Time to Pay Attention

When people ask me what political party I support, the best answer I can give is, it’s complicated. My views and beliefs are constantly changing and evolving and don’t all fit into one nice and neat political party. I like to listen to a wide variety of opinions before developing my own, so nobody should draw any inference from the fact I follow any particular journalist, author, blogger or media source. I regularly read or follow the Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, Huffington Post, New York Times, CNN, CBC, Macleans, and so many more. So you get the idea – I listen to everyone, mull things over in my head, align what I hear to my own beliefs and values, and come up with my opinions.

I came of age in Toronto reading this new cool little newspaper called The Sun. It was a tabloid format and easier to read on the subway. Many of the journalists came from the defunct Telegram and the newspaper provided a flip side to the news reported by the Toronto Star.  When Sun News Network was launched, I have to admit I never watched it. I don’t watch much television to begin with and this network reminded me of Fox News in the US; high on drama and conspiracy and low on actual facts.

I admit to initially not knowing The Rebel Media and Ezra Levant were from the ashes of that network, and when I found out, it didn’t really matter. I was just listening so I subscribed to their newsletter. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there was absolutely nothing I could learn from these kooks. Besides the constant emails asking for donations, it quickly became clear that they were not about advocating for responsible government or anything like that. At one point I actually started thinking they were a shill for Stephen Harper’s conservative government, with overtones of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and sometimes antisemitic.  Long after I unsubscribed I heard stories of them inciting fear about Romanian immigrants, supporting neo-nazi groups – sorry, I believe they now call themselves white nationalists – and publishing antisemitic videos.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise that The Rebel (and Ezra Levant) are now imploding. And it isn’t a surprise to learn that Joe Oliver – former finance minister with Harper’s government – is listed as one of their contributors. What is a surprise is learning that Andrew Scheer – newly elected head of the Federal Conservative party – and his campaign manager are tightly involved with this circus.  Hamish Marshall, Scheer’s campaign manager, even served on the board of The Rebel Media – well, until it became politically inconvenient for him to do so last week.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/why-did-it-take-so-long-for-the-conservatives-to-denounce-the-rebel/article36088082/

After the incident in Charlottesville, VA, groups like this are no longer kooky fringe groups. If allowed to exist and thrive, they are dangerous – dangerous enough to drive their cars into crowds of innocent people. If we can condemn terrorism from Islamic forces, why is domestic terrorism any different?

I despise this brand of politics. It’s the politics of hate and fear. I will always choose hope over fear. I will always feel that every culture and race is as important as mine. I will always vote for inclusion and equality. For those who want to even joke about ethnic cleansing, you have no place in MY Canada. It’s a vile way to think and it sickens me – my father and father in law fought against the Nazis in WWII and it seems there’s a new generation that has grown up without that shadow that now want to espouse Hitler’s values.

We’ll have another election soon enough but be aware of the type of people you’re voting for when you vote for Conservatives. Trump politics in Canada? It can happen if we don’t pay attention.

Pay attention and start listening.

Conservatives won’t say whether they will cut all ties with Rebel media

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-mum-on-whether-rebel-booths-will-be-banned-from-future-party-events/article36092284/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/andrew-scheer-the-rebel-analysis-wherry-1.4251357

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This is Me!

Wanted to quickly share somethings, so I guess this is a “quicky” post.

I did one of those stupid Facebook quizzes today – the kind of thing I tell everyone NOT to do because they’re just mining your friends and personal information. I was bored though. It resulted in a word cloud made up of my most often used words on Facebook. I have to admit, I think they got this right, because when I think of the things that matter most to me, this is it.

This is ME!

Don’t click it though, because it won’t take you anywhere. I hate those types of things. Except this one.

Stronger, Freer – A Celebration of Canada

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

That’s a quote from Jessica Hische, but how many of us have the opportunity to turn our passions into our work? Maybe there’s a compromise. Some companies/universities offer their tenured employees the chance to take a sabbatical and what a wonderful opportunity that could be. A year to re-ignite your passion and follow your heart.

Steve Harvey said that in order to achieve great success, sometimes you have to jump. You will never be a huge success by doing the same thing day after day and never taking a chance, never following our passion, never dreaming that we can soar.

A couple I worked with for several years are doing just that. They’ve jumped and they’re taking a break from their professional careers to follow a passion of theirs. That passion led to the creation of Stronger, Freer. In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, our sesquicentennial, Stronger Freer tells the story of a struggling Canadian family over the course of 150 years from Confederation through to present day, in a series of vignettes. It’s going to be playing June 15, 17, 18 at Nineteen on the Park in Stouffville, Ontario – even though it’s not on the calendar yet, the venue is booked and I predict it will sell out fast, so keep an eye on their calendar.

Two ordinary people taking a leap of faith to use their gifts and share their passion for Canada and for theatre with everyone else. I’m envious. And honoured to know them. They are setting an example for all of us and giving all of us this fabulous gift. You won’t want to miss it.

UPDATE: TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE! 

 

 

 

#Canada150 #CrazyPassionateCanadians #Stouffville #Sesquicentennial #StrongerFreer

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How Reliable are Employer Reviews?

http://mrg.bz/rZ0pIrFrom the beginning of time, people have passed judgement – on their neighbours, on their country and leaders, on their merchants, on their family, and of course, on their employers. It’s never been easier though than it is right now, in this technological age.

Are you upset with how you were treated in a restaurant or store? Post it on Facebook for all your friends to see. But, as Phil Ochs, a folk singer in the 60’s, once wrote “it wouldn’t interest anyone outside of a small circle of friends”.

You may take it to a larger stage with websites like www.tripadvisor.com or www.yelp.com.  For the most part, the reviews on these site are more balanced. People review both positive and negative and where there are negative reviews, companies can reach out and respond to you. It might just be an apology, or it might be an offer to get in touch with them so they can send you a gift certificate or some other means of making amends.

Even the Better Business Bureau has space for you to review a business and allows businesses to add their perspective, so that consumers have a chance to see both sides of any review.

There’s a certain amount of anonymity associated with many online reviews, and people are more likely to speak about their experiences, good or bad, when they don’t have to identify themselves. There are basically three types of people who post reviews:

  • People who are unhappy or upset.
  • People who are friends of the owners of the business and want to do something nice.
  • People who are paid to post positive reviews (or negative reviews of competitors).

There’s another kind of review trend that’s a bit disturbing – where people can rate their doctor, rate their teacher/professor or rate their employer. I find this trend disturbing because the people who post usually have a vendetta or an agenda, and the party being judged is often denied the opportunity of rebuttal. Even in a legal situation an accused is afforded the opportunity to face their accuser. Not so on these sites.

Maybe you are the patient from hell and your doctor won’t give you a prescription for antibiotics for your cold (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it). Let’s face it – not all doctors have a great bedside manner but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not going to give you the best treatment. You can ruin a doctor’s reputation though by going to one of the myriad of sites and telling the world how terrible they are. Maybe your little Mary-Lou is the class bully and the teacher suspended her. You can go online and tell the world what a terrible teacher she is and that is going to last online forever. You can negatively impact someone’s ability to make a living, and there’s nothing they can do about it because you’re anonymous.

The same is true of sites that facilitate employer reviews. How can an employer respond to a disgruntled employee who might have been let go for just cause, who has posted online about what a crappy employer they were? Imagine if a company is going through a restructuring phase and lets a number of people go. That could mean a lot of negative reviews.

In addition to the negative comments, misinformation or outdated information may be posted. Some sites allow you to outline benefits and bonuses. If any of those things change, you can’t tell by reading these inaccurate or outdated reviews.

A recent article in Inc.com mentioned that some of these online rating sites are negatively impacting companies’ ability to attract good talent. Here’s my advice: potential employees need to take any online rating site that is clearly one-sided and biased with a grain of salt. Never, ever let that stop you from interviewing with a company. You can even use LinkedIn to see what contacts you can find in the company and reach out to them for their opinions. Absolutely mention what you have read in the ratings if it causes you concern, and hear what they have to say. That’s called being fair.

If a company has 200 employees, and 2 employees a year give the company a negative review, that’s 1%. Are you really going to made a career decision based on the opinions of that 1%? If you’re going to let unfair and biased reviews affect whether or not to even accept an interview at the company, then the company is better off without you. Only small-minded people make decisions without having all of the information. Intelligent and analytical people know the importance of including all variables and relevant data in their decision-making process.

Let’s Get Social

social mediaWe live in an age of social media and with it there are a few pros and cons. As of January 2014, 74% of all internet users in the world use some form of social media. In fact, if you have an account with any of the sites I’m going to mention, a quick search on your name will take me to your profile.

I think I’m somewhere in the middle of social media users. I’m sure there are many people out there who are working multiple social media profiles with ease, but I’m also aware that many people limit themselves to one social media site mainly because they’re not aware of the differences.

This post represents my opinion and analysis on the following top social media sites. Your experience may be different than mine.

Facebook facebook

Facebook is the undisputed king of social media. It’s a social network, but it also allows for media sharing, bookmarking, and social news. Started by Mark Zuckerberg when he was 19 years old, it was initially intended as a type of dating site for Harvard students. By 2005 it was in use by over 2,000 colleges and $25,000 high schools as it was quickly adopted as a way to plan events and share media. In 2007, Facebook started allowing business pages, allowing companies to attract potential customers. By 2011, it had become the largest photo host, and over 350 million users were accessing Facebook through their mobile phones. As of January 2014, approximately 71% of all internet users use Facebook.

Pros:

  • Keep up with close social ties, especially those in more remote or rural areas.
  • Re-connect with childhood friends, schoolmates, and past colleagues.

Cons:

  • It’s become the medium of choice for many online bullies.
  • Many people are seemingly oblivious to the fact that the people they are speaking to (or about) on Facebook are real people.
  • Companies will sometimes terminate employees based on comments made on Facebook that they feel reflects poorly on them.

Advice:

  • If you want to act like an idiot behind a keyboard, be prepared to be treated like an idiot when you meet people in person.

LinkedIn iconLinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media site that is more business-oriented. It was founded in 2002 by Reid Hoffman and launched in 2003 and is primarily used for professional networking. As of 2015, LinkedIn has more than 400 million users in more than 200 countries and territories. The main purpose of LinkedIn is to allow its users (employees, employers, and entrepreneurs) to create profiles and build a network of connections, similar to professional relationships in real life. If you’re looking for a professional in a specific field, you may want to look and see what recommendations some of your connections have given. LinkedIn also supports special interests groups, most of which are employment related. From Toastmasters to Grammar Geeks, there’s a group you can join for information or discussion. There are currently 128,000 groups.

Pros:

  • Extremely useful when looking for or listing jobs and business opportunities. A well-built profile highlights a person’s areas of expertise and lets you see their recommendations.
  • For businesses, they’re able to tap into a wealth of candidates – even if they’re not looking for a job or not suitable for a job, they might know someone and pass the information along.
  • Candidates can find out more information on companies and even interact with other employees at the company, through 2nd or 3rd degree connections, to find out what the culture is.
  • TechRepublic, an online trade publication, describes LinkedIn as the “defacto tool for professional networking”.

Cons:

  • There’s also a tendency for people to want to “mine” your connections. You have to pay attention to what information you’re sharing publicly, and even within your network of connections.

Advice:

  • Pay attention to your privacy settings and don’t just accept every connection request you receive.
  • Pay attention also to your LinkedIn account and keep it up to date, sharing information and updates with groups of connections, and keep yourself relevant in your field.
  • Remember that it’s not Facebook, and forget about sharing political rantings and cat videos. Seriously – is that what you want people to think you do all day?

tumblrTwitter

Twitter is a way for people to stay connected and communicate through the exchange of short frequent messages called “tweets” through their website, SMS or mobile app. Tweets can contain photos, videos, links, and up to 140 characters of text. These tweets are sent to your followers and are searchable. Twitter was created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass and currently has more than 100 million users posting 340 million tweets a day (as of 2012).  While I have a Twitter account, I’ll admit I haven’t been a big user as I personally feel there are better, more efficient ways for me to stay informed on subjects of interests. Twitter hasn’t been doing very well lately and recently posted a net loss of $90 million US in their fourth quarter of 2015.

Pros:

  • Twitter has played a very instrumental role during the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. With the emergence of Twitter, no country can operate in a silo anymore; Twitter has helped to spread the word and raise social awareness during times of political unrest, government corruption and oppression. Even when the media is silenced, all it takes is one person with a mobile phone and Twitter and the whole world knows what’s happening. The revolution has become digital.
  • Twitter has also been beneficial in improving communications between businesses and their consumer base. Many people use twitter to express their opinions about companies and products, forcing companies to respond in a much quicker manner.
  • Companies can quickly tweet about breaking new developments and opportunities.

Cons:

  • You may need to be careful about what you tweet as there is no taking it back. I didn’t even know who Justine Sacco was until she tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” As a PR executive, she should have known better. Yes, you may want people to know who you are, but for the right reasons.

Advice:

  • Take the time to learn how to use Twitter effectively, including the use of hashtags.
  • Decide your purpose and define your brand. Focus on your passion.
  • In doing some research on Twitter (as previously stated, I don’t use it very much), I came across this quote from a Forbes article; “Don’t be a jack of all Twitter subjects and a master of none.” That’s me. From media outlets, e-Learning, technical writing and Toastmasters, I am all over the board and completely lacking in Twitter-focus. If you want to be an effective Tweeter, don’t be me.

instagramInstagram

While Facebook is known for their photo sharing, Instagram is a social media site completely dedicated to mobile photo / video sharing. Started in 2010, tens of millions of users share their photos through Instagram, which also lets you customize your images with filters. You can share your Instagram photos with several social media sites as well, including almost all of the ones mentioned here. In 2013, Instagram was listed in Time Magazine as one of the top 40 apps for android, and is recognized as one of the fastest growing social networks.

Pros:

  • Great way for users to connect with each other in real time through visual communication.
  • With their filters, you can easily transform an amateurish photo taken with your mobile phone into a beautiful professional looking, artistic image.

Cons:

  • A lot of younger people are starting to use Instagram and I’ve often joked it’s because their parents joined Facebook. One of the dangers of young people using Instagram though is their tendency to use location tags, which is starting to become a bit of a problem because of predators that are searching on Instagram.
  • Instagram now has a direct photo messaging feature that allows friends to share private photos to one another which, as I’m sure you can imagine, has led to a rise in sexting.

Advice:

  • When sharing on any social network, remember to keep yourself and your children safe.
  • If you have children, talk to them about the dangers of sexting and be aware of all their online activity.

Tumblr

Tumbler is a microblogging platform and social networking site founded by David Karp, which has been owned by Yahoo since 2013. Microblogging has been described as a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr has become known as the “anti-blog”. Apparently the main reason people quit blogging on traditional blogging sites is because it’s difficult to find and develop an audience. Tumblr allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog where users can follow each other. Tumblr has a younger user demographic, although users must be over thirteen. If you are starting to wonder why your kids are no longer actively posting as often on Facebook, it’s probably because you’re there so they’ve moved to Tumblr. It’s become one of the top ten websites in the US, with 20 billion page views monthly. Last year it surpassed WordPress as the most popular blog hosting service in the world, with 77.6 million blogs.

Pros:

  • Almost appears to be a replacement for Myspace, especially among younger people.
  • Users are encouraged to create their own content and to interact with other like-minded users by following their interests and expressing themselves.
  • Users create a web page where they can post images, music clips, text, etc., and they can customize the look of the personal page to reflect their personality, which has attracted people who which to express their artistic side.
  • Perfect for people with short attention spans.

Cons:

  • Unlike Facebook and other social media or blogging sites, you cannot comment on someone’s posts, you can only “love” them or re-blog them.
  • Posts are intended to be short – if you want to provide in-depth information, this is not the site for you.
  • Since Tumblr blogs are not screened, filtered, or moderated in any way, it’s becoming a magnet for hard-core pornography and other explicit material.
  • It’s becoming a haven for users to replicate and share copyrighted content.

Advice:

  • If you have teens that use Tumblr, stay vigilant about what they’re posting and who’s following them.
  • If you have a blog and want to post to Tumblr, remember to keep it short. In fact, some advice I received was to only post a picture from your blog post, and link the picture back to your blog.

flickrFlickr

Flickr is a popular photo-sharing and hosting service with an engaged community. Created by Ludicorp in 2004, it was acquired by Yahoo in 2005, which closed down Yahoo Photos in 2007. In 2013, Flickr had 87 million registered users and more than 3.5 million images were uploaded daily. Flickr currently stands at the crossroads of photo sharing and social media sites.

Pros:

  • Many bloggers use Flickr to host the images they use in their blogs.
  • It has a smooth, scrolling interface and it’s easy to upload photos and videos easily. With 1 TB of free storage space, it’s easy to see why.
  • You can also easily share with other social media sites.

Cons:

  • In 2014, Flickr (Yahoo) announced that it would sell wall-sized prints of users’ photos which were licensed under Creative Common licenses that allowed commercial use. Although legal, many felt it was unfair exploitation of artists’ work, and while Yahoo reversed that decision in 2014 and promised to work closer with artists to design a program, their reputation was damaged. T
  • here are rumours that Yahoo will try to sell Flickr, along with its core internet business, but at the moment it’s a wait and see situation.

Google-plus-iconGoogle+

Google+ is Google’s social networking project. If you have a Google account, you can activate your Google+ account easily. This is actually Google’s fourth attempt at social networking, following Google Buzz that retired in 2011, Google Friend Connect that retired in 2012, and Orkut, which I wasn’t even aware of. It’s described as a social layer across all of Google’s services. Since signing up on Google+ is usually just a by-product of signing up for other Google services, it’s hard to actually know how many people use it actively. Posts to Google+ are shared with members of your “circles”.

Pros:

  • Since so many people already have Google accounts, it’s easy to sign up for a Google+ account.
  • There’s a tremendous convenience to having one sign in for all Google services, such as YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play, etc.
  • Google+ can also be used for webcast broadcasting.
  • It actually has a huge array of powerful tools and features, including SEO.
  • Google+ is also better suited for longer posts than Facebook and other social media sites.

Cons:

  • I’ve been using Google+ for years, but I wouldn’t consider myself active on it. Because it is so similar to Facebook, many users simply share the same content on both.
  • A drawback for businesses is Google+ prohibits companies from offering contests or promotions on their Google+ pages.  The way around that though is to merely post a link to your contest or promotion.

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations! Believe me, I had no idea when I started this that it would be so long. The mere exercise of researching each of these platforms has been a learning experience. In addition to deciding your purpose and defining your brand when using Twitter, another thing I learned is that it isn’t wise to share all content to all platforms, something I’ve only recently learned how to do.

When the same content is shared, you’re giving your readers the option to follow you in one place or the other, when you should be striving to have your readers follow you in both places. As with my Twitter advice, this is best achieved by deciding your purpose and defining your brand. Something I will definitely work on once I have readers!

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Let’s Get Social by Suzette Seveny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.