Let’s Be Honest with Each Other

We have friends and best friends throughout our lives, some we stick with, and some we gradually grow apart from. Whoever you have in your inner circle, you know they’re there for you and would do anything to make sure you’re doing alright, right?

Well, sometimes and sometimes not. Some of you may or may not know that I have struggled with major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety for a number of years now. If not, well, now you know. But with me telling you this, I would like to talk about simple steps or tips to helping someone you know who is depressed or seems to be going through a hard time. (DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health professional, I am merely speaking to my own personal experience. Everyone experiences depression differently, if you know. So here are some personal tips and helpful hints to help someone who has depression, anxiety, or both.

5 Things to Say (And NEVER say) to Someone with Depression

  1. DON’T: Ever tell them they’re “too much”:  Being a depressed person is already hard enough as it is, someone telling you that your mental illness is too much for them is like being stabbed in the chest. Most people who feel depressed already believe they can be a burden to themselves or to others simply by having depression at all. People who suffer from depression may already have distorted ideas about how loved and supported they really are and hearing that they are a burden to others just makes them feel even more alone and worthless
    • DO: Remind them how special they are to you: Tell them how much they mean to you, how strong they are, and how even though they may be having a really hard time right now that they can make it through today, even if it’s one step at a time.
  2. DON’T- Shame them for being negative:  Depression only allows its victims to see the world through lenses of negativity. Whether that’s putting themselves down to make a joke or thinking only about the bad outcomes of a situation. By shaming them and telling them to “not think like that” or to “be more positive,” this makes them feel like they have an incorrect or wrong way of thinking and may make them feel isolated and then pretend to be positive as to not be called out again on being negative. With the recent “Good Vibes Only” trend, it’s really hard for depressed people to want to vent to anymore for fear of someone not wanting to get down and only wanting positive vibes. 
    • DO – Empathize, connect, and if you’re comfortable, ask them why they feel this way: When I become negative during the course of a conversation or make a particularly dark joke relating to one of my mental illnesses, it makes me feel better when someone either vents or relates to my joke or comment somehow. For example, if I say, “Man, last night was super rough for me because of my midterm, I practically cried my eyes out.” It would make me feel better if someone were to say, “Yeah, that sound rough, that midterm was really hard, but it’s over now. I’m sure you did your best.” Or if you feel comfortable asking the person why they were so stressed out that they cried about their midterm. This could leave to a more one – on – one conversation if the person is comfortable talking about it to you. If not, do not be offended. Some people are not used to being asked about the negative comments or jokes they make and may not want to talk about them yet.
  3. DON’T – Constantly offer them advice on how to feel better: I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked if I exercised maybe that would help, or have I tried yoga? I understand depression is different for everyone and yoga may work for some people, but not for all. The more you tell someone how to deal with their depression or anxiety, the least likely they are to ask for your help in the future for fear of getting an earfull of advice again.
    • DO – Ask them what things are you doing currently when they feel down and see if you can help them take small steps towards self – care in rough times. For example, if they say they are so stressed out they can’t even work on anything, ask them if reogranizing their files and homework would help, writing down what they need to get done, or other such ways. The first thing I always try to do is something small like taking a shower, the wonders of hygiene go away for some people if even the smallest tasks seem impossible.
  4. DON’T – Tell someone you don’t know how to help them when they’re in crisis: If you’re someone that struggles with M.D.D. or panic attacks, you know that whenever you enter a room, you immediantly locate the closet exits in case of emergency or an oncoming panic attack. If you’re like me and have explained to trust individuals how to help in person, or over the phone in how to help you calm down from an attack, you would think they would remember the plan you told the, but sometimes, you would be horribly wrong. If someone calls you in the midst of a panic attack or tells you they need your help, DO NOT  for their sake tell them you DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY OR DO TO HELP. It’d be like them getting stabbed in a movie and asking you to call for help while you stand there and say I don’t know how to helo you, I’m not a doctor.
    • DORemember the plan and how you can help, or until help comes:  I don’t know about you, but when someone remembers exactly how to calm me down from an attack or comes to help me if I cannot control myself alone, it is a special kind of bond. You know you can trust them enough if you’re in crisis to know what to do. Be there for them and be alert and keen to the signs of their triggers or signs they may need assitance. If you see they are shaking, seem on edge or overly anxious more than usual, ask if there is anything you can do, and proceed depending on their responce.
  5. DON’T Tell them you’ll always be there for them if you know you can’t: Being depressed affects everyone with it differently, but for me specifically, I hate when someone tell me they will be there for me when I really need them, but not bother to answer the phone when I try to call them at 3 am when I am crying uncontrollably and I know they’re awake cause I saw it on their snapchat. Depression is irratic and doesn’t have a fixed schedule of when it’ll hit. If you are someone rock in their moment of crisis, or you have a friend you know is going through a rough time, please be mindful of your phone. The worst feeling is in the middle of a panic attack when your fp (favorite person) won’t pick up their phone no matter how many times you call them. DO NOT LIE TO THEM and tell them you’ll always be there for them if you don’t think you can be on call for them when they need you the most. 
    • DO –  Be ready to come to a friends need or be on call for them if you know they’re going through a rough time:  Being friends with someone with a mental illness is hard work, but if you really are a true friend and care for them, you want them to know you can count on them. If you yourself don’t have mental illness but your friend does, try researching the illness, reading about it, and try to understand what they might be going through. It’s hard for a depressed person to put their feelings into words a lot, but listening to them and how they feel can give you some insight on what it’s like to walk in their brain for a day. VALIDATE THEM, and REMIND THEM YOU CARE. No matter how many times my suitmate reminds me that she loves me and she care about me, I must be reminded. Most depressed people, no matter how many times you tell them you care or you love them need to be constantly reminded. Everyone needs to know they’re cared for and loved, but depressed people may need a bit more reminding than the average person.

Thank you for reading. This took some strength to write so if you read this all the way through, thank you very much. If you have any further questions about mental health or personal experiences, feel free to message me.

If you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to call  or text the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 


Selfishness: Is Common Courtesy Dead?

As many of you know, living in a small town comes with a certain set of benefits and challenges as does living in any town. More specifically, living in the Buckle of the Bible Belt has its pros and cons such as everyone asking you what church you go to, more people being Republicans than Democrats unless you live in a city such as Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga, or Memphis, and not being able to step 5 feet into a restaurant without a cross being hung somewhere on the wall. But religion aside, most southern folks are known for being very caring, giving, and just generally nice, always willing to help their fellow neighbor out.

Lately the United States has been divided over each tweet 45 puts out on his Twitter, if climate change is real (it is, by the way), immigration issues, trans issues, and much more. As Robin from How I Met Your Mother states, “You guys are the world’s leader in handgun violence, your healthcare system is bankrupt, and your country is deeply divided on almost every important issue.” Even though this show was filmed back in 2005, these facts still reign true.

However, my issue with the current state of the world can be answered by one simple question: where did our sense of common courtesy go? When did we start being nice to people based on what we can get from them whether that’s money, power, or a promotion? When did promptly answering an email or text become so hard for people? We all have lives, we are busy with other things, but how hard is it to open the door for someone, text someone and ask how their day is, or give someone a compliment? How hard is it to write a reply if you’re busy or simply to show you received the message, but can’t get to it right now?

Imagine you have a family member or a best friend in desperate need of your help. They are broke, need a ride, or just want someone to talk to about how their day went. Now if I were in this situation, I would do anything I could for my friends because I care about their well being, and I know they would do the same for me. But even if you have such a close connection to someone, some people are still be reluctant to give up their time, money, or ears to someone unless it directs benefits them. We want to be helpful until it comes to us having to give up something in order to help others, then we’re out because it doesn’t convenience us.

So as you go about your day, look around you. Do you think common courtesy has died due to the current status of the world? Or do you still think it’s alive and well? Text your friend back you’ve been ignoring, hold the door for a stranger, or compliment someone on something you like about their outfit or personality. Let’s put some pure kindness back into the world even in the midst of this meteorologic and societal turmoil.

What IS Content Strategy?

When posed with the question of what exactly is content strategy is, I would respond by replying that it’s what we post, and why we post it on social media. If we are creating something of our own, it’s also what goal you hope to achieve by creating this post. For example, if I wanted to communicate to my readers that I am someone who enjoys the Netflix original series Stranger Things, I could tweet about how I am dying for the second season to come out in 2017 by saying, “When you finish Stranger Things and have to wait till next year for season 2” and including a gif of someone rolling their eyes in disgust for having to wait that long. This tweet, therefore, communicates that I have watched the show, communicates that I cannot wait for it to return, and using Twitter, instead of Facebook, to express these feelings allows me to reach a more millennial audience who would understand my frustrations.

However, individuals personal content strategy is a similar, but different, approach than the approach that businesses need to use to promote their ideas and to attract audiences. The four main points for using a content strategy are the audience, competition, media, and trends. Your business needs to be aware of what your audience needs from you and how your content can help them personally. Any good business needs to be aware of their competition so you can keep your audience base and not let your competition get the upper hand. Media is another key point in having a content strategy because as a business you need to be constantly engaging with your audience and others through different outlets of media such as social media, or possibly television. Trends are how companies can stay afloat. By knowing what is “in” or “hip” at the current time, you can figure out the correct ways to incorporate the latest trends into your content to appeal more to your audience. However, keeping up with trends is definitely something I believe businesses need to improve on because as a teenager, I have more knowledge of when something is not trendy anymore versus a company who may still be using Harambe memes, even though they are no longer funny to the general public.

Content strategizing can be difficult for businesses because it requires a large team to uncover all of this data in order for their business to stay hip, connected to their audience, and connected online as well as off by providing content that can help their audience. However, even though all of this strategizing  is hard, that doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t put just as much effort into this research as they do into their regular everyday advertising. Finally, companies need to find better ways to improve their strategy by having clear ideas of what they’re going to be tracking, more meetings to see how each part of the company are proceeding and to see how to move forward, documenting what exactly your strategy is, and avoid R.O.T. at all costs. “R.O.T.” stands for redundant, outdated, and trivial information. Audiences won’t be engaged in information that isn’t up to date, saying the same thing over again, or something they could have figured out on their own.

Although many businesses claim to have business strategies, you often see businesses losing audience because they didn’t fully develop their strategy and ended up wasting time and money. Keep up your analytics and keep up with your audience!



The Key to Key Messages

Sales pitches are the pinnacle of companies no matter what size they are. Key messages are an essential part of getting your point across no matter what angle you choose to come from. Key messages are a quick way to get your point across, support your point, and tell your audience to take action depending on your message. Different issues you are trying to push need to be put forth with different types of formatting to accurately get your point across. For example, Uber telling us how their service is better than cabs by telling why they’re better, supporting that with evidence, and giving their potential customers a percentage off of their first ride by downloading their app.


What They Say About Us vs. What We Say About Them: This kind of arrangement allows companies, or even political candidates, to elaborate on all of the facts they can contribute about themselves about how they are better than their opponent, then following with what their opponents will say about them in their own words on specific issues. Their opponent will say their points in opposition to their opponents first claims with facts of their own about why these facts aren’t true, their side is better ‘factually,’ and add why the opposing side should have your approval rather than the other side. Both sides defending and rejecting themselves at the same time. This, once again, is used in more instances of political candidates or big competing businesses. This would not be an ideal model for companies wanting their customers to take action, or wanting to describe their idea in detail.


Point, Message, Support, Action: This type of pitch is the most helpful for companies trying to reel in new customers by starting off with a main point, giving their message, giving support to their idea, and then giving the audience an action after seeing all of their message. Take Amazon Prime for example:

Point: Microwaveable meals are un-tasty and lame.

Message: Heating up dinner is so boring and doesn’t taste as it should. Blue Apron is a service that sends you all the ingredients you need to make a meal, all portions already made, and all you have to do is cook it. No more having to go to pick up fast food on your way home, Blue Apron has you covered with meals ranging from 30- 1 hour. You decide how much time you have and want you want, and Blue Apron will deliver.

Support: Original Recipes:

  • “Discover exciting, seasonal recipes created by our culinary team & renowned guest chefs
  • Recipes never repeated in the same year
  • Approximately 500-800 calories per serving”

Fresh Ingredients:

  • “Specialty ingredients that are fresher than the supermarket
  • Ingredients are perfectly pre-measured so there’s no waste
  • Meats naturally raised on antibiotic- and hormone-free diets”

Convenient Delivery:

  • “Free delivery nationwide
  • Choose a delivery day that best fits your schedule
  • Ingredients arrive in a refrigerated box so food stays fresh even if you’re not home when we deliver”

Source: https://www.blueapron.com/?cvosrc=search-paid.google.brand40&gclid=CPy4i-2ssM8CFU87gQodx0EMjg&utm_campaign=brand40&utm_medium=search-paid&utm_source=google

This would not be a good model for political candidates, or for non-profit organizations.


How Much Do They REALLY Know?

We constantly share information about ourselves whether it’s online, or in person. But do we really know exactly HOW much information we really share about ourselves when it comes to being online? Think about your Facebook profile. How many things have you liked? Where have you tagged yourself recently? What events have you said you were attending? Most people don’t realize exactly how much information they are actually sharing on the internet, or how easy it is for companies to target you more for advertisements with this information.

In this article, Charles Duhigg explains more about why we do the things we do from the places we shop, to our daily routine habits, to exactly how much information we truly put out about ourselves to advertisers. Andrew Pole started working for Target in 2002, but by 2010 he had made Target’s revenues jump from $44 million to $67 million dollars just by finding out people’s habits and going after them with advertisements at the right time based on information they had already collected on them. What type of information you ask? Companies of any sort can go after any information you allow them to see from where you’re from, where you’ve been, what restaurants you go to, if you’re married or divorced, etc. More examples could be,”your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what web sites you visit” (Duhigg 1).

After reading this article, I have become exponentially more aware of how much information about myself I am putting out for companies and others to see about me on a daily basis. Does that make me more inclined to withhold information for fear of companies knowing too much about me? Not necessarily. I know no matter how much I try, companies will always find some way of advertising things to me based on what I search.

Advertising will always be around us, telling us specific products will make our lives better. There are certain steps we can take to stop being advertised to as much as we now, but I do not believe there is any way to completely irradiate ourselves from advertisers lists. Advertising is a necessary evil that we all must deal with, but that we can still fight against when the time comes.

Source Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html

Chapter 11-3; Question 1

I was posed this question after reading an article by Lawrence Lessig where he claims that “digital tools” are “dramatically changing the horizon of opportunity for those who could create something new.” His question is: Are we restricting future creators by copy writing everything they can make money off of, or should we move towards a more free future?

As Lessig describes we are currently, due to the introduction of the WWB (World Wide Web), more things are becoming more readily available to us, legally or illegally, as far as content goes. He determines although we have no idea what the future of the internet holds, even the creators don’t know, we can still see glimpses of the future just ahead. “Yet there are elements of this future that we can fairly imagine. They are the consequences of falling costs, and hence falling barriers to creativity. The most dramatic are the changes in the costs of distribution but just as important are the changes in the cost of production. Both are the consequences of going digital: digital technologies create and replicate reality much more efficiently than nondigital technology does. This will mean a world of change.”

This being said: do we as a society have too many copyrights and restrictions on new creators to where they feel they cannot express what they want without being fined, or told that someone else already had that idea? Are we limiting ourselves as well as future creators by claiming more things than necessary?

And if so, what can we do to open up more doors to others and allow them to express themselves as well? Lessig says the answer is more free. “This is not a new question, though we’ve been well trained to ignore it. Free resources have always been central to innovation, creativity, and democracy.” Lessig is suggesting that we make companies and artists  allow more of their material to be free and easily accessible to the public’s use and further happiness.



Digital Divide

In our most recent reading of Chapter 10-1, our question asks us, “Beyond simply providing access to computer hardware and software, how should educators and policy makers concerned with closing the digital divide proceed?”

Jennifer S. Light says that, “For instance, some researchers approach the digital divide as a purely racial issue, while others combine race and socioeconomic status in their analysis.” She also says that especially in the United States, we don’t pause before assume that the digital divide will shrink if we just make it more readily available to people; that we think that educationally, socially, and economic inequalities will be eliminated. She also brings forth statistics that show that back in the 1970s and 1980s when handheld calculators were brought into the classroom. People thought that if would greatly increase performance  on standardized testing among all students. The results were quite the opposite. “Inequalities in outcomes for students, what really matters, did not substantially change, despite access to calculators.”

The question to be asked then is, even if we continue to increase access to computers and to technology as a whole, will that do anything to help close the digital divide, or is it simply that some people just don’t want to deal with technology?

My conclusion is that you cannot force people to go and learn new things about technology if they don’t want to. However, allowing more teachers and students to use media in the classroom setting ,instead of telling them not to, is a step in the right direction.

As Light says, “Historically, powerful political and commercial interests have shaped the ultimate form uses of technology. This profit orientation helps to explain why cable and other media have not realized their potential as broadly educational tools, particularly for self-improvement beyond the classroom…Without more prominent contributions from the education community, there is little reason to believe that the trend will be reversed.”

The Power of Smart Mobs

Smart mobs, according to Dictionary.com, is a group of people who assemble, move, or act collectively by using cellular phones or other wireless devices to communicate. In my most recent readings of Chapter 9, we discuss the power of communication via technology from cell phones and computers and how it can be used to bring people together for a cause or purpose. On numerous accounts, text messages and mass sharing of communication have overthrown governments as well as changed the course of time for lots of places.

With these new kinds of technology such as tablets and more social networking sites as well as communications apps, getting organized is not as hard as it used to be. The political advantages of SMS messaging and social implications of this are tremendous; no longer does society have to rely on fliers or word of mouth to relay messages, but can now turn to email, Twitter, Tumblr, and other networks.

City after city, one person, who can be described as the lone wolf, has a cause that they want to stand for and try to organize people and rally them to their cause. They tell one other person, that one person tells more people and before you know it, you have a “swarm” of people. With all the technology we have today, nothing is impossible without a leader.

The Internet’s True Impact

Ever since personal computer prices dropped significantly in the past decade or so, more people are having continuous access to the internet from their personal computers as well as their phones. Even though we may think that interacting on social media or getting onto the Internet hasn’t drastically changed our lives, there are a few significant changes that have occured throughout our daily lives that make reality different from the world wide web.

The Internet is different from reality in such examples as anonymity, physical distance, no physical appearance unless shown otherwise, and times becomes “immaterial” while on surfing the Internet. Everyone knows that with the right username or photo, they can make themselves anonymous and interact with others with a certain mystery to them. Physical distance is another huge factor when it comes to the Internet because you have the ability to meet people from all over the world without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home. Physical appearance has not become too much of a burden or problem as much as it was before with the help of profile pictures on many social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. However, this doesn’t stop people from copying random people’s pictures off the internet and claiming to be them such as an online predator might do.

For me personally, the Internet has allowed me to keep in touch with people I don’t get to see often, or that live farther away. It also allows me to showcase what is going on in my life to others who may not get to see me on a day to day basis. I also see the Internet as a place I go with questions that I am too afraid to ask personally to someone else face to face, or to keep up on current events as well as become a creative outlet for me. The Internet has altered how we go about our daily lives from asking out GPS on our smart phones how to get home from work, to buying a Groupon for that massage you have been eyeing for a while; the Internet as forever changed how we interact with one another. Is this change for the better, or for the worse? You decide what you believe.

Web: A Communication System

In my recent reading, John December traces the origins of the Web and describes the different functions of the Web. December refers to the web as a “communication system.” But what exactly does he mean by that? He uses the example that many people forget that the Web is just an application that “uses the Internet for data communication.” Ultimately, the Web has become the way to organize information, communicate with others, and interact with others using it on a global scale.

The Web is the way by which we can do a variety of other things. Like December says, it is merely an application by which we can accomplish other things, but many people forget that. The Web supposedly started by wanting people to be able to share text and files across all platforms from many different computers. And also to create hypertext: users being able to follow links through a path to find their information needed.

Even before the web became widely available to the public, people have always wanted to find more ways to communicate with one another and to be able to find the information quickly to answer their questions. The only thing different from now and back then is that we can now share information with more people than by just word of mouth from our One- to – One pattern to a new One- to – Many pattern all through help of the web. But why refer to the Web as a “communication system” instead of a “textual database” or other terms? I believe it is because not only can we find the facts about what we want, but we are also opening ourselves up to others people reviews and personal opinions along the way. We refer to the Web as a communication system because that is precisely what it is; a communication system. The only difference is that we are communicating way more information that just scientific files or low quality pixelated images, we are sharing our lives though text, pictures, and videos; all which are manners of communication between us as humans.