Book Review Draft: “Crush it” by Gary Vaynerchuck

Summary: 

Gary Vaynerchuck, in his book, Crush It, has three simple rules. One, “Love your Family.” Two, “Work Superhard.” Three, “Live your Passion.” The book itself is a how-to manual for the third rule. How to live your passion and also make a living off of it. His mission? To convince his readers that they should start thinking of themselves as a “brand.” Like he says, “your DNA dictates your brand.”  You can have a passion for anything in this world, even something as small as stickers, and still succeed growing a business around it because of the ubiquity of social media. Social Media has made it possible for anyone to reach out to thousands of people, in very limited time. So there is really no reason not to use it as the most powerful tool at your disposal to start living your passion.

The Issue of Audience:

Vaynerchuck speaks firstly to individuals who want to grow their own businesses and marketers looking for more ways to extend their reach. But this book was written with the average person in mind. Everyone, literally everyone, can start becoming their own personal brand through social media and Vaynerchuck made sure to stress this point. All it takes is to “first discover the passion, and then the medium.”

Groupmates Points:

My groupmates had plenty to say about Gary Vaynerchuck’s book. It was unanimously liked by everyone even though we all thought that it was more of a motivational tool than an actual how-to. The concepts he laid out seemed a tad simplistic and a little obvious but nonetheless, he introduced an amazing method of where to start. My groupmates outlined the type of approach Vaynerchuck took.

1. Social Construction of Technology

Social media encourages people to bring out there tendencies. According to Vaynerchuck, “Social Media=Business” since we all are somewhat of a personal brand already with our social media profiles.

2. Social Shaping

Vaynerchuck was all about exploring the possibilities of how social media and personal brand building can interact successfully with each other.

3. Authenticity

In the book, Vaynerchuck reveals himself in an intimate autobiographical chapter. Authenticity was a word he mentioned several times. Its one of the most powerful forces behind your brand.

 

 

 

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The Idiot’s Guide to Sexting

Never before in history has media content been so easily produced and distributed than right now, at the turn of the 21st century. The advent of the internet and new technologies have revealed new methods for communicating and connecting and the demographic trend is toward a younger population. The youth have taken these new tools and wholly redefined what it means to have a social life. One of these tools is “texting”: the ability to exchange brief text messages (including multimedia) between mobile phones or networks. Texts are one of the more popular features of mobile phones and it didn’t take long before this method of communication paved the way for a new term, “sexting.” It’s essentially the same as a text, except containing sexually-explicit material.

National attention has focused on sexting in recent years, especially when nude images of various celebrities surfaced online because their phones were supposedly hacked. Much of the attention has been very negative, viewing sexting as a moral, technological and sexual crisis, specifically when it involves the youth. However, there is a multitude of newsletters and magazines that would promote the practice of adult sexting, seen as pleasurable and beneficial to a relationship. The humor website, Cracked.com, even published an article last year titled, “7 tips for sexting someone you barely know” to teach adults, albeit satirically, how to sext properly.

To summarize: its first tip was, “make sure its cool first.” The person you are sexting needs to be a willing participant in the exchange, if not, its sexual harassment. Secondly, “adults only.” You can be charged with distribution of child pornograhy if you or your sexting partner is under 18 years of age. Thirdly, “relax.” If the exchange is legal and consensual, be comfortable with what you sext. Fourth, “speak the same language.” Acronyms won’t be sexy if your partner doesn’t know what they mean. Fifth, “don’t raise the stakes too fast.” If you go over the top, you risk killing the mood. Sixth, “don’t send photos.” You can never take them back. And finally seventh, “leave no evidence.” After you’re done, delete, delete, delete. The article also contained one long but funny sexting thread as an example to highlight each tip.

Although its main purpose was to be humorous, I found this Cracked.com article to be very educational and enlightening. Not once did it disapprove of the actual sexting practice. It just provided ways for individuals to engage with it in a mature and healthy manner. An approach that  Amy Adele Hasinoff would approve of, given her article titled, “Sexting as Media Production.” In it, Hasinoff argues that it is crucial for lawyers, and parents to view sexting as primarily media production and as an unharmful act of pleasure and self-expression. The law should instead divert attention to the cruel distributors of private images instead of the producers.

I couldn’t agree more. It is impossible to stop the youth from sexting just as it is impossible to convince all of them that they should remain abstinent. Free smartphone applications, like “text free,” are also giving youngsters more ways to keep their sexting a secret from their parents (abc7news). So if we can’t stop them from sexting, a different approach is needed. Parents and educators will need to hold conversations with young people about online privacy and sexual discrimination and also instruct them on the proper ways of handling a consensual or non-consensual sexting exchange, just as the Cracked.com article above did for adults. Such an education would certainly lessen the negative emotional impact and/or disclosure of sexting in general.

Moreover, sexting is not as extreme as some research studies and news reports say it is. The “Prevalence and Characteristics of Youth Sexting: A National Study” of the Pediatrics Journal, conducted a study based on a telephone survey with 1,560 young internet users between the ages of 10 through 17. They found that only 2½ percent of that population had actually created nude or nearly nude photos or videos. Even less, 1 percent, if the images were restricted to private areas like breasts, genitals or bottoms. And only 7.1 percent admitted to receiving nude or nearly nude images from others. Conclusion? Sexting, whether it is creating or receiving, is not normative behavior for youth.

I, myself, as a 22 year old male have never created nor received a sext, much less know of anyone who has either. News reports tend to sensationalize such stories when an exchange of sexts encounter legal repercussions. Like Hasinoff suggested, radical change is necessary in our legal system and educational policies if we are to justly deal with new technology for self-expression.

Four Ways

The Social Media Examiner considers itself the “world’s largest online social media magazine…designed to help businesses discover how to best use social media tools like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with customers, generate more brand awareness and increase sales” (1). I have personally used it extensively to learn how to reach out to residents in the NYU Lafayette Dorm. I am a resident assistant there in charge of curating content for our Blog and our Facebook page. The Social Media Examiner gave me ideas and advice on how to better interact with my fans and spread the word on the latest building programs.

There is one article on their blog titled, 4 Ways Social Media is Changing your Relationships, which I thought addressed the prompt of this post very well. But of course, this is a more informative article. It discussed in detail 4 fundamental ways social media is changing the ways we relate with people. One, it allows us to connect with others faster. The more connections we have, the more ideas and resources we have access too. Two, It’s easy to overestimate the how intimate our online relationships can be. We might alienate offline friendships and networks in pursuit of online ones. Three, we become more susceptible to the social media contagion effect. This means that we begin to make the behaviors and attitudes of our social network our own. And fourth, social media pushes us to compare ourselves with others. This can have positive or negative effects.

Social Media is responsible for changing our interpersonal relationships in a myriad of ways but the four that this blog chose to focus on are factors that almost anyone with even limited social media experience can relate to. Danah Boyd, in her article, “Friends, Friendsters and Myspace Top 8: Writing Community into Being on Social Network Sites” wrote at length about the social norms of Top 8 culture. The “Top 8” feature was implemented by MySpace to allow users to select eight friends to display on their profile. According to Boyd, this changed the social dynamics of how to order friends. She also agreed that MySpace Top 8 was the “new dangling carrot for gaining superficial acceptance.” The social media examiner’s second way of change, alienation, can be seen in this feature. In pursuit of eight specific online relationships, users alienated their other offline relationships as a result.

Not only that but Boyd wrote that “friending” on social network sites is “deeply connected to a participants offline social life.” In Nancy Baym’s book, Personal Connections in a Digital Age, she says that online groups provide contexts for forming interpersonal relationships. Offline friends acknowledge the new friendship or romance the users make visible to the online community and in turn these connections provide viewers with information about the user and his or her connections, such as: social status, political beliefs, or musical tastes. J. Donath and D. Boyd talked about this in their article, “Public Displays of Connection.” Donath and Boyd both saw how the public display of the “company one keeps” verified one’s own identity.

The Social Media Examiner discussed this in it’s third and fourth change, both of which have to do with the online social network community at large. The connections we make with others, which are public, define who we are online. The effects can be that we start adopting the behavior that we observe in the online space as our own, regardless of whether that behavior is positive or negative. Also, images, updates and content that we view others contributing prompt us to compare our own contribution to theirs. To go deeper, we also start comparing our offline selves to our online friends.

In comparison to Life 2.0, a documentary about several users of the virtual online world, “Second Life,” not much is different. The Second Life users all displayed signs similar to other social network users, albeit in more extreme ways. They created a profile, their avatar. They would network with other users, make new friends and play games. All these are available on social networks like Facebook, even though this social network caters more to the visual and auditory aspects. However, all four changes that the Social Media Examiner discussed apply to Second Life as well, especially number 2. Second Life users, particularly the ones in the documentary, overestimated how intimate their relationships on the site were and this had mostly negative consequences for their offline relationships.

The Advent of Web 2.0

In David Beer’s response article, we start seeing somewhat of an inverted pyramid in terms of defining social networks. Whereas Boyd and Ellison attempted to create a broad definition that could encompass the range of social network sites that existed at the time of their published article, Beer suggests that there is a “need to classify” (Beer 1). The predominance of Facebook has forced many other social network sites to become niche or purposeless. According to Beer, we should be moving more towards a  “differentiated classifications of online cultures and not away from them” (Beer 1). Beer goes into more detail as he explores how social networks are giving advertisers more knowledge about users and using that to their advantage. This is a big aspect of the paradigm shift to Web 2.0.Many individuals have deferring opinions on “Web 2.0” being the official term to describe the Internet today. It was coined in 2004 because of the O’Reilly Media web conference to describe the shift that the internet was experiencing from information centric to user-centric and collaboration. No where is this more relevant than through Social Media. Information is created or shared, consumed and collaborated on by networks of people. These networks differentiate from one another, however, and the information shared will not be the same. I should not share the same information on Linkedin (for business) as I would on Pininterest (for entertainment). So I agree with Beer when he says we need a more clear cut definition that satisfies that cultural shift.

There is another fascinating point that Beer brings up. He writes that “we might even want to think if there is such a thing as online and offline in the context of social Network Site (SNS)” (Beer 1). In this day and age, social networks have permeated society and integrated themselves in the mundane ways people live and interact with each other. “Facebook me” has become accepted vernacular and “tweets” are having increasing importance in our news. For many people, Facebook is the internet and they spend hours on it interacting with others, sharing photos, statuses, and views, as is evident in the online article, “Why I have Facebook Fatigue.” This interaction can happen in both social and professional contexts.

Let us also not forget about how the mobile industry is now restructuring social media. Many people are now accessing social networks on their smartphones, many having their own native apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. What’s really interesting is that mobile is responsible for the rise of many more SNS that actually solely operate on smartphones and do not have a web presence such as Instagram (photosharing), Viddy (video sharing) and Path (web journaling). We can now take our SNS with us where ever we go. The line between offline life and online life is becoming increasingly blurred.

Mobile is one aspect of Beer’s article that I would add, given that the majority of Americans will have either a smartphone or a tablet in the next few years. About 65% will have a smart device by the year 2015 according to research firm In-Stat (cnet 1). Given that statistic, mobile is also an aspect that scholars should study and observe because it may very well represent another paradigm shift in how people communicate with and through technology and the web. Especially since Facebook alone as over 800 million active users and more than 50% of those active users log on to Facebook in any given day, especially through their smartphones (digital stats). Facebook as well as smartphones apps, has become part of life for many people, so integrated into our daily routine that it almost seems natural. What does this mean for the average person?

Even though Beer’s article was a critique of Boyd and Ellison’s writing, I tend to want to agree with both parties. Boyd and Ellison tried to explain that when individuals go on SNS, it is to primarily to keep up to date with family and friends that they already know. It is not for meeting new people, which is what “networking” entails. But Beer says that we have progressed since our Friendster days and moved into a world where networking can be the reality and purpose for many social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. People are meeting new people on SNS all the time and oftentimes, those people become offline friendships and relationships. Pre-existing notions of SNS do not become outdated, they evolve.