Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Fast Binge?

I'm kinda horrified to see no one's used this pun yet; guess I'm the only one willing to stoop low enough to actually go for it. For anyone unfortunate enough to have read the second half of our group portfolio, you can thank me for every last one of those teeth-gnashingly cringe-inducing wordplays.

I was worried I wouldn't quite be able to pull off one of these activities because I'm a pretty serious tech addict. The only time I'm not "binging" is when I'm... asleep, frankly. And even then. I'm the sort of guy who checks Google News between sets in a gym. I'll position myself in a movie theater so I can read a tech feed and not get yelled at for disrupting the picture. I've considered putting down Google as my next of kin. So for me, binging (which, according to Google Chrome isn't a word although "bonging" is because, logic) on media is my de jour activity. Immersing myself in the cyber world, the world of streaming video (on Netflix, Amazon Prime and, obviously, YouTube) streaming music (Spotify, Pandora and, until today, Grooveshark which actually just went belly-up a few hours ago) news and digital books is simply how I conduct my life.

So you can no doubt imagine that I approached the impending three-day-media-fast with the sort of trepidation usually reserved for first dates, performing on stage and skydiving.

It's now that I'm supposed to write about what an unqualified success this fast provided me, how I came into contact with my inner self and finally realized I don't actually need technology to survive! Right... ?

I lasted 15 hours before I broke down and checked a newsfeed. It. Was. Brutal.

I spent the majority of the time trying to read (a great sci-fi series from the 1950's by Jack Vance), yet the gravitational pull of the interwebs was simply too much for me to handle. When I broke down, I opted not to try to go cold turkey again; the experiment was already tainted, I had failed.

And yet. While it ended up being only a mere fraction of the intended binge, I wouldn't call it a complete failure. It's so easy to forget how very much media and technology has taken over our lives, and what a striking shock to the system trying to disconnect yourself from it can be.

I hope to be able to media fast again, and gosh willing it won't be as fast as this fast turned out.

Media Fast/Binge

                                      Brain Overload

I have always experienced those late night urges; Twitter, scroll, close. Read Horoscope. Facebook, scroll, close. Instagram, scroll, close. Snapchat. Repeat. If you would see me walking across campus there is a 1/2 chance you would see me looking down at my phone.

Our professor had asked us to partake in a Media Fast that lasted from Monday-Wednesday and then a Media Binge that started Thursday and ended Sunday. At first I did not think this would be a problem at all but I soon encountered a few difficulties that would alter my perception on media itself. Our world is so consumed with the latest technology, who is Facebook official and what NFL prospect is going 1st in the Draft. The way we stay connected is through media.

I work everyday for four hours which allows my mind to escape the phone. When it came to the fast I tried to stay connected as much as I could. At one time I would have my laptop open, head phones in, and fingers scrolling on my phone. I would walk around campus with headphones in and would not even talk to anyone. I was experiencing heavy eyes and headaches by the end of the day. I realize that what I thought was a lot, those late night urges, was nothing compared to an actual media fast. I was constantly tuned in, headphones in, Netflix, texting and scrolling. By the end of the night I was drained. My brain was suggesting a break and to take a breather from the intense streaming.

By the time Thursday had came I was actually excited to have a chance to unplug. My willpower wanted me to unlock my phone and start scrolling. Social media is not the same as actual face to face contact but it is the sense of checking up on friends and knowing what is going on 24/7. This is one of the reasons our decade is constantly on there phone. At first it was like I had anxiety without it. As much as I would love to say I did, I was not able to cut it off completely. I did enough that allowed me to focus more on real-life relationships and build communication between classmates, teachers and my roommates. One way to begin a media fast is to start off small, fasting from one screen at a time, which is the method that would work best for me.

It is proven that media binges can actually benefit our lives. Screens give off a light wavelength that is similar to midday sun. Exposure to this kind of light in the middle of the night can trick our minds into thinking it's the middle of the day. A study has proven that just 30 minutes of this light exposure before bed reduces your bodies ability to prepare for sleep. This relates back to myself personally because I browse before bed and often find my mind wandering for quite some time before I'm able to fall asleep. Unplugging can also give you more free time which will results in a variety of benefits including extra time for school work, workouts or even time to spend with friends and family.

Overall, I believe I did benefit from the Media Binge/Fast because I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am more reliant on my phone than I believed. It is very simple for my to leave the TV or Laptop off for a night or two but I am constantly tuned into my mobile phone. Not only did I learn about myself but I also learned more about our society. We have so many privileges that go unnoticed. Most Americans do not realize how lucky we are to be able to have all of the lavish things that we have. Since I partook in the media fast/binge a couple weeks ago I have been trying to binge for a few hours everyday in order to work on school work and cut down my number of headaches. I have been able to focus more and get more sleep since I have been trying to maintain my mini media binge. 

Media Binge and Media Faste

      With technology developing rapidly every year, disconnecting from the world becomes a hard task to achieve. Even as an outdoors man who likes to go on backpacking trips, areas not reached by 3G or 4G are rapidly disappearing. This thought has long resonated with me, and this media binge and fast were intense ideas to show how dependent we truly are on media.
       As introduced in Class, I first started with my media binge. With the media binge, my habits didn't really change as much as they did. This made me realize I am a complete media addict. From sun up to sun down, I was never off my phone, my computer or my T.V. With most of my time spent on reddit, I spent my time on r/news and r/world-news to keep up on the world. These sub-reddits provide a great source of news from inside the U.S and around the world, exploring the various issues debated around our globe. As I exhausted my continual updates, I explored hundreds of sub-reddits from r/hiking to r/aves. Reddit in my opinion is the best website on the internet. The information sorted and posted from tens of millions of people creates a great sense of community among the smaller sub-reddits. For this reason, Reddit was only one of the few sites I used in my media binge. The vastness of information held within Reddiit is amazing, as there is a sub-reddit for various particular issues or hobbies. For example, I spent 3 hours exploring r/DIY, or otherwise known as Do It Yourself. This sub-reddit is mainly a mix of posts containing on how to build certain objects or projects, like a desk or an entire cabin for example. The media binge, while not much different from my usual self, meant I had to explore many sub-reddits in order to feed my binge, This quasi- exploration let me see sub-reddits that I would've not have visited before. In the meantime, I did not spend much time on such sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I did create a twitter in an attempt to get settled as many of my peers use twitter, but It just never felt necessary for me. However I did spend a lot of time on snap chat, as I communicate daily with numerous friends back home in Colorado and here in Nebraska. Yet with the others, I have a disconnect. While I did visit them, they are not my preferred source of media or information. Instead, if snap-chat or reddit was slow, I spent my time analyzing a lot various blogs that centered around my interests. In other times,  I watched Daredevil on Netflix  and various documentaries. For me, the media binge was a great experience that allowed me to explore my favorite sites and gain some valuable insight on various communities around the internet. However, I had an opposite reaction with the faste.

     At the start of the internet faste, I was not worried. I felt, with my collection of various books I have along with my schoolwork would be enough to get by. Boy was I in for a rude awakening. Despite having many JR Tolkien Novels and the Whole Harry Potter series (don't judge) I could not get over this dreaded of feeling of missing out. With my major I have many projects and clubs revolving around local and world politics, As a result, attempting to remain blind to news or updates was a complete turn around from my normal self.  At times, it felt like I was truly addicted to media or the internet. Instead of substances, I had a fix, or an controllable urge to check my updates. At times I gave in, promising myself only 5 minutes at a time to check my responsibilities and updates. However this plan broke down. I kept appeasing my hunger for news and information that I broke on the second day. I gorged out on reddit, on blogs, on music, and on Netflix. This is feeling I experienced was uncanny and unnerving to me. Yet towards the end I returned to a limited faste, only relying on cell phone and texts.

   This "experiment" was extremely beneficial to me in ways I never expected. While I try to lead a better, less technology influenced life in the summer time, sometimes coming back to Lincoln allows for me to get caught up in technology. However, in the future this will become more and more impossible. While this is an issue we all face, I also would like to reflect on how great technology is. In an instant, I can read about various issues around the world with the swipe of a finger. With these various forms of media, these connections, our world becomes better.

Media Binge Vs Media Fast

As a class experiment, we were asked to overload ourselves and be plugged into as many devices as possible at the beginning of the week and then to be completely isolated from all media devices as much as possible. Many of us in today's society, myself included, spend majority of our time plugged into one media device or another. Whether it’s music, texting, TV, movies, news, or email we are constantly indulging in some form of media.

The first part of the experiment, the media binge, was not so different from any other day for me. I use my smart phone for almost everything considering how busy and on the go I usually am. While working, going to class, and studying I find that music and social media are the two main forms of media I use at almost all times. With the little leisure time I do have, I usually spend it watching sports, shows, movies, and reading news on my phone or laptop. I'm not a huge gamer, but I even went the extra step during this part of this experiment to play as much Xbox as possible.

One thing that I found interesting among my daily practices is the fact that majority of my communication with friends and family is done using social media. Of course, there a few select people I actually have face to face interaction with, but with all of my family being 45 minutes to an hour or more away I have no choice but to use media devices to interact with them. This actually mad me kind of sad. The idea that I have basically no choice but to use media to connect with the people I consider closest to me kind of scares me at times. For that reason, I would say things like social media and smart phones are very important to have within our daily lives.

The other side of the experiment is what I found to be the most difficult. Outside of reading textbooks for class and the occasional book or magazine I don't typically read anything that isn't on a media device of some sort. This came as no surprise to me, but it was quite a challenge. Once I finally came to terms with the fact that media devices were off limits, I actually found the fasting to be somewhat refreshing. I paid more attention to things outside, whether I was walking or driving. The fast kind of put into perspective some of the things we've read in class about how social media for instance is slowly making us less social and more distant. I’m personally too busy at times to connect with friends and family in person, so that unfortunately has left some of my relationships with those people weaker.

Ultimately, after taking part in this experiment I have found a truer meaning of "taking time to smell the roses" throughout my days and week. I've seen where I can be less plugged into media devices and better utilize that extra time to study without distractions. I often times thought listening to music while studying helped me focus, but when I studied or did homework in silence I actually found that I retained more of the information I was reading. While I sometimes have no choice but to use media devices within a given day, I now know what the benefits of unplugging myself from them are. The key is finding the best way to achieve balance between when I need to be plugged in and when I don't have to rely on using media as a way to accomplish things no matter how big or small. I would say this experiment was very insightful and I’m better for having taken part in it!
Today our society is more connected than ever before. In addition to our books, radio, and television, we have an unprecedented amount of data literally at our finger tips. Our smartphones can access the internet and have far more processing power than the super computers of old. So as a kind of social experiment, our class went on a media binge and then followed with a media fast.
            The goal of the media binge was simply to be on media constantly. Whether that included listening to music, watching television, or browsing the internet, we were to be constantly connected. I spent a significant amount of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I also read on my Nook, watched Netflix, played more Playstation than I should have, and constantly listened to music. This bingeing was actually difficult to maintain. For a time it was relatively easy, but soon it got tedious. I distinctly remember constantly updating my social media to see if there were any new posts. Yet the desire for new posts was only part of the problem. It eventually was just boring, and I longed to talk to an actual person. Also my eyes, hands, and posture did not enjoy the constant usage of media devices.
            The media fast was very refreshing after the constant bingeing. For this, we were to avoid media as much as possible. Our interactions were to be in person, and other time was to be spent doing physical activity, eating, and sleeping. Looking up and seeing people was so much more fulfilling than looking at a screen. It felt liberating to not be connected constantly. I did occasionally want to get on my social media and see what people had posted or get on my phone and text my friends I didn’t see that day. I also particularly missed reading. Of course, I still had to use my computer for school and work, but this was inescapable.

            In conclusion, my experience with the media fast and binge has led me to see both the costs and benefits of media. It can destroy barriers or build them. The best use of media, in my opinion, is to use it in moderation. Connect, but don’t be constantly connected. Text that friend, but don’t be on your phone all day. I am more conscious of my own media use now. I try to make the most of the time I am on media, but I also remember to put the phone down and enjoy the world.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Media Binge/Fasting

   If there is one thing that I have learned from this experience, it is how dependent I am on the use of social media and that is not necessarily a good thing. You never realize just how much you use these types of things until they are truly taken away from you for a good period of time. However, the same can be said about the binge we had to participate in as well. At some point it just becomes so repetitive and boring, there is only so much you can see in the matter of a minute trying to hit the refresh button to see if there is any new posts, or updates. That definitely struck me as very annoying, however interestingly enough there have been times where I have been so bored with whatever I am doing, that I begin to refresh that many times without being on a media binge.
        First, I want to talk a little bit about the media fasting that I participated in. We as Americans have the privilege to many things, and one of those is the art of advanced technology. It is now easier than ever to access an account whether that be on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. We have the ability at any time with the clock of a button to be logged in to our accounts. It makes it so easy and convenient to check everything. However, being on a fast and trying to completely cut out checking these sites was very difficult I must admit. There were times where I was bored and any other day I would grab my phone and check what the cyber world had to offer, but I remembered the assignment and immediately put my phone down. I also found it very hard to communicate with someone, for instance when you need to meet up or hangout it was hard to do that. . I caught myself doing this over, and over again mainly because as previously stated above; I am very active with my accounts. It's one of those things where you kind of just have to improvise or make sure you make plans in advance

     Next, I want to go into a little more detail about the media binge. For me, at first it seemed as if nothing had changed at all. I was so used to checking my phone religiously and staying on top of the virtual world making sure I saw the newest and most updated posts, tweets, etc. However, just like everything else you over-use it can become so repetitive to a point where you just can't stand it anymore. It's so interesting to me that my thought process went from "Oh, this will be easy, I do it all the time" to not wanting to even picking up my phone any more.

   It definitely was in interesting little experiment if you will because it really showed me the complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Both are very inconvenient to me because when you cut out the use completely, you feel the sense of being left out, however, when you over-use the use of social media or your phone it becomes very mundane.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Media fast/binge

In todays era it seems to be hard to be disconnected from screens. It seems like in todays society people are more connected to screens that what they are to other people. Now every time people are having dinner, or hanging out you see most of them on their phones rather than talking to each other. Media has consumed our lives in some way or another. Media binge and media fast were two activities that were harder than I expected.
            First came the media binge. My first reaction to this was oh yeah this is going to be fun since I don’t do a lot of social media. I only have a twitter account, so I’m not a social media guy.  First day, binging on Twitter wasn’t too bad, but after that since I don’t follow a lot of people it got pretty boring. After getting tired of only looking at my Twitter feed, I turned to Buzzfeed.  This was great for a while, but then I started to realize that some of the articles on there got kind of repetitive. After that I was starting to giving up in the media binge, but then my friend was like “ oh you can use my Netflix account, and oh boy was that the greatest idea ever. I did not get tired of Netflix. However, I had to be a responsible and stop the binge since I had quite a few projects for work that I had to work on. I do think that its interesting how even media binging sometimes can be hard because there is just so much you can see. There is just so much you are willing to read, watch, or listening before it becomes overwhelmed and you stop doing it.
            After that, came the media fasting. I knew this was going to be a bit hard, but I didn’t realize how much harder that was until I started doing it. Media fasting from social media websites, and other websites that serve as a distraction, wasn’t too hard for me since I don’t use them a lot. Media fasting became hard when I had to incorporate my cellphone to the fasting. I mainly use my phone to communicate with friends, family, and my work email. So when it comes to email, I didn’t even try because I have to be sending emails on a daily basis because of my job. I tried to use my phone only for emails.. Yeah that lasted for only one day. I do have to say that during that day I was very productive, and got a lot of stuff done. That day that I was unplugged from my phone I actually went outside and enjoyed the sunset, and since then I have been watching the sunset almost every day. Fasting from my phone was hard because I’m the type of guy that likes to be in constant communication with my family and friends. Whether is through a call, facetime, or snapchat I like to be always communicate with the people that I love. I like to know what they are up to, and how their day was. 

            One thing that I learned form these two activities is that it is nice to be unplugged from all the media once in a while and just enjoy life and relax, but it’s up to us if we want to do that or not and put effort into it. I think media fasting during the summer would be a great idea. This way you would do so much more stuff that you don’t normally do.

Commons Campaign Portfolio- Kalyn, Paige, Alex

Good Dog Rescue Campaign Portfolio

Good Dog Rescue in Palmyra, Nebraska is a no-kill animal shelter who partners with the No Kill Advocacy Club on city campus. A non-profit organization, Good Dog Rescue has placed over 55 dogs in happy homes. We wanted to make that number grow. Our goal was to raise awareness of the foundation along with upgrading the adoption pictures and ultimately, get five dogs adopted through our commons campaign. During our campaign two dogs got adopted, which we viewed as successful once Bev expressed that an average of 24 dogs get adopted per year. The organization has a network of foster homes, but these are not their forever homes, which brings us to our exigence.

Our goal was to get the University of Nebraska-Lincoln community directly involved in creating a solution for these lovable pups. The rhetorical audience that we were aiming to target included students, faculty and members of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln community. A “fitting” response is dictated by the situation. The better the speaker understands an audience’s background, expectations, and experiences, the better they will be able to determine a “fitting” response in analyzing whether the audience agrees or disagrees. We chose to work with city campus because students are at an age where they begin taking on more responsibilities and one may include owning a pet. It is also the perfect age for students to begin volunteer work, which may be added to a resume. During our campus visit we had many students talk to Bev about being a future volunteer.

There were many great opportunities that came from this campaign. Since the organization is volunteer-run, there is a small fee when purchasing a dog but this fee does not pay for the dog itself, it goes toward the cost of maintaining facilities and providing food/shelter to the animals. Not only do these dogs go to good homes, but also the money they make helps the organization continue to operate. For these dogs, there is no other alternative.

Homeless animals outnumber homeless people five to one, this statistic is very saddening. Only one out of every ten dogs find a permanent home in his or her lifetime. The ASPCA website states that approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized annually and of all dogs entering shelters about 35% are adopted. Which brings us to some of our constraints. There was potential that we wouldn’t get the dogs adopted and that the organization wouldn’t be willing to adapt to our new set of communication strategies. If the organization did not agree with our social media campaigns we would have raised our goal of getting five dogs adopted to eight and focus on our finale of bringing the dogs to campus and make sure students were viewing our advertisements.

It was very apparent that the growth of this organization would plummet if outside parties did not take action, which is why we took the first step in our campaign by directly talking to the owner of Good Dog Rescue, Bev Sack. The next step was to visit Good Dog Rescue. We met 30 minutes outside of Palmyra on a farm, the heart of the rescue. Once we had met the dogs, we saw ways that we could market them, with pictures and videos. We sat down with Bev and went over ways we could help improve her organization. It was very important to us that we had her voice be heard, and we used her years of experience to make sure we had permission to carry out our social media campaign.

One item on our agenda was changing her logo to a more modern design. We explained to Bev that the logo could be more streamlined, and offered to pay to get her a more interesting logo that would really showcase the organization. We created some logos online to show her what the face of her organization could look like with a professional logo. However, she wanted to get her son’s opinion and we were unable to get a final answer for her before our project deadline.

The whole group was accountable for most of the responsibilities of this project. At the beginning, we coordinated meetings weekly to figure out our goals for the organization. Every week, for two hours, we met at The Mill and planned out strategies for the organization. Kalyn was responsible for bringing attention to their Facebook page via likes and shares with her Facebook friends where we were hoping for a network effect. The numbers are climbing every day, so far 61 of her friends have ‘liked’ the page. She posted six statuses advocating Good Dog Rescue and shared their photos four times. Her aunt and sister enjoyed sharing the page! Paige created the Twitter account where she spent a lot of time gaining followers and following other pages, she produced 17 statuses and three retweets. We launched our Twitter account @GoodDogNE in early April. The first day Kalyn created a Flipogram for our basset hound, Heidi. Kalyn created 10 statuses on the page while Alex followed the page to help increase our followers.

Our campus visit to the Green space at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was our most successful strategy of our campaign. As a group we handed out over 50 business cards to get the word out about Good Dog Rescue.. Lea was our spokesperson, and nearly every one that took a card came by to pet her and say hello. It was a great opportunity to tell them about Good Dog Rescue and truly show Lea off to the community. The campus visit was also important because we were able to interact with someone who had adopted from Good Dog Rescue. Her tweet to @GoodDogNE generated 10 favorites and 4 retweets, this created more social media activity than most of the following days of our account. Although, we didn’t have any interested parties, plenty of students and members of the UNL community would remark that they knew of  someone that would be interested in adopting a dog. We added pictures of the UNL visit of Lea interacting with students, to show our Twitter audience how gentle and friendly Lea is and update our page with her picture. We sent out a tweet to @UNLincoln of Lea in her Husker shirt and it generated 1 retweet and 7 favorites. This was a perfect example of using the situational concept that we’ve discussed in class.

Our final crescendo of our campaign was setting up a booth at PetSmart where we spent two hours at the Pine Lake location; handed out business cards, had a portfolio containing biographies of each dog and had Lea, the doberman, there to gain attention. Throughout this campaign we continued to maintain our social media pages and get interested parties as well as future volunteers directly in touch with Good Dog Rescue. Our main success was reaching a different audience. Our Twitter account  gained 68 followers in the span of three weeks. Our Facebook presence increased from 508 likes to 640. Later, Bev told us what an amazing improvement this was for her, as her likes had been stuck in the low 500s for months, and her page had only gained 503 likes since her account was first activated in 2009.

We wanted to document each activity that we did to create a short film using iMovie, instead of this we created a couple Flipagram short film picture videos to share on Twitter. We planned on creating advertisements to advocate Good Dog Rescue and its social media, we did not get this done because again we were bombarded with the Twitter and Facebook pages as well as calling PetSmart and planning our visit to campus. Next, we wanted to get the dogs cleaned up and ready for a “photography booth” style photo shoot. We planned to add those pictures to the Instagram page, instead of this photoshoot we took pictures of the dogs and added them to @GoodDogRescue as well as Kalyn’s personal Twitter and Facebook pages.

Overall, we experienced many different positives from our campaign. We changed a few of our goals as the campaign progressed because we soon realized it could take weeks for the in-home visit and approval to be complete. Another reason why we directed our attention to the social media aspect is because Bev expressed her lack of social media knowledge and felt like younger voices would be able to communicate better. We were unable to complete and devote our attention to an Instagram account because we were focused on our other two social media accounts. Bev enjoyed sharing pictures of us on the Facebook page!

            If we had a chance to redo this project, we would launch our Twitter account sooner and we would also have planned the campus visit around the school schedule, on a busier day. Although, planning our visit on a busier day would have resulted in more competition. Our final critique would be to have used our hashtags more effectively. Meeting many of our goals for this project contributed to a lasting impact on Good Dog Rescue. We will continue to be the crew behind the Twitter account until we hear otherwise. Our goal was to build onto their success as well as spread awareness of this local non-profit organization.

 We have linked our Facebook and Twitter pages below!