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TMI: Too Much Internet Use?

Be Careful How Much You Share--Things Could Grow Messy. Photo by Flickr user ojbyrne.

In high school, I remember hearing girls tell each other “T.M.I.” when one would tell a little “too much information” about themselves to their group of friends. The girls would giggle and move on to their next class. In high school, I remember hearing about this Web site called “Facebook.” It was supposedly the new and cool thing to do, but was so mysterious because (at the time) you had to have an “.edu” e-mail to register for an account. Now, as most of us know, Facebook is open to any and every type of person. From the middle-age mother in New York to the middle school student in New Mexico, anybody can create a profile and potentially give out “too much information” to the world. When the Internet is involved, however, it could be difficult to simply giggle and move on from being guilty of T.M.I.

I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt from Scott Rosenberg’s book, Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why it Matters. Co-founder of the entertainment Web site, Salon.com, Rosenberg writes in the introduction of Say Everything about the infamous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and how the power of blogging slowly brought an emotionally crumbling world back together.

Rosenberg goes on, in his first chapter, to tell the story of a pioneer blogger, Justin Hall, and how he was not afraid to “put everything out there” on the Internet. Inevitably, Hall had faced some emotional breakdowns as a result of his freely posting too much information. Hall, however, did find hope in the midst of everything, making a striking comeback and becoming highly recognized, in the end.

One thing I found interesting is that Rosenberg comments that “Web content was ‘dead'” at the time of the collapse of the World Trade Center. He goes on and says that at the time of the Internet’s collapsing, many in the media believed that it also took down developing ideas. At the time of the September 11 attacks, however, it grew evident that the public ran to the Internet to find great comfort and solace in times of crisis. While half of society, it seemed, ran to the Internet to blog and share what was happening in New York, the other of half ran to the Internet to read what was going on and know that they weren’t alone.

It’s interesting that weblogs provide a source wherein people can create more “real” stories that can have great effect on others. That is to say, a lot of what people say on weblogs can very easily be filtered out in mainstream media.

With the story of Justin Hall, Rosenberg seems to go further with this idea that it’s fine to share what’s going on around you because there is always somebody there who will listen. Hall, however, to have shared too much, which led me to think: Can you truly expose too much of yourself on the Internet? Is it harmful to be completely open about yourself?

According to Rosenberg, Hall enjoyed sharing to people what probably wouldn’t make it through mainstream media filtering. While I believe that exposing nudity of yourself and graphic details about previous lovers, etc, is a bit extreme to be sharing on the Internet, I simultaneously believe we’re all capable of it to an extent through the use of modern-day social networking sites (Facebook and Myspace especially).

These sites can help us in showing that we have nothing to hide about ourselves, but give too much information and these sites can harm us if potential employers find us exposed on a Web site.

The public is always going to want to listen, I believe. I think Rosenberg is saying that blogging is an important means to reach out to others but don’t abuse it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “oversharing.”

It’s easy to be laughed at for sharing “T.M.I.” on the Internet.

It’s not always easy to move past it, once you’ve been found guilty of it.

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Wherefore Art Thou, Wi-Fi?

Recall, if you will, the balcony scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: Juliet cries out “wherefore art thou Romeo,” asking why must he be who he is? Why must he be a Montague and therefore not be allowed with her? 

The two loved one another. They felt they needed each other to survive. 

We strangely find ourselves in a position similar to this, today. With rapidly evolving technology and the quick growth of social media in our lives, there’s just one thing that we need to make all of this run smoothly: a wireless Internet connect (or, Wi-Fi). 

What is Wi-Fi and how do I get it? 

Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, is a local area network that allows users to connect to it wirelessly, via network cards in their computers (or now iPhones, etc). 

It’s simple to retrieve a signal, as many local business and areas offer both a wireless feed and a nice place to relax and use it. 

With the demand for wireless Internet growing, many businesses are beginning to offer more Wi-Fi, such as Teazer World Tea Market in Fresno. Photo by Giri Pranata

 

It sounds redundant to say, but: no online social networking site can be accessed without a live Internet connection. This leads to the next question of: well then, where do I go to get an Internet feed? 

Some phone service providers offer you a monthly subscription to have Internet access. Verizon, for example, offers an Internet plan wherein its users can access “faster Internet” at a low cost. AT&T’s Web site says its users are offered free Wi-Fi with either a “qualifying data plan [or] an active account in good standing.” 

How do you choose? Where do you go? 

You have to find yourself a “hotspot,” where you are able to connect to the Internet. 

I myself had the pleasure of visiting a few different locations around the Fresno-Clovis area to check out the different Wi-Fi opportunities and compare their speed and overall simplicity to use. 

Starbucks Coffee Company 

  

Starbucks offers customers limited Wi-Fi access. Photo by me.

 

The most popular coffee company in the nation, Starbucks offers customers wireless Internet access under one condition: you have an active AT&T account. 

For research purposes, I visited both the Starbucks in downtown Fresno and the newer location at the north end of River Park. I would not have been able to access the Internet connect at either coffee shop had I not had an AT&T e-mail account. 

The ambiance here is nice and can grow a little loud, depending on the time you decide to visit. Most Starbucks locations are quiet, only with the sounds of the barista working and talking amongst customers in the background. 

Overall, it’s a nice place to relax and socialize (either online or in person), it’s just being able to actually log on the Internet that can pose a challenge. 

Teazer World Tea Market 

An outside view of Teazer in Fresno's downtown area. Photo by me.

 

With a new location having opened in Fresno’s downtown area, Teazer World Tea Market (or, “Teazer”) offers its customers free access to their own Wi-Fi network. The ambiance of the privately owned, quaint teashop offers customers a nice place to either study or catch up with friends. 

The service is outstanding at Teazer. With efficient and friendly customer service, you’ll receive your drink before you can even start your computer. The connection speed at Teazer is quick as well. In the time I spent down there, on the Internet, only once did my computer ever hesitate to load. 

If you’re searching for a quiet place to study with fast service and connection, try stopping at downtown Fresno’s own Teazer. 

  

The Revue Café 

Located in Fresno’s Tower District, The Revue Café (or just, Revue) can be seen as the antithesis to Teazer, which is located directly across the street. A quaint café located in the heart of Fresno, Revue can pose as a bit of a distraction if you want to sit and study or simply browse the Internet. 

When I visited Revue, I wasn’t greeted until I remained standing at the counter for a few minutes. (Forgive me, however, as this is to be a commentary on the Wi-Fi access rather than the location itself). 

The connection speed at the Revue was decent and very simple to access. If you’re looking for a nice place to connect online and browse through Facebook, then the Revue is probably one of your better options. 

Other Fresno Hotspots 

Offering customers healthy meal options and Wi-Fi, Panera Bread has two locations in Fresno and Clovis. Photo by openwifispots.com

 

There are countless other locations around Fresno and Clovis that offer customers Wi-Fi. From Panera Bread to Mc Donald’s, there’s no stopping a wireless Internet feed. For some, it’s simpler to purchase an Internet package and pay a monthly fee, while others prefer it to be free. 

Whatever your preference may be, there’s no doubting that Wi-Fi is needed for survival in such a technologically advanced society. 

When we have papers we need to upload to the Internet for school or when we simply want to connect with someone on Facebook, we find ourselves crying out “O Wi-Fi, O Wi-Fi, wherefore art thou, Wi-Fi?”

On the Yellow Brick Road to Success

It’s a beautiful morning, about 9:45, as Mario Villar enters the store. The quick scuffing of shoes and the persistent ringing of phones in the office set the tone for how the day is going to be: demanding. Typing in a seemingly endless code into the computer, clocking in for the day, Villar places his red lanyard around his neck, indicating his managerial position with the company. This is not an ordinary lanyard.  From the day Villar started with Sears, he aspired to one day have the right to wear this symbol showing that he had dedicated his time and efforts with the company and proved that he could handle a position of management—seeming long overdue, that right was now his. 

Mario Villar, Fine Jewelry Coordinator. Photo by me.

 

As Villar begins his day checking his box, then looking for any shipments received from M&G Jewelers, a brief tone is heard overhead introducing the voice of the store’s general manager: Good morning associates! The time is 10 a.m. and we are opening the doors to the store. Villar continues to gather paperwork, anticipating another demanding day as the voice continues, listing a few rudimentary instructions for any successful place of retail. As the morning greeting comes to a close and Villar finishes preparing, he opens the door from the inside of the office and steps out onto the floor of which he himself is in charge. 

Age was never a hindrance for Villar’s success. Growing up the youngest of three siblings, he was inevitably picked on by his older sister, Monica. “I’d always follow her around everywhere she went,” Villar said, “and every time she didn’t want me to go, the water works would start and I would get what I wanted because [my mom] would scold my sister into letting me go.” He always got his way at home, but became a little more subdued as he approached his high school years. 

"The Hub," Where Villar Starts Every Morning. Photo by me.

 

Never really caring about what others thought about him, Villar found an eclectic group of friends to hang out with in high school. “I was discovering myself,” Villar validates why he was not as involved in high school as many of his friends were. Not until his senior year, in 2006, did Villar come out and claim his sexuality. “I’m gay,” Villar stated. Only after his coming out, did Villar claim he felt comfortable in his own skin and had come to terms with his own being. 

Fresh out of high school, Villar was hired on at Sears. New to the world of retail, he wasn’t new to work in general. At an early age, Villar helped his dad with their painting business—they went around, painting homes for those who were unable to do it themselves. “It was really refreshing to do the work with my father,” Villar says. “Painting the homes and everything, made me feel that nobody was left out. Even those who could once be considered voiceless were now heard.” It’s this consideration of others that creates a firm foundation for Villar’s ethics as a manager. 

“He’s really easy to work with,” says one of Villar’s Fine Jewelry associates, wishing to remain unnamed, “He’s really easy to talk to.” Villar never received any official training prior to becoming manager, but he has always had a natural ability to take the reins and lead. Before being promoted, Villar created the schedule for the Cashier team; this allowed him an opportunity to see one of the tasks a successful manager would need to take on: time management. One of the qualities that this associate finds appealing about her manager is his willingness to do work. “Many times, we think of managers as appointers, but Mario is able to put all prejudice aside and isn’t afraid to get dirty.” 

Nellie Manriquez, Assistant Store Manager of Operations finds Mario to be a "Team Leader." Photo by me.

 

Maybe it’s his consideration or his willingness to work, but Nellie Manriquez, Assistant Store Manager of Operations at Sears, comments that “it wasn’t a surprise at all that Mario was able to achieve what he has.” Villar brought his store to, and remained at, the number one spot in the nation during a national Sears competition to see which store could achieve the highest percentage increase in jewelry sales. It wasn’t until the very last week, did Villar and his team drop to second place—still, a very notable achievement. 

“Age isn’t always a factor in determining how someone will succeed with a company,” Manriquez said, “Mario provides us with fresh ideas and has the personality and energy to not only drive sales but maintain a good department.” 

To some, it’s unheard of for a 21-year-old manager to beat out an entire nation by increasing sales. To Susan Johnson, Store General Manager of Sears, these accomplishments were anything but surprising. “Mario has matured over the years that he’s been with the company.” Johnson says, “Anything is possible, and it is up to the individuals themselves to achieve it.” For Johnson, it is easy to notice that Villar is “very apt to coaching and feedback, and it is his willingness to adapt to change that allows him to grow.” 

From a strict business perspective, Villar claims a lot of his success as a manager, in the national competition specifically, due to his ability to tend to his resources. Undoubtedly, he also listens and takes care of his associates. Creating a business model on success, however, Villar made use of every outlet he could, to push sales: “I used fliers and set out the advertisements as often as I could.” Villar says. Further, he used announcements that were played hourly throughout the store, promoting the deals and discounts of his department. Villar is diligent, consistent and always working toward creating a department that is ‘show-time ready’—characteristics of any successful manager. “I remember a time when Mario first started as a cashier,” his general manager said, “and our store needed credit applications; I set Mario out at the front of the store, and he brought in nearly double the expected amount of credit in one day alone.” Villar’s ability to drive sales and surpass expectation has never been in question, it has never been a point of concern. 

Villar doesn’t expect perfection—he expects dedication. “Nobody is perfect,” Villar began, “I can’t expect something unattainable out of my employees. Rather, I expect performance, productivity and hard work from each of my girls.” The Fine Jewelry Department is found absent of any other males aside from Villar himself. In the wake of the nation’s economic crisis, it’s inevitable that Sears had faced a slight decline in sales. Villar’s department, and the store in general, as a result, faced a lot of “down time” during which scarcely any customers would enter the store. 

Sears Full Line Store in Clovis, Calif. Photo obtained from Advanced Security

 

It can be difficult to keep productivity and morale up in a department where there could possibly be no business for five hours, for example. At a young age, Villar understands the importance of recognition: if you recognize the associate and the work they accomplish, he or she is going to be more apt to continue to perform. No matter how small or little the task was, recognize the work that was done. 

It’s this communication that really creates a good, solid department. “I believe in the Three C’s,” Villar said, “communication, camaraderie and cohesion.” Traits that Villar feels any successful company should have, these three core values lay the foundation for Villar’s running the department. If a department is able to talk easily with one another, share ideas and listen to different opinions (communication), those within the department will enjoy working together (camaraderie) and once we’ve satisfied this, only then will the department work as a whole (cohesion). 

An avid fan of Wicked, a new musical on Broadway inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Villar uses an idea from the classic tale to solidify his core values: “Dorothy could have gone to the Emerald City alone, but the fact of the matter is she had a group of friends, making her journey down the yellow brick road a simpler and successful one.” It’s not impossible to accomplish tasks alone, but it’s more fulfilling when the tasks are completed with the help of others. 

A manager who insists on keeping all power and control is inarguably insecure and falls far from the true definition of a leader. A true manager cannot solely allocate tasks to his associates but must also be willing to listen to them as well. “I don’t just delegate responsibility, I don’t just tell associates what needs to be done, I listen,” Villar says. “I get to know my associates on a personal level which allows me to train them easily and makes them feel comfortable with making mistakes and learning from them.” 

A self-proclaimed obstinate, Villar never gives up; he understands that not everything is going to come to him easily. “You have to be willing,” Villar says, “to not succeed sometimes and face the reality of failure.” Villar keeps this mentality on a regular basis, in hopes that his persistence and willingness allows him to reach a level of high management with Sears. “It’s possible,” Manriquez comments, “[Mario’s] passion will make his journey enjoyable, much less stressful.” His general manager, Johnson, finds that where Villar is currently with the company, “he’s very capable” of moving up, very capable of attaining his goals. 

Keeping your eyes fixated ahead on a sales target, career goal or simply the Emerald City, can sometimes be a bit dissuading, to some, if immediate success is not reached. Villar perseveres; the vision of attaining success motivates him daily. At such a young age, Villar has accomplished more than many his age have imagined. At such a young age, Villar is able to understand characteristics that a successful manager needs. At such a young age, Villar is able to listen and grow from the experiences of those around him. On a wall in Johnson’s office, a sign hangs, displaying traits all leaders should display. One of those traits, subtle in its appearance but powerful in its message, reads: Leaders make sure people not only see a vision—they live it.

To blog, or not to blog: that is the [complex] question.

Photo by Flickr user rcade.

Why do people blog?

For some, blogging is a simple way to express  ideas and thoughts that they hold within their mind–some people simply have to share this with the world. For others, blogging is just another way to pass the time, because they have nothing better to do, and so why not keep up a daily online journal? For a few, however, a blog is something to simply fulfill a need for a college course.

For me, blogging is all the above–I have so much to say and, frankly, I don’t know how to express any of it.

So what is a blog? What is blogging? A blog is simply an abbreviation for “web log.” A blog is an online journal that is updated on a regular basis by an individual (and sometimes, by a company or organization). Blogging is the act of maintaining a blog. The topics of blogs will vary greatly: some people create blogs and closely look at a certain political party; others design a blog and look into the popular culture realm of society.

For my particular blog, I’ll be maintaining it throughout the next few months and talking about various aspects of social media. I’ll look closely at how social media has evolved and changed over the past few years; I’ll examine how “social media” affects us in our everyday lives; in an upcoming post, I’ll even delve into the idea of social networking, and how that has grown in great popularity recently.

Other aspects that I will have the pleasure of looking into will be the pro’s and con’s of social media–how has social media affected the professional world in today’s society? Is social media able to be integrated into professionalism, or is there a distinct line that should be drawn between the two entities?

Needless to say, social media is slowly taking over our world. It is becoming our lives.

It’s important to note as well, that while I will try to stay as objective as possible throughout the next few months, many of my future postings will have my opinion integrated throughout.
While I’ve never really created “blogs” in the past, I have a few “role models,” to help me along the way:

1) Out of the Silicon Valley, Brian Solis works a Public Relations agency from which he has created a quite insightful (and humorous) blog about the union of “social media, PR, web marketing, and technology.”

2) Secondly, Dr. Susan Currie Sivek, assistant professor of Mass Communication and Journalism at California State University, Fresno, has created my “inspiration” for beginning blogging, in her own blog which covers aspects of social media and journalism in our lives.

Thank you all once more for stopping by! If you’d care for an audio intro to my blog, please click here.

Once again, thank you for your time! Here’s to the months ahead as we venture down the yellow bricks on the road of social media!