Our Neverending Challenge

Growing up, I watched and re-watched the film, The Neverending Story. As a kid who adored books, naturally I gravitated to the plot of a child realizing the world about which he was reading was 100% real and just waiting for him to step in and save it.

One scene in the movie sets the stage for a challenge about to be faced by the child hero, Atreyu. He is traveling to find the answer to saving the world of Fantasia, and one obstacle he must pass is the Magic Mirror Gate. A knowledgeable yet cantankerous sage, Engywook, tells a fellow friend about the dangers of this next task:

“… kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men discover that they are really cowards! Confronted by their true selves, most men run away screaming!”

Why do I share this today? Because we just faced our own Magic Mirror Gate.

Our reflection in an AI.

This last week, Microsoft decided to test out an AI bot which had its own Twitter account. The bot was meant to learn its own speech patterns from what it was seeing on social media, and reply in kind.

Unfortunately, Tay – the Microsoft AI bot – was quickly met with tweets and posts written by trolls and the basest members of humanity who thought it’d be fun to train a Twitter bot to be racist.

“Many of the tweets saw Tay referencing Hitler, denying the Holocaust, supporting Trump’s immigration plans (to “build a wall”), or even weighing in on the side of the abusers in the #GamerGate scandal.” – TechCrunch

While Microsoft deleted many of these offensive tweets, some remain. Even if they were 100% deleted, there are always those sites and users who spend their hours archiving tweets for posterity (and whatever other reasons they might have). The Internet has the memory of an elephant; nothing is ever really gone.

These posts are glaring evidence to all of us that we really can suck as a species.

Only you can make social better. | Really Social Blog
We can do this. Together.

Free to speak. Louder & more often.

One of my bents in life is to help great people get onto social media. It’s no shock to me that the dregs of society were able to influence an AI bot to turn itself into a racist voice adding to the vitriol. Why I do what I do is to help the voices of love, compassion, and intelligence to be louder. When we see racism being posted on any social platform, we need to smack the shit out of it with our own post of reason and rationale.

Who will we be tomorrow?

All of this leads to the question of our future: what kind of society will rise to the top? As we continue to develop AIs and bots which are meant to learn from who we are to emulate and represent us as a whole, what are we allowing to be created? As we raise or influence children in our circles, who are they going to become? Will they bring a legacy of hatred and stupidity to the future of our species, or will the voices of inclusion and acceptance direct their paths, and therefore ours?

 

Many questions, I know. I wish I had more solid answers for you. I don’t because we are the answer, and I truly hope that in future instances when we arrive to our own Magic Mirror Gate, we can be proud of what we see.

Millennials, Link with Us

Nine out of 10 millennials I meet either aren’t on LinkedIn or aren’t on LinkedIn (they’re on but they don’t use it).

Aren’t millennials all about social media?

Not so much. If they are, they’re looking to be approached. Based on Social Media Week’s post on marketing to millennials, youngsters dig brands and want to see authenticity.

Why not LinkedIn?

LinkedIn icon for Really SocialFor those of us who frequent LinkedIn, we can vouch for the marketing which takes place in the News Feed, Groups, Company Pages, Showcase Pages, and so on.

The big miss for millennials is not realizing the networking power of LinkedIn to land their next gig. Said gig would then fund the same millennials with wages for which they could be free to succumb to marketing. And so the circle of life continues…

Why Millennials Need LinkedIn

  1. Your dorm buddy can’t hire you – yet. Once you leave your campus with your shiny scroll and dented-yet-decorated graduation cap, you will hardly see your classmates because chances are you’ll all be pounding the virtual pavement to find your career. It’s unlikely that your first job out of college will depend on getting hired by a classmate, so you need to create ties with more seasoned professionals who are in hiring roles.
  2. You’re never too young to network. Graduation Day isn’t a milestone which ends one stage of your life and begins the next. From the moment you are old enough to create your first social media profile, you are a networker creating your own brand.
  3. You are the new hope. No, really, you are. Companies are waiting for you to arrive and bring fresh perspective and a new way of working. Help them find you by using the platform most recruiters are looking to for great candidates.

If you need help getting started on LinkedIn, try my simple 5-step Get Started tutorial. Ask any of my former interns how helpful it is to get some LinkedIn 101!

Why Everything Should Be “Shiny.”

Everything’s shiny, Cap’n. Not to fret.

My thoughts exactly! Leave it to my favorite screen writer, Joss Whedon, to perfectly encapsulate in one not-so-new word my general outlook toward life, liberty, and the pursuit of social media accolades.

I’ve always been an idealistic optimist.  For me, the glass isn’t just half full; it’s half full of vodka (or insert your favorite libation of choice).  I really believe things can work out for the best, everything won’t be in vain, and people can and will come through in a pinch or even before it.

I bring that same mentality to my forays in social media.  I want my posts, my conversations with connections, and my very social essence to exude optimism and the best of what can be.  The world has such a healthy wealth of the dismal and derogatory, so why shouldn’t I add some shiny?

Thanks for peeking at this first of many blog posts to come:  we’ll focus on social media, with some tangents here and there as appropriate.  I hope this blog, and your life in general right now, is making everything as shiny as can be.

Will social media live on?

This morning I presented social media to a board of small business owners, and at least one in attendance expressed an absolute belief in the death of social media as a means of connecting and networking.

I would laugh it off, but then again I never saw MySpace clawing back up out of the grave.  Let’s consider some factors which might incur the playing of Taps for social media:

  • People are starting to care again about privacy.  With the recent $%&@#% debacle regarding the NSA and warrantless searches into the digital communications of Americans etal, it’s entirely possible internet users might – just might – come back around to prioritizing privacy over publicity on social media.  There has even been talk about the privacy value of snail mail.
  • The social media giants are getting too – well – gigantic.  When you’ve got players like Facebook and Google hosting and controlling your online activity, you may not realize how little power you have as a lone user.  Doubt me?  Have you ever tried deleting a Facebook account?  And let’s say you succeed; don’t you dare make the mistake of clicking Like or Share on another news story, because whoosh – it’s all back up and running again, and thank you very much for reactivating your Facebook profile!
  • There will always be that holdout you need.  You will inevitably come across connections, friends, or colleagues who will benefit your existence in some way, and they would-not-could-not-should-not join social media.  You’re going to have to lift your hand from the mouse, pick up your phone or car keys, and make contact in a more personable way.

I know what you fellow social media addicts are thinking right now:  “If someone I want to know isn’t already on social media, do I really want to know them at all?”  Been there, thought that.  But then I woke up to the reality – and so will you, hopefully – that your very best social media connections are going to be grounded in real-life associations.  Even a Skype call with someone can add that dose of reality that makes a social connection go farther.

Naturally I have no intention of getting out the spade to dig social media’s grave right now.  But I do wonder if, like legwarmers and shoulder pads, the touchy-feely aspect of human relations might ultimately trump tweets and pokes.

(This post in no way endorses the use of leg warmers or shoulder pads in one’s wardrobe, though the jury is still out on MySpace.)