Anything you can share I can share better

I scroll through my Instagram feed and stop at a picture. Two girls at a party. Strobe lights flash in the background, dramatically lighting their laughing faces. Their outfits are killer, the angle is just right, the chosen filter highlights their best features. They are rock goddesses. They’re having the time of their lives. Their Saturday night is lightyears and eons beyond any Saturday night I could ever hope to dream about having myself.

The picture says all this without a word.

Some people are good at posting to social media. Not only that, they are good at posting to social media in a way which makes everyone else feel inferior. It is no longer enough to overshare. Now, I have to overshare better than you.

As human beings we have a natural instinct to one-up each other. It comes with the whole “evolution, survival of the fittest” package and is bred in us as we mature. You kicked a ball? I’ll kick it farther. You built a house? I’ll build it bigger. You ran a mile? I’ll run it faster.

The instinct, thanks to the 21st century, has spread to social media. Your tweets must be snarkier, your posts more impressive (“I’m going abroad next semester! Look at my happy relationship! My new car! My swanky job!”), your Instas more vibrant. Through online presence you can build an aura of fulfillment, contentment and superiority that emanates to all those who wish to discover it.

Look at me! I’m so lucky! Aren’t you jealous? #blessed

And the instinct is contagious. Every party, every event, every gathering of two or more people must be documented. Everyone most know what a wonderful time you had, what a beautiful meal you ate, how fabulous the concert was.

At a Neighbourhood concert last August, I stood behind a girl who watched the entire thing on her phone screen. She was recording the songs, you see, and couldn’t stop.

And therein lies the problem. We are so wrapped up in sharing that we forget to live. Melodramatic? Maybe. But how can you enjoy a night out when so much of it is snapping pics to chronicle that night? Heaven forbid something significant occurs and you’ve missed the Kodak moment. If there’s no record of it, did it even happen? Did you even have fun?

Some of the most interesting people I know keep almost no record of their lives. No, they’re not on Facebook. You can find their tweets spaced about a month apart. Instagrams are occasional and, when they do happen, mysterious: A swatch of pavement. A book jacket. The occasional cat.

The oversharing complex is a cry for approval. Most of us answer. I answer. But what if we didn’t? In this day and age, would that still count as living?

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Anything you can share I can share better

When life hands you a second internship…

…smile, say thank-you, and try to mask your internal freak-out.

It wasn’t the omnipotent voice of the Universe that informed me of my second internship, but that of our program director, Carolina Escudero.

Blithely unaware of my mounting panic, she casually informed me that I would, in addition to interning at El Sol de San Telmo, also work for the “Poder Judicial de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.” In other words, the judiciary branch of the Argentinian government — no big.

Last year, under the direction of Dra. Diana Maffía, the judicial branch established the “Observatorio de Género,” or the “Gender Observatory.” The purpose of this office is to work to eliminate gender bias in the judiciary, in the administration of justice in Argentina, and in the city/country at large.

Where do I fit into all this? Good question. From what Carolina told me, the Observatorio wants to up its social media presence — Twitter and Facebook and the like. Since it’s a government operation there are certain rules and regulations to follow concerning social media… rules and regulations I’ll no doubt have a blast learning inside and out.

The Observatorio also wants to publish a weekly bulletin to email to subscribers, and needs someone to write press releases to send to news publications.

Confession time: I’m a writer. A magazine writer, to be exact. I have little to no experience moderating social media for a company, much less for a branch of a national government. If they want witty tweets about reading Game of Thrones and crying in public, I’m the one for the job. Beyond that I feel slightly out of my depth.

“Oh, and you’re the first student we’ve ever sent there,” Carolina added. “We want to work with them for years to come, so we want to make a really good impression.” No pressure.

I start work for the Argentinian government on Monday. After Spanish class I’ll try desperately not to get lost on my way to their office on Tacuarí. After that, the real fun begins.

Three cheers for life, and for its little hurdles. Stay tuned for a report on my foray into the field of strategic communications.

When life hands you a second internship…

Debate debacles

Disclaimer: This is not by any means a political blog, but writing about the most recent campaign happenings is a rare treat. A debate airs, political reactionaries go haywire and take to their social media accounts, and all hell breaks loose (Exhibit A).

Last Tuesday, unless you actively took refuge to avoid it (some do), you caught wind of the Presidential debate hosted a Hofstra University in New York.

I myself watched the spectacle on Youtube Politics’s livestream from my sickbed. What was open in the neighboring tab? Twitter, of course.

One of the many accounts I follow put it best when he posted this tweet: “Having more fun laughing about tweets about the #debate…than actually watching the debate”.

Truer words were never spoken.

Hardly had words left the mouth of a candidate than they were being responded to on twitter. Within minutes of either candidate making a factual statement there were accounts checking them against published truths and comparing (and tweeting) the results. (Check out this fact check page by the New York Times, full of useful tidbits.)

On the other end of the spectrum, all gaffes and slip-ups by either candidate were immediately seized by the opposing side and monopolized upon. The most unfortunate of these may have been Romney’s now-infamious “binders full of women” comment (to see the video clip click here).

The result? Memes such as this:

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and this:

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and, unfortunately, this:

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Last Tuesday’s debate marks another victory for rapid-fire social media.

Debate debacles

CreepShots vs. Predditors

Granted this post has very little to do with “news” and much more to do with social media.

I’m speaking, of course, about the recent drama involving Reddit users and a subreddit called “CreepShots.” If that name isn’t enough to give you the heebie-jeebies, the page’s content certainly is.

CreepShots is a subreddit in which candid pictures of women are posted because, for one reason or another the (usually male) photographer found a woman to be *ahem* attractive (the page’s complete creepy credence can be viewed here).

Yep, a few million casual internet addicts posting photos of women’s bodies to which they have no right. The usual.

Here’s where the real newsworthiness comes in: a female blogger, sick of moderators failing to take action, began collecting the offending posters’ personal information and publishing it on a tumblr she named Predditors. The purpose? To oust the creepers before they did anything really dangerous (read: sexual harassment and rape).

Predditors has now been shut down, as has CreepShot (though the reign of internet creeps continues on rubreddits like CreepSquad).

The real question in interweb wars such as this one is: who has the right? Neither side was technically doing anything illegal, but in this internet age how long are we willing to look the other way?

Social media is a great journalistic tool, but it also shines an unfortunate light on the cringe-worthy underbelly of the internet. In this day and age, with new technologies springing up virtually overnight, we need rules and regulations that evolve at an equal pace.

Someone’s got to decide: How creepy is too creepy?

(For more info on the issue Jezebel has some enlightening articles: click here and here.)

CreepShots vs. Predditors

Instagram’d up close and personal

Any savvy iPhone user is familiar with the instagram application, which allows for insta-photosharing with perks like filters, tags, borders and crops.

Hipsters have long used the app to snap ironic pics of their lattes or face-half-out-of-the-frame photos of vintage specs and angsty haircuts. However, the growing popularity of instagram (catapulted to web fame after a buzzy facebook purchase) has turned it into yet another journalistic resource. Hooray!

Take, for example, the instagram feed of NPR’s Ari Shapiro who is currently on the Romney campaign trail, tailing the presidential candidate as he traverses the country.

Shapiro frequently posts about his progress on instagram. He narrates the campaign with an insider’s perspective via pictures of airports, planes, tarmacs, campaign rallies and various hotels and restaurants.

One of my favorite of Shapiro’s shots is of Romney “taking Qs from the press on the tarmac in Miami.” The angle of Shapiro’s close-up not only offers insight into the daily life of a candidate and/or a reporter on the campaign trail, it also allows the viewer to closely inspect the state of Romney’s nose hair. Looking trim, Mitt.

Another of my favorites is this shot of Shapiro and Anne Romney as she hands out welch cakes on a flight. The giant video camera in the frame is a snippet of campaign life that isn’t normally glimpsed by the ‘common man.’

Plenty of other reporters, bloggers and brands use instagram to their advantage. (One of my favorite feeds is Nylon Magazine’s, which offers exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at shoots and events.)

Instagram’s metamorphosis from underground applet to photo-sharing staple is just another example of the vital role social media plays for news media outlets.

Instagram’d up close and personal

National Empty Chair Day

In light of recent events (namely Clint Eastwood’s unorthodox monologue at the Republican National Convention), Monday, September 3rd was declared National Empty Chair Day by social medi-ites across the nation.

Websites such as “Legal Insurrection” accumulated massive backlogs of ’empty chair’ pictures sent in my users, each with a unique message. Some are in support of Obama, some are for Romney, and some simply bash governmental authority of every sort. (See “Legal Insurrection”‘s lengthy NECD post here.)

President Obama’s response to the speech was perhaps even more buzz-worthy than the thousands of empty chair pictures flooding the internet.

On Thursday, August 30 his reelection team tweeted a picture of the president seated in his designated Oval Office chair with the caption “This seat’s taken.”

Personally, I condone Obama’s staff for taking initiative and for interacting with the digital masses in a humorous way that nonetheless conveyed an appropriate message to the Republican party: I’m still here.

His team knows what it’s doing. They took the social media tool and used it successfully to create internet buzz… buzz, once again, over empty chairs.

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President Obama’s jab at Eastwood’s ’empty chair’ speech had thousands of re-tweets within minutes of posting.
National Empty Chair Day