Baby Boomer meets Gen Net

My dad called me tonight. The conversation started fairly run-of-the-mill; school, work, his motorcycle and the general family update. He was in the middle of telling me about cooking ribs when he suddenly stopped and asked: “What the hell is that noise”

It took me a minute to realize he could hear me typing on my keyboard.

To wound his somewhat bruised ego I assured him that I was completely enthralled by his addition of cayenne pepper to his sauce and that I was simply multi-tasking.

He shook it off and we continued talking and got onto the conversation of my two and a half year old laptop that is still kicking but that I’m considering replacing. I was in the middle of talking about screen resolution and my external hard drive when he interrupted me with the GIANT cliche “When I was a kid we didn’t have this stuff, you have no idea how good you have it”

I let him tell me about walking uphill to school in his pyjamas before saying goodbye. I laughed thinking about how foreign and perplexing this whole Net Gen thing was to my father. While I consider the internet, my computer and iTunes pretty basic things to understand (heck you can Google the answers to anything) the fact that finding Google was a feat for my father was something almost frustrating. The other week he called me to confirm it was ok to click “yes” when the computer asked him if it wanted to restart. He reluctantly agreed after I explained to him what restarting the computer meant.

What’s the┬áreluctance my Baby Boomer father has?

My thoughts took me back to a book I read this spring called “Grown Up Digital” by Don Tapscott. The book is amazing and talks about my generation or what Tapscott refers to as “the net generation” and how our assimilation of technology is changing everything from communications to business and science. But Tapscott also talks about how my generation uses technology┬áin a way that that leaves any other generation befuddled and perplexed. For us net-geners, Tapscott says technology is “like the air”. We inhale in naturally, process it effortlessly and emit our own content to the digital world as easily as our lungs emit carbon dioxide.

I definitely recommend this book for Net Genners, Boomers, Gen X’ers or anyone who wants to understand how emerging generations and processing the ever evolving world of those confusing gigabites, tweets and links.

If I can get my dad to refrain from calling me every time he encounters a technological term he doesn’t understand (I love my father and he’s incredibly intelligent…just not technologically savvy) I might get less phone calls when the computer “just stops working” or “is giving him some stupid message”



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Anarchy is Malarkey

one definition of anarchy is: a state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from a failure of government).

What I saw today may be anarchy, but it felt like nothing more than a sad failure. I watched as the Black Bloc smashed out windows, broke buildings, hammered out cobblestone and vandalized businesses. Ironically enough, many Starbucks locations were seriously damaged in the Black Bloc`s fight against the big corporation.

I have news for the Black Bloc: your attempt to take down Starbucks and other corporations in your rage did nothing to hurt those corporations. You hurt the “little people” you claim to represent. Since I moved to Toronto in November, Starbucks has given me a job, paid for prescriptions, dental work and kept me with money in the bank. Your efforts today not only cost me two days of work (as I can’t go to work tomorrow either) but you crippled my city, shamed my streets and hurt our international reputation.

As I watched criticism fly at Mayor David Miller and Police Chief Blair, I couldn’t help but wonder but where our country’s leader was? One of Canada’s biggest cities was in chaos, the province’s capital was collapsing and when it all boils down, Harper is to blame. How anyone could think that putting the G20 in major city like Toronto, especially in the downtown core was a good idea, should be forced to resign. The pride that this was supposed to bring Toronto and the notoriety we were to receive on the international stage was washed away in a sea of broken glass, flames and smoke.

I was a very sad Torontonian today. 10 feet from me as I was scrambling to get to the safety of work, a man took cobblestones and smashed a large window. This wasn’t supposed to happen to our city. Huntsville survived the G20 with nothing but smiles and a new cupcake a local bakery named “The Obama”

Mayor David Miller has done his part, he spoke live on two separate occasions today, he was honest with Torontonians, upfront and deeply concerned about this situation. After the summit is over, this city needs to hear from it’s Prime Minister. The man who made these decisions, who brought this focus to our city needs to be made accountable for his decisions and give rationale for why he thought that the hotspot of Canada would escape the G20 unscathed.

Toronto will not forget today. In a week, when I look at my dismal paycheck (short two days of pay from this disaster) I will be reminded once again.

The Black Bloc aren’t anarchists, they are cowards. Anarchists would at least have the courage to show their faces, rather than walking around in scarves and balaclavas, keeping their faces hidden.

After all the complaining about the money being spent, I’m glad a billion dollars went into this because without the work of police from all over this country, I’m scared to think of what would have happened in Toronto tonight.

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It’s that time again.

This post isn’t going to increase my already minimal group of followers.

I don’t really like the world cup.

Before everyone (especially my friend Fiona) freaks out, let me explain.

Unlike my friend Fiona, who is a loyal soccer fan, most people don’t give a shit about soccer until the World Cup comes around every four years. The same could be said about the Olympics but aside from the gold medal hockey game, I feel like the Olympics leads to less insane behavior.

Most people don’t follow soccer. I’m one of those people. It’s a cool sport, I respect the athletes, and I do think sports do a lot for developing nations. What I don’t get and what drives me absolutely insane is the way the whole world seems to stop for a month and everyone becomes a fucking fanatic. Really? Really now?

I like France, if I’m going to root for a team, I’m gonna root France. I have my reasons, other people have their reasons for the team they cheer for and that’s cool. I think the competitiveness and sense of sport is great. I don’t think that people skipping class, skipping work, CONSTANTLY talking about it, being totally obsessive, demanding it be turned in every time they see a computer or tv and constantly screaming like animals when in the four years in between Cups they couldn’t give a shit about soccer is ridiculous.

I feel like the trending topic for most of society for the next month is going to be #bandwagonjumping.

Is the World Cup over yet?

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Now Trending on Twitter: #emotionalbaggage

I was on Twitter the other day doing the usual updates and looking at various lists and my eyes glanced over the day’s trending topics. I’m never drawn to the world wide Twitter trends of #bieberfever, #sat, or the like, but one in particular caught my eye. #ourfriendshipendedwhen was the number one trending topic of the day. Intrigued, I followed the link and was given a virtual buffet of emotional baggage:

#ourfriendshipendedwhen you tried to convince me to stop believing in god

#ourfriendshipendedwhen you moved and I never saw you again

#ourfriendshipendedwhen you became envious of my accomplishments. It’s not my fault you are a loser! Stop hating.

This is just a small example of all the emotional baggage that was out there and I couldn’t help but look at this and wonder if it was good or not. Is online venting the new thing? Did sending that simple 140 character message allow someone to get something off their chest and make them feel better? Or, is it yet another way we avoid conflict, deny our true feelings, and emotionally compartmentalize our lives?

If you are tweeting about it, chances are you aren’t over it. Is the internet the place to dumb your emotional baggage? Probably not, but just like #ourfriendshipendedwhen, emotional internet dumping seems to be a trend. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that for a second, the thought of throwing out my own #ourfriendshipendedwhen tweet, because someone I am no longer friends with still follows me on Twitter, wasn’t tempting, but the realization that it wasn’t really worth it and I didn’t really care was a nicer feeling.

For those of you looking for a place to dump your baggage, trending topics are fancy, but I think moving on is just a little classier. As good as it may feel, its on the internet and there isn’t really any way to take that back. Being in PR has made me so much more aware of my own online presence and every time I want to tweet something stupid, I think about who’s going to see it. Would I want to tell my boss that my friendship ended with someone because we got in some stupid fight and neither of us wanted to move past our own shit and act like adults? Probably not.

In the woe is me emotional world where cryptic Facebook statuses are simply the bait some people use to hook others in to asking “is everything ok?” When is #lifeisgood going to become a trending topic??

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The hot topic in social media, public relations, and everywhere else in the last few weeks has been Facebook’s privacy issues.

I’m going to continue to argue that the problems people see with Facebook come to down to laziness and not wanting to take personal accountability for the content they put on the internet….but that’s for another day.

All this talk surrounding Facebook got me thinking about BlackBerry Messenger….or as it is commonly know by users: BBM. I used to be a BlackBerry user, abuser and lover. I recently traded mine in to explore Google’s Android platform. I would be lying if I said I did this without any anxieties at all. I loved my BlackBerry for so many reasons but one thing I loved in particular was BBM. I loved the threaded SMS, the connectivity to my friends, and most importantly the magic letters D and R.

That’s right, not only will your BlackBerry tell you when your friends on BBM have received your messages (with an D) but they will also know when they have READ your message (with an R). At first it was a great knowing when someone read my messages, but then that annoying “why the hell won’t they respond to my text?!?!?” feeling creeps into my head.

What comes with knowing when someone has read your text messages, is knowing when you read the messages someone reads you. The great technology that is text messaging started to become stressful when you would get a text you didn’t want to deal with. It wasn’t necessarily about avoiding people, but sometimes you just don’t feel like replying to a text message right away. But, with BBM that isn’t the case. There’s no waiting to answer a text or ignoring that text about going out for beer because you are tired and you would just rather stay home and watch reruns of “The Office”. Well, you can do that, but all your friends will know that you ignored them.

Has BBM taken the privacy out of text messaging? Research In Motions (makers of the beloved BlackBerry) recently launched a PR and advertising initiative with MTV Canada. It features a lot of ads on their site and one of their catchy slogans advertises BBM as “a place to be open and honest with your closest friends.” I couldn’t help but think REALLY????? Starbucks on rainy day is a place to be open and honest with your closest friends, your couch drinking red wine is a place to be open and honest….but BlackBerry Messenger?? As a former BlackBerry user it’s probably the least open and honest place out there. How open and honest are we if we can’t tell people we are ignoring texts, or if people are getting upset at us for doing it?

As a former BlackBerry user (and forever lover) I have to say they are great devices. They have a ton of great possibilities, they are a Canadian product (yay!) and they are just generally fabulous….but I have to say not having to account for my reading or not reading text messages is probably the most liberating thing that has happened in a while.

So are we all still mad that the drunken cottage photos on the internet can be seen by bosses or more annoyed that when you boss bbms you and asks you to come in early that you can’t ignore that text and hit snooze??

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Samantha Jones needs some better PR

Tonight I went to see Sex and the City 2. I’m just going to put it out there that I really didn’t like the movie at all. The fashion left something to be desired and aside from the horribly politically incorrect and borderline racist moments, I think it is safe to say that Samantha Jones is the worst possible representation of public relations professionals.

The majority of the movie takes place in the UAE, and Samantha is an out and out mess the entire time. She is constantly having to be told to cover up (which she refuses to do), gets arrested for indecent behavior loses a giant opportunity with a potential client as a result. If this wasn’t enough, one of the last scenes in the movie is one of her throwing condoms and doing pelvic thrusts to a horrified Muslim crowd which again almost gets her arrested.

This is not public relations. Plain and simple. Samantha chooses to ignore her public and her target audience instead of trying to relate to them. In a world that requires acceptance and tolerance Samantha Jones chooses to throw this to the wind in favor of her own libido.

Public Relations is just that….relating to your surroundings and accepting their practices. Does it mean always agreeing with them? No. It does however mean mutual respect and understanding of cultural differences and not throwing Trojans around the spice market or keeping them tucked in your passport. Samantha should have covered up her cleavage if she valued her contract.

In the end Samantha loses the big contract, and seemingly learns nothing. Her reputation remains untarnished and her business intact. I guess there is something to be said for the joys of fiction.


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iCare: Apple and Social Responsibility

Tuesday’s Globe and Mail uncovered a disturbing example of the pressures of manufacturing technologies for high stakes players. Foxconn, the main supplier of Apple’s coveted iPhone reported 11 suspected suicides in the last year.

The article discusses poor working conditions in Chinese and elludes to the fact that the payout a victim’s family receives (far beyond the wages of a Foxconn employee) are also a motivating factor in China’s difficult economy. While Foxconn executives are siting “employee personal problems” and uttering key messages like “we are not a factory of blood, sweat and tears”, images of factory employees burning cardboard iPhone cutouts in protest are almost impossible to ignore.

What the Globe didn’t touch on, however, is Apple’s role in this series of tragedies. Is there a responsibility on the part of one of the biggest players in the technology game to ensure that those who are creating the products that deliver their profits work under livable conditions? Apple’s success lies in innovation, but as a corporation operating in a time where buzz words like “social responsibility” thicken the everyday air, should they not step up and protect those who produce their products?

From a public relations perspective, none of this looks good for Apple. Their secretive nature and the proverbial lock on the mouth of every Apple employee already calls their transparency into question. At this point, Apple is running out of time to speak up without looking like a late-comer to the situation. The media has gotten hold of it, and public outcry has begun in China, surely Apple can’t be so distracted by the May 28th iPad (also manufactured by Foxconn) launch in Canada that they are oblivious to what goes on around them.

Apple needs to act. It’s time to speak out, tweet, comment, or do something before the the somewhat cloudy haze surrounding their transparency becomes an outright fog and their moves toward social responsibility seem no more like strategic moves in a high stakes game of techno-warlord chess.

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