A COMMUNICATION BLOG WHERE OPINIONS POP

Archive for July, 2010

Security n’ Social media

Whoah. Wow. Whoah.

We could not keep ourselves from saying these (and repeat them)  in class as our professor ‘revealed’ some new social media sites we haven’t known or heard before. Our Communication Trends and Styles (OrCom 152) class has never been this interesting, I can say. It was like being able to explore a secret passage in a deep excavation beyond expectation. Perhaps, we have never thought social media are actually beyond tweets, likes, posts, or comments.

Of all what our professor, Sir Barry, showed our class, the efficiency that the Internet gives a person to organize various social media sites while monitoring every update connected to an organization, celebrity, product, or anything there is impacted me the most. The core of our lesson today was how important image and reputation are to organizations and how new social media impact these nowadays. I usually fail to remember that aside from pleasing target markets and doing PR, organizations should prioritize crafting tactics on how to take over their competitors given the relay of tons of information. Information should be designed to engage to customers in one hand and to provide a defense against competitors in the other.

But then, the bigger issue here becomes how are organizations able to manage image and reputation in one hand and security in the other as they stand atop of social media?

Let me illustrate my point in relating what Joshua Cooper Ramo explained in his book The Age of the Unthinkable.

Glass- House Dangers

Ramo says that every nation now, in the context of globalization, is like glass house that is open for other nations to take surveillance on. This is the norm now, for if a nation has to shut itself from globalization,  it opts to suffer.

“If your country is open and democratic, then my open and democratic country can see what you are thinking. You can see what we are thinking.”

Similarly, I realized from today’s class that taking good care of your image and reputation entails comparing yourself with others. The sense is like “there is no such thing as good of there is no bad”. Moreover, in the business setting, every business should be ‘good’ all the time. This now implies segregating what should be in the limelight and what should be kept hidden.

There should be no walls anymore that organizations build to protect themselves from their external environment but instead have strategies that will make them protected while giving out more information.

Monitoring your competitors online seems to be an exciting task actually. It’s more interesting because of the fact that the Net is borderless unlike national war zones. Online battlefield is what the Internet is all about for organizations. Information war is now taken into a higher level where catapults, armies, and shields all comprise an organizational image.

Organization X can track all the information they need to have about their competitors and their competitors can do the same. But then, is this scenario gives an organization more of a benefit or more of a threat?

Transparency

“Positive transparency means more clarity should mean more stability.”

The idea of positive transparency among nation-states is also applicable to organizations. The more information people has about you, the more they get to know you. The more you disclose honest and genuine information, the more likely you can gain public’s trust. The more people trust you, the more you can earn your way to ‘stability’ as an organization.

But then, nothing works one way. Everything surely has its counterpart.

The existence of “negative transparency” is also discussed in the book. Transparency makes one nervous and realize that there is nothing to be complacent about in return. Ramo explicates this:

If your neighbor’s house was transparent and you could watch him polishing his gun collection, would this  make you feel nervous or less? What if you just watched him while he watched you?

Information battle makes one, or an organization, alert and prepared than ever at the very least. This is another thing organizations should prioritize:  how to be ready at all times given that environmental uncertainties abound. An organization must keep an observing eye to its surroundings and watch its competitors’ every move without being too anxious on their part.

Disclosing too little information in social media is detrimental nowadays for organizations as well giving out too much. How the battle will be won over relies on how companies develop strategies on how they can deliver just the right amount of information to its public, allow customers to be brand ambassadors themselves and let the web pages and blogs do the talking for them. To thrive as an organization may mean being Machiavellian of some sort but keeping the organization’s values intact and adhering to corporate ethical principles will surely lead organizations as glass houses the security they long to have.

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Cry and click: What links depression to social media

Social networking sites have definitely changed us. Not because the way we communicate nor the way we connect to others has. How we view ourselves and the world are now in a flux more than ever because of social media.

I am coming clean. Two years ago, I suspected myself having a depression because of the usual things adolescents like me go through. Conflicts and issues with family, circle of friends, and even people I never thought I would care so much about became the dwelling thoughts in my mind from the moment I close my eyes to sleep to the time I wake up. I was actually not the type of person who cries easily when the going gets tough as I am used to put on a fierce and bold mask when terrible circumstances arise even though I am tearing up inside. How exactly did I escape  those dark times I do not know. However, as I discover my strengths and weaknesses from those experiences, there is this one that influenced my outlook in life now- yes, you are correct- social media.

(photo credits to : http://www.healthspablog.org)

Psychologists in the University of Leeds, UK studied if there is a relation between the use of Internet, particularly social media, and depression in February this year. They found that there is indeed a correlation between the two variables and even discovered that young people are more vulnerable to depression as their Internet addiction is definitely higher that middle-aged adults. The whole article can be read here.

The study even poses a new question whether the Internet causes depression or depressed people are drawn to browse the Net. In my experience ( as I cannot answer the question myself), I can say that depression and Internet come in cycle, and it is a case-to-case basis to know whether which variable comes first and which comes its implication. The more I visited social networking sites back then, the more I felt that depression covers me. But then, the more I become depressed, the more I sought the comfort of the world wide web.

I am contemplating on the reasons or factors why this phenomenon happens, and here is what I have came up with.

1. Social networking sites empower individuals to project the ‘self’ they think they are.

The conflict between the real self and ideal self of individuals clash in social networking sites. We always want to project a good image and reputation of ourselves, I think that is one basic human drive, to others. And in the Internet, we do this by making our profiles speak the best we have in ourselves. We post even hundreds of our vain photos (pictures of ourselves) in Facebook and Friendster. We want to show all our followers in Twitter that even notable people in the world are following us, too. We want to broadcast in the Net that we have 1,200 friends in Facebook, 50 photo albums, and our one status garners over 70 likes. But then, in real life away from the computer, are all these things true? Do we really look the ‘best’ as we do in our vain pictures everyday? Do we really mean it in real setting when we click ‘like’? I think there is a cognitive dissonance somewhere there and it may cause depression.

I Rate My Day! (www.iratemyday.com)

A social network where users are encouraged to describe how they are feeling that day. The company was founded by D2Soft Technologies based in Montreal, Canada.

2. Since our ideal self is what we want the world to see, we want that ideal self to be the best.

In other words, what we see and encounter in social networking sites give us reasons to be more envious of others. Or is it really that way? What we read, watch, or know from social networking sites sometimes make us feel our emotions, especially when they are negative, twice its heaviness. You feel so alone and problematic and there’s no one to comfort you and suddenly you found all your friends changed their status to ‘in a relationship’. Wouldn’t you feel heavier? You want to be the best in your class this semester and this high school competitor of yours when it comes to grades suddenly receives a lot of praises because he or she got a 1.0 in all his or her subjects? Wouldn’t it make you feel a loser? There is an implied competition in social networking sites without our awareness. We cannot help to compare ourselves with others, let’s say the one who you are stalking is in relationship with.

3. We realize that our cyberlife is different from real life.

In times of problems, we have the tendency to sign in on our social media accounts, post a status of what we are truly feeling, comment on that, and chat with those who are online. But then, do they really ease the pain and all? They help in some extent but the degree of how we feel and think is still the same. I am not saying that social media is or not therapeutic in this sense. Our 1,200 friends in Facebook are actually only 50 in real life. Among the 70 comments that our status has, only 10 of them are from friends that are really close to us. People in Facebook, Twitter, Multiply, or Tumblr may have all the :), :D, XD, or even :)))))))))))))))))))))) in their posts but not all of them have the same facial expression in the very same moment. I think in one way or another, this is a mechanism that we develop to project what we feel in the Internet. This is a probable cause if depression because there are instances wherein our emotions are actually augmented by our interactions in the Web.

But then, whatever reasons there are that account to our depression, what is important is how we deal with them and learn. This is even more exciting- social media is affecting us deeper as we do not know it- as social media is now a factor in our self-discovery.


Because Facebook is Filipino

I can vividly remember the first time I learned what Facebook is all about. It was in 2007- when a close friend of mine living halfway around the globe was nowhere to be ‘found’ except on this social networking site. I created an account, added him as my first friend, and used the account for mere communication with him. I had so much hesitations on creating an account back then- without knowing that the very site will have 400 million active users by 2010.

Yes, 400 million, and as I think of it, I can imagine almost the whole world is in Facebook. I decided to use and update my own account in April 2009 because of some personal matters. I was surprised to see that my batchmates, classmates, friends I met in my 12 years of being a student could only be found in one site. The summer in 2009 gave me a hard time dealing with some emotional problems (yes, I was that serious, haha) and so, I decided to give my life a new taste. One of these was to join a new social networking account than Friendster, which I had used for three years, and make new friends. Luckily, I found a ‘home’ in Facebook.

And I found a new ‘home’ in the company of my new-found Korean friends online. It is really difficult to find foreign friends online who have the same interest as you do, whom you like, and like you back. One of them, a really dear friend, posted in her account last week:

Yes, Facebook is not widely used by South Koreans. But according to the 2009 Internet World Statistics, South Korea ranks as the fourth country in Asia who has the most number of Internet users. Philippines, where members of social networking sites (and some of them have multiple accounts even), ranks in the sixth place.

South Korea has a huge number of Internet users but some of them have accounts on Facebook. There are Korean social networking sites, too, such as  Cyworld (minihompy) http://www.cyworld.com/ss9696, and Korean celebrity news say that using Twitter is an emerging trend there nowadays. However, despite ranking two places below South Korea, Philippines can be inferred to hold a huge number among the 400 million Facebook users or even all Filipino Internet users have own Facebook accounts. My theory or idea  before that Facebook is trans-cultural and universal is now wrong. Then, what is it in Facebook that makes Filipinos addicted to using it?

Only in the Philippines

I believe that Filipino culture and values has a lot to do with the rise of Facebook (FB)usage in the country. Many would say that Filipinos are social people and that makes FB usage even more rampant. But then, aren’t other cultures social as well? It’s striking to note that Friendster and Facebook were and are both widely used by Filipinos although the two do not have the same features. Aside from adding friends, posting comments, and posting and uploading photos or videos, the two sites have their own qualities. What does these sites, FB in particular, have that make Filipinos so receptive? Here are some Filipino values related to communication that Tomas Andres discussed in his book, Filipino Behavior at Work.

The Filipino Sociostat

According to Tomas Andres (2001), this is the Filipino tendency to stay in the group rather than to stick out. Filipinos are part of a collective culture still no matter how the principles of individualism apply to some aspects of our culture. It is still Filipino to identify one self in a group and enjoy the company of a certain one. Perhaps, peer pressure can be one of the factors that influence one to have his or her FB account as everybody in school or workplace talks about the latest fanpage or FB application there is. Bandwagon could be another. Everyone has his or her accounts and that is the only reason why a person should create his or her own. Reasons like these.  But then, it is still evident in Filipino culture to be part of a whole or a group rather than enclose oneself to being alone.

Tsismis

Tomas Andres also classifies this Filipino value related to communication to be the tendency of Filipinos to know the private or secret life of a person and to spread such secrets. He also accounts that this is the favorite pastime of Filipinos at the expense of others. True enough, who disagrees that most of the tsismis we know now are the information we read in our friends’ posts in their walls? Our own ‘Home’ page in our own accounts is open (unless we filter or hide some friends’ updates)- we can view and know what our friends are up to, are feeling, or are planning to do with no so much effort at all. Sometimes, even though we did not intend to, we come to know those information. Moreover, the ‘comment’ feature of FB in every post allow us to ask further or give our reactions to our friends. When there is something we read new or unusual in FB, we can’t help to comment. We can’t help to discuss among ourselves online a certain issue.

Parinig

Filipinos are non-confrontational people in general. We have to prevent conflicts as much as possible even though it takes for us to conceal what we genuinely feel or think. Communication, then, becomes high-context because the real meaning of a Filipino’s statements are no longer explicitly stated. Andres calls parinig, letting the intended party hear by speaking to a different person, is a way of communicating the truth without hurting the feelings of the receiver. In Facebook context, posting a status, liking a page, or allowing or joining an application can be considered how this communication style is apparent.

See? Even conversations are in the Internet now, Filipino idiosyncracies, particularly in communication, will stay the same.


No muggles allowed: www.butterbeer.com

Over a week ago, the third official trailer of the Harry Potter series final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was finally released (watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8NSQmPoyeE&feature=fvst) . And two nights ago, Dolores Umbridge topped the trending list in Twitter.  Really, Dolores Umbridge?

So I tweeted:

And my friend could not even believe what I just tweeted. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I was amazed that night to know that people all over the world were tweeting about Harry Potter the most. From those tweets, I learned that most of them were tweeted by Indonesians for the Order of the Phoenix (if I am not mistaken) was being shown in their local TV that time. Harry Potter hype is still in! And even You-Know-Who attests to this.

The Dark Lord’s tweet made my night. Dolores Umbridge, Harry’s professor in Defense Against the Dark Arts in his 5th year and replaced Albus Dumbledore as the Headmistress for quite sometime, is a character of evil in the series whom everyone in Hogwarts wants to get rid of.

But then I am thinking, what if the magical world becomes equipped with social media? Could everyone say ‘I shall not tell lies’? How would the story go?

A website not for muggles- Why not?

When Hogwarts students are taking vacation, third year students and upperclassmen are allowed to visit Hogsmeade, a village outside the wizarding school. Students enjoy themselves with butterbeer while chatting and all. Perhaps, a new social media named after this refreshment will surely capture the attention of all Hogwarts students wherever House they belong.

Butterbeer (photo credits: http://www.harrypotter.wikia.com)

Butterbeer. com (www.butterbeer.com)will be the new haven of everything students can’t talk about at school. I envision it to be like Twitter or Facebook, where students can check on the status of their friends, stalk their crushes, or develop a game where the one to be beaten is Professor Snape. Above all, passwords on accounts will require an original spell from a student or person that only he or she knows. Hmm, I wonder if this social media will look like this:

photo credits: Facebuko.com

Through this hypothetical social media in the magical world, status and relationships will surely be a lot more different than they used to be. Hermione Granger’s genius will be severely tested. Owls may be kept as pets only and not for mail anymore. Hogwarts can be friends online with those from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. Student organizations can have their own websites, forums, and Butterbeer pages without the knowledge of their professors. There will be less use of broomsticks or apparitions. Maybe, even the Marauder’s Map might not be thrilling anymore. Everyone will not be even afraid to type the Dark Lord’s name in websites. Everything will never be the same.

The Impact to Hogwarts

Hogwarts, as an academic organization, should develop strategies that will build their image to be as it was amidst these changes. The moment that the administration knows about this phenomenon, it cannot be stopped- like what is happening now in the Internet. The changes on teaching methods, policies, detentions, safety measures, and others will surely be translated to reality. It should cater to their shareholders better: the students’ parents, the students, the teachers, and the whole wizarding world. It should think of new ideas that will get them catch up with the various hypes the young generation or their students submit themselves into and nail their image of being the best wizarding school in Britain or Europe.

Some of Hogwarts professors (photo credits: http://blithesea.net/)

Horcruxes and Hallows on Wiki

The highlight of the last book: Will Harry go for the horcruxes or the hallows? In the Half-blood Prince,the 6th installment,  it was revealed that Harry should destroy the remaining horcruxes to run for his life; in Deathly Hallows, he should find the hallows before Volde- oops, You-Know-Who does. How would the course of events go if Harry could search for these things on Wikipedia?

The Harry Potter series (photo credits: http://i42.tinypic.com/2462ago.jpg)

Of course, there will be no story anymore as adventurous as J.K. Rowling has written it. But then, these two things- horcruxes and hallows- remain secret as the information about them are only from people’s memories. They are the top secret topics the magical world could ever hide. It will be then a different challenge for Harry to look for these when the Internet could not supply them. Hmm, so this could spark a better plot for Harry, then- deciphering the loose ends of the new digital world and the old school wizarding one. Should You-Know-Who panic now since getting information will be a lot easier?

In Reality

But then,in reality, perhaps what made the Harry Potter series loved by million of audiences is its idiosyncrasy in itself. It presents the ‘old’ and traditional school life as an adventurous and thrill-filled that everyone of us wishes and has wished to have had experienced. At present, we can not imagine ourselves surviving a week without a single use of Internet or a single peek on our social networking site accounts. Somehow, it depicts a way of living long akin to the years long before the first appliance known in muggle world was invented- a lifestyle that we all want to experience as we submerge ourselves to the magic of the book itself.

Browse more on the wizarding world at http://harrypotter.wikia.com


The country’s wee small hours

If you were the president of the country, what is the first thing that you would change?

This is what a close friend of mine and I are discussing over and over again whenever the issue of nationalism becomes instantly related to a conversation about anything we have interest in. I keep on thinking this through because I still do not have a justifiable answer until now.

“I would definitely change our mass media first”, my friend asserts. “Mass media play the biggest role on how our nationalism was shaped over the years. We need a change on how we look ourselves as Filipinos.”

This is one fact that has been bugging me since yesterday. Everyone knows that yesterday marked a historic event for the Philippines- of a new hope and, perhaps, change. All the people in the streets (as I saw on TV) were cheering for and talking about the new president. Our neighbors could not control themselves yelling, “Go, Pres. Noynoy!”. My parents turned the TV on at 7am, three hours before the event proper, to show how excited were they to witness the new milestone. Everyone was enthusiastic and hopeful yesterday. Everyone but me.

Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III waves to the crowd during his inaugural address (photo credits: Reuters)

I really do not know why did I feel that yesterday was just an ordinary day. I can say it’s not because I am not a fan of the President nor a die-hard hater of former President Arroyo, but because I can feel that the country has entered a vicious political cycle again. There was nothing festive to me yesterday. That’s it.

I can vividly remember that day before the May 10 elections when I was all confused whom to vote for the following day. The decision on whom to give my golden vote gave me the thrill tantamount to what I felt on which major to take. That day was like a matter of life and death, now-or-never thing. But the thing was, I lost my faith in mass media. It was just so obvious that there are media companies which were ‘campaigning’ for someone. That’s when I decided to trust the Internet more than what the mass media. I started to search for each of the candidates’ websites, student forums, Facebook pages, and debate and interview videos on YouTube. I began to make my own research on the Net without the influence of political campaigns on TV or the arguments of my parents or friends. I saw the various sides of the controversies, even those not aired on TV. Perhaps, this is one quality the Internet will always have over mass media- it does not protect parties and will never be controlled by people who are rich or in power. Does the Internet equates itself to ‘education’ now? But then, I think that had the Internet emerged generations ago, our parents should have had a different viewpoint from what they have now and so is the country’s course of history.

Going back to my friend and I’s question, I can’t still find an attainable answer although I agree with him that mass media account the most for people’s opinion on issues. But then, I hope that the first thing our new president will do or change has a huge impact on upholding Filipinos’ nationalism and pride. Now in the era of globalization, every country is in the threat of losing its own sense of identity while earning its way for global competition. Most of the time, I think Philippines is already about to let its unique culture and identity fade away. This may be sad, but I don’t want to be pessimistic at all. Never.