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Opinion Editorials

Is the Internet ruining society? [Editorial]

The Internet is an amazing tool from helping us with research, to applying for jobs, the Internet makes everything easier, but at what price?

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Is the Internet ruining us as a society?

The Internet is an amazing tool. The web makes almost every situation easier. You can apply for jobs in your kitten PJs, get to know someone face-to-face through Skype or keep up with family, friends or your favorite TV or sports personalities through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The options are actually limitless.

Even though the majority of us use the internet for general, daily inquiries, information and connections, there are many, many people creating opportunities that will make the world a better place too. For instance, the app Donate a Photo. Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to the charity of your choice after uploading a photo from your gallery. Pretty amazing, right?

As much as each of us should be utilizing cyberspace this way, we aren’t. It’s a hard fact that as much as the internet has helped, it’s hindered also.

The web and our work lives

Our search for work has become easier because we can utilize job search engines like Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder, but in the meantime, online monopolies like Amazon and Google topple historically indestructible corporations.

Furthermore, free apps are closing some of the largest businesses worldwide. Instagram, the app that shares your photos with everyone and is operated by a minimal staff, has almost single-handedly caused Kodak’s demise. We can’t hunt for jobs that no longer exist. Capiche?

The web and our communications

Ever meet a potential love interest for coffee, sat across from them (a type of body language that demands attention) and felt that you couldn’t pry them away from their phones – regardless of how engaging the conversation?

The ease at which we communicate through a screen has crippled our ability to communicate face-to-face. People demand to be connected to their virtual world all the time. That vibrating phone on your last date that alerted you of your newest twitter follower and the last friend who liked your fb post, is killing your ability to be present.

And of course, cyberbullying

The huge Michigan vs. Michigan State game on Saturday, October 17th made cyberbullying pretty central news.

Blake O’Neill fumbled a long snap in the last few seconds of the huge rivalry game, which led to a Spartan victory. If poor O’Neill’s heart wasn’t already broken from the defeat, shortly thereafter, the kicker started receiving death threats via social media.

Because we can’t see the damage it causes, we viciously attack others virtually. The cocooned safety we feel from behind a screen often allows us to type whatever vile thing that enters our minds. O’Neill has a team of supportive players and coaches rallying behind him, but for the misguided teen, threats like this could promote catastrophic results.

Privacy and the web

Bottom line, our privacy isn’t so private anymore. Potential employers, law enforcement and even government have the ability to pillage through our online presence page by page. Unbeknownst to many, your boss is likely aware of the last time you had one too many, the last video you posted from YouTube and where you went to lunch today.

Not to mention, the poor souls who were victims of the Sony Pictures hack. Once it’s online, it’s public forever, folks. As this class action lawsuit so arduously depicts, you likely shouldn’t expect much monetary retribution from your information being shared without your consent either.

Generally speaking…

As a society we squander the power of this platform. Instead of using the information highway as a tool to foster an age of enlightenment (the way books and art did in the past), we’ve submersed ourselves in the drama and voyeurism it deals. Instead of embracing the intellectual difference it can make, the internet revolution helps cushion the pockets of businessmen and the self-esteem of narcissists.

[End web bashing rant].

It isn’t all bad, of course. As stated above, the internet has the power to do wonderful things. More than anything it connects us with loved ones, offers loads and loads of information and keeps us up-to-date on the world around us. Each, if used with care, can be a building block for amazing things.

The problem isn’t whether the internet is ruining us; it’s whether we as a society have the capacity to use this tool for good.

And now, your challenge:

I’ve included a link to five apps below that encourage you to make a difference. Download one today, and use the internet to encourage positive change in our society.

  1. Charity Miles
  2. SeeClickFix
  3. HTC Power
  4. Donate a Photo
  5. Feedie

#InternetAndYou

Staff writer, Ashley Lombardo, earned her B.S. in journalism from The University of Florida and has used her skills to report on everything from the economy to productivity. She is well-known for her tremendously positive presence, and when she's not trying to save the world she indulges in red wine, friends, fitness, books, bubble baths, shoes, family and love.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Stephani

    October 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Yay!! What a fab article!! And look at that tagline!! So proud!!

  2. Pingback: Google's starting them young at teaching kids to Be Internet Awesome - The American Genius

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Opinion Editorials

Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?

(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.

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Sleeping cat with plant, fighting grind culture.

Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.

During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.

There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.

Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.

With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?

There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”

It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.

Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”

“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.

Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as your customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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