Social Media and its Densensitization of Serious Issues

To say that Kehlani has had a difficult past 72 hours would be an understatement.

Image via Kehlani's Instagra,

Image via Kehlani’s Instagra,

On Monday, March 28, PartyNextDoor, a Canadian rapper and ex-boyfriend of Grammy nominated R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani, 20, posted a photo of the two apparently holding hands in his bed. Neither of their faces were shown. However, the tattoo on one the hands mirrors tattoos of Kehlani. The photo has since been deleted off of PartyNextDoor’s Instagram account.

The caption for the photo read:

After all her shenanigans, still got the r&b singer back in my bed

The Internet completely went wild. Up until this moment the assumption was that Kehlani was still dating Cleveland Cavaliers player Kyrie Irving. Since this was the assumption, Kehlani was immediately and aggressively judged and sentenced in the court of public opinion. Her sentence? She was slut-shamed and even threatened with physical violence.

Kehlani announced Tuesday with a post on Instagram that she had attempted to commit suicide. In the post, which has since been deleted, Kehlani shared a photo from her hospital bed with the caption that read:

today I wanted to leave this earth. Being completely selfish for once. Never thought I’d get to such a low point. But.. Don’t believe the blogs you read .. No one was cheated on and I’m not a bad person… Everyone is hurt and everyone is in a place of misunderstanding.. But as of today, i had no single wish to see tomorrow.. But God saved me for a reason, and for that… I must be grateful.. Cuz I’m not in heaven right now for a reason.. On that note.. Bye Instagram.

This did not stop The Internet from continuing to harass and slut-shame the singer on social media. In an attempt to clear up something that is absolutely none of our business, Kehlani posted a photo to Instagram with a caption explaining that she did not cheat on Kyrie Irving because the two are currently broken up.

Many people, including some celebrities, took to the internet to show support for Kehlani. The hashtag #StayStrongKehlani emerged and trended on Twitter. However, despite the positive energy flowing from fans and supporters, many others were still critical of Kehlani and even a suicide attempt couldn’t soften their blows.

Singer Chris Brown even used his ‘expertise’ to criticize Kehlani’s suicide attempt.

The truth is that now we live during a time where many of us share almost every aspect about our lives on social media. I have seen photos of pregnancy tests shared on Instagram from people that I have not seen in the last 10 years. I see screenshots of business emails sent from professionals that people post on a weekly basis. This has become social media’s norm. I am shocked that people are still surprised and find it unbelievable that individuals share things as serious as suicide on their social media networks. Even research from Ohio State University indicates that “adolescents commonly use social media to reach out when they are depressed.”

Suicide continues to be a serious problem across the United States and the rest of the world. It was the second leading cause of death for 10 – 34-year-olds in the United States in 2014. The number of people attempting suicide each year is staggering. U.S. emergency departments treat approximately 500,000 people a year for self-inflicted wounds. Globally, more than 800,000 people die from suicide every year.

Has social media desensitized us so much to the issues of suicide, mental illness, and rape that we laugh and condemn people dealing with these issues or for not reaching out for help like we assume we would do in a similar situation? Would Kehlani have had to succeed at her suicide attempt for it to be widely taken serious? Unfortunately, what happened to Kehlani is not out of the ordinary. Mocking those who have attempted suicide, are dealing with depression, or are rape victims is not just limited to celebrities or adults. Audrey Pott, a 15-year-old high school student committed suicide in 2012 after photos of her sexual assault were circulated and ridiculed on social media. In 2014, the photos of an unconscious 16-year-old that were taken after she was allegedly drugged and raped at a party with fellow high school students went viral. The Internet used the hashtag #jadapose to mock the unconscious body of the teen, who has since been asked to be identified as Jada.

Has our everyday activity on social media desensitized us to serious and dangerous issues? Things that are posted on social media do not automatically receive a dismissal of its serious issues just because of the channel in which it’s being discussed. Times have changed, and with it has also come a change in how we choose to communicate and express ourselves. It’s time to accept it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-1800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the Lifeline Crisis Chat to talk with someone online. Both are available 24/7.

3 Reasons Why Those Who Lead Should Lead on Social Media

This post originally appeared on Online Careers Tips and was written by Tiffany Young, Public Relations Manager for American Public University System.

From CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to presidents of nonprofit associations to youth soccer team coaches, those who lead have found that a social media presence can be beneficial. Despite the documented successes found by leaders who engage on social media platforms, there are still some leaders who do not participate.

I recently took note of this at a conference I attended for PR and communication professionals. Attendees were encouraged to use social media during the conference to connect with others and to get highlights from sessions. A good majority of them were senior-level executives and many others were sole proprietors of their own agencies, but yet few were using some form of social networking. This shouldn’t have been a surprise; according to a report from Domo and, 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs lacked a social presence – they weren’t on any of the major social networks.

I decided to try to get more of the leaders at the conference to turn to social media. After a quick 30 minute pep-talk about the benefits of engaging on social media, I sat down with a few and showed them how to tweet from their phones, create a list of speakers and sponsors, and even post a photo on their Facebook pages using a hashtag! They all enjoyed the lesson and said they planned to re-engage with their followers to hopefully increase their network.

Here are three tips to share with your leaders on why social media is relevant:

  1. The Ability to Build a Personal Brand – Social Media allows a leader to continually provide content to stakeholders in a way that adds significant value to the brand.  In addition, leaders can identify and engage online colleagues by reading and commenting on their blogs, following them on Twitter, and connecting with them on Facebook.

Read the entire article at Online Career Tips

3 Ways to Get More Out of Social Media in 2014

By now we’ve all heard how important social media is to both our personal and professional lives. However, what hasn’t been widely accepted yet is that there is a method to the madness. I recently wrote a post on Miller Littlejohn Media of three ways you can get more out of social media in 2014.

3 ways to get more out of social media

We often hear how important it is for communication professionals to be on social media. The benefits are endless: networking, personal branding, generating new business, increasing your audience reach and the list goes on and on. While it’s important to be on social media, it’s even more important to be engaged.

Next time you log onto one of your social networks, be sure to keep three things in mind.

Increase the frequency of your posts. You are competing against millions of people to be noticed on social media. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd or to be forgotten. Posting frequently on all of your social networks not only makes you stand out, but people will begin to look for what you have to say.

Set a goal of how many posts you want to post a day or week for each social network. Keep mind how quickly each network’s timeline moves when determining your goal. For example, try to tweet at least 10 or more times per week. Post on Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn at least 3-5 times per week. Also, depending on your specific industry, don’t forget to include Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram a few times as well.

Tip: Hootsuite and TweetDeck allow you to schedule your posts in advance. TweetDeck only schedules tweets in advance. However, Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and WordPress.

Read more of “3 Ways to Get More Out of Social Media in 2014” at Miller Littlejohn Media.

Be Sure to Check Your Domain Name!

Every now and then I come across someone’s website that shows me no content whatsoever about themselves because their domain name has expired. I am disappointed to announce that after numerous alerts about my upcoming domain name expiration date, my domain name ( expired. Domain ExpiredHow did I find out about my domain name expiration? I clicked my website link on Twitter and was completely redirected to an ugly blank page that said, “This domain name has expired.” Luckily I was able to catch it and renew it the same date it expired, so I’m officially back up and running.

But let’s play what if. What if I didn’t catch it when I did? What if I was still applying for jobs with my website plastered all over my resume, cover letter and business cards? I would have been crap out of luck. People would have taken the time to check me out for nothing. Not to mention it can also look unprofessional, especially when you’re trying to brand yourself.

The moral of this story? Don’t be like me. Frequently check the domain name to your website. You always want to be aware whether it’s working properly or not. Catch it before you even have a problem.

What the Heck Does that Hashtag Mean?!

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been on Twitter and came across a hashtag that I have no idea what it means. I click the hashtag in order to pull some context clues from different tweets, but sometimes that still doesn’t give me enough information.

Luckily, there’s #tagdef. lets you look up the definition to any hashtag. It also tells you how popular the hash tag is and if it’s new to the Twitter world. Unfortunately, every hashtag doesn’t yet have a definition on #tagdef. The good thing is you’re allowed to add one if there isn’t already.

Try it out and tell me what you think!


Unplug Yourself Sometimes!

I love social media. I love the way it instantly links me to what’s going on in the world as soon as it happens. Breaking news? It’s delivered to my phone in seconds. Whether I can be in front a television or not has no effect on my knowledge of current events. One simple check in on Foursquare gets me $10 off my meal at my favorite restaurant. If I need to know the move for the night, Twitter becomes my personalized directory. Facebook housed numerous of my graduate class discussions. I also have an iPhone, meaning anything of social media value is always at my fingertips.

I can go on and for days why I love social media. It fills my addiction to connect with the world around me, BUT it won’t connect me to everything. As much as I love it, I also know how important it is for me to UNPLUG.

Unplugging ourselves teaches us how to interact offline. It teaches us how to better interact with people face to face. I can’t even count the number of times I’m at an event or out with a group of people and individuals are so engulfed in their social media applications on their phone that I’m standing there thinking, “Umm… so why are you here?” or “Why did you want me hear if we’re not going to socialize with each other?” Then there are people who have become so comfortable with communicating online that it’s almost impossible for them to communicate face to face. NEWSFLASH! The world still functions face to face! You need that ability to succeed!

Unplug yourself! Become a part of the world. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. When you’re connected to social media 24/7, you’re unintentionally telling people not so great things about yourself. Things that can really hinder you from some pretty awesome opportunities. You don’t have to unplug all the time. Sometimes just take a break. Appreciate what’s offline.

What MTV Really Said

I’ve been wondering why the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) is being held on a Thursday this year when it’s often held on Sundays. The only reason I ask is because this Thursday is the final day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). President Obama, Vice President Biden and other important individuals will be speaking. Today, I posed the question on Twitter. I directed it towards MTV without expecting a response. Surprisingly, I got one from MTV’s verified account itself. Their response? They were “trying something new”. Now I’m not going to address my super-duper quick, quick convo with MTV from a political angle. HOWEVER, I do hope the question I posed makes readers THINK, but I digress. That’s for another post.

Any who, I’m not trying to throw MTV under the bus… (Wait a minute, yes I am). Honestly, it seems as though they just threw someone new behind their account for the day and the person was just tweeting without thinking. The problem with that thought is that it’s just speculation. The only fact I have is what I asked and what MTV answered. Unfortunately, their response was really… bad. Let me tell you what MTV really said in response to my question, regardless if it’s what they were trying to say or not.

  1. It’s not a big deal. It’s just the DNC.
  2. It’s not our problem whether or not the youth is politically aware.
  3. Here they go again.
  4. Girl, bye.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. My advice for anyone who manages a social media account on behalf of an organization, company or a huge corporation is to be careful of what you respond to the public. You may be saying one thing, but the public may be hearing something totally different. I scrolled through a lot of MTV’s Twitter timeline, and if you’re managing social media accounts, it’s a great example of what not to do when managing a company account.

Matt Mullenweg – Founder of WordPress

Matt Mullenweg and Erica Hilton

In July 2012, I had the opportunity to attend the Next Generation of Government Summit. The summit was two days of networking, training sessions and amazing guest speakers.

While there I got the chance to meet the founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg. It was really refreshing to hear him speak. The one thing that really stood out to me was how laid back he was. He didn’t have a full on business suit on. He had an energized presence about him. In other words… Matt was not a stiff! It was a great reminder that success comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and forms.

AIDS Activist Reprimanded for Tweets

Yesterday Rae Lewis-Thornton posted a blog post about having her honorary membership with her sorority rescinded because of tweets she posted about a year ago. Now just in case you don’t know who Rae  Lewis-Thorton is…

Rae was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1986 when she was 23 years old. Nine years later, Rae had full blown AIDS. (She is now approaching her 50th birthday by the way!) Throughout the past 15 years Rae has been traveling the world to educate young and old audiences alike about HIV/AIDS. She speaks to dismantle the myths about living with and contracting HIV/AIDS. In 1994, Rae was featured on the cover of Essence magazine and has even been the focus of feature stories in Ebony Magazine, Glamour and The Oprah Magazine for her work with HIV/AIDS. Rae also is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. or perhaps I should say was. 

Last night, Rae revealed on her blog that Tuesday (May 1) she received a phone call informing her that her honorary membership with her sorority had been rescinded due to comments she made on Twitter about another sorority member in December 2010. Rae said the member had been disrespectful in the manner in which she asked Rae to remove sorority pictures from her website, and in return Rae relayed the conversation on Twitter and chastised the member to her Twitter followers. At one point Rae also tweeted that the member was addressing her “like a bitch off the street”.

Ironically, that was the same day Rae was coming to speak at my now alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University. That’s probably the reason I remember those tweets like it was yesterday. That night Rae even opened up her lecture talking about the incident, but I’m going to have to be honest with you guys. I really admired Rae that day. I loved her ‘take no nonsense’ attitude, and I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I was by the way she went about her work of educating, informing, and breaking myths about HIV/AIDS.

The interesting thing about Rae and her relationship with social media is that she isn’t just an activist who uses social media to spread her message. She’s known for it. She’s been a recipient of both the British Academy Golden Tweet Award in Public Service for 2010 and the 2011 CBS Chicago Most Valuable Blogger in Medical, Health and Fitness. Rae even held the first HIV/AIDS Tweet-Up in the US in July 2010 and organized a Twitter Book Club. Despite these accomplishments in the social media world, Rae is still being reprimanded for her tweets on Twitter.

Whether or not I agree with the organization’s decision to rescind Rae’s honorary membership is completely irrelevant to this posting. However, there is a moral to this story. There are negative consequences that come along with certain behavior that’s exhibited on social networking sites no matter who you are. You simply just can’t tweet what you want without any consequences, which brings me to our familiar lesson of day: Watch what you tweet.

Below check out the video blog Rae posted discussing the situation:

You Can’t Twitpic Everything

Peyton Manning, former quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, had dinner at Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC on March 2. At the end of the night he was charged $739.58, which included an 18% gratuity. He also left an additional tip of $200. How do we know? His server twitpic’d the receipt. 

Here’s the kicker… the server was fired for it. According to The Triangle Business Journal, the owner of Angus Barn, Van Eure, was livid. Eure was reported to have said that the restaurant has a very strict policy when it comes to the privacy of their customers.

As much as we think that our social networking accounts are ours, and we think we’re free to do with it what we please, we have to realize that we can’t. I love looking at twitpics as much as the next person. It gives us this insight to people’s lives. I mean come on, knowing that Peyton Manning tipped his server about 50% of what he paid for dinner is pretty interesting. However, it’s not interesting enough to lose your job over.

I know there’s not a set in stone written guideline about what you should or should not twitpic, but I’m asking that the next time you pull out your cell phone to take a quick twitpic to share with the world, ask yourself is there any way that the picture you post could negatively come back to you. If not, go for it! If you have some hesitation that there’s just a little, tiny possibly that someone might not be too fond of it or that it maybe comprising someone else’s privacy, you just may not want to post it. I’m sure Angus Barn’s server wishes he hadn’t posted his.