

My goal with Facebook, for example, is to feature pictures of my family and what I like to do for fun. So, my profile picture reflects the lighthearted, family side of me. My Twitter is more of an outlet for the creative professional in me, so I usually go with minimalist pictures. LinkedIn is obviously a place for being professional, so you’ll find the suit and tie version of me on there.

See, it’s not that I’m a different person in each of these cases. If you read about me, you’ll find the same person, just a different shade. And it all ties back to one theme, my brand.

5. Create as much content as possible.

Sharing is great. I do it a lot, and I love telling others about what I find interesting. That said, creating your own content is very important as well.

I create my own graphics for this blog and I write everything you see. That’s because when I broadcast something I’ve published, I want my identity stamped on it.

Attaching yourself to your works is one of the easiest ways to communicate your identity to your network, and it leaves a lasting impression if you’re content is good enough.

And you don’t have to just blog. Take photos. Make videos. Write poetry. Do what you like to do and put it on your fridge (new social media idea, don’t steal it).

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out New Professional News, a list of headlines essential for any new professional, updated daily at 8am.