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Posts Tagged social media

Have our brains become desensitised?

Source: Pixabay Computer chat

My family heavily relies on technology to feel close and communicate as we are a FIFO family – Separated by Work. I often joke with others that I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.”

So, I have an intimate understanding of the negatives and positives involved in ‘screen time’.

For many, life demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would have a few years ago. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate, which I am personally grateful for, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media.

Technology itself is not a bad thing, however for people who spend too much time interacting with a screen, the neural pathways in your brain change, and different ones created.

Kaiser Family Foundation reported 8- to 18-year-olds on average spend 11½ hours a day using their technology, and a sample group of adolescents struggled with the ability to recognise another person’s emotions. Dr Gary Small posed the questions, “Have our brains become so desensitised by a 24/7, all-you-can-eat diet of lurid flickering images that we’ve lost all perspective on appropriateness and compassion when another human being apparently suffers a medical emergency? Have we become a society of detached voyeurs?”

Source: Pixabay Social media

Communicating via a screen can decrease empathy and negatively impact concentration and self-esteem, leading people to say things electronically they’d never speak directly to someone.

At times when speaking to others electronically, I have realised by their response the message wasn’t received as intended. When I take the time to discuss it further, they grasp that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face. Has this happened to you too?

From my experience, here are my top eight tips for staying and feeling connected:

  1. Don’t type anything via a screen that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are texting or messaging. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Listen for tone of text/type/voice cues as to how the person is feeling and always check for understanding.
  4. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you think you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  5. Remember emojis are not a real expression of feelings, nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face – a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon.
  6. Aim for a balance of online and in-person contact.
  7. Think about what you are posting and how it affects others – double check that what you are writing represents you and your family in the best light.
  8. Be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

Source: Pixabay Skype

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can help others if they are struggling and respond to them in an online support group. However, in online groups,  some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share painful emotions that they would not do face-to-face. Therefore, I suggest that you use online communication and social media carefully and mindfully.

The Internet is a fantastic tool, and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires sound judgment and educating yourself on how it works.

What are your top tips for screen time success?

Until next time, Kirsty 🙂

Images: Pixabay

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Easy-Peasy Blog Post Template

My whole career has been a combination of corporate and small business hands on experience, and during the last decade I have watched on with interest, and attempted to participate, as the way businesses communicate their message to their customers has multiplied, technology driven mediums have increased, and consumer expectations of professional goods and services have soared.

After publishing my book, Separated by Work, I realised that to compete in today’s business world I had to immerse myself in learning the most up to date information available. Where was the best place to do that? University of course, where I am currently completing a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in PR and Social Media.

As I learn, I come across tools that make me recognise I have been mostly winging it for the last 10 years. Just hanging in there with passion and enthusiasm for my work, but ad-libbing my communication strategies it all the same. A couple of valuable templates I came across today are, what I believe to be, a business ‘must have’ and a ‘wish I could have had a long time ago’.

Content rules: how to create killer blogs, podcasts, videos, eBooks, webinars (and more) that engage customers and ignite your business is one of my social media subject’s texts. In the book, which I highly recommend you get a copy of, Handley and Chapman share a blog template and a content rules checklist. To get the links to their ‘secret insiders page’ you must buy the book, but I was so impressed with the book and the tools they share throughout and on their website I wanted to let all my business friends know.

I like to shout it out whenever I come across a wonderful piece of advice, a great product or upon receiving excellent service. So, to finish off I will borrow the final bit of advice from the end of the above recommended blog template:

Shout it! Spread the word! Tell your family! Your friends! Facebook! LinkedIn! Let your network know your post is live; generate excitement for the post and earn some well-deserved kudos.”

Have you read this book and used the tools? Do you have other tools that you find valuable in creating great content and getting your message to your customers? If so, please share them here, or your thoughts on the book.

Until next time, Kirsty 🙂

 

Posted in: Business

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Beyond the Paper, Pen, and Envelope — Being Mindful Online

being-mindful-online

I think I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.” It sums up my families reliance on technology to feel close and communicate when we are separated by work.

Our FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would if we were seeing each other every day. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate. This is a wonderful thing, and I personally am very grateful for it, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media—the to do, what to be aware of, and what to avoid.

Technology itself is not a bad thing—it is how it is used that can be a cause for concern. We need to be aware that technology can completely rewrite our brain pathways. For people who spend too much time interacting through a screen, the neural pathways change and different ones are created.

A study by UCLA professor Dr Gary Small in 2007 asked three regular internet users and three neophytes to browse websites, in an attempt to point out the cognitive differences between heavy and light multi-taskers. Dr Small discovered differences in the neural activity between both parties when tasked to Google pre-assigned topics. The part of the experienced Internet users’ brains involved in decision-making and problem- solving lit up like fireworks, but the same couldn’t be said for the other half of the group.

After further testing under this study, test participants were asked to browse the web for one hour a day. Dr Gary Small discovered that the inexperienced Internet users’ brains lit up like their experienced counterparts six days later. This showed that people’s web surfing habits change their neural pathways. Online activity affects concentration, self-esteem, and people can lose empathy.

Communicating via a screen can increase a lack of empathy. This leads to people saying things electronically they’d never say directly to someone—because the person to who they are talking to isn’t physically present to display their emotional reaction. Dr Gary Small said in 2011, “I think all this online time is weakening our face-to-face human contact skills. Many people, particularly young digital natives, gain social support through their hours of texting and social networking, but does that person who averages more than 11 hours each day using technology look you in the eye when you have a conversation? I know when someone maintains eye contact, I have a greater sense that he or she is listening and interested in what I have to say. I feel a greater empathic contact.”

I think it is as if the part of our nervous system that registers the feelings of others has been paralysed or removed when we are communicating electronically. I have had times where I was talking to others electronically and they respond in a way that shows the message wasn’t received as I intended. When we discuss further they are quick to realise that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face.

Five tips to use phones and computers effectively –

  1. Don’t say anything electronically that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are speaking, texting, or typing. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you feel you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  4. Listen for tone of voice cues as to how the person is feeling or hearing what you are saying, and always check for understanding.
  5. Remember emojis are not a true expression of feelings— nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can support others if they are struggling and post about it in an online group I am in. Just remember though that in these online groups some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share difficult emotions that they would not do face-to-face.

Use online communication and social media properly and mindfully. The Internet is an amazing tool and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires good judgment. Aim for a balance of online and in-person connecting and really think about what you are posting and how that affects others. Think about how it represents you and your family and keep at top of mind that a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon. Please be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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The Connected Business Woman

www-unitywords-com-au-9

I am not an online marketing professional, nor am I a social media expert. Yet I have realised how important it is to be connected on many different platforms. In this blog I share my thoughts on keeping your sanity and credibility whilst building and maintaining your online presence.

There are numerous social media sites – all with different audiences and purposes. There are quite a few conferencing and webinar tools at your fingertips to choose from. Someone suggests that short videos are the next best was to connect. Then you must blog and make sure your website is representing your brand in a way that excites and invites people to do business with you. Not to mention at some point you also have to do the work that actually makes you money.

You could spend most of your working hours updating profiles, writing posts, hash tagging, commenting, liking and uploading. You could employ or contract someone to do it. But you need to ask yourself what will bring you the most money, build your online and business profile/credibility, and what tools are most effective for your business. Then add the question, “How do I balance it all so that I am not sitting on the couch at night with my family still doing ‘work’ tasks?”

I got stuck in this cycle of trying to cover all platforms – posting and blogging everywhere and all hours of the day. I spent hours attempting to make and upload that natural off the cuff three-minute video of me just saying hi to the watchers and sharing a thought that would change someone’s life! A blog would take at least two hours by the time I wrote it, edited it, uploaded it, found the right picture and then shared link. I would wake up in the morning, go for my run then spend 20 minutes checking social media before breakfast! By the end of each working day at least half of it was spent online jumping from one site to another. And if I went to a seminar that was teaching me something about an online platform you were lucky if you saw me for the next couple of days as I applied everything I had learnt with the promise of super exposure and business opportunities.

What changed? I took some time off and saw that my business and profile didn’t disappear just because I wasn’t all over it every day. I saw that there is true value in being connected, yet the value comes from a balanced, healthy and strategic approach. I thought about who was my online audience – and what they wanted to see so they could connect with my products, my professional services and me. I also looked, very closely, at which platforms were more likely to convert into sales, create brand awareness, and which were just ‘social’.

So I came up with my plan. I investigated what are the most engaging posts for different social media platforms and action that. The platforms that serve my business and book best are newsletters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. I give no more than one hour per day up keeping my online presence. I make face to face contact and phone calls my priority. I have learnt to use Zoom to conference and webinar. I reuse and recycle a lot of my writing so that I can cover many options and platforms with little effort. I write for businesses that have huge followings online so that I increase my profile organically through that. I chat (face to face or on the phone) a lot to my friends who are online savvy or doing something that I find impressive, and discover what I could be doing differently, and how to do it without paying someone.

To be successful in the business world you have to be connecting with your audience on a regular basis. This has always been the case; it is just now we have many more ways online to increase our exposure for little or no cost. The trick is to manage your virtual world so that it is still making you money, building your profile and giving you real leads. You also have to manage your time and the energy your give to it so that it does not create a black hole of lost productivity.

In business know you and a bit of like you can come by online connecting – but trust you may need a bit more work and contact to make that sale.

I like to check in and ask myself often, “Is my online messages and profiles congruent to how I introduce myself to a room of people, have a trade table at an event, meet a prospective client for lunch or attend a business meeting?” I will always look for better ways of doing things – I think as the world gets more connected through a screen being better than your competition means keeping your message clear, your integrity in tact and balance it all out with time away from the devices and connecting face to face.

How can you make your online presence and activities more clear, meaningful and profitable, and less time wasting?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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