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How Social Media is Changing the Landscape of American Politics

President Donald Trump

What if I told you 3 years ago that our next American president would be elected primarily by using Twitter?

I think most people would reply, “Yeah, right.”

Until recently, we’ve all thought social media was useful for entertainment, showing selfies no one wants to see or posting what we ate for lunch. Donald Trump, however, saw a different potential and changed the world.

One controversial tweet in 2015 galvanized many in the country like no other:

“Billions of dollars gets brought into Mexico through the border. We get the killers, drugs & crime, they get the money”@realDonaldTrump, July 13, 2015

People were outraged from coast to coast, but suddenly everyone was talking about illegal immigration. The more the media mocked him, the more his influence soared.

Did his use of social media end when he became the leader of the free world? Nope. Consider just a few of his pronouncements in 2017:

  • The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! (February 17)
  • Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! (March 4)
  • Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer! (September 23)

President Trump’s use of social media has moved the world to action in historic ways. We are in the midst of an enormous cultural shift, 140 characters at a time, and from just one man.

Social media platforms offer viable ways to influence our world, but most people use them inappropriately. They take to Facebook spewing their latest rant but fail to achieve positive outcomes. In nearly every case, they only reach a few of their “friends” who think the same way.

Facebook has changed their algorithm recently to minimize political rants that do not engage social interactions that meet their criteria. These changes are intended to increase civil discourse on Facebook.

How can one use social media effectively in this politically-charged environment? Since people have passionate views on a range of issues, what are some suggestions for communicating those views in respectful ways?  

A recent article, What Can and Can’t You Do with Political Advertising on Facebook?, may provide some solutions for more responsible communication on Facebook.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Fridays with Dr. Glass: How to Use Facebook to Grow Your Small Business

Facebook Image

(Photo Credit: PMC Network)

What impact has your use of Facebook had on your small business and your non-profit corporation?

Facebook is an incredible social media source to use. Almost every age and ethnic demographic uses Facebook., even though many have recently (the past 3 years) learned the basics: how to update a status, how to change a profile and cover photo, and how to use the hashtag (#). From small business to non-profit, Facebook has provided beneficial engagement and interaction between consumers, non-profit contributors, and I.

In what ways can Facebook be used to grow a small business?

Facebook can be used to grow small businesses in the following ways:

Personalized web address – Some small businesses do not have established websites or blogs for customers to peruse. When a small business owner creates a free Facebook business page, Facebook provides a website address that consumers can use to find said business; for example, https://www.facebook.com/magnoliassweethaven was created for Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC.

Networking – Creating events, sponsoring giveaways, and connecting to other industry professionals present excellent networking opportunities. Cross-promotion of small businesses is an additional way of networking on Facebook. At Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, for instance, we work with cake pop, linen, and custom cookie vendors to create dessert tables for our clients’ weddings.

Be resourceful – Being an expert in your respective industry is information that should be shared as well as information that is wanted by consumers or readers. Facebook can be used to publish engaging industry information. The amount of times per day that small business owners choose to post is relevant to how often they appear in their followers’ Facebook feeds.

Market events – Consumers who follow a small business on Facebook are sometimes given incentives for free products or services. Food trucks will often post partial photos of where they are and ask consumers to comment with a correct guess for free food.

Link love – Small business owners should use their personal Facebook pages to link back to their Facebook business page as well as their website in the “Work and Education” bio section.

Are there any reasons a small business should not use Facebook for professional purposes?

I do not foresee why most small businesses would not want to use a free resource, marketing tool, and website for their entrepreneurial venture. Sometimes people find using social media off-putting, and there are some who find using social media will not contribute to betterment and success of their business. Bullhockey! You can reach a wider targeted demographic and make additional connections with the use of social media.

For an economical fee, would you be willing to help small businesses setup their Facebook business pages? For a monthly economical fee, would you be willing to help small businesses to maintain and add content to their pages?   

I am actually in the midst of launching a consulting and public relations firm with YOU, Dr. Daniels. I’m not sure if this is the appropriate time to announce it, but I just did. Services will include helping small business owners setup and maintain their social media pages, public relations, and start-up business plan writing. As time progresses, we SHALL make a more formal announcement.

Stay Connected with Dr. Glass…

Facebook: Magnolia’s Sweet Haven

Website: www.pamperedsweettooth.com

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dispel the False Allure of the “Facebook Fire Challenge”

Facebook Fire Challenge

(Photo Credit: Forward Times Online)

Recently, there has been a burgeoning interest in the “Facebook Fire Challenge,” where mostly young guys, are sharing via Facebook their acts of self-immolation. This phenomenon is one of the strongest examples of how destructive this willingness to do almost anything to gain fame has become.  As someone who has devoted his academic and social justice work to ameliorating the lives of Black boys and men, it’s disheartening to witness a disproportionate number of these self-immolations being committed by young Black males.  This is why we have to continue to promote strengthening the Black male educational pipeline. Ensuring that Black males are receiving a high quality education, regardless of their backgrounds, is the key to combating a nihilistic spirit that’s running rampant throughout America, including in many impoverished Black communities.  Authentic, selfless and quality mentoring of young Black males is one of the most powerful tools of resistance we have at our disposal against this growing nihilistic spirit in America, especially in many Black communities.

Our young Black males need people around them who will tell and show them they love them and that they matter.  Nihilism is imbuing the psyches of too many young Black males.  We have to stay actively involved in their lives to help them avoid doing damaging and unproductive things.  While many may assert that one of the central reasons why many Black males are involving themselves in the “Facebook Fire Challenge” is the absence of numerous Black fathers in the home, we can no longer allow this to be the oversimplified conclusion of the narrative.  We have to identify homes where there are young Black males with absent fathers, and when we locate these homes, we need community leaders to partner those young guys with quality mentors.  How can we practically accomplish this?

Well, we’re always taking about starting a movement and/or being part of a movement.  Why don’t we start a national movement to take back our Black boys from the manacles of despondency and nihilism?  One of the best ways to prevent our Black boys from being destroyed by despondency and nihilism is to create mentoring programs in every community where Black boys are present.  We need to partner every Black boy with a mentor, especially those boys with absent fathers.  These programs don’t have to cost any money to form.  It does not cost any money to be willing to accept the role of a true mentor.  If community leaders would like to develop mentoring programs that are highly sophisticated and well-financed, this, of course, is absolutely fine.  Regardless of the approach taken in each community, what’s most important is for the community to act.  Young Black boys need to see more examples of success in their communities.  Successful individuals within their communities can aid in modeling success for them.

Have you endorsed the “Facebook Fire Challenge”?  You have if you’ve shared one video of these acts of self-immolation.  Stop sharing these videos.  When these young people begin to see that they don’t have a large audience for their foolish acts, they will realize self-immolation is an act that will not gain them the attention they desire.  Instead of sharing videos of acts of self-immolation, let’s use various social media platforms to oppose participation in the “Facebook Fire Challenge,” and let’s provide substantive education about the dangers of involving one’s self in such risky behavior.  Too many young people believe they will earn respect from millions of people across the country and world by posting videos of themselves participating in the “Facebook Fire Challenge,” but when more young folks hear and read a significant number of fervid protests against involvement in this phenomenon, we will have made a noble effort to encourage them to come off of a metaphorical bridge to disaster.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Social Media and Cowardice

If you really believe in what you have to say about a person, then why use social media to communicate a message to him or her, especially if you have the person’s home address, email address, and/or telephone number?  Because many people lack the courage to confront people directly, social media becomes vehicles for articulating their messages.  What’s disconcerting about this increasing phenomenon is more people believe that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and etc. are the proper mediums to solve conflicts.  Why not just pick up a telephone?  One has to wonder, however, if people just enjoy resolving conflicts through public spaces like Facebook and Twitter to attract more attention to themselves.  When you think about it, resolving conflicts at someone’s home, through email, and/or over the telephone is too private for those who desire to find any way possible to get more attention drawn to themselves.

Now, if you have already directly addressed your problems with someone and that person does not try to work with you to solve those problems, then it may be appropriate to express how you feel in general about a problem you have with someone in an indirect manner to keep you from fighting the person.  If you have an established reputation of letting people know in their faces (without any hesitation) how you feel about an issue or problem when one arises, then it may be appropriate to make an indirect comment on Facebook or Twitter about the problem or issue.

Cowardice occurs through social media when a person never has addressed his or her problems with someone directly.

Some people think you’re not smart enough to know when they’re sending subliminal messages to you.  They think they’re getting over on you and affecting you.  However, what they don’t understand is the reason that you’ve not responded to them directly and/or punched them in the mouth is you see them as lightweights, are trying to not destroy their world for their sake and their family’s sake, and/or wish not to cause a major scene.

When people always have to promulgate indirect messages, you can tell they’re struggling with deep insecurities and self-esteem problems.  Why else would they always express themselves through indirect messages?

In the time you invested in composing an indirect message, you could have already communicated a direct message by picking up a telephone?  Why waste time?  Go ahead and be honest—it’s not really about the indirect message you’re attempting to send to someone, but it’s more about you needing to deal with things you’re stowing on the inside of you that need to be eliminated.

You have to be careful about communicating indirect messages to someone through social media because that person could respond with a direct message to you that could surely shake up your world forever.

For every move there is a counter.

Don’t let your weak indirect messages end up causing you a lifetime of misery.  You have to resolve how much you’re willing to lose when you publish tweets, statuses, and posts.

Don’t be a coward—say what you have to say to someone directly to him or her!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Too Wired?

Although all of the fascinating marvels of technology have us often spellbound, we need to take some time to reflect critically about how much mental energy we consume while using sundry technologies.  Many people say that they take breaks from their work by playing with their fancy cell phones and logging on to Facebook, but they really don’t think about how they are not giving their minds a chance to rest.  With such a wide range of technologies available to us in the postmodern epoch, we need to give ourselves meaningful breaks away from these technologies each day.

Some people find it difficult to go ten minutes without looking at using their cell phones.  While you may say that it’s not a big deal to spend a significant amount of time using various technological devices, this can begin to take a toll on your health over time.  Whether you realize it or not, the human brain needs rest.  Even when many people are sleeping and about to go to sleep, they have their televisions on and/or have laptops in bed with them.

Are you ever unplugged from technology for a meaningful period of time to rest your brain?

Many people will come home from a strenuous day of work to sign on to their Facebook and Twitter pages, but they do not think about how much mental energy they are investing in their activities on Facebook and Twitter.  With all of the things that you do and can do on Facebook and Twitter, you can add additional stress to your brain by staying on social media sites for a long period of time each day after you end your work day.

Don’t allow our intriguing technologies to amplify the stress you already have.  Of course, you may think that Facebook and Twitter are social media sites that do not have any stress attached to them.  However, there is often so much drama on Facebook and Twitter and things that can upset you on those sites that you will find that you are even more stressed after logging on them than when you left work.

Take a moment to think about whether or not you waste too much time using various technologies each day.  Is your cell phone so interesting that it causes you to neglect your responsibilities?  It’s really not good for your health to have your cell phone up to your ear for long periods of time each day.  Consider taking a break from some technological devices you engage with for a day and see if you are able to manage without these devices.

While social media sites have become widely popular, many people employ these sites to create false identities and to start unwarranted wars with other people.  When you feel like those are the primary reasons you’re using technology, then it’s time for you to step away from technology for at least a short period of time and refocus your energy.  You have to think about how trying to maintain false identities and fight wars through social media sites is not good for your health over time.

Are you too connected to technology?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Although many people across America have a significant amount of daily responsibilities, you must find some time to have fun.  Don’t get so busy that you forget that you have a life outside of those things that have you so busy and involved.  Make time each day to engage with something that’s totally unrelated to your daily responsibilities to just have fun—even if it’s just for a brief moment.  You will be amazed at what just a brief moment of fun each day can do for you to release some of the stress that accompanies being very busy.  While one can understand that the things that have you very busy can be things that you enjoy and allow you to have fun, you need to take some separate time away from those things to devote completely to having fun.

Some people have not allowed themselves to experience the fullness that life has to offer.  It’s okay to be adventurous sometimes.  Go out and experience life.  Do something that you’ve never done before.  Don’t get so consumed by your routine that you think that you’re truly living a full life through your routine.  You can be a serious and professional person and still have a significant amount of fun.

Never take yourself too seriously.

You don’t have to pretend to have fun.  Do you know people who will sit up and create lies about things they supposedly have done and/or are doing to make you think they are having fun?  Even when some people have told you that they did not have fun doing something, they will post messages on Facebook and Twitter about how they had and/or are having fun.  Why lie about something like this?  It seems that there are some deeper problems and challenges that people are struggling with that will cause them to resort to telling lies about something like this.

Although it’s vital to find time to have fun, you must understand that you shouldn’t dedicate so much of your time to having fun that you don’t take care of serious responsibilities.  For example, you should not spend so much of your money having fun that you end up not having enough money to pay your rent or car note.  Be responsible about how you have fun.  Some people are always having fun and not doing the important things that they should be doing.

Just because you devote most of your time to having fun does not mean that your life is any better than the person who is only able to invest a more modest amount of time to having fun.  Many people use Facebook to post pictures and location notifications to try to present themselves as people who are “living the life”—when in actuality they are not as happy and not as financially stable as they are attempting to advertise.  Now, in no way does the previous statement try to suggest that all people who post pictures and location notifications about the places they go to and the things they do are posturing—the previous statement just offers an assertion that many people are guilty of doing this.

You can live a fun and responsible life.  If you’re living a fun and responsible life, continue to enjoy your life.  If you’re not living a fun and responsible life, do yourself a favor by starting to live a fun and responsible life.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read and Follow Everyday Street Bible

My best friend, Santresa L. Glass, and I have created a new project, Everyday Street Bible, which is a blog we use to offer practical and real-world commentary about Christianity, mundane life realities, controversial social, political, and cultural issues, challenges, and problems, and so much more.  The site is located at http://everydaystreetbible.blogspot.com.  I encourage you to become a follower of the site.  We let you know how two real Christians live a real life in this real world.  We truly keep it real.

On the site, we have and will continue to address most of the things that your pastors won’t dare address, but things you need to have some guidance about, considering you don’t spend every day in church.  Santresa and I understand that every day is not Sunday.  We know that you’re going to confront many challenges and problems that are not discussed in your church.  Our site, Everyday Street Bible, is committed to filling the gaps on many issues that preachers across the nation don’t want to address.

Santresa recently composed Sensitive Mean People and I penned Black Megachurch Preachers and Teenage Pregnancy for our site.  Be sure to check those two pieces out and leave a comment on both pieces to let us know what you think.  Show your support by reading and leaving a comment.

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/thestreetbible and “Like” Everyday Street Bible on Facebook.  Santresa and I will greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you in advance,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison