Saturday, December 28, 2013

Is Social Media Making Us Poor?

I like a good “selfie” as much as the next person. I, along with 41 percent of millennials, regularly post pictures of myself on social media. If I spend 30 minutes on my makeup, then go to dinner with my family, my parents sure don’t care. I've got to show the social media friends who will give some respect and maybe even a “like.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, millennials are on the forefront of the social media trends. You could call us the connoisseurs of social media. On average, millennial women follow 22 brands on social media and 79 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 65 feel that feedback on their social content is important to them. The social media savvy like to post about our new jobs (42 percent of women updated a new job status within a week), our failed relationships (45 percent of women updated their new relationship status within a week), and even our food (35 percent of millennials regularly post pictures of food they made). Social media is a new way for what has been called the “me generation” to talk, post, and chat about ourselves.

But is this tendency towards social media hurting our ability to progress in the workforce? The Conference Board of Canada recently released a study saying that due to an “unconscious bias,” young women are less likely to be given better job opportunities. The Board says that this bias manifests itself in the form of “underestimating young women as being too young, or not ready, to assume increasingly more challenging leadership roles.” Despite the fact that 74 percent of millennial women in the workplace were identified as “high performers” compared to 66 percent of millennial men, we’re still not getting the promotions. Why?
Though the study doesn’t explore the source of this bias, I have to ask myself, is it because of our attachment to social media that older generations see younger women as immature and unreliable? Not only do millennials tend to use social media more often than older generations, but women also rely on it more than men. 71 percent of women use social networking sites compared to 62 percent of men. Plus, while men dominate sites like Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube, women make up the majority of users for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. And while the average user stays on LinkedIn for 17 minutes, users, on average, spend 89 minutes on Tumblr and Pinterest and 405 minutes on Facebook. So it would seem that women tend to spend more time on sites that are less related to their actual jobs.      

Is it possible that this “unconscious bias” against young women is due to our dependence on the same sites where Kim Kardashian posts pictures of her butt and Grumpy Cat found his 15 minutes of fame? Women, like me, are posting selfies, Instagram-ming our lunches, and tweeting our daily experiences like they’re breaking news. Does this make us look less responsible and less ready for promotion in the workplace than our male counterparts? Though there’s no definitive evidence to point one way or the other, I would argue yes. Even if your boss doesn’t see your drunken weekend tweets, he sees women all over the world, especially young women, revealing their every thought to the worldwide web. Unfortunately, there’s a stereotype and, even more unfortunately, it’s at least partly true. So all of this research begs the question: is social media making us millennial women poor?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Write Way To Say Thank You

            Remember those thank you notes back from your sixth birthday party? The ones that were already printed, with some cute cartoon character or other. All you had to do was fill in the name of your friend and what they got you. So easy. But you made sure to do it every year.
            Just because you’re 20-something now doesn’t mean you get to skip out on the thank you cards. Maybe the cartoon, fill-in-the-blanks version isn’t quite appropriate anymore, but a hand-written note can go a long way, especially this holiday season.  As Southern Living puts it, “the art of writing an ‘old-school’ note is being lost,” but if you go against the flow and send one anyway, it’ll make a huge difference.
            Whether it’s for a relative, a co-worker, or even a friend, a hand-written note goes a long way, especially when it’s for someone you want to impress. Sending a nice letter not only keeps you in their mind, but it also shows that you took the time to show them appreciation and that you are cognoscente of at least a mild form of etiquette (and I’m not ashamed to admit most of us millennials aren’t). Leslie Harpold of The Morning News wrote in her article “How to Write a Thank-You Note” that though someone from your grandmother’s generation might not say anything to you, “she and her friends are probably at this very moment sighing over how young people today just don’t have manners.” Thank-you cards were and still are a thing, and not sending them can come across as rude. Sure, email or text are so easy, but how often do you skim emails and texts and just don’t give a sh*t? I do it all the time! But how often do I get a card? Never. And I love getting mail. So when someone takes the time to actually put something in the mail, and spends the $3 it’ll cost to buy a card and a stamp, it means a lot.
            When you’re writing a thank you note, according to Southern Living (because who knows manners better than a southerner?), invest in some nice stationary. You'll use it more than once so pick something you can use for a variety of occasions. Personalize your letter. “If you’re going to see the person in the future, refer to the event and say you’re looking forward to it,” Jennifer Beeler of Southern Living said in her article “How To Write a Charming Thank You Note.” Don’t just re-write the same cut and dry thing every time, think of something that applies to them. And be sincere! Don’t write something like, “oh my god this was the cutest pair of Christmas socks ever” if you are actually using them to clean your stove. Instead, say something like “they were so thoughtful and I will get great use out of them.” It’s really not that hard, and it doesn’t take that long. This holiday season, don’t forget to not only say thank you, but to put it in words.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ode to the Dinner Conversation

            Yes, I see you there, friend of mine. Your cell phone is not your fourth utensil, so why are you sitting it right there on the corner of your napkin?  Are you expecting an incredibly important call in the next 30 minutes while we’re out to lunch? Is it a life or death situation, or are you just checking every five minutes to see who liked your latest Instagram post?
            Put your phone away.
            I see it nearly every time I’m out to eat, even once or twice on dates! Young adults literally can’t be separated from their phones, even for the 30 minutes it’ll take them to sit and eat. Maybe I was the only one reprimanded by my parents for texting at the dinner table. Maybe your parents were hip, cool parents who said, “By all means, text away! I didn’t want to hear about your day anyway.” But that’s not me. And yes, I do mind if you’re texting while I’m trying to talk to you.
            It’s just rude. Call me crazy, call me old-fashioned, call me a grandma, whatever. It’s rude. If I wanted to eat by myself while you’re off on your own texting about something that’s apparently more important than my company, I would have stayed at home. Probably would have cost less anyway. I don’t eat out at restaurants or spend $10 on a sandwich because the food is really that much better. I do it for the experience. I do it so I can sit down and talk with whoever I’m at a meal with. But if she’s on her phone the whole time, how am I supposed to talk to her?
            Ok, yes, I’m being a bit rant-y. But that’s just how I was raised. You don’t text at dinner. In fact, you don’t bring your phone to the table. That was a sacred time to sit, to talk, the only real time I got with my family where everyone was truly attentive to each other. And now, millennials are connected to their phones in a way I just can’t comprehend. Did you know that 64% of young adults ages 18-29 have admitted to falling asleep with their phones in their bed? Researchers have compared young adults’ addiction to cell phones to alcoholism and substance abuse.

            I like my cell phone as much as the next person. It’s a great way to distract myself on the bus ride home or to schedule the next day’s meeting. But when you’re out at a meal? Just leave it in your bag. I promise, you’re probably not going to miss anything life-changing if you just put it away for one meal. Just talk to the person you’re with. That’s why you went out in the first place, isn’t it?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Following the Frenchies

             For those of you who aren’t following the latest reporting trends (it’s alright, I didn't expect you to), much of reporting has gone to social media. After all, Twitter can report the latest breaking news faster than a news station can. Which means that as a journalism student, my social media has turned into my work. I have to remind myself to tweet something related to my “beat” every day, to post relevant articles on Facebook (and make sure that everything else I post is “work worthy”), and I usually just avoid most other outlets so I don’t have to keep track of what I’m posting there as well. But there’s one outlet I’ve kept just for me: Instagram.
            No, this doesn’t mean that I’m posting ludicrous and laughable photos on my own Instagram account. It means that when it comes to Instagram, I couldn’t care less about my “beat” or relevant sites. I’m all about the French bulldogs. For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE French bulldogs. With their squishy faces, fat little legs, and waddling, old-man walks, I can’t help but squeal every time I see them. They. Are. Adorable.
That’s why of all the accounts I follow on Instagram, probably half are various French bulldogs. No, it doesn’t help with my journalism career. But here are five reasons I keep those bulldogs around.

Credit: manny_the_frenchie
        Sometimes you need a smile: In the high-stress world of college, sometimes, you just need something to make you smile. Did you know that that “aww” feeling you get when you see a puppy is actually a release of a chemical in your brain called oxytocin, which is a strong protector against stress? If you’re a fan of fluffy cats or, like me, those squishy little faces, follow whatever can give you a grin. It’s scientifically proven to make you less stressed.
           Don’t take yourself so seriously: I see you out there, taking selfie after selfie, documenting your latest fashion attempts and trend ideas. I get it: you’ve got to make yourself look trendy and your life enviable. But don’t forget the idea of social media; to make socializing fun. If you’re putting so much thought into your every post, what fun is that? Just follow the dog. Just do it.
Credit: frank_the_funnyfrenchie
             It won’t incriminate you: If you think that a potential boss isn’t all over your social media accounts, you’re living in another world. If you’re posting crazy, drunken pictures from your friend’s 21st on Instagram, a potential boss might see. But if you’re just following some squishy cuties, how embarrassing is that?
      Stay up to date on trends: You may think that cute little puppies won’t help you much in the way of trend-spotting, but you’d be wrong. After all, “Grumpy Cat” was on the cover of New York Magazine under the title “Boom Brand.” One of my favorite puppies, Manny the Frenchie, was a talk-show guest several times. Though it may seem superficial, following the occasional animal friend can actually keep you ahead of the trend-train.

“Boom Brand” ideas of your own: Maybe you’ve got a budding entrepreneur inside of you, or you’re looking for a project to embark on. These puppies are cute, but their owners are branding geniuses. They’re making calendars, shirts, raking in free boxes of goodies, endorsements, sponsorships; they’re making a business out of their pets. If I ever get lucky enough to have a Frenchie of my own, I’ll have a million ways to bring in the big bucks. Just you wait.
Credit: barkleysircharles