D.A. Contextual Essay

Watching my D.A. progress over the semester has been an eye opening experience. When I first chose to aim my focus on social media’s effects on personal branding, I quickly decided that building a blog would be the perfect option for me.What I have learned about myself during my career as a college student is that I thrive when writing, especially when given the opportunity to write about myself and my opinions. I believe writing gives you the opportunity to really reflect on your ideas, and as seen throughout my social media log for the month of May, my direction and reactions not only varied but also continued to become more focused and clear.

The first week I had the easiest time maintaining my log and staying on track with my schedule. I found my first post to be the most focused and detailed, especially in regards to how it related to my personal brand. As the month progressed, staying on top of my log and consistently blogging each week became hard and repetitive. However, I knew I would be able to get it all done by reminding myself that writing about my reactions to how I represent myself virtually was more interesting than painful.

As the weeks progressed, I honestly didn’t see as many changes in my social media use as expected or hoped for. I will admit I became more aware of how much time I was spending on social media and editing apps, however, this didn’t necessarily influence me to change anything. If anything, it just made me shameful of how obsessed I was with my social media but also aware of how important it was to me.

When I began to feel like I was getting behind, I used my saved snapchats stories and dates of posts in order to keep track of when, where, why and how I was posting things. I kept the log in the notes in my phone each week and then transferred it to excel when I was ready to blog each week.

I think something I struggled with was taking each week’s log and using them to learn specifically about personal branding. I will admit that I was somewhat confused on exactly what the D.A. was asking for.  Instead of using the research I found for my first two blogs at the beginning of the semester and my Prezi, I focused more on analyzing my learning process. Rather than bringing in factual info on personal branding, I wanted this process to be more of a documented blog about my feelings on how social media’s prevalence in my life has influenced my ability to brand myself to my followers.

As the weeks went on, because I felt a log and reaction would become too repetitive, I forced myself to get creative. I added to idea of creating a survey in order to get reactions from my friends on social media and how it effects their authenticity when building their brand online. This idea allowed me to compare my own opinions and ideas to those around me. However, I could’ve pushed the survey on more people in order to get more information on my peers’ and classmates’ feelings. Instead I found the answers to be somewhat contradicting and not as helpful as I had hoped.

Bringing in other platforms I use to form my personal brand was also important and a good asset to my last blog post.  Because I originally was only focusing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat in my logs, I began to lose sight of all the other platforms I use to strengthen my appearance and persona online. I could’ve completely left out Twitter because I only use it for class, and instead added LinkedIn and WordPress in order to more accurately represent my digital use.

Overall, the process allowed me to learn a lot about myself as well as how important building a personal brand is for society today, especially my generation. I am at the peak of my online presence and it’s importance towards my success. I am headed towards my last year at uni, and the path towards finding a future successful job, family, friends, etc. My life is changing every day, just as my personal brand does. It is important to maintain exactly how I want to be represented and viewed online. Whether I like to admit it or not, my online presence has taken completely taken over my life.

Personal Brand Social Media Log: Week 4

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This week I continued to track my social media use for the month. To be completely honest I will admit it has started to feel somewhat repetitive and I haven’t necessarily noticed any drastic changes in my social media use. During my time abroad, I have noticed how much I rely on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to not only keep up to date with my family and friends, but mostly to give my followers the opportunity to take a look into my life and my experiences.

Although I have only been tracking my Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter use, because in my opinion they are the four most commonly used platforms, I have also used various other platforms that I haven’t yet mentioned to build my personal brand. Instead of repeating my general reactions to my social media log for this last week, I want to open up about the other platforms I use in order to learn more about my own personal brand.

I find myself using WordPress frequently during my time abroad. Whether that be because I have to for uni work or just because I enjoy documenting my trip, I really like the format of the platform. Being able to write about my experiences as well as attaching photos to remind myself of each trip has really had a strong impact on my time while abroad. This blog has allowed to me to really open up to my followers in a vulnerable manner, and although I don’t share every single personal thing in my posts mostly because my parents follow the account, I truly believe my blog posts are authentic and pure representations of my experiences. I don’t allow myself the ability to edit my appearance or personal self in these posts like I can with Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, and have aimed to be truthfully authentic. I have attached the link to my travel blog at the top of my Instagram travel account.

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I have mentioned my Instagram travel account numerous times throughout my social media logs each week. It really has become a huge part of my everyday social media use while i’ve been in Australia. I decided to create my account prior to coming here to influence myself to constantly document my time while traveling. How is this account different from my normal account? I use this account to post more frequently about my meals, experiences, day excursions, stories, etc. In addition, I haven’t publicly shared this account with all of my followers from my main Instagram account, so it’s more personalized. Another reason for this is because I don’t need my thousands of unfamiliar followers  having access to my whereabouts and being able to read my blog posts, because most of them are very personal.

I post a lot more photos on my travel account. At least for me, constantly posting pictures on my main Instagram account of myself, my meals, my activities etc. can quickly become obnoxious or make it seem as if i’m overly self consumed. When I see other girls constantly posting photos of themselves it comes off as if they are bragging about their beauty or experiences. This may sound superficial, but that’s why I don’t like to post everything and anything I do and experience to my main account. Instead I use my travel account as a blog with tons of photos for the people that are genuinely interested, and my main account for the best photo from each experience.

So how does this account help my personal brand grow and thrive if not all my followers have access to it? I have tailored the account so that only the people that I want follow it have access to it. This is mostly my close network of friends and family members. I have learned that the importance of one’s personal brand isn’t all about competing with the thousands of people that we interact with online. Instead, at least to me, my online presence and persona really only matters to the certain people I care about sharing it with.

Think about it…When you post an Instagram or Facebook post and look for the comments and likes, you aren’t looking for the strangers that give your posts attention, instead you are looking for the people in your life who matter, whether that be family, close friends or employees/employers.

Through my research on personal branding, I have found that a lot of one’s personal brand is very much relevant to employers and standing out in the job market. I consider my LinkedIn account another form of social media that I use frequently. I use this platform to keep in touch with my friends and their progressions with internships and summer jobs while I have been gone. I also have used it to update employers that I have been studying for a semester in Australia, expanding my Network connections as well as adding a spark to my resume. I have even found myself messaging employers in Australia as well as responding to employers from home who have reached out.

Ending Week 4 of logging my Social Media use and how it effects my personal brand, I have been able to learn a lot about myself. I will share my overall reactions to the process in my Contextual Essay which will be posted as my fifth and final blog post.

Personal Branding Social Media Log: Week 3

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Watching my social media progress over the past few weeks has been a very interesting process. I have noticed how much my everyday activities effect the personal brand I create for myself online. If I have an uneventful or boring day here, I feel more inclined to post on social media in order to lead my followers to believe that I am constantly busy and enjoying my time here. Uneventful and boring days are inevitable, however, I like to create the idea that I instead am living life to the fullest here.

I wanted to switch it up a little this week to take what I have learned about my own personal branding tactics in order to see if I can notice a trend with my peers. I reached out to my friends and classmates to take a survey regarding personal branding and social media use to see if they were willing to be honest with themselves and question their authenticity online.

The following link allows you to see the layout of the survey: 

To be honest, I sent the survey out to friends and posted it on twitter and didn’t get as many people as I had hoped to take it. It also seems as if the people who did it took it fast because I noticed some questions were skipped or I received comments to questions with undecided comments like “idk” or “sometimes”.

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What I can take away from the survey and the noticeable mixed responses is that personal branding is a very sensitive topic. I believe people are hesitant to admit that they falsify themselves online in order to create a certain intended persona for themselves. It’s hard for someone to admit to their insecurities. I myself have hated seeing how much time I spend editing my photos, questioning what things I should post, when I should post them, what platforms I should use, all to impress those around me. It really makes me question what my priorities are, and how low my self esteem may be. It leads me to question how much of my activities and experiences I actually do for myself and personal pleasure, and on the other hand, how much I do just to be able to post about it online.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with one upping each other. We are battling to be the  better friend, acquaintance, student, sibling, etc. and we tend to lose sight of ourselves because of this. Over the past few weeks, I have started to question how much time I am spending actually enjoying my experiences around me, and instead, how much time I use consumed by filming, photographing and posting about my adventures. We live in a digital age now, and the old fashioned hiking trips and surreal moments have become a second priority for some. Instead, it’s all about the photo or post you can take away from the experience, all just to continue to build our prized possession that we like to call our personal brand.

 

D.A. Personal Branding Log Week 2

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Attached above is my most recent log for tracking my personal brand via my social media use. This week, I realized how much of my personal life over the span of a week can effect and change my personal brand. For example, last week I was traveling and also had a lot of projects due, so my personal brand was consistently updated throughout the week. I wanted to create this persona that I am essentially the quintessential “study-abroader”, maintaining my grades while also having a great time traveling as well. Whereas this week I wasn’t traveling or that busy so I was forced to continue to entertain my followers in order to maintain this persona by posting pictures of my trip and posting videos on snapchat throughout the week.

This past week I noticed a few changes in my social media use. Of course I didn’t suddenly become this careless social media user, but I definitely was more aware of the time I was spending on social media and shaping my personal brand. I constantly questioned how much of my posts were purely authentic, in other words accurately depicted how each day went, and how much of it was framed for my followers.  Breaking down each day of this past week I think I made some improvements by spending a little less time obsessively “lurking” my followers, however I still lived up to the cliche of spending way too much time editing and over analyzing my photos before posting them.

I wonder if shaping one’s personal brand varies based on gender? I assume males try to shape their social media use to resemble male stereotypes that they are aiming to associate themselves with, while women spend time shaping their appearance and persona on social media to associate themselves as beautiful and interested in varying subjects depending on who they are trying to portray themselves as, but they definitely care a lot more. I have noticed a lot of my female friends are aware of photo editing apps including Visco and Facetune. Facetune allows you to edit your facial features and body to appear thinner, whiten your teeth, and even give yourself a fresh tan. Which if i’m being completely honest, I’ve used both apps and I know the majority of my girl friends do as well if they want to spruce up a photo before positing it. A lot of my guy friends aren’t familiar with this app and those who are tend to make fun of it. Adolescent girls spend hours each week consumed by editing their appearance because they can….and we question why women in our society have such low self esteem and appearance issues.

So what I am starting to take away from tracking my social media use and my personal brand is how harmful this obsession truly can be. The goal ideal image that both men and women are becoming obsessed with trying to portray themselves as online is forcing them to lose sight of themselves. As mentioned in my Prezi during my in class presentation, competing to find a job and stand out from others on social media has become a very relevant and important aspect for people looking into the job market. To say that society is becoming more and more obsessed with competing with one another leads me to question where our pureness and genuineness is headed as a future society. We are essentially being influenced to frame ourselves online in ways that make us better than those around us in order to stand out amongst the crowd. With the growth of technology, who even knows how terrible the effects of social media might be in our near future.

Next week I plan to take a survey from my friends in order to see how they feel about their social media use and efforts towards shaping their personal brand in order to get a different perspective as well as still maintaining my own personal social media log to track my progress.

Digital Decision-Making: Blog 2

Madeleine Burkitt

Despite the distinction between our lives and digital lives all but disappearing (we’re onlife), we often characterise ethics and civil engagement in online spaces as being categorically compromised.

In a show on ABC Radio National, commentator Waleed Aly explains how he believes the inherent structure of the medium of social media as a broadcast platform compromises our ability to have constructive dialogue, and to connect meaningfully with each other:

“Arguments and ideas that are tossed around are never really tossed around because all of those ideas are turned from engagement to performance. Every aspect of our lives, suddenly, whether it be argument over a political issue, a social issue, pop culture, or whether it is the endless tweeting of meals you’re eating—the thing that unites all of that is that it is an experience of performance.” – Waleed Aly

This reading of connection and civil engagement in digital…

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CyberSolutions – an update of the tech that is changing our world

If you’ve read my previous post (which, to be honest, I’d totally understand if you hadn’t), you’d know that for my digital artefact I’m looking into the way that advancements in technology are being used around the world to solve important problems. This post is my place to summarise and your place (beloved reader) to understand the scope of the project, where it’s currently at and why it’s important. Basically, read on to discover a summary of CyberSolutions: tech used for good not evil.

Reasoning behind project:
On a slight aside, my favourite thing about my university degree is the flexibility I have throughout my assignments: I am given the space to research a topic of my choosing within most subjects. As such, I like to centre my assignments around my (hopeful) career. As someone with deep passions in social justice and a deep hope to contribute towards social justice within my career, I am fascinated with the way technology and marketing can be used to overcome some of the issues our world faces. And so, this project is a way to collect informative examples of tech being used for social good. Originally, as outlined in my previous post, I was specifically hoping to focus on CyberPoverty, however, as I’ve now found out, sadly there isn’t an overwhelming amount of tech that’s sole purpose is to alleviate poverty. So, to broaden the project and provide more examples, I am now focusing on tech for all sorts of social purposes. I am hopeful that this project will create a space where examples can be easily seen, compared, and maybe even inspire more change.

The project itself:
The project takes shape in the form of a website. Within the (work-in-progress) website is a world map with pins dropped on countries with tech examples. Clicking on that pin will then bring up a page of information about the example. Initial plans were for either a Prezi or a blog. I decided against a Prezi as I want the reader to have full control of which countries they are looking at, and Prezi’s don’t allow for huge amounts of text, which aspects of this project requires. A blog also didn’t seem right as I feel as though a blog really incorporates the writer a lot into the content, whereas this project is really about the information, not about the writer.

Other features of project:
An interesting almost spin-off from the main information in my project, is the paradox that comes with technology. My previous post touched on this aspect, however, the final website will have an entire section on this so I’ll collect the thoughts here.
The paradox exists between technology, the rich and the poor. As my project investigates, there are technologies out there being used to help those that struggle the most, notably, those living in extreme poverty. However, as the richer countries create mind-blowing, seemingly impossible technologies everyday, this means the poorer countries fall further and further behind in advancements. As such, technology widens the divide between the richer and poorer countries but one day it may also close, or at least lessen, the same divide. This is the paradox.

An estimated 79% of the people in the ‘Third World’ – the 50 poorest nations of our world – have no access to electricity. The total number of individuals without power is listed at about 1.5 billion – a quarter of the world’s population. Mostly in Africa and southern Asia (Gronewold). So, if fundamentally a huge, huge, chunk of people in our world don’t even have access to electricity, how are they meant to keep up with technological innovation? And this is the digital divide that Manuel Castells discusses in his book, The Internet Galaxy. He talks about the rapid diffusion of the internet and how it is spread unevenly throughout the globe: the Internet presence for some individual countries, especially in those classified as developing, is much lower. This lack of internet in the ‘developing world’ is being driven by the huge gap in telecommunications infrastructure, internet service providers, and internet content providers as well as by the strategies being used to deal with this gap. We, in richer countries, are basically saying to the poor that “you can’t sit with us”, technological social exclusion of millions of people, sounds like the worst high school playground of all f**king time. Poorer countries are kept reliant on first-world innovation, adding to the viscous cycle of ‘white-saviors‘ and poverty.  Castells discusses how the Internet is not just a technology, its an organizational and connective community. Most of us use it every single day for multiple purposes, we can’t imagine our lives without it. But what we need to imagine is the wide divide that exists because of these differences in technologies around the world.

What this project has made me decide about the cyber paradox is that these technological advancements are going to happen regardless. And so, even though this might add to the digital divide, it might also help to close the gap between developed and developing if the tech is powerful enough to solve some serious social stuff.

Challenges:
The biggest challenge I have faced within this project is actually finding the relevant examples. I’m not sure if the examples are hard to find because a) there isn’t much tech being used to solve problems (hopefully unlikely) b) the examples aren’t being broadcast to the rest of the world or c) I’m real crap at researching (probable). Regardless, I’ve found it to be a bit of a struggle to locate, and verify, purposeful technologies.

It’s also been a challenge to present the project exactly how I originally wanted. In my mind, the project ideally would be an interactive world map where users could hover over and a small box would appear with the country and the title of the tech, then they could click in and bring up a pop-up box with more info about the technology. However, since I’m not very experienced in the website-producing area, I’ve struggled with hover-over abilities. So, to adapt, users can now just click on a pin to see the example.

Examples so far:

Australia –

  • Nima: The World’s 1st Portable Gluten Tester
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This neat lil piece of tech is used to test food or drink for the presence of gluten. Coeliac and gluten intolerances are heavily present within Society, so to save people the risk of eating something that contains gluten, people can test their food in 3 minutes with this technology to be sure. A handy little tool for solving a prominent social issue.

Africa

  • Worldreader
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775 million people in the world are illiterate, and as the population grows, the problem is worsening. Worldreader uses inexpensive e-readers with extended battery life to provide books to children and young people. The program support the e-readers with extensive training and capacity building for teachers, facilitators, and librarians, and features fun activity plans that are designed to nurture a love for reading. The project has reached more than 200,000 people in 27 countries, providing them with more than 5,000 book titles in 23 languages. – Gharib 2014

Europe

  • Invisible Donations

Philippe Douste-Blazy, a French cardiologist and a special adviser to the secretary general of the UN tested the theory that people wouldn’t notice a small amount of money coming off as a tax on expensive things they purchase. He tested this using a service charge of  €1 on tickets for flights out of France. Between 2006 and 2014, they made US $2 billion and received no complaints about the levy. This money has been spent on initiatives to fight HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in third-world countries – Grimminck, 2015

America

Slavery affects 20.9 million people in the world. Katherine Chon and Derek Ellerman were appalled when they encountered an article on the terrible state of a brothel near their campus during their senior year at Brown. When police raided the building they came across six Asian women who were “being held in a situation of debt bondage.”
Katherine and Derek created a victim outreach program to locate trafficking places and networks, and help victims obtain services. They soon worked with other partners to bring bills to Congress and introduce legislation that protects victims while penalizing offenders. Polaris made the National Human Trafficking Resource Center into a national anti-slavery hotline in 2007, which is available in over 200 languages, and a place where callers can report a tip or receive anti-trafficking services; in March 2013 they established a texting option where victims can text HELP or INFO to “BeFree.” – Goodnet 2015

  • Gun control technologies

Whilst not a widespread technology in use yet, a proposed solution to gun violence in America is the introduction of smart gun technology. These smart guns would ensure that only an individual, or a few people, could fire the gun. “One technology utilizes fingerprints. Another company uses a wristwatch that sends off a frequency to the gun and activates it. Yet another uses hand biometrics, and those are just a few. These guns could significantly cut down the 11,000 deaths caused by stolen guns. That number doesn’t even include police officers who are killed in the line of duty with their own gun.” Grimminck 2015


Asia

  • Operation ASHA

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Tuberculosis is a global health problem focused on the poorest people of the world. TB is difficult to treat effectively in this population, given limited access to healthcare and the long course of antibiotics necessary to cure the infection. Operation ASHA created the eCompliance project to combine biometric technology, deployed by community health workers to ensure continuous and effective delivery of antibiotics to TB patients in India. Fingerprint log-ins allow nurses and health workers to accurately identify every patient, and record their ongoing compliance with treatment. Operation Asha has facilitated treatment of more than 30,000 TB patients to date, with over 5,000 patients currently under care through 159 clinics in India. – Gharib 2014

These are just a few examples I have found so far. Check back in a few weeks for the final project 🙂

Digital Artifact: Week 1 Personal Branding Log

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Here is the social media log I kept during the first week of May to track my social media use in order to learn about the effects that modern personal branding trends have had on my own digital use. I will admit that tracking all of my social media use not only was hard to keep track off, but also forced me to be brutally honest with myself. Typing things like “used snapchat to come off as studious to my followers” or “woke up early to post an Instagram at a good time for receiving likes” led me to really question myself and how I have allowed social media to take over my life. As found in my research on personal branding, our society has become obsessed with representing ourselves as a perfect brand to our followers.

We are consumed by perfecting our social media presence in order to tailor how we appear to our followers. We use personal branding as a platform for marketing ourselves as a brand in order to differentiate ourselves from our friends, in other words, our competition. Because this is my first log for the month, I want this post to be more about my initial reactions to the experience and how I am feeling in regards to the amount of my social media use related to perfecting my own personal brand. Looking back on the week I spent seven hours of my time solely just building my brand via Instagram. I am obsessed with posting photos for my followers to keep up to date with my experiences while in Australia. But why? What brand am I aiming for? I am striving to represent myself as a girl who is up to date with the trends based on the places I am traveling to throughout Australia. I am building the idea that I am adventurous, cultural, inspired, as well as some what spoiled to be quite frank.

I hate typing that. I hate associating my world with spoiled. After this past week, however, I have noticed not only how obsessed I am with social media but why I am doing it. I am doing it to compete with my friends. To all of my friends that are graduating, I want to appear lucky to still have a year left, while spending a full semester abroad. I want to appear stylish and edgy in my posts to show my followers that I fit in here, or at least am trying to. I am essentially bragging about my travels because I want to appear somewhat better than my other friends who are traveling in other countries for a semester abroad. Even if my 7am-9pm travel day in Melbourne on Saturday consisted of hours of driving, sleeping between stops and pure exhaustion, I only showed my followers the perfect points of my day via snapchat and Instagram. That is the simplistic way to define personal branding in modern adolescent terms. I want to show my life as flawless to my followers, despite how exhausting my midterms and travels were throughout the week.

So that is how personal branding is defined in regards to my life. It is my own personal way of shaping how I appear to my friends and family and coworkers etc. I am documenting my trips in order to build my personal brand for situations like an employer looking me up on social media and being pleasantly surprised by my travels at a such a young age. I am constantly thinking about what others think because quite honestly that is the world we now live in. Next week I look forward to seeing if there are any changes in my social media use now that I know how consumed I am with the idea of branding myself.