For what it’s worth

College athletics, man.

Disclaimers:

  1. I am not going to discuss athlete perks.
  2. This is in no way directed solely to Alabama fans.
  3. I honestly don’t care if you dislike LSU athletics. This post isn’t about bashing other NCAA football programs.

I can’t imagine the pressure collegiate-level athletes face. I especially can’t imagine the harsh criticisms most have to wake up to from the general public after a bad game. The saying goes, “You are your worst critic.” In 2013 that’s not true…thanks to Twitter.

The epic ending to the best football game I’ve watched all season (yes, I’m referring to the 2013 Iron Bowl) was nothing less than miraculous. The kicker for Alabama who played the majority of the game seemed a little nervous. Again, considering the pressure he was facing to execute perfection, I would probably be in the same frame of mind. Playing for Nick Saban sounds like running on a treadmill that never goes below 10 mph with no option to get off — just terrible.

He missed field goals that should have been made. I will admit that. I don’t think that ever constitutes a plethora of threats from the masses of Alabama “fans.” In fact, reading some of the tweets sent by “fans” to this player made me sick to my stomach and scared for his safety. I mentioned in a previous post that we seem to think we have a sense of anonymity behind a computer screen. Some take that a step further and believe that threatening people via social media platforms will bear no consequences.

The athletes that I have met at LSU live under constant scrutiny. They are celebrities, and they have to deal with the positive and negative consequences. Waking up to a tweet sent by one of your adoring fans saying something along the lines of “I hope you get raped and your mom gets the shit beat out of her” would make me question my love of the game.

We’ve all seen our fair share of fandom. And we’ve also seen the darker side. Each fan base has its problem children. This just went a bit too far, and I can’t help but talk about it. It worries me for the future of college athletics. Who wants to play a game when the threat of being raped, murdered, or — even worse — losing family members is even a topic of conversation after a big loss? We need an overhaul across the board. We need to realize most of the men on the field are between the ages of 18 and 22. And we need to shut up and let them play the game they have wanted to play their entire lives.

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Why I choose to be happy

This isn’t one of those, “I wake up every morning and look in the mirror…” posts.

Bear with me. I choose to be happy because I know I’m more fortunate than most. I choose to be happy because my worst day is someone’s best. I choose to be happy because of the support and encouragement of those around me.

My solace comes from various sources: the ocean, a song that makes me see the bigger picture, writing because I feel like it, running to feel my heartbeat quicken. This may be a generalization, but I find that most people my age are so virtually connected that they lack a sense of reality when it comes to pure happiness.

A digital presence is important. I learn that more and more each day. However a digital presence can be misinterpreted as a form of anonymity. Your name may be associated with something, but it can always be deleted right? I find that my generation is never satisfied. Someone is always a little faster or more creative or has a quicker wit, which can lead to an inferiority complex.

Social and digital media has allowed this inferiority complex to be front and center. Tempers or cruelty take over, and thoughts are splayed across a screen in black and white. (Or in color, if that’s your design preference.)

This is why I choose to be happy regardless of my long, busy, tiring day. I choose to take an hour or so for myself at the gym, on a run, cooking dinner, reading Buzzfeed articles, etc. I choose to find a little bit of solace each day so my temper doesn’t get the best of me when things aren’t 100 percent perfect. Because that’s not reality. And I’m not anonymous. I’m happy.

Why everyone needs (good) PR

What is Public Relations? 

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It’s simple really. PR acts as a bridge between an entity/person and its audience(s). We are the middle man. We break barriers that tend to build when communication (external and internal) is lacking. We attempt to avoid crises…but our methods aren’t foolproof. 

I love the field that I am gaining an education in. It’s fast-paced and constantly evolving. There’s nothing static about public relations. We are the people who are learning the importance of a simple tweet or Facebook post. We know how to break down the Return on Investment of free platforms which allow companies to interact with loyal customers. 

I find it’s tough to be confident about the field of PR as a budding practitioner. We catch flack for our positions within companies; not many people know (or care to know) about the importance of our insight. We have to be aware 100% of the time. Meaning we have to know the positives and negatives of the internal culture of the client as well as the external variables that exist. Hindrances are often and accolades are few. 

In all honesty, that’s what motivates me. I’m determined to prove why PR is integral to a successful business or simple venture. Social media is the forefront communication. I like to think that after several classes focused on social media, I know what’s going on without hesitation. That’s just not the case, though. Again…PR is fast-paced and ever evolving. Anything and everything will change from one minute to the next. Timelines are obsolete because there are no solidified predictions. 

I’m excited to see where PR will be in 5 years. I have a feeling we will become the go-tos versus the “what do you do?” 

The problem with social media

All that glitters is not gold. 

This is a paragraph devoted to what “grinds my gears.” Picture this: you’re out with a friend or significant other and you notice that a couple sits down at the table next to you. Immediately, both take out their phones and find more interest in an inanimate bright screen than the person sitting across from them. It’s sad to witness, honestly. In reality, this scenario is a telltale sign of what’s to come or worse–what’s already here.

The human species has thrived through interaction. Oral history was necessary to create cultures and maintain lifestyles. We have evolved drastically, sure, but interpersonal relationships are still critical to society. I can’t imagine texting my Paw Paw Rufus. He gets frustrated when someone calls on a cell phone, for goodness sake. If I want to speak to him, I drive or walk to his house, sit down at his dining room table and have a face-to-face conversation. These are the memories I will carry with me forever, not the ones I post on Facebook because I’m bored.

I understand the importance of social media. My degree focuses specifically on strategies, research, establishment, etc. I learn each day about how companies use SoMe to influence audiences and encourage loyalty. I get excited when I learn about a newly released platform and want to create an account as soon as I can open another tab. I become consumed with books about word of mouth, crisis communication and how everything is now influenced by the average Joe through personal accounts.

Even with the infinite love I have for my personal accounts, I have tried purging the virtual reality of SoMe from my life on a few occasions. It becomes overwhelming to keep up with each platform and post interesting content that my connections actually care about. Facebook, Twitter and other accounts provide instant gratification through the amount of likes and retweets…but those numbers can’t hold a candle to a story Paw Paw Rufus tells me about when he was learning how to two-step.

What we need to do is take more time to talk to people, regardless of who they are. We need to talk to the person next to us at the doctor’s office or in class. We need to get back to the mentality of making someone’s day a little better by just asking how they are. If we’re only here for such a short amount of time, why don’t we use every spare moment to foster more positive relationships–in the real world?

Empowerment and whatnot

I never thought I was a “pretty girl” in high school.

To be completely honest, I didn’t give myself time to worry about what I looked like when I was at school. I knew what clothes I was going to wear (uniforms–dreaded khakis and navy/white polos) and hardly ever found the time to fix my hair in a reasonable fashion.

I wanted to give off the appearance that I didn’t need any type of positive reinforcement for how I dressed/looked/acted, but secretly I was desperate for turning heads and flirtatious glances. Again, I never thought I was “attractive.” I think that stemmed from going against the grain; I didn’t tan, I didn’t have to touch up my roots and I usually wore a sports bra to school.

I wasn’t doing this in spite of the status quo or societal norms. I just didn’t care or (again) didn’t have the time to be concerned. There was still that little voice in my head telling me I was missing out on something; I wasn’t asked on many dates and I usually went to dances with guy friends. I certainly didn’t date much, and I liked to make the excuse that I wasn’t interested in anyone.

I was one of the lucky ones, though. I had the opportunity to prove I was something other than “pretty.” I was always encouraged to challenge myself in other ways and pursue leadership opportunities when they presented themselves. (Thanks, mom.) I also like to think that I was freakishly mature in some ways, which made social settings kind of awkward.

Basically, I wasn’t hot by anyone’s standards. In hindsight, I’m kind of glad. I was able to be successful based upon my talents not easily seen at first glance. I was confident in my intellect and wanted to leave the place I called home to learn more. Again, I was one of the lucky ones.

What young girls need RIGHT NOW is for someone to tell them how special they are. It doesn’t have to be every minute or even every day, but it has to be said by someone other than the guy they have a crush on. Girls in middle school and high school need to know what they are capable of contributing to society–something other than a sexy body or pretty face. There isn’t enough genuine, authentic love represented in our culture (especially via reality TV).

No wonder girls are so quick to compete to be the “sexy” one at age…what…13? That’s atrocious. You can’t be sexy at 13.

So, from a woman who has found her confidence but still needs some encouragement:

  1. Embrace the awkward stage as much as possible.
  2. Life gets better after high school.
  3. Pick your passions and your role models wisely.
  4. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  5. Someone will appreciate you for your quirks one day, I promise.

There are websites and blogs devoted to being a smart girl and loving yourself. I would love to use my talents in social media and education in creating workshops that would encourage self-esteem and discourage irrational social media use in middle and high school-aged girls. We are all reporters and publishers in the world of social media, and we all disseminate information each day to our audiences. We have to hold ourselves accountable and work diligently to avoid future Steubenville cases.

Let’s get personal

I love social media.

I love it so much, in fact, I’m going to share all of my account standings with you. (I promise this isn’t a cheap ploy to get more followers…or maybe it is. I do think I’m mildly entertaining depending on the day.)

Facebook: I currently boast 2,691 friends

Twitter: I am followed by 617 people

Instagram: I tell my “life through pictures” to  598 followers

Pinterest: I pretty much only pin social media infographics, therefore I’m educating 65 people

Foursquare: I tell 67 people where I am

LinkedIn: I’m attempting to impress 244 connections

Gifboom and Cinemagram: I’m creative, but I’m not this creative; I have a few followers on both

My blog boasts quite a few followers, and on tumblr I have around 30 followers

So why am I telling you this and what importance does it have on your life? Probably nothing, honestly. I’ll attempt to make this relevant regardless. My major calls for twitter chats, live-streaming meetings via twitter, sharing experiences through Facebook, connecting to prospective employers through LinkedIn, expressing my creativity/individualism through Pinterest and Instagram, and even finding extra time in the week to get a couple blog posts written. I love Public Relations, and I love the art of balance.

I have noticed a recurring theme, however. There will always be a sense of anonymity when using social media platforms–even if your name and face are plastered next to what you’re saying/posting. We have lost a personal touch through our sincere reliance upon machines to get our point across. I love face-to-face interaction, and sometimes I even want to avoid it because it’s more “time consuming” or “difficult” than writing a quick tweet or creating a generic “I miss and love you, let’s hang soon!” Facebook post.

Some of the best memories I have of growing up are going to family reunions and having full-fledged conversations with my aunts, uncles, etc. They have given me so much advice, and I can’t imagine not having my family to confide in. I made it a point this year (during our annual family post-Christmas gathering) to put my phone away and leave my computer at home. And guess what? I had a damn good time. I breathed a little easier and shut the “real world” out for a few days. I laughed a little longer and listened a little more. 

I used to frantically worry that I was missing something important if I didn’t know about everything that was going on in my little world. I’ve learned to just let it be. Of course, social media makes it easier to keep up with life’s goings on. Taking an obnoxious amount of photos will never do a genuine experience justice though. (Kind of like recording a song from a concert or attempting to get the perfect picture of an artist probably won’t help you relive the experience any more than just closing your eyes and feeling the music would.)

Basically, I am contemplating a social media hiatus. Not today or even next week, but sometime soon. I am going to develop those relationships I have allowed to slip through the cracks as of late. So much for those 2500+ Facebook friends, right? I’m challenging myself to have more fun in real life and stop obsessing over posting everything I do via social media. Will you join me?