World Figures on Social Media: Pope Francis

Photo courtesy World Meeting of Families

Social Media capturing world figures and world events for the general public – instantly.

This weekend, Pope Francis knelt down to kiss the feet of South Sudan’s rival leaders in effort to encourage peace in the country. The video went viral and this iconic moment in time was captured instantly and shared with everyone around the world.

Tweeted by DW News @dwnews

This moment captured in a 49 second clip does not give a lot of context. For those not familiar with the event, The Vatican hosted a 24-hour peace retreat with South Sudan’s leaders. The two opposing leaders signed a peace treaty to end a civil war that has killed and displaced many if its citizens.

“I’m asking you with my heart, stay in peace.”

Pope Francis to Sudan leaders, April 2019.

It is humbling to see a World Figure comport themselves in such a manner. It allows the world to see the humanistic side of Pope Francis. But, social media has a tendency to open this moment to those who are less inclined to view it as such.

Tweeted by Kevin Grandia @kgrandia

A powerful moment of peace is then criticized. Steve Bannon said, “Pope Francis is the enemy.” Living in the US, it is sometimes very easy to think that the divide is just within our country. But the divide is not just in the US. Words as such can make quite an impact on people all over the world. Should we consider this a violent verbal attack against Pope Francis? Is he inciting in his words harm? In the past few weeks, social media has received numerous questions about censorship, government interventions, and free speech. What is the answer?

I think that World Figures portrayed in social media allows for the rest of us to see them as a whole person. Is that essential? Does the public need to know everything about their World Leaders/Figures? I think that it is important to document such an iconic moment because it puts the important issues to the forefront – like peace. But when does it become obsessive? When does it become irrelevant? Should advice (whether negative or positive) given through social media have a disclaimer – My opinion is my own. Follow at your own risk.

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Hi. My name is Nick and I have a Twitter problem.

Image result for pros and cons

It’s my final blog post so I figured instead of reporting on outside social media, I would do a bit of self-reflection on social media and how my relationship with it has developed over the course of this class…

Before This Class…

I was absolutely a social media addict. Not so much a poster or content-creator, but absolutely feeling the need to be constantly refreshing pages, seeing new content, and digesting news and information. It was a learned and subconscious reaction to click into Twitter, then Instagram, and then Facebook every time I picked up my phone. But it was mainly Twitter I really had a problem with…

On my computer, every day always started with logging into Twitter and catching up on what I missed overnight. Throughout the day, I would keep the Twitter tab open on my computer and feel the physical need to refresh the page anytime I saw there were new posts I hadn’t seen; this would give me legitimate anxiety…


I would digest hundreds, if not thousands, of Tweets per day without giving any of them much thought; more so reading them because I felt like I had to in order to finish the page. It would drive my girlfriend nuts how much I was on Twitter, as typically the content on there wasn’t adding anything substantial to my life, but was indeed taking up hours of my days. It was time for change!

After This Class…

Sadly, I’m still a social media addict. That unseen Tweets picture still gives me anxiety, I still feel the need to open Twitter first thing in the morning, my finger still gravitates towards the social media apps on my phone instinctively, and I still feel the need to be locked into whatever is going on in the social media universe. However, I’m now cognizant of it and I want it to stop. This class, particularly some of the earlier readings and discussions, have really made me realize how addicting and chemical these social media sites are. I now understand they’re designed for me to need them and I don’t trust the people building them.

Image result for zuckerberg

Facebook, for one, I’ve nearly weaned off of because of this class. I don’t really use it like I did in college, fewer and fewer peers are on it, and I don’t trust anything Facebook does as a company. I’m more than happy to cut it out and look forward to that being the first casualty of my enlightened social media self.

Twitter, as I said, is another story. I’ve tried to cut it out, but I relapse in minutes and end up logging right back on to the site as soon as I sense I could be missing something. It’s a bizarrely powerful gravitational pull of my attention. This class has educated me into the dangers of having this social media addiction, but I’m still in the midst of battle against it; it’s just such a perfect site and app!

So, I guess this is really just step 1 in my 12-step program; my name is Nick and I have a Twitter problem.


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Slacking on the Job

This weekend kicked off the 2019 NBA Playoffs and it was a not a good start for the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers lost game 1 to the Brooklyn Nets 111-102. Besides the upsetting loss, most of the chatter on social media and on ESPN and TNT was about 76ers star player Joel Embiid looking at the cellphone of teammate Amir Johnson. The backlash happened quick, and when reporters asked Head Coach Brett Brown about the incident, he was not thrilled. The 76ers later reported that Amir Johnson was fined for having his phone on the bench, breaking both team rules and NBA league rules about cellphone use during a game. After the game, Embiid revealed Johnson only had the phone to check in with his daughter who was sick at the time.

Part of the backlash stemmed from the 76ers being embarrassed by a lesser opponent, at home and on national TV. If the 76ers would have won the game, it would have been a minor story, but with playoff basketball comes extra scrutiny and pressure and the young 76ers team is now being accused of being immature, unprofessional and not ready for the limelight of added playoff expectations. This story will most likely linger if the 76ers are eliminated in the playoff early.

The controversy kicked off several different arguments on social media and even tho this story is about sports, the conversation goes deeper about how and when different workplaces should adapt to modern changes in society.


Golden State Warriors player, Draymond Green, chimed in on the story too. He didn’t understand the backlash or why people would be mad because most people use their phones at work too. It is a valiant point because most people, depending on their job, use their phones quite frequently for both personal and professional reasons. There is currently a budding tech industry to make texting and communication apps for the workplace such as Slack, Flock, Chatwork, and Hipchat but social norms tend to take longer to change compared to advances in technology.

This story reminded me of what happened to Elon Musk, after a bizarre video of him attempting to smoke weed went viral, it became somewhat of a major news story and people criticized him for it. He followed that up by tweeting a joke he would take Tesla private at $420. The “420” being a reference to 4/20, a day people have used to fight for marijuana legislation. This set off a chain of reactions that saw Musk get a $20 million dollar fine by the SEC and he ended up resigning as the Chairman of Tesla.

Draymond Green is right, fans and sports reporters have no real reason to be mad at players for using their phones on the bench. The same cannot be said of their respective teams or the league offices of the NBA. They have a right to be mad for both team reasons and business reasons. With legal restrictions being scaled back on gambling and sports becoming much more gambling friendly, it won’t be a surprise to see more restrictive phone policies take place to prevent any semblance of gambling scandals. Gambling scandals have a history in sports from the early 1900’s and I’m sure no sports league would want to be involved in such with our current landscape of social media and technology.

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AOC Logs Off

Image result for aoc social media

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has become a household name in this country at the ripe age of 29. Largely due to her un-apologetically progressive platform, willingness to take a public stance on any issue, impassioned congressional speeches, and charismatic personality, Ocasio-Cortez is both a polarizing and memorable figure in today’s bizarre political landscape. But, arguably nothing has catapulted her stardom as much as the very thing she is looking to cut out of her life; social media.

As Ocasio-Cortez looked to build support for her congressional campaign over a year ago in New York City, she tapped into her millennial strengths and put her social media channels to work. Through her personal Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, she hosted candid live discussions and posted share-worthy takes and perspectives on relevant social and political issues. In a political space yearning for freshness, newness, color, and youth, Ocasio-Cortez developed an impassioned following and rode her social media success all the way to the US Capital.

And then, all of a sudden, this week the verified social media superstar says she is quitting Facebook and cutting back on social media in general, calling it a “public health risk” which leads to “addiction’;

“Social media poses a public health risk to everybody… There are amplified impacts for young people, particularly children under the age of 3, with screen time. But I think it has a lot of effects on older people. I think it has effects on everybody. Increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism,” says Ocasio-Cortez.

She has taken steps to reduce her social media usage, both personally and professionally, including limiting her reading of social media content for weekdays and avoiding the apps altogether on the weekend. Additionally, she will look to utilize social media more so for connecting with followers and posting content, rather than reading what is being said about her and involving her. For example, she will continue her popular Instagram live sessions, but will not dive in the following morning to see what the Twitter and Facebook response was to those sessions.

Despite being a monumental figure in Washington, these are all reasonable steps for anyone to take. Studies show that the excessive screen time, need to stay virtually connected, and need for validation and artificial popularity are all incredibly addictive and influential in our brain’s chemistry. If we can learn to use these social media services sparingly, efficiently, and effectively, as Ocasio-Cortez is aiming to do, we will assuredly be better off. If she can do it, anyone can.


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A personal experience: 40 days without social media

As you all may or may not have know, I decided to give up social media for Lent this year. This was mildly challenging since I am taking a course in social media (great planning, Jul!). But that was just it – I wanted to challenge myself with giving up something that I used every single day. One of the readings we had on how social media and screen time correlated to depression, anxiety and worse really inspired me to see what life was like without it. Being fully honest, I don’t believe that I was depressed or had tons of anxiety before this, so I was just eager to see if I would be more happy without it.

How to read the graphs below:

  • The lightest of blues: None
  • The following darker shade of blue: Mild
  • The next darker: Moderate
  • The darkest: Severe

Disclaimer: While this app is simple, I didn’t feel as though it was always the most accurate. As you see above, there were only four categories to describe how I felt throughout the day. While I didn’t feel “depressed” during any of these days, I related my responses to any sadness I felt during that particular day. The same thing goes with anxiety – nothing was overwhelming, but I again related it to any type of anxious feeling I had that day.

While there isn’t an extreme difference in any of the categories so far, you can see that my “depressed” and “irritability” points clearly improved over this period of time, from the shades of blue starting out darker and transitioning to a lighter shade. I do also find myself sleeping better, which is likely a result of no screen time right before I go to bed.

I originally started keeping a small journal of how I felt throughout the day and if I thought about social media, reached for it, etc. I started to forget to write in this journal and at first, I was bummed that I had missed a few days and therefore this wouldn’t be accurate. But after thinking about it, I thought it was pretty telling that it wasn’t even a thought that popped into my head throughout the day after the first two weeks.

At this point, I have just a few days left without my social media apps. The only things that I miss are the funny or cute videos I used to watch, or big moments in people’s lives that I care about. This has been a fun test for me, and I’m already thinking of how I will scale down my time on these apps as well as how many people I follow when I return.

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Instagram makes online shopping that much easier.

A large part of today’s social media users have seen the upward trend of advertising, buying and selling clothes on different sites. I have friends who tag the companies they are wearing in their posts, and I also see tons of celebrities modeling and using their post as an ad for different clothing companies, too. While I have known of certain companies like Poshmark, that allows you to sell and buy clothes to users of the app, this was the first I have seen of allowing purchases within an actual social media app.

Instagram has introduced Checkout. As you see in the video above, when you tap to view a product from a brand’s shopping post, you’ll then see a button that says “Checkout on Instagram”. You only have to enter your information the first time you place an order and then not again – how convenient! Not only is this quick and easy, but Instagram itself will send you different notifications of your confirmation and each step along the way of its physical journey to your doorstep. There are select brands in the initial phase, with promise of more to come.

Ashley Yuki, the Instagram product executive who is in charge of shopping, says that 130 million people look at product tags each month inside the app. She also states that there is so much potential in online shopping and no one has really nailed down mobile shopping yet, so it was too big of an opportunity to pass up. Instagram will not say how much, but they will take a piece of each transaction, what they call a “selling fee”.

Checkout seems like a brilliant idea. This makes online shopping so easy and streamlined for users. In my own experience with Pinterest, I was always frustrated that I had to go search for a different site or be forwarded along to a new site when I liked one of the products on their platform. With the convenience of this new feature, I can’t even begin to image the revenue these retailers and Instagram are going to see. This also opens the door for other sites to hop on the bandwagon…


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Get your news on Facebook! No really, the actual news.

Earlier this semester, we all learned where Americans get their daily news. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are the “go-tos” for tons of people to get their news everyday. We also know how dangerous that can be.

Recent news says that Facebook might add a News tab to their site. Facebook has obviously been a huge source of news over the years, and now representatives are playing with the idea of adding an actual News section, just dedicated to “high quality, trusted sources.” According to Zuckerberg, the News Feed has never been the right place for news. They are still looking for ways to make this work together with publishers, and are willing to pay for high quality content.

My take on this story:

  • I think this is an awesome idea from Facebook. Since they have been getting a lot of heat in past years, along with other social media platforms, I think it’s a good idea to dedicate part of their platform to actual news stories so its consumers are receiving legitimate news.
  • While I think this is a good idea, I was surprised that Zuckerberg said that they would be paying publishers for high-quality content. It seems like they’re actually dedicated to sticking to this.
  • I thought it was funny that Zuckerberg also said that News Feed has never been the right place for news. While it may have never been the intention when Facebook was created, they are well aware that people use their site for news and we have all learned how different sites manipulate what their users see.


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