The New Low of The New Normal

APTOPIX School Shooting Florida

A candlelight vigil is held for the lives lost at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.          Photo:  Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

And so here we are again.  Another mass shooting – at a school, no less – has claimed multiple innocent lives, scarred survivors, and devastated a community.  Collectively we mourn the senseless loss of life, cry for the tragedy of shattered innocence, and vow never to let it happen again.  And then it does.  And so here we are again.

Yet this time something has changed.  Fueled by their own grief and anger, the students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, have rallied to break the cycle, launching a campaign of protests, walk-outs, and activism to force lawmakers to take notice and take action.  Using #NeverAgain, their message spread like wild fire across news media outlets and social media platforms, inspiring others to join the crusade and take a stand against gun violence.  Parkland students became more than victims and survivors, they became the outspoken and unexpected catalysts for change in a broken system.

 

 

America (and the world) watched as a group of high school students became galvanized and organized to demand something more pressing than justice: a solution.  But something else changed, too.  Public reaction to the shooting, while initially sympathetic, began to fragment when the kids became more vocal about stricter gun control laws. Social media surged with conspiracy theories, including the notion that the Parkland survivors weren’t students at all, but “crisis actors” pushing a liberal agenda.

Conspiracy theories involving mass shootings are, unfortunately, nothing new.  Sandy Hook is still widely believed to be a hoax by conspiracy theorists who have even resorted to harassing, stalking and threatening victims families.  What separates Parkland from other mass shootings is how rapidly the conspiracies went viral on social media platforms, as well as the failure of those platforms to address the issue quickly enough.  A video on YouTube, for example, smearing student David Hogg as an actor rocketed to the top of the platform’s trending list and garnered 200,000 views before it was removed.  YouTube has since acknowledged the mistake (due to an algorithm) and removed the video, however others remain.

Response to the Parkland conspiracy theories was deafening.

 

 

 

 

 

To be clear, these kids are not actors, impersonators, conspirators, plants, agitators, or any of the other slanderous pronouncements levied against them; they are student survivors of an active shooter who wandered the halls of their high school, opened fire and claimed seventeen lives, in spite of what some believe.  Publicly vilifying them while challenging their sense of agency and credibility in the wake of the unimaginable trauma they have endured poses a question we may not want the answer to: if mass shootings have become the new normal, have we reached a new low?

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Emotional Reaction or Poor Sportsmanship?

The Olympic games are charged with emotion.  After a lifetime of preparing to compete on the world stage, athletes are in pursuit of a coveted Olympic medal.  For some, including Jocelyn Larocque as seen above, only Gold will do.  After losing to the U.S. team in the globally televised gold-medal game, Twitter was immediately ablaze with reactions to her removing the silver medal.  Most responses categorized her actions as poor sportsmanship, while some were a bit more empathetic.

After a passing of time, and perhaps with an opportunity for her to contemplate the moment, Jocelyn apologized for removing the medal.

Jocelyn, during her apology went on to say:

“I’m proud of our team, and proud to be counted among the Canadian athletes who have won medals at these Games.
“Being on the podium at the world’s biggest sporting event is a great achievement and one that I’m thankful I was able to experience with my teammates.”

As with anything, Jocelyn’s apology was met with both positive and negative responses.  The supportive comments on Twitter in response to her apology generally acknowledged how emotionally charged the moment was and complimented her for accepting responsibility for her actions.

The Tweet below effectively captures the responses by many others.

And there are others like sports columnist Bruce Arthur who believe that Jocelyn shouldn’t even have to apologize, arguing that in a very emotional moment of defeat she carried herself with dignity, standing quietly and holding back tears during the presentation of gold medals to the U.S. team.  He contrasted her behavior with that of other athletes who behaved much more poorly in similar moments, including Lias Andersson, the Swedish World Junior athlete who not only removed his silver medal but then proceeded to toss it into the crowd.

In the video below, he shows absolutely no remorse nor regret for his decision to gift his medal to one lucky fan.

I believe that incidents like these speak to the power of connectivity today and personal brand management.  Even if we are not athletes performing on the world stage, our behaviors and actions often have the potential to be broadcasted on the internet for the world to see.  We cannot control how people react to what we do, write or say, but we must always be conscious that our personas have the potential to be displayed on a global scale.

I tend to agree with Bruce Arthur in his assertion that Jocelyn should not have to apologize for reacting emotionally in a moment that is so earth-shatteringly devastating.  But in a world where your personal brand is one that you must uphold, and at times defend, sometimes an apology is necessary.

 

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Google vs. Snapchat

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Executives at Snapchat may be starting to sweat, and for good reason.  The search giant just recently launched a new mobile magazine format similar to that of Snapchat’s Discover.  In Discover, Snapchat users are exposed to content generated by major news networks, magazines and brands.  This feature of Snapchat has evolved over time, but it has remained a form of advertisement entirely its own…until now.

Google’s equivalent of Snapchat Discover, called AMP Stories, are a way for companies to create photo/video slideshows that appear in Google search results, both online and when searched from a mobile device.  We still don’t know yet how prominently these AMP Stories will appear amongst their search results, but this announcement certainly provides both publishers and advertisers with many more opportunities to showcase their work.

The ways in which Google could potentially pose a threat are pretty obvious.  Snapchat will no longer monopolize the placement of Discover-style content.  Because there was no other competition, publishers were forced to accept Snapchat’s terms on revenue splitting for content created specifically for Discover.  Now, publishers are free to host their own content, knowing the possibility exists for it to appear in a much more visible Google search result via the AMP Stories.  Plus, Google has established strong relationships with many advertisers.  That, coupled with their sheer size and scale, could be enough to draw more business than Snapchat Discover.

Google’s announcement doesn’t necessarily mean the end for Snapchat Discover, though.  Quite contrarily, it could also mean more business, and a growing industry.  Until now, publishers took big risks in creating content exclusively for Snapchat Discover.  If there wasn’t enough interest in Discover, or Snapchat itself lost popularity, all of their investments would have gone to waste.  Google jumping into the mix, however, means more viewing opportunities for publishers and more chances to recoup their initial investments.  This in turn allows them to invest more resources into generating high-quality visual articles.

Fortunately, Snapchat’s VP of Content Nick Bell has a more positive outlook on Google’s recent interest in this form of advertisement.  “Our ambition at Snapchat is to empower great storytelling, and we think we have pioneered the best format for doing that on mobile. We’re delighted to see that an industry is starting to form around that, and hope that it will encourage more newsrooms to invest in teams that focus on made-for-mobile content,” says Bell.  If Snapchat and Google can jointly increase popularity of this vertical slideshow mobile magazine format, publishers may be persuaded to fund the necessary capital to create Discover/AMP Stories content teams.

 

For more information, visit https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/13/ampchat/.

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Internet Guru Clay Shirky Says, “Collective Action Just Got Easier”–But Did it?

 

Parkland students head to Tallahassee to urge legislators to ban assault rifles, which they refused to do.

The social media couldn’t go any more viral than it did during and after the horrendous mass killings at the Parkland, FL high school where 17 people, including 14 students and 3 faculty members were massacred by a former student firing his AR-15 into students in classrooms and outside the school after he had pulled the fire alarm.

Videos of the senseless shooting captured the horror of the event and played worldwide.

The question now is, will the protests do any good in the wake of the shootings?

Students have taken the issue into their own hands following what they see as typical “adult” responses of their “thoughts and prayers,” saying that’s not enough.

The question is, is social action enough?

Three-time Pulitzer prizer winner and NY Times columnist Tom Friedman pleads with students to “stop tweeting, and get in the N.R.A.’s face” (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/opinion/get-out-of-facebook-and-into-the-nras-face.html?).

In his February 21st column, Friedman cautions the Parkland students about the lure of social media: “The fight can’t be won on Twitter or Instagram.  They do get people into the streets.  But social media have created a world of faux activism–‘Hey, I tweeted about it’–that the bad guys take advantage of.”

So, what then?

Move from chat rooms to where the N.R.A. is–in Congress’s cloakrooms, i,e., where the money is.

Bottom line says Friedman:  “Nothing will change unless young and old who oppose the N.R.A. run for office, vote, help someone vote, register someone to vote or help fund someone’s campaign–so we can threaten the same electoral pain as the National Rifle Association.”

“This is not about persuading people with better ideas.  We tried that.  It’s about generating raw electoral power and pain,” urges Friedman.

The sad and wrenching conclusion from Sandy Hook was that a nation and its leaders could stand by and do nothing after children were massacred in an elementary school.

Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” is heart-wrenching to listen to while photos of children six years old are mourned.

Then it happened again in Florida.

Now it’s time for Plan B.

 

 

 

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It is Time to Talk about Guns…..For Real!

My heart goes out to the victims of the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  There are no words to console the families that have to bury loved ones.  The Parkland shooting is now one of the 10 mass shootings in modern U.S. history.

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It was reported in a 2014 Pew poll that despite the number of shootings, up to that point, 52% of Americans feel that it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns.   Firearm homicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people aged 1-19 in the U.S.

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We snub our noses at other countries  across the globe and call them primitive, uneducated, 3rd world nations but every day 31 Americans are murdered from a gun.  I do not say damn the 2nd amendment but I do say damn those who are willing to unnecessarily allow people to die!

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Parents are burying their children and innocent educators are being laid to rest because they wanted to protect the children that they teach, coach and mentor. Meanwhile the politicization of the shooting is in full effect!

 

I do not blame the POTUS for this shooting but I am appalled that he was playing golf not too far from where two students were being buried.  In fact, I blame us.  We, me, the American citizen that continues to wait on some miracle that will take place instead of holding our political and community leaders to simply do nothing more than provide lip service.

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When is Enough, Enough?

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This past week tragedy has struck again in Parkland Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School leaving 17 dead. The students and community are justifiably devastated and are morning the loss of their children, classmates, and teachers.

The students and parents have found their voice and are speaking out or rather yelling from the top of their lungs that this “trend” of mass shootings needs to come to an end and they have even shot back with “We are going to be the last mass school shooting”!

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This marks the 18th school shooting in the US of 2018, just barely two months into this year, with another senseless act of violence. These are sad and crazy times where more and more mass shootings are occurring so frequently.

The students and parents are asking why the Democrats and Republicans find a solution to all this gun violence, especially when the victims are children?

The one thing we should all be able to agree on is that children should never be caught in the crossfire for these active shooter attacks.  So why can’t both sides of the aisle agree on this?  Probably because they are too busy pointing their fingers at each other instead of working together to find a solution.

The shooter, 19 year old Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has been reported to have a mentally and emotionally disturbed history.

It appears that the AR 15 is the common denominator with the mass shootings that have been occurring around the USA. This semi-automatic rifle is available for purchase for anyone 18 years and older in Florida and Cruz was able to legally purchase the weapon.

The AR 15 is the active shooter’s weapon of choice according to the statistics.

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The students are now crying out for change by directly challenging Trump’s tweets.

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It looks as though the time has finally come where the gun control debate can no longer be swept under the rug…as though “thoughts and prayers” will solve anything.  We need get behind this movement and support the children of this country because they are fighting for their lives!

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Finger Lickin’ GONE

KFC restaurants in the UK have… wait for it… run out of chicken.

800 of the 900 restaurants closed this afternoon due to a chicken shortage that was said to be due to operational growing pains with KFC and their new delivery partner DHL.

KFC UK and Ireland went to the twitter waves to let their followers know that the “Colonel is working on it.”

Strong emotions have been expressed via social media regarding this chicken shortage:

This last comment refers to a South Park Episode in which all the towns KFC restaurants are replaced by medicinal marijuana shops and Eric Cartman goes down the dark path of the black market selling of KFC.

KFC is also being criticized for the transition in distributors from Bidvest to DHL, which lead to 255 job losses and the closure of a Bidvest depot. And apparently, missing chicken.

Not to worry, American Chicken lovers, this is not our apocalypse. KFC Spokesperson Tori Oman reported this was an isolated issue. She also went on to recognize the employees affected by this catastrophe in an email stating:

“We want to thank our incredible restaurant teams, who are working flat out all hours to get us back up and running again”.

Kudos for not leaving those who are dealing with hungry customers backlash hanging.

KFC is working to rectify this situation, in the meantime they are offering continued humor and information regarding where UK citizens might find a limited chicken fix.

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