Facebook Introduces a New Center for Crisis Response

Facebook announced that their crisis response tools, including Safety Check, Community Help, and Fundraisers, will be accessible in a new center on Facebook called Crisis Response. Beginning today, people will also be able to see more crisis-related content, such as links to articles, photos and videos posted by the Facebook community, from crises around the world where Safety Check has been activated.

Since the first Safety Check tool in 2011, Facebook has continued to develop a number of crisis response tools to better serve its community. When there is a crisis, people use Facebook to let their friends and family know they’re safe, learn and share more about what’s happening, and help communities recover. People will be able to access Crisis Response on Facebook in the upcoming weeks from the homepage on desktop or from the menu button on their phone. They will see the following tools when they’re on a crisis page:

  • Safety Check: an easy way to let your friends and family know you’re safe. It will continue to work the same way it does today and will be featured at the top of each crisis page if you are in the affected area.
  • Links to Articles, Photos and Videos: crisis-related content from public posts can help people learn more about a crisis.
  • Community Help: people can ask for and give help to communities affected by the crisis.
  • Fundraisers: let people create fundraisers and donate to support those affected by the crisis and nonprofit organizations helping with relief efforts.

As part of the single resource hub, Facebook will also include links to articles, photos, and videos from public posts so people have access to more information about a crisis in one place. Safety Check activations and related information may also appear in News Feed to help provide additional details about a crisis.

Facebook strives to continuously provide people with helpful information to keep them safe and help communities to rebuild and recover.

What Propaganda Looks Like in the Digital Age

Criticism of Facebook began last week after a news report revealed that the social network enabled advertisers to seek out self-described anti-Semites and other anti-Semitic topics. The company responded by saying that it would restrict how advertisers targeted their audiences on the social network. Google also came under fire at the same time after news that it allowed the sale of ads tied to racist and bigoted keywords. Google responded by claiming it would work harder to halt offensive ads.

Joel Garreau, a professor of culture, values and emerging technologies at Arizona State University and the founding co-director of the Weaponized Narrative Initiative, weighs in. Weaponized narrative is the new global battlespace, Garreau said.  “America and other Western democracies – and indeed the very Enlightenment – are under attack.”

Q: “Weaponized narrative” used to be called propaganda, but you could choose not to pick up the leaflet 50 years ago. Now we’re inviting it into our lives via social media. Does this give it more power?

A: This may come as a shock to some folk, but dropping leaflets out of airplanes is to weaponized narrative as hand grenades are to weapons of mass destruction. Weaponized narrative is warfare in the information environment.  It uses words and images instead of bombs and bullets – often to greater effect. Against the United States, for example, our opponents aim to weaken society by fragmenting our fundamental agreements on what it means to be an American. Or even what it means to be a patriot.

Sun Tzu, 2,500 years ago, talked about the use of information in warfare. What’s new and so powerful is that the volume, velocity and variety of information has exploded all around us. We can’t keep up. A fast-moving information deluge is the ideal battleground for this kind of warfare – for guerrillas and terrorists as well as adversary states.

Q: What role should Facebook and Google be taking in this environment?

A: Facebook is to be applauded for drilling down and finding out that their corporation had in fact been used as a weapon against the American election.  But look how long it took for this information to come out.  America’s goal must be to identify and respond to these attacks as they are going on – so we can actively defend ourselves. And unfortunately, the capacity to understand the attack – much less defend against it – is now in the hands of corporations that are famously secretive.

Q: Hate speech is protected. We can “avert our eyes” as the Supreme Court said. Should government be regulating this in some way or should it stay out of the issue?

A: Great question. Our Weaponized Narrative Initiative has two aims: First, to figure out what is coming at us. Second, to do something about it, rapidly. That’s why we’re bringing together an occupationally diverse group—not just academics, but Washington policy wonks and military folk and authors and others.

Q: What can you tell us about the human factor in this? Are people approving hate-based ads and other targeted content or is it regulated by algorithms?

A: We’re paddling as hard as we can to answer questions like that.   But both the authoritarian enemies that are attacking us and the Americans corporations that control the social media are fanatically devoted to secrecy. I heartily applaud Facebook’s revelations.  They didn’t have to do that.  They could have swept it under the rug.

But that’s part of the problem. It took almost a year for Facebook to reveal its research that merely confirmed what many of us had long suspected. And Facebook still hasn’t told us exactly how these attacks worked. What I would like to see happen is for American corporations see it as their patriotic and humanistic duty to tell their customers instantly about an attack, so we can do something about it.

Technology and Children: A Parent’s Survival Guide

Technology has changed the way children develop and interact with others, and while it seems to change every day, many parents are forced to keep up or get left behind.

Jessica Mirman, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, says that, even though much of technology can receive a bad representation, it is not inherently bad.

“Parents can be pretty sophisticated with technology when it comes to helping their children develop,” she said. “There are a variety of apps that can help with literacy skills. Especially for children with developmental disabilities, technology can be very helpful at home and in the classroom.”

Play it safe

Mirman says technology can be a distraction and a safety hazard across developmental periods.

“Parents need to be aware of what kinds of devices are in their homes and vehicles,” she said.

Whether it is about accidentally swallowing button batteries, the tiny batteries often found in musical greeting cards, games, Christmas ornaments and cameras, or the risks of texting and driving, Mirman suggested that parental vigilance can save lives.

“For example, button batteries are small, shiny, and very appealing to infants and toddlers who may try to ingest them,” she said. “Parents need to keep these and other batteries out of reach and keep devices secure with openings kept shut.”

The types of technology risks can change with age. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.

“We always worry about when teens, and parents too, are glued to their phones while driving,” Mirman said. “There is also teen driver safety research that says when parents are calling, teens feel that they are expected to answer, even while driving. Parents need to remember to practice what they preach and model healthy technology habits at home and in the vehicle.”

What’s trending?

Social media is another way technology changes how people develop, according to Mirman. She says social media is a good tool to keep people connected; but there are guidelines and boundaries parents need to set, starting again, with practicing what they preach.

“Parents should practice moderation and respect for others on social media,” Mirman said. “Kids are very observant, and they will pick up on what parents do and often mimic those behaviors.”

She says children and teenagers are quick to point out any hypocrisy in parents.

Widespread and improved mobile technology means teens can access social media more easily. According to a Pew survey conducted during 2014 and 2015, 94 percent of teens who go online using a mobile device do so daily.

Mirman says parents who monitor their children’s social media usage need to start early to develop a foundation of trust with their teens. Parents cannot be around all the time, and teenagers will need to understand why they need to follow the rules, even when Mom and Dad are not watching.

“If an older child or teen really wants to get their hands on something online, they will likely find a way to do it,” Mirman said. “That is why parents need to be clear about their reasoning for why the rules are in place and not just be an enforcer of the rules.”

Screen time

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children younger than 18 months should avoid the use of screen media. Between ages 18 months and 24 months, some screen-time can be introduced, with parental supervision. Between the ages of 2 and 5 years, a maximum of one hour a day is recommended. For children above the age of 6, consistent time limits should be established.

Marcela Frazier, O.D., an associate professor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, says the amount of screen time a child has can have a negative impact on their eyesight.

“The more time children spend on devices, the less time they spend outdoors, and spending time outdoors could slow down the progression of nearsightedness, which is becoming more and more prevalent in children,” Frazier said. “Prolonged exposure to the screens of devices can cause eye fatigue, eye irritation and headaches due to the increased demand on the visual system and the tendency to not blink while using them.”

Frazier says adults usually report symptoms like eyestrain, dryness, headaches and eye irritation after prolonged use of near devices; however, children may experience these issues and not be able to communicate them accurately. Parents may notice some signs of eye irritation and fatigue related to screen-time in children manifested as excessive blinking, squinting, watery eyes, red eyes and some eye-rubbing.

The flip side

Mirman says much research has been done involving children and technology, but what happens when the parents are addicted to tech?

“If parents are distracted, they can’t pay attention to their children,” Mirman said. “Kids notice this quickly.”

She says, by being distracted with technology, parents can make their children feel rejected or unimportant. A more fluid boundary between home and work can add to that distraction.

Finding a remedy

Mirman says technology can be good, if used in moderation. Many kids can use age-appropriate video games as positive stimulants, and can use them as a way of positive social interaction with online multiplayer games. This can be especially helpful for socially marginalized children and teens.

“A lot of kids can make positive connections with others through multiplayer games or social media that they may not necessarily make in person,” she said.

She says it is important for families to create a positive culture around the phones and devices, and practice what she calls “phone hygiene.”

“Developing healthy habits is important not just for you but for the well-being of the entire family,” she said.

Why Facebook Is So Hard to Resist

Why is social media such a hard habit to break? Because it makes us feel good, said Michigan State University’s Allison Eden, assistant professor in the Department of Communication.

She and researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, conducted two studies of frequent and less frequent Facebook users.

They found even brief exposure to a Facebook-related image (logo, screenshot) can cause a pleasurable response in frequent social media users, which in turn might trigger social media cravings. The combination of pleasant feelings and cravings makes social media too difficult to resist.

Most likely, that’s because Facebook exposure is a learned response – such as when children learn misbehavior earns them attention or when dogs learn going to the bathroom outside earns them a treat – and learned responses are hard to break, Eden said.

“People are learning this reward feeling when they get to Facebook,” she said. “What we show with this study is that even with something as simple as the Facebook logo, seeing the Facebook wall of a friend or seeing anything associated with Facebook, is enough to bring that positive association back.”

In the first study, participants were exposed to a Facebook-related cue or a control picture, followed by a Chinese symbol. They were then asked to judge whether the symbol was pleasant or unpleasant. After being exposed to a Facebook-inspired image, heavy Facebook users rated the Chinese image as pleasant with greater consistency than less frequent users.

Then, in the second study, participants were given a survey to measure their cravings to use Facebook.

Because of giving in to temptation, people often struggle with feelings of guilt, Eden said. If they try to regulate Facebook usage and fail, they feel badly, so they turn to Facebook and feel badly again. It’s a cycle of self-regulatory failure, she said.

But, Eden says, the guilt is more damaging to the psyche than failing to control the media.

The solution could be to remove some of the cues from people’s environment, like, for example, removing the Facebook logo from a cell phone home screen.

“Media, including social media, is one of the most commonly failed goals to regulate,” Eden said. “People try to regulate themselves and they really have difficulty with it.”

The study is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. Co-researchers on the studies are Guido van Koningsbruggen and Tilo Hartmann, both from Vrije Universiteit, and Harm Veling from Radboud University Nijmegen.

How to Find a Job Using Social Media?

Finding a new job, or changing your existing job for career advancement comes with significant challenges. As the pool of aspirants is hugely competitive, recruiters analyze your resume along with your past professional experiences and social presence. So, you’ve to stand out from the crowd to make your dreams come true. Today, a majority of the recruitment agencies and employers are utilizing social media to find the right employee, which means social media plays a crucial role in your job search endeavor.

Social networking sites have become a significant platform to advertise your skills. They empower you to identify job opportunities, establish your social presence, network with people in your niche online and finally, turn those leads into actual job opportunities. Job searching has changed significantly over the last few years. These days, applicants don’t need to wait for the Sunday newspaper to search the job section for ideal opportunities.

It’s a commonly asked question that despite having various online recruitment platforms such as Monster, Recruiter, Ladders that demonstrate almost every kind of job listing and deliver your CV automatically to the recruiters, do you really need to utilize social media to get a new job? Well, according to a study conducted in September 2015 by the Society for Human Resource Management, 19 percent of recruiters hired from Facebook, 57 percent of them hired from LinkedIn while 65 percent of them utilized some mode of social media to recruit. Through this post, we’ll discuss how you can have a fruitful job search by using social media.

1. Build your online presence

When prospective employers Google your name, what would they find? This is something you have to meticulously look at because these days, most recruiters use Google to search the profile of their prospective job candidates to see what comes up. If the search results show some unprofessional posts or pictures, then it’s time to revamp your online image. In the same context, a significant number of job searchers believe that LinkedIn alone can help you find your dream job and lead you to an interview. While this platform is the most useful choice, you simply can’t undermine the significance of Facebook and Twitter.

It’s important to note that employers usually use LinkedIn for assessment of skills and Facebook for your personality evaluation. Thus, it makes sense to update both platforms regularly to attain the best results. However, regardless of the platform you use, make sure to create professional and compelling looking profiles that exhibit your varied skills, job history and the recognition you’ve got. Your profile have to be strong enough to make prospective employers interested at the first glance as then only will they invest further time to explore the rest of your details. If you don’t hold a LinkedIn account, make sure to fill the gap by using your Facebook account completely. Mention your job regularly on Facebook and share the things you’ve accomplished. Remember – if you can’t resist yourself from posting something negative about your job, ensure the privacy settings for those posts aren’t set to public.

2. Optimize your LinkedIn profile

With approximately 400 million global members, LinkedIn has become the largest professional social site across the world. With most of the hiring managers, head-hunters and leading recruiters actively searching for potential candidates on LinkedIn each day, it makes sense to have a solid presence on this site. Your LinkedIn profile is quite similar to writing your online resume. However, the advanced technology aspects of this platform provide you with some other highly useful features such as “Endorsements”. LinkedIn allows you to incorporate personal testimonials. So, ask your friends, manager, colleagues or customers to write a few positive lines about your capabilities on your profile page.

Your first step is to make sure that your profile is impressive, searchable and professional. Regularly update your profile with new skills, tweak the texts for easy reading and include industry buzzwords that employers will be looking for. Remember that the content of your profile shouldn’t just contain your skills but also demonstrate the impact you’ve created on your previous employers so that head-hunters can easily understand the advantage of bringing you on board.

Add a suitable picture to your profile to develop trust with others online. Use a picture that mirrors how you’d look at the workplace and stay away from uploading pictures from casual nights out. Now, start building a professional network by connecting with recruiters, hiring managers and colleagues in your industry. The more connection you have, the more your opportunities will be. So, connect with as many relevant people as you can.

3. Create a professional Facebook profile

Although Facebook is quite an informal medium and mainly used by people to connect with family and friends, it’s being used by various companies too for commercial purposes. Some of them use it to communicate with their customers, staff and the wider audience (to receive their views and comments as well as respond to their feedback etc), while some others use it to vet and recruit potential candidates. Remember that boundaries on Facebook between personal and professional matters are quite blurred, which makes it important to be always aware of what kind of information about yourself can be viewed and by whom.

From a job searcher’s viewpoint, Facebook can be quite useful as you can ask your personal contacts for advice and information about your job search or career and even find valuable information on both organizations and individuals. The informal and interactive nature of this site empowers you to obtain information as well as communicate with prospective employers in a manner that may not be possible elsewhere. Here are some things you can do to optimize your Facebook profile.

  • Professionalize your profile and set the privacy settings the right way
  • Develop your network by joining relevant groups
  • Apply for jobs through the “Facebook Marketplace”
  • Start discussions with organizations and people in your industry

Facebook can be significantly useful for learning about your future employer but you need to be cautious about posting unfiltered comments as that may cost you your career.

4. Connect with potential recruiters on Twitter

 

Although Twitter isn’t a professional networking social media site as such, still there are many ways you can reap the benefits of this platform to find job opportunities and connect with professionals. It’s a platform mainly used by people to exchange and post short messages. It’s used to interact with other organizations or people the users find useful or interesting, including attaching photos or links that users want to share with their respective Twitter community. Businesses utilize Twitter to advocate their expertise, services and attract people to visit their site. When using this platform for your job search, you’ve to be professional. Remember that when you’re trying to grab the attention of prospective recruiters, you must represent yourself in a professional and attractive way.

One major benefit of Twitter is its support for free flowing communication that empowers you to directly talk to potential hiring managers and recruiters without having to submit your resume first. In your job hunting endeavor, a significant percentage of your tweets, re-tweets as well as replies should concentrate on the topics which are relevant to the organizations you wish to work for. It’s also a great platform to listen to what people are talking about your future company.

5. Engage with different people in your domain

Only increasing your visibility and activity on various social media platforms won’t help you much when it comes to finding the right job. Gone are those days when you had to put in a lot of work to ask your friends about their connections and where they work to reach prospective employers. Now, you can simply tap your social media networks to find out all the information you need to find your dream job. This could mean anything from getting introduced to the hiring managers at the organizations you wish to work for, get an insiders’ view about the work culture prevalent in your dream company, or much more.

Today, social media has become your own research laboratory as long as you use it in the right way. There are various ways to leverage the benefits of social media platforms. For instance, on Facebook, “like” the pages of organizations you want to work for and join conversations about current industry trends. Follow the same organizations on Twitter and LinkedIn as well so that you become automatically updated about the new recruits as well as product developments.

Accept follow/connection request from all actual people as you never know how a new connection will help you in your job search. It’s rather difficult to obtain a cold contact’s email address when compared to the chances of finding him/her on social media platforms. So, don’t hesitate to send direct messages to cold contacts on Twitter or invite them to connect on LinkedIn to build your network and give momentum to your job search.

6. Demonstrate your expertise

Most people who use social media hold a “what’s in it for me?” sort of mentality and here’s how you can stand out from your competitors. Help people by providing links to important content, answering their queries etc. If you can regularly connect with people on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you’ll be able to build your own brand image on these platforms. You can also find the groups where your industry members are present. Join those groups and introduce yourself to other members. And don’t forget the power of blogging.

Writing a post on your industry-relevant topic shows prospective employers that you’re knowledgeable, have a serious and focused outlook, and have strong communication skills. Remember that your tweets, posts and status updates are platforms to exhibit your knowledge on a certain topic and thus demonstrate your expertise.

Attend related events and conferences and post takeaways. In case you don’t have your personal blog or website, you can use LinkedIn Pulse to post your write-ups and receive a significant number of views, comments and likes from people belonging to different verticals. Your never know – your article could be re-posted and you might grab the attention of a prospective hiring manager or recruiter.

7. Follow industry news

There isn’t a single social media platform that alone works the best for all job searchers. The crucial thing is to identify which platforms are mostly utilized by your industry. Try to find out the latest occurrences by joining specialized groups on social media platforms, signing up for newsletters, participating in various discussion forums and following your industry related blogs. These will help you to stay updated about the latest industry trends and information, thus improving your chances to make connections that might result in job leads.

Following organizations on various social media platforms provides you with current news about them, in addition to disclosing the hot topics and trends prevalent in your industry. You need to be updated about these patterns and discuss them in your network so that you can exhibit yourself as an informed professional with an insider’s edge and come across as someone who is up-to-date about the important happenings taking place in your niche or the industry.
All these will help build trust among your network and let you emerge as a dependable name, who may get noted or recommended for vacant job positions. In addition, when you’re writing your resume, LinkedIn profile or cover letter, you should mention jargon from your industry. This becomes particularly advantageous if you’re waiting to be found by recruiters or hiring managers on LinkedIn.

Now that you know how to use social media to your advantage for landing the dream job, go ahead and put these tips to good use to turbo-charge your job search.

Tweeting the Way to Health: Penn Medicine Launches Center for Digital Health

PHILADELPHIA — Across the world, social media users leave a trail of clues about themselves each time they Tweet, post to Facebook, write a Yelp review, and apply a filter and hashtags to their latest Instagram photo. Under the leadership of Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, researchers and physicians at Penn Medicine are mining those clues to find what ails them – and how to fix it.

Merchant has been named an Associate Vice President for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Director of the newly created Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health.

“Connectivity and innovation are central elements of Penn Medicine’s strategic plan, and a large and increasing proportion of our patients engage with the world digitally,” said Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Dr. Merchant’s visionary research is harnessing the power of this engagement to transform the way we deliver health care.”

The Center for Digital Health evolved from Penn Medicine’s Social Media Laboratory, led by Merchant since 2013. Her cultivation of partnerships from across the university — with Wharton, Annenberg, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science — have mapped a strategy and process to systematically evaluate how social media platforms can affect health, and develop new ways for clinicians to improve care delivery through these channels.

Merchant, who is also an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and has secondary appointments in General Internal Medicine and Anesthesia and Critical Care, began her research career in emergency medicine focusing on cardiac arrest. In 2012, she led the MyHeartMap Challenge, a crowdsourcing contest that sent Philadelphians into the community to identify, photograph, and submit locations of lifesaving automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Using the data gleaned from contest participants, her team created a mobile app that maps AEDs throughout the city, putting them at the fingertips of bystanders who can act quickly to save a life when cardiac arrest strikes.

Merchant describes her team’s research as probing “the social mediome” — a way of collectively describing people or groups based on their digital data merged with their health record data. So far, her work has demonstrated the value of mining Yelp reviews for information about patients’ experiences in hospitals, mapped ways in which social media may be harnessed for emergency preparedness and response, and shown that information donated by patients from their Facebook accounts may be paired with their electronic medical records to yield new insights about their health. New areas of research for the Center for Digital Health include identification of factors linked to depression and obesity, and studying social media to trace language changes that may be associated with Alzheimer’s or other types of cognitive decline.

Merchant earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University. She completed medical school and residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago and came to Penn as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, joining the faculty in the department of Emergency Medicine in 2010. She has also served as a policy scientist for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2012, she was named one of the top 10 national leaders in health care under the age of 40 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and she has been named by Philadelphia magazine as one of the city’s top doctors under 40.

The Law of Digital Attraction: How to be Personal, Authentic and a Warm Person Online

Social Workers often struggle with their visibility, and by nature many don’t like the spotlight and prefer to put others in front of the stage like our clients or our volunteers while we stay rather invisible.

This is a world-wide problem. When we are invisible, we say, “We are not worthy to be seen.” It’s like digging our own grave. And even this is not what we want. This is not how we feel. And in a way, we create our own problem.

Why are we doing this? Are we stupid? No, we are not! Social Workers are smart people. But there’s another phenomenon that’s keeping us imprisoned: we are modest. We are too modest! And many Social Workers are real introverts which may sometimes be to our detriment. Have you ever done the Myers & Briggs test to find out? Go here and you’ll know it in a second >>>

There’s nothing wrong with being modest. There’s a Dutch saying: “bescheidenheid siert de mens,” which translate to “modesty is a virtue.” But when modesty is causing invisibility, a problem arises.

IMG_5992There were times when invisibility was not an issue. Our jobs were respected. There was enough money. And no one discussed the results of our efforts. In times of prosperity, there is less need to be critical. But in times of scarcity, people start to ask critical questions, do we really need this? Do we really need Social Workers?

Times have changed. And with the internet being widely popular, our society is more transparent. The economic crisis caused money to be scarce. And stakeholders suddenly want to know more about us. They ask questions like:

•Why does this cost so much?

•What are the results of your job?

•How about your education and licenses?

These questions can cause social workers to crawl into a shell and don’t share the answers. It can cause them to retract to their offices and hide from the world. This is not the time to do so!!!

Social workers have to show up and advocate for their profession. They must be visible and crystal clear about their values. 

The law of attraction says like brings like and focusing on positive energy will attract positive thoughts and reactions. So social workers have to show up and be visible to attract clients, money, success and wealth. But first, you have to plant seeds, water and nurse it. It all starts with showing up in a way that you want others to respond.

I’m aware that this might be a huge shift for you. That this could be something you’ve been struggling with. And let’s be honest, we’re not going to solve this in one blog post. But one beneficial tip that could go a long way, start with your digital attraction. Most social workers are online. They log in to their Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest accounts. This is a great chance to boost visibility. Use this as a time to show your friendly faces, share posts about your passion, results of your job and share stories about happy clients.

Too often social workers who have profiles on different platforms, aren’t using them to their full potential. But for modest people like us, it’s the easiest way to start. Look at your profile picture! Is this you? Are you showing a friendly face? Does it look warm and professional? If social workers present themselves online as personal, authentic, warm and loving professionals, they will reap the benefits.

How to Build Your Social Media Network

social-media-team

You want to engage on social media, but you are not sure how to connect with people who share your interest? This can be a major challenge for someone without natural influence gained from being in the public such as a celebrity, politician, or even a professor.

In the past when you needed to get out information or create awareness on issues, you had to go through larger businesses, organizations, associations or public relations firm for assistance in hopes they will share with their network. Today, technology and social media makes it possible for you to bypass the gatekeepers and connect directly with the people.

However, it’s much easier to connect with higher profile individuals when you have an established network of your own. One of the best ways to start building your social media networks is by joining an active online group of individuals who share your interests. Engaging in social media challenges is another way to help increase your online followings.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Anneke Kraker who is a co-founder of the Global Social Media Challenge along with Hans Versteegh. They are currently hosting a social media challenge in an effort to connect social workers around the globe using the hashtag #GSOMEC

SWH: Tell us about the Global Social Media Challenge and how it came about.

The First Global Social Media Challenge is a fun challenge for social workers to learn more about the impact of social media on the profession. Social Workers who participate receive for 11 days a small challenge in their inbox plus lots of social media tips. Our goal is to grow our networks and increase our impact. In June 2015 I organized the first Challenge in Dutch. It was a huge success with 600 Dutch Social Workers participating. I do this together with Hans Versteegh a social media expert for Social Workers. I almost forgot: the challenge is for free!

SWH: How will this challenge benefit social workers and help them to become more social media savvy?

This challenge helps because we’re in this together. Many Social Workers are looking for ways to benefit from social media. In this challenge we share tips, insights and good practices. Doing this together makes it fun and easy.

SWH: What do you believe are some of the biggest barriers preventing social workers from engaging on social media?

It’s time consuming. It challenges you to find new boundaries. Privacy is also an issue. And some Social Workers struggle with the narcissistic element: you use social media to make connections and in order to do that you have to show yourself. The challenge of day 2 is about selfies!

SWH: What tips can you provide to help them overcome those barriers and to enhance their professional brand?

Hans and I love making fun but we are also very serious about Social Media. We literally challenge Social Workers to overcome those barriers. With tips we make it easy. For example: to overcome the time issue we provide a simple solution on scheduling your updates.

SWH: How is the challenge going so far, and how can people get started even if they missed the first day?

The challenge is going perfect! We have almost 400 participants and people can still join us. They can catch up the challenges they missed because we provide an overview of all past challenges. People can subscribe here: https://annekekrakers.leadpages.co/globalsomec/

https://twitter.com/CFL_Adoptions/status/698134959144488960

How to Reduce Risks to Employment When Using Social Media

socialmedia

A recent decision sanctioning a social worker for a comment on Facebook by the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC), a United Kingdom regulatory body, sparked an international social work debate on the use of social media in the workplace. Since the decision, I have engaged in multiple conversations via social media with social workers around the globe on this very topic, and I will admit that I have often found myself in the minority arguing against the HCPC’s decision.

Despite the social worker’s comment failing to meet the test for breach of confidentiality, the majority of social workers favoring the HCPC’s decision believe that any comments related to work or a case posted on social media are grounds for termination or discipline even in the absence of identifiers.

The social worker was not disciplined for Breach of Confidentiality, but it was found that her Facebook post “could lead to a Breach of Confidentiality” despite not giving any personal information or descriptors about the client.

I am concerned the HCPC decision will set a dangerous precedent by expanding the scope of breaching confidentiality. The term “could lead to a Breach of Confidentiality” is so broad it could open up liability for social workers outside of the internet sphere.

From the HCPC’s press release on the social worker’s disciplinary action, we actually learn more about the client than we learned from the social worker’s actual comment. The HCPC press release states, “Mrs A, the mother of the children in the case, made a complaint after she searched for the social worker on Google and found the posts, which the complainant stated she was “disgusted” by.” This tells us the complaint was a married woman and biological parent of the children in question. Now, these identifiers within itself  “could lead to a breach of confidentiality”.

The social worker’s comments only described that she was working on a “domestic violence case among other things”. The client assumed the social worker was referring to her case because it was a domestic violence case on the same day as the social workers check-in on Facebook. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had three to five cases go to court on the same day and all of them had a domestic violence element. In the absence of identifiers and a decision from HCPC, the client had no real evidence to prove the social worker’s comment was about her case. Sanctions and disciplinary actions in your employment should be based on evidence and not assumptions.

In retrospect, I do believe the social worker’s comments were ill-advised, but it’s not for the reasons you may think. I am definitely against and don’t recommend anyone to commingle your professional life with your personal Facebook account no matter your profession. As a matter of fact, some of the comments I see from social workers on Facebook make me afraid for the client’s they are serving. I do and must believe that social workers have the ability to separate their personal beliefs from practice, but you may not be able to “unring that bell” with clients or potential clients after review of your online persona.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) have provided me with one of the best social media policy guidelines to help social workers be aware of the pitfalls when using social media personally as well as using social media to obtain information on clients. However, I have yet to see any real solutions that equally address social workers safety with client centered policies. Also, it’s important for us to acknowledge that clients can’t breach confidentiality in their own case. If a client wants to publish online every document you send them, it’s their prerogative, and you should keep this in mind when providing written documents as well as having oral communications with your clients.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are the three primary areas that cause the greatest concerns for professionals and students. Here are a few recommendations that may help you move one step closer to having some peace of mind and keeping your job out of jeopardy.

Tips for Using Facebook

10434000_311155715719496_3315011175902307129_nFacebook is a double-edged sword. When used correctly, Facebook can expand your reach as an expert, increase traffic to your website, and allow you to provide support to others on their professional development journey. Where people get into trouble is when they try to occupy their professional and personal life in the same virtual space. This is not limited to commenting, but it also includes likes, shares, who your friends are, photos, and etc.

I recommend changing your personal Facebook page to a nickname/middle name with an avatar or baby picture for your profile and cover photos. True friends and family members will know who you are, and Facebook will automatically update your post search history with your middle, nickname, or alternate spelling. But, be careful because it’s possible for Facebook to flag your name change. You should also take precautions to enhance the security of your Facebook account.

This will help protect you when clients are actively seeking out content generated by your social media accounts. Secondly, don’t post case related items on your personal Facebook account. If you need advice or an opinion related to a case, message the Social Work Helper Fan Page. I frequently post #SWHelper Team Questions as case study questions to minimize risks to you, and I hope other social work entities will offer similar support for social workers.

If you chose to anonymize your personal Facebook account, I recommend creating a Facebook Fan Page in your professional name which can also help with establishing your professional identity.

  • You can post information and resources for your clients
  • You will no longer need to have embarrassing conversations with clients or coworkers about why you can’t friend them
  • Clients can follow your Fan Page without exposing client’s to each other
  • You can like other Fan Pages your clients may find useful while organizing resources in a central location
  • FB feature allows you to seamlessly switch between your FB account and Fan Page without having to log out
  • You can also make comments, like, share photos, and share posts choosing from either profile

To prevent Facebook from locking your account due to the name change, you should use a shortened or variation of your real and last name, a common name with a long search results history, your maiden name, or your middle name. These are just some of the possibilities you can choose to prevent Facebook from blocking your account. So, if you don’t want to explain to a client or an ethics committee about how your personal beliefs did not affect your decision-making due to memes and content found on your social media account, please take my advice above.

Making the Most of Twitter

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms for making connections and expanding your professional network while enhancing your ability to advocate for the causes you care about. However, there are times when you do need anonymity to protect your employment especially if actively engaging in conversations you don’t want public. Due to my personal philosophy, I don’t post comments or materials that require me to distinguish between my professional and personal identity with the exception of the occasional tweet when I am watching Scandal.

If you are using your professional name, potential networkers and possible opportunities are not going to sort out your professional tweets from your personal tweets. They will all be considered a reflection of you as an individual. “RT does not = endorsement” is not going to cut it. It’s safer to not tweet and/or not retweet something you don’t want to defend, but you could always phrase it as a question to ask other’s opinions. Also, I recommend adding the disclaimer “my opinions are my own not my employers” on accounts using your professional name. As a rule of thumb, if your account is going to be opinion filled, use an avatar with a pseudonym for anonymity. It’s better to be safe than sorry later.

When using your professional name, it should consist of useful information, advice, inspirational quotes, resources, and/or projects that make you look good professionally. If you are only on twitter anonymously, you are missing opportunities to enhance your professional development. If you are using twitter with your professional name and it’s a private account, you are still doing yourself a disservice. What’s the point of being on Twitter with a private account because it’s difficult for someone to connect with you and no one can retweet your profound 140 characters?

To Google or Not To Google

As practitioners, we should not be asking whether to Google or Not Google instead we should be giving you the information on how to Google clients and potential clients ethically. According to a recent study by American Psychological Association, 98 percent of clinical, counseling, and school doctoral students reported Googling their clients. It’s time for this profession to readjust our reality for the digital world we are living in. When Googling a client or anyone for that matter, one must keep in mind that everything on the internet is not true, and it should not be used to penalize without giving the individual a chance to respond.

However, for potential clients at a private practice or when making home visits to new clients, a Google search may be a vital tool in assessing social worker safety. Dr. Ofur Zur provides one of the most comprehensive resources on whether to “Google or not”, and its complete with scenarios and varying categories to help practitioners decide which category is best for your practice and needs. It also covers how to use informed consent for conducting Google searches at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship.

How Do We Move Forward?

Unfortunately, many people have been introduced to social media and online technology as entertainment or to be used as a personal diary. Even if your account is marked private, using instant messaging, email, online technology and/or social media should never be used with an expectation of privacy. You should always assume any information you post online can be privy to public consumption via screen capturing or other measures from anyone who is intent on hurting or exposing you.

In my opinion, the social worker in the above case was condemned because her comment was posted on Facebook. I argue that if said social worker made the same comment in a restaurant, classroom, or another public place would the disciplinary action have been the same? The counter-argument was that Facebook is public and archived by Google which makes it different. I assert we all need to be more careful and aware because we live in a digital age where you can be video tapped or audio recorder via camera phone, vined, viddyed, snapchat, etc. The individual in possession of such digital data can make your actions and comments public without your consent. The medium in which words and actions are transported is irrelevant, and it stifles our ability to move the conversation forward instead of focusing on best practices.

Most importantly, one of the biggest issues in the above case not being addressed is that fact the client went onto Google searching for the social worker in question. Community Care UK reported that 85% of social workers reported being harassed or verbally abused on the job. Whether the client was acting with nefarious intent or in preparation for a pending court case, we simply don’t know. However, social worker safety should be just as important as client confidentiality. The biggest mistake made by the disciplined social worker was her checking in on Facebook thereby giving the time and location for when she would be in court. Why are we not being programmed to think about social worker safety as much as client confidentiality is drilled in our heads?

As a profession, we can not begin the journey of leveraging online technology and social media to advance social work because we are stuck having conversations about account creation, security, and ethical use. These things should always be ongoing conversations, but we have got to start making advances in tech education and training. Agencies, associations, and social work faculty can not adequately answer or provide solutions because most don’t use social media or they utilize outside firms to meet their social media needs. There is nothing wrong with contracting out to meet the needs of your organization, but we must also have mechanisms in place to address social workers’ technological IQ at the micro and mezzo levels.

We must develop continuing education credits, foundational course work, and in-service trainings to properly prepare current and future social workers for practice in the digital age. Social Work education is expensive and students should be demanding that they get the best resources and training during their education especially when they can be fired or disciplined for it later.

Most importantly, we have a duty to our students and professionals to assist them in harnessing all the advantages that social media and technology can provide.

*Since this was a UK regulatory body disciplinary action, I primarily used UK resources for this article, but they are applicable globally.

Social Work Appears Absent in #Ferguson Global Conversation

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As Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, I recently published an article entitled A Grand Response from Social Work is Needed in Ferguson written by Dr. Charles Lewis who is the President of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. Due to my coverage on the shooting of Mike Brown and the police response in Ferguson, Missouri, I have received lots of comments and responses from both social workers and non-social workers via email and various social media outlets.

As a result of comments I have received on Facebook, it makes me extremely fearful that some of these people are actually social workers, and I pray they are not working with minority communities. Maybe its a good thing the national media and reporters are not patrolling social worker forums and social media platforms to see what social workers think about national and global events. If they did, many would not be able to withstand the scrutiny placed on their statements.

As a strong warning, if you are going to proudly display yourself as a social worker in your cap and gown at your School of Social Work graduation, don’t make comments you would not want screen-capped and publicly reviewed. It has been my policy to hide these comments from public view, but this is only a cosmetic solution and does not address the racial divide and attitudes within our profession.

As one social worker and Facebook commenter provider her analysis of the events in Ferguson:

The police have nothing to do with voting, the police were shooting at a someone who wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time, but a thief who was stealing from a store, then when stopped by the police, charged the police and was shot. This has nothing to do with voting. Look at the autopsy report, instead of hearsay and the media looking for the next big story. I love being a social worker, but it makes my blood boil when other social workers jump on bandwagon going nowhere. Know the facts before you post something like that. Rioting, stealing and destroying other people’s property is not going to help the situation.”

If this is the primary analysis social workers are developing after seeing the events in Ferguson, then I have to question how are we preparing students and professionals to engage and meet the needs of minority communities. The best explanation and analysis that I could find to help social workers understand why they should care about Ferguson is in a video by John Oliver host of HBO’s Last Week Today. Also, you can view an article at the Jewish Daily making a case for why Jews should care about Ferguson.

Not only has the shooting of Mike Brown sparked a national conversation, it has sparked a global conversation on all inhabited continents according to the LA Times. Palestinians in Gaza are tweeting advice to American citizens on how to treat tear gas exposure, Tibetan monks arrived in Ferguson to show solidarity with protesters,  #dontshoot protests are happening around the world as a show of solidarity with Ferguson, Amnesty International sends first delegation ever to investigate on American soil, and the United Nations has been holding hearings on the civil rights violations against African-Americans in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the New Republic,

In a 2005 study from Florida State University researchers, a mostly white, mostly male group of officers in Florida were statistically more likely to let armed white suspects slip while shooting unarmed black suspects instead.Police in that study shot fewer unarmed suspects than the undergraduates did, a difference attributable to professional training.  Read Full Article

As part of my research for this article, I did a Google news search using the strings “social workers” and Ferguson, then I used the string teachers and Ferguson. Please, click on the links to view the results.  I found two results one of which was the article published by Social Work Helper, and the other was a small blurb in a local news reporting stating that Social Workers are going door to door to assist with crisis counseling.

There is no doubt that there are many social workers already in or headed to Ferguson at their own expense to donate their skills during this crisis. But, the question we should be asking is who is helping to support their efforts on the ground? If you wanted to connect with them, how would you do it? We have many Schools of Social Work and many dues paying social work associations, but has any of them stepped up to offer assistance, help with coordination, provide a point of contact for social workers who do care about Ferguson and want to contribute? If there is, please let me know, and I will help promote your activities. Are social work professors writing letters to the editor, opinion editorials, or looking for ways to incorporate issues in Ferguson in their lesson plans? I found one professor at Columbia University who wrote a letter to the editor in the New York Times via twitter.

In the past, I have often been frustrated when it seems social workers are always left out of the conversation when discussing federal protections, pay increases, and job loss which tend to focus on teachers, police, and first responders. Also, I have been equally frustrated when professors from other disciplines are becoming political analysts for media outlets for the purpose of explaining social safety net programs that social workers implement. Lately, I have begun looking at this dynamic with new eyes and a fresh perspective, and I am beginning to form another hypothesis. Is social work not apart of the conversation due to exclusion or is it because social work is not showing up?

Another social worker who I truly respect and admire made the comment, “I am reminded that my profession is ALWAYS active. We don’t have to REACT, because what we do everyday is the action that is part of the solution.” However, I respectfully disagree with this assessment because crisis and emergency situations do not fall into the scope of what we do everyday.

Even during natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, social workers acting outside the scope of their employment were left to their own devices. Without a social work organization leading the effort, it increases the difficulty of volunteer social workers to provide information, get support, as well as help with coordination of resources in order to maximize their efforts.

Human services agencies, Schools of Social Work, and Professional Associations have not exhibited the skill sets to create virtual command centers to steer potential resources to on the ground efforts as well as relay the needs assessment made by ground forces. As a matter of fact, it does not seem that these types of efforts are even viewed as actions to fall within the scope of their responsibility.

Teachers are change agents everyday, but they are reacting to the events of Ferguson in the following ways:

Ferguson students have been out of school for the past two because their community has been a war zone. 68% of students in Ferguson schools qualify for reduce or free lunch. As many social workers know, many students in poverty-stricken communities rely on school lunches to survive.

To help bring some relief to the community, Julianna Mendelsohn, a 5th grade teacher in Bahama, N.C., launched a fundraising campaign to benefit the St. Louis Area Foodbank, with the hope that the organization can offer food assistance to needy students. Mendelsohn set an initial goal of $80,000, and crossed that line today. As of this post’s publishing, her initiative had raised just over $110,000, with two days still to go. Read Full Article

150 Ferguson teachers used their day off as an opportunity for a civics lesson to help clean broken bottles, trash, and tear gas canisters from the streets.

“We’re building up the community,” says Tiffany Anderson, the Jennings School District superintendent. She has organized the teachers helping with cleanup, is offering meal deliveries for students with special needs, and has mental health services at the ready. “Kids are facing challenges. This is unusual, but violence, when you have over 90 percent free and reduced lunch, is not unusual,” Anderson says. “Last week, I met with several high school students, some of whom who are out here helping clean up. And we talked a little bit about how you express and have a voice in positive ways.” Read Full Article

Without school being in session, many educators are concerned with the needs of children due to the high poverty rates.

Today through Friday, Ferguson-Florissant will provide sack lunches at five elementary schools for any student in the district. The schools are Airport, Duchesne, Griffith, Holman and Wedgwood. On Tuesday, Riverview Gardens provided lunch to 300 children. Jennings also opened up its school cafeterias. Read Full Article

Ferguson schools are doubling the amount of counselors in their schools. But, what about the parents and adults in this community? Who will help care for their needs and direct them to resources?

Public schools in Ferguson, Mo., are reinforcing their counseling services for the first day of school Monday in anticipation of students’ anxieties after two weeks of protests in their community. Ferguson-Florissant School District is doubling the number of counselors Monday, and it’s training school staff to identify “signs of distress,” said Jana Shortt, spokeswoman for the school district. Read Full Article

Most importantly, educators have created the hashtag #Fergusonsyllabus to help other educators turn the events in Ferguson into teachable moments. They have also developed a google doc with resources and teaching tools to create lesson plans on Ferguson which can be found here.

The bulk of this article focused primarily on service needs, but the macro and advocacy contributions needed in this community are even greater. SAMHSA has also issued a press release to help direct Ferguson residents to their disaster relief and crisis counseling hotline which can be found at http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1408110710.aspx

How can social work contribute and be apart of the solution, or is this somebody else’s responsibility? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Digital Native or Digital Colonized?

The phrase “digital native” has evolved pretty effortlessly into the common lexicon in the last five years, but is it accurate or a misnomer? The most relevant definition of “native” in this context is “belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature; inherent” (Dictionary.com). So do iPads, Facebook, X-box anything else in the digital/online/connected world, to which we may refer to young people as being native, belong to them by birth, by nature or inherently?

Cartoon-baby-with-iPhoneI’m splitting hairs here, I know. The thought only came to me half an hour ago in a discussion with someone who may well be described is “digitally native,” so it’s not like I’ve thought deeply about it. But it’s interesting to consider an alternative frame: that kids and young people aren’t native to technology — they’re being colonized by it.

It’s hard to find a wide enough definition of “colonization” to encompass the socio-cultural meaning social activists and critics ascribe the term, but Wikipedia did throw up an interesting alternative:

Cocacolonization (alternatively coca-colonization) is a term that refers to globalization or cultural colonization. It is a portmanteau [combination] of the name of the multinational soft drink maker Coca-Cola and the word colonization. The term is used to imply either the importation of Western (particularly American) goods or an infusion of Western and especially American cultural values that competes with the local culture.

No, it’s not a perfect match. But think of the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and other brands that have infiltrated our lives in the last five to fifty years, not to mention the Internet, through which these brands have become globalised to the point of omniscience. It’s not hard to see how these capitalist forces (incidentally Marxist theory equates capitalism and colonialism) have been imported and infused into the lives of our children.

No baby has yet, as far as I know, been born clutching an iPhone, which would better embody the concept of “digital native”. So it’s interesting that we’ve chosen this more benign term to describe a phenomonen that has been imposed on children by the free market.

I’m all for technological development, don’t get me wrong. I’m an early adopter if ever there was one. But as an adult I adopt new technology by choice.

What we need to keep reviewing, I think, is how early we allow children to adopt technology. If we think of them as digital natives, we may be risking the loss of a sense of restraint, which may be leading us to allow them to adopt it prematurely.

The idea of digitally colonizing our kids, on the other hand, may make us think again about how old they are before we let their minds be gobbled up by our smartphone interfaces.

 

Education and Training Versus Experiential Learning

Having recently spent the weekend co-facilitating a leadership programme and then attending a job interview for a part-time communications position at a high-profile charitable organisation, I find myself reflecting on how much I do and have done that I haven’t actually been educated or trained to do.

I began learning to facilitate about twenty to 25 years ago, using my counselling training — communicating through questioning and reflective listening one on one — and applying it to a group situation. The process maps almost seamlessly — all that changes is the content, from an emphasis on personal issues and feelings to social issues and opinions (though feelings also often feature predominantly as well).

1176923_50609724When deciding to apply for the communications role I realised that, though not specifically, communications has featured in just about every role I’ve undertaken to date, but I’ve never trained in media or communications. From managing publications for the Human Rights Commission in the mid-90s, to promoting myself as a comedian, to writing and managing several blogs and websites for Diversity New Zealand and Diversityworks Trust, I’ve done it all, from traditional media releases to social media and networking.

The only other formal education and training I’ve  engaged in was school in the 70s and 80s, followed by two years of social work training in the early 90s.

Of course being self-employed builds the muscle for self-directed learning — anyone who has run a small business, particularly one that’s service-related, knows that you say, “Yeah, I can do that,” first and work out how to do it later.

Furthermore, particularly in the last decade or so of the internet’s existence, there’s probably not a single professional skill or attribute that hasn’t been blogged, tweeted, Facebooked or YouTubed about — and the twenty or thirty different ways of doing it.

Which brings me to the point I want to make. Formal education and training often focuses on only one or two “right” knowledge and ways of doing things, whereas experiential learning clearly highlights there is no single “right” information or way to do anything.

I’m not advocating against formal education and training — my schooling, counselling and social work training have served me well, not to mention various generic leadership and professional development programmes I’ve done over the years.

But in a world that is requiring people to hold far more breadth than depth of knowledge and competence, it’s useful to take stock of those secondary skills you pick up along the way in employment. They may pave the way to fascinating new careers, without the cost and time needed to formally retrain.

4 Reasons the Internet is the Worst Place to Discuss Social Issues!

With the recent #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen debate flying around it occurred to me that the internet is an awful place to have a dialog about sensitive issues. While people can converse about things that are not emotional charged over the internet like Kittens, they also converse about emotional charged things in smaller groups over the internet on platforms such as Reddit.  Large groups of people can exhibit a mob effect online where individual users parrot inflammatory comments, or type them I guess.

1. We Think We are Actually Contributing to the Cause

via Facebook

Many people, not just a few, share these types of social media posts.  In fact, they often get close to the one million likes they request. We think that our action on the internet is a fair substitution for action in real life. We hit share and pat ourselves on the back, assured in the knowledge that we are helping someone in third world country, end poverty, end violence against women, or whatever the designated cause may be. Yes, you should share these links to help spread awareness about social issues, but it should not be a substitution for getting involved in a cause.

2. People say some insane things….

With the wonders of the internet, you would think people would fact check themselves before posting things. Sadly, they don’t. They don’t even leave themselves grounded in reality most of the time. You have comments like these:

Earth mayatweet

Unfortunately, uninformed posts muck up the argument because people comment back on them as if they are fact or they may dedicate their time pointing out the fallacy of the post. Worse, many people have not learned the internet is a den of lies, and they may interpret uninformed posts as breaking news.

3. We can’t keep a cool head

When did you last yell at a stranger? When did you last type an inflammatory comment on a post on the internet? Point made?

We don’t tend to say mean things or yell at strangers because there are consequences! But on the internet, there really are none. So we type things with out thinking of the consequences or considering each others feelings in the matter. There have even been studies about why we act the way we do.

According to an article in the Washington Journal,

Anonymity is a powerful force. Hiding behind a fake screen name makes us feel invincible, as well as invisible. Never mind that, on many websites, we’re not as anonymous as we think—and we’re not anonymous at all on Facebook. Even when we reveal our real identities, we still misbehave.

According to soon-to-be-published research from professors at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, browsing Facebook lowers our self-control. The effect is most pronounced with people whose Facebook networks were made up of close friends, the researchers say.

Most of us present an enhanced image of ourselves on Facebook. This positive image—and the encouragement we get, in the form of “likes”—boosts our self-esteem. And when we have an inflated sense of self, we tend to exhibit poor self-control.  Read Full Article

If you can’t be bothered to read the article, please refer to this NSFW Penny Arcade comic for a greater understanding.

4. It isn’t a dialog

We would all love to think the internet is a medium for dialog, but it isn’t. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram allow you to comment on each others posts. Yes, you can comment back, but people rarely do. Most of the time, they are either parroting the point of the author or seeking to rebut them. Either way, there is no actually dialog occurring.

Don’t worry I am guilty of it too. Share this article and maybe we can work on creating real #InternetDialog.

These images are courtesy of  http://dumbesttweets.com/.

The Isla Vista Attacks Through the Eyes of a Woman and Social Worker

shooting-spree-santa-barbara-may-2014

Women are met with broad scale dismissal of their experiences as they react to Elliott Rodger’s misogynist written manifesto, self-made video and the subsequent Isla Vista stabbing/shooting.  One Time article claimed that the Isla Vista attacks and similar atrocities were caused by mental illness, not misogyny.  The author stated that women perceive misogyny in this act because we receive unequal pay, endure “odd comments” about rape, and are underrepresented in positions of power.

Conversely, blog posts and Twitter trends, such as #YesAllWomen, make it clear that women attribute misogyny to an act where the perpetrator claimed women should die for not giving him the sexual attention he “deserved” because male entitlement to female bodies and violence against women are pervasive social issues.

Identifying misogyny as a contributing factor to this atrocity isn’t just about unequal pay.  When the incident made the news, a friend posted this Margaret Atwood quote to Facebook, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”  This is about the problem of feeling entitled to female bodies: to comment on them, touch them, and to harm them—a reality that women face daily.  This is about living in a society that tells women “don’t get raped,” “you’ll ruin his life if you report it,” and “you were drunk.”

The dismissal of women’s voices and their experiences in society is only one area of concern for me as a social worker.  One of the most prevalent objections to the concerns women have raised is that mental illness is the only explanation for violence.  A spokesperson for Rodger’s family suggested that Rodger’s violent acts were the result of Asperger syndrome.

The same was said for the “Dark Knight” shooter, James Holmes, despite numerous experts decrying the assertion that Asperger syndrome causes violence.  Individuals with Asperger syndrome and their loves ones witness these messages and endure people’s subsequent impositions and assumptions. We must ensure that society is safe and accepting place for individuals with Asperger syndrome that does not send false or negative messages about them.

Recently, while leaving a strip mall with the sunset ahead of me, I made my way to the back parking lot by way of a pathway that separated stores.  It dawned on me in that moment, as it does every time I visit the strip mall, that I am uncomfortable in that lot at night.  It’s closer to the stores I patron which is convenient when I have heavy bags or children in tow.  However, store windows do not face the lot and its distant location from popular stores renders it desolate in the evening.  I forced individual keys from my key ring between my fingers as I walked onto the cracked pavement when I quickly noticed a middle-aged man sitting in the driver’s seat of a pick-up truck watching me intently.

I looked ahead, lamenting that I would need to walk behind his truck to reach my car.  I was startled from my resolve to move forward when his truck engine engaged and his brake lights blinked on just as I was walking behind him.  He hung his head out of the window.

“Oh don’t you worry sweetheart; I’m not gonna hit ya,” he smirked unabashedly and then winked at me.

My stomach lurched in discomfort.  My brain said, get out of here.  I hurried to my car and quickly slid into the driver’s seat.  Like clockwork, I did what I always do when I drive alone after years of encountering strange men in parking lots.  Swing the door closed as I sit, lock door as I find the ignition with my other hand, start car, foot on break, check mirrors, then strap seat belt, prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.  One fluid motion.  Survival.  I was relieved to drive away.

Shaken from the incident, I posted about it to Facebook hoping to find some camaraderie from friends.  In the midst of supportive comments one person defended the man and said, “You’re just looking to be offended.”  She dismissed my intuition and experience and demanded I consider his point of view.  Maybe this was his awkward attempt at being nice?  When she finally concluded that my reaction to the incident was “unladylike,” I hit that trusty “unfriend” button faster than lightning.

My parking lot encounter—the suggestive expression and gendered remark, the contrast between his large vehicle and my unprotected flesh—was itself violent in nature.  When a man touts entitlement to female bodies and plots violence as retribution for being “denied” what he is entitled to, the last thing we should do is dismiss women’s reactions or refuse to look systemically at the issue.

Through engaging in storytelling of just one of my own experiences with gender-based violence as a woman, I hope to contribute to a dialogue that will inspire change.  As a social worker, I know that there are countless ways my profession can serve in the wake of these atrocities.  We can assess these issues at all levels of practice–micro, mezzo, and macro.  We can provide services and evaluate our interventions on each of these levels to address societal violence.  We can stand with women and push back against the dismissal of their experiences.

We can ally with individuals in need of mental health services for policy change from a strengths perspective.  Lastly, we can act as witnesses to those who have experienced loss and trauma, and companion those who grieve as a result of the violence in our society.  Social workers, when it comes to violence in society and those who are victimized by it, our knowledge, skills, and values are needed.  Survivors of violence, we are listening.

Although the view that mental illness is the sole factor behind acts of mass violence does involve a systemic implication that mental health services should be expanded, I respond to this with a strengths based lens.  Yes, access to mental health services absolutely must be expanded.  However, the existing dialogue is often “othering” by demanding help for “those people” as though individuals with mental illness cannot hear what is being said about them.

The dialogue does not acknowledge that a great number of people with mental illness are not violent nor does it highlight their strengths.  It does not empower them to define their own problems or to direct how their needs should be met.  When advocating for policy change, we must ensure that we do not convey damaging or pathologizing messages in the process of doing so.

Ways Millennials Can Step Up their Game and What We All Can Learn

There is an obvious age gap between generations, and each generation face unique challenges of finding their place in society such as the Millennials are facing today. Each generations grows up in a different world full of different problems, yet we all seem to think we can keep things the same way year after year. The reality is times are changing, and we need to all make sure that we as the upcoming generation are prepared to take over for the generations currently leading now. Before that happens, here are few things that we all should be considering.

Ways the Next Generation Can Step Up: 

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Cover of Time Magazine

Stop being lazy and take responsibility. Millennials are constantly chastised for our laziness, addictions to technology, stupid behavior, and unwillingness to work. For many millennials, this is true, but it needs to change. It’s time to grow up, just in some ways. There are problems facing us that we are going to have to deal with someday, and we need to be prepared. You can still have fun and enjoy life, but make sure you are taking initiative, setting goals, challenging yourself and preparing to be leaders in the future. Life is not all about who tweeted at who and who use the Instagram filters the best.  

Find your motivation and passion. I know older people constantly bug you about what you want to do in life, and you have no idea, but that does not mean you cannot explore. It is completely fine not to know what you want to do in life, but doing nothing gets nothing. You also must like to do something. Millennials often underestimate that their interests can turn into possible job opportunities or limit their opportunities based on their major or what their parents/elders tell them they should do. Explore all options! Do not let other people tell you what to do. Your passion comes from inside you, not someone else. Go out there and get motivated!

Listen to more experienced individuals. This is valuable. You should be active trying to listening to people more experienced than you. Why? Because they have experience more than you! Every internship I had, I tried to connect with leaders in the agency and just listened to their story. Whether I believed it was useful or not, I learned how other people developed skills and got to their current position. It’s extremely helpful if you have no idea what to do, or have an idea but do not know which route to take. Learning the pros and cons of someone else’s experiences, can give you the opportunity to learn about paths before you experience them yourself. Also, talking with older people is great; you create a relationships and build your network!

Put down the technology! Now, I know what you’re thinking, I hear this all the time. People are too obsessed with technology now a days. I agree that I cannot live without my phone and my computer, but think about how you use it. Tweeting your every move, posting a picture of every moment, or texting people in the same room as you. Why do you think we have been called the “Me” generation? We are obsessed with ourselves. Put the phone down in social situations. Why don’t you try something crazy and talk to people face to face? Technology should used to advanced society and connect on a larger level, not post your ignorant thoughts or unflattering pictures. People lose jobs over Facebook, people damage relationships over Twitter, and a reputation you have worked years for can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. Learning proper social media and technology practices could go a long way.

Question authority and practices. This is something I constantly do everyday of my life. Why? Because society changes, and the way we run the world should sometimes as well. If you do not understand why things happen a certain way, question it. If you do not agree with how something operates, say something. If you have an idea to make things better, speak up. We need people to step up for what they believe is right in order to effectively collaborate as a society. We need people with many diverse opinions to give their views on how they think what should happen. You cannot complain about how things are run, if you do not contribute to bettering the conversation.

Now that I went over a few ways, millennials can step up their game, let’s discuss some reasons older generations should listen.

You do not know everything. I hate to be blunt, but it is true. This is blatantly evident when I look at the media, read about politicians or listen to people older than me. Many older individuals believe they know everything about the world due to their experiences and a young person trying to tell you something otherwise is foolish. Yes, many times we are wrong or naive about situations, but sometimes we can teach you things too. How else are you going to figure out how to use the new smart phone?

Admit your wrong. Yes, sometimes you are wrong, did you forget that? I am not trying to pick on older generations or be sassy, but really think about decisions and statements you make in your life. We are not the only ones being challenged by every days situations. No one is perfect, and it is ok. Admitting you are wrong and moving forward is a more admirable characteristic than being stubborn.

We think differently. We have great ideas and different perspectives! We will never know if we are doing the right thing, if you do not give us a chance to speak. Whether we are right or wrong, the fact that you took your time to listen means the world. I hated my supervisors when they did not listen to my ideas or thoughts, and they just nod at me to acknowledge I said something. It is frustrating when a person in an older generation does not care we have to say. We are experts in our own ways. Give us a voice for once!

You have not grown up in the same worldWhat worked for you, may not work the same as it would today. It is hard to believe that the world has changed so much in a little time period, but it has. Did you take online courses while in college? Did you have people constantly posting photos of every social interaction to the internet which can then be accessed by everyone in the world? Did you have to take out a more student loans than you will in a home mortgage? Most likely not. Yes we still share similar experiences, but do not assume that back in your day is the same situation as in my day now.

Generations before us made the problems we face today. The economy, climate change, rise in college tuition, poverty, our “laziness”, and many more issues are results of generations before us. You all have dictated the path to where we are today, and we are dealing with it. I am not blaming a particular person, but just keep this in mind before you dismiss my thoughts.

Now that’s done, here are a few things we ALL should be thinking about:

Stop thinking the world revolves around you. It doesn’t and don’t forget it. Selfishly thinking about yourself has led our society to the problems we face today. Don’t think you are any better than anyone else. Focus on how you can contribute back to society and help other people in any way possible.

Never think you are done learning. The world changes everyday, and new things happen. You can always learn something new every day of your life. Do not ever think you are done. Come on Gandhi even agrees.

Give more than you get. I learned this recently in a mentorship program I am participating in. The world is not only about making the best out of it, but giving to other people. The more you give to others, the better you are going to feel. The stronger our society will be stronger as a whole if people just stopped and cared more about other people for a change.

Courtesy of Time Magazine

Let’s Talk About Military Family Mental Health: Tweetchat 5/8/14 #MacroSW

Military service members, veterans, and their families are extremely resilient , but the stress of war, multiple deployments, and frequent moves can impact their emotional, physical, and overall well-being. During the month of May, #MacroSW is teaming up with USC School of Social Work to help raise awareness by inviting our community to participate in the Military Family Mental Health campaign. The goal behind this campaign is to build public recognition about the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness, particularly within the military community.

Join us for the next #MacroSW Chat this Thursday 5/8 6pm PT/ 9pm ET to discuss Military Family Mental Health Advocacy!

  • How are milfamily organizations taking the lead on Mental Health advocacy?
  • What can civilian organizations and advocacy groups learn from the military family groups?
  • What do social workers who work with the military community need to know to provide the best care?

Raise your voice to raise awareness through social media!

  • Stay tuned to the conversation around Military Family Mental Health using #MilfamMH!
  • Take 30 seconds to change your profile picture or cover photo to one of these images during the month of May to show your support for this important cause!

Change your Facebook profile picture:

MFMH.FBProfile

MFMH.MilSpouseFBProfile

MFMH.VetFBProfile

Change your Facebook Cover Photo:

MFMHCoverPhoto2

Share this message with your friends and family on your favorite social platform!:

Facebook/ Google+: This May, I am raising my voice to raise awareness around milfamily mental health. Find out how you can make a difference by participating in the #MilfamMH campaign too!

Twitter: I’m joining the #MacroSW chat hosted by @MSWatUSC to discuss #MilfamMH advocacy on 5/8 6pmPT/9pmET! More info:

Twitter: I’m raising #MentalHealthAwareness this month! Join me and @MSWatUSC for the #Milfam Mental Health Campaign: #MilfamMH

Do You have a blog or Newsletter? Copy and paste this message to show your support!:

“I’m raising awareness for Military Family Mental Health by blogging for the #MilfamMH Campaign sponsored by USC’s masters degree in social work program. Join me in blogging for an important cause!”

Archived Tweetchat:

Can be viewed on Storify at this link.

4 Pitfalls to Avoid When Using the Internet to Find a Job!

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Many of you reading this may be recent or soon to be graduates, and/or  you have been looking at the job market with abject terror. You might feel somewhat akin to how a deer must feel as they are staring at an oncoming car. You know that you need to find a job, but you also can’t seem to make any moves to do so. Well don’t let opportunity pass you by! Don’t fall into these technology pitfalls that can make finding a job even harder!

1. Searching websites like Idealist, Indeed, Craigslist

Yes, those websites are great, but they also create several problems:

  • They encourage you to apply for job with companies that you don’t know about. Which is fine, but you are far more likely to get a job with a company that you know and love.
  • Everyone else is seeing these same jobs, which means you have to stand out in an even bigger crowd
  • These websites can be outdated, there is no guarantee that you applying for a job that even exists!

Solution: Find organizations you know and love! Look for jobs on their website, even better call their HR department. Yes, they might just tell you to look at the website, but you have made an impression that you want the job. The person is even more likely to remember your name. You may also hear about a job before it is posted!

2. Not having a complete Linkedin profile

Good job, you made yourself a Linkedin! Oh, you didn’t complete the whole thing. I guess that is fine, I am sure the person hiring you for your dream job will fill in the blanks though it might not be with what you should expect.

If you are going to have a Linkedin you need to complete it and continue to update it.

  • A post once a week is good, once a month as a minimum.
  • You never really know who is going to look at your profile. You might be missing out on any number of opportunities.

Solution: Complete your Linkedin profile, for those who are not tech savvy and are having a hard time there are many guides out there, call a friend and you can even email me and I will look at your profile and give you some free advice!

3. Mixing Work and Play

  • I am all for people using their computers for fun! By all means have a Pinterest about your favorite band, cat pictures etc. Use your twitter to talk about the latest celebrity idiocy, but please, oh please….
  • Have separate accounts! The last thing you want an employer to see is your drunken, misspelled political rant on twitter.

Solution: Use an Alias for your personal accounts, or just your first name! Make sure they are not linked to the same email address. Setting things to private is not adequate, as nothing is really private on the internet.

4. Not promoting yourself

Again, we live in an age where you never know who might be looking at your online profile!

  • Put your best face on!
  • Make sure your contact information is up to date and most of all promote yourself. It is ok to shamelessly ask your friends to share, retweet, and pin your posts because you will do the same for them.
  • The point of this whole social media world is to have as many people as possible see your best face.

Solution: Share, share, share: make sure you post once a week at least and share it. If you are in a resume pool and the hiring manager has read your blog and loved it you are going to have a huge advantage over someone they have never heard of before!

Now, you know technology can help you find a job, but it can also hinder you.  Make sure you are using it right and remember nothing beats good old fashion legwork!

Prevent Child Abuse America: Interview with Ben Tanzer

Earlier in April, VetoViolence and Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) recognized National Youth Violence Prevention Week through an “Ask the Expert” forum on Facebook. The event ignited a conversation about the importance of preventing youth violence before it starts. This week, to continue raising awareness and sharing resources on preventing violence before it starts, VetoViolence and Prevent Child Abuse America are hosting a second Ask the Expert forum on Facebook focused on child maltreatment prevention in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

PFPLogo2011I had the opportunity to interview Ben Tanzer, Senior Director of Strategic Communication for Prevent Child Abuse America, who is also a trained social worker. Ben talks about his work at Prevent Child Abuse America, their awareness campaign on child maltreatment, as well as the challenges they face in improving outcomes for children.

SWH: Tell us about your background and the work you do with Prevent Child Abuse America.

PCAA: I am a trained social worker who always wanted to work on children’s issues and always had a love for words. At Prevent Child Abuse America I get to play a role in our efforts to tell the story of early child development. How a programming and policy focus on enhancing a child’s brain, and their social-emotional life, has long-term positive impacts for both the individual and society. But that exposure to violence, poverty, and child abuse and neglect can undermine all of that. We try to tell this story through traditional means, press releases, statements, and interviews, as well as, new media, Twitter, blogging, Facebook, and the like.

SWH: What are the primary goals and objectives of Prevent Child Abuse America, and what activities help you work towards the achievement of those goals?

PCAA: Our primary goals and objectives are to create a society in which all children are given the support they need and the healthy childhood they deserve. A society in which all adults realize they play a role in the lives of all children, and in which no child is ever abused or neglected. We work to build awareness of the different ways that people can affect the lives of children and families in their communities as well as working to increase knowledge and understanding of our primary prevention program, Healthy Families America (HFA).

SWH: What are the biggest barriers and challenges your organization faces in reducing child abuse in America today?

PCAA: One of the largest barriers that we face is a communications challenge: that people are aware that child abuse and neglect is an issue and want to do something about it, but don’t know how. Many of us  are conditioned to believe that the only way we can help a child in need is by calling CPS if we suspect something is wrong. While this action is critically important, we know that there is much more that can be done to help prevent child abuse as opposed to intervening in an abusive situation, including everything from knocking on a neighbor’s door to see if they want a break from parenting to volunteering at local child-serving organizations to advocating for the expansion of innovative prevention and family support programs that may already exist in the communities we live in

SWH: How does your work engage or incorporate social workers in helping to improve outcomes for children?

PCAA: Healthy Families of America employs home visitors in communities across the nation, who may or may not be trained social workers, but who are providing support to families modeled on the core tenets of social work, for example, meeting people where they’re at, be that geographically, culturally, or emotionally. Further, many of the staffers in our chapters and at our national office are social workers by training. Social workers are critical to the success of our organization and our mission.

SWH: What do you hope to accomplish with the Facebook Ask the Expert awareness event, and how can regular, everyday people help prevent child abuse?

PCAA: We hope that the Ask the Expert event will help those who are interested in learning more about early child development and prevention better understand the various ways they can help play a role in promoting healthy child development and the prevention of abuse and neglect before it starts. If we’re able to spread the word to just a few interested people, and they in turn are able to help their friends and family understand that they, too, play a role, then we’re one big step closer to the kind of society we’re working towards.

Using Prezi to Spice Up Infographics

Prezi is presentation software that makes it easier to create fun, energetic presentations that tell a story. You can combine this software with other visual tools, like infographics, to have a greater impact by focusing in on the important pieces and removing the noise.

images (37)Infographics are excellent tools for succinctly and visually representing your data. More recently, several nonprofits have been able to convert their annual reports into infographics . Infographics are very easily shared and read through social media and email marketing channels.

They are much more likely to be retweeted, receive more +1’s on Google+, and more shares on LinkedIn. They rank fairly evenly with traditional posts’ number of ‘Likes’ on Facebook.

But, how can we make these better? How can you turn an infographic into something useful for a fundraising event or community outreach presentation? The best solution I’ve come across is Prezi.

Prezi is free software (there are paid versions)   that allows you to visually and energetically explain how  portions of your data are related to each other. You can add images, music, and video to enhance your words. And, because it’s in the cloud, you can collaborate with multiple people who can access and edit it from anywhere. It’s perfect for working in teams, in the field, or with volunteers.  You can also access it on your phone and tablet, which lets you give your presentation on the fly for those chance meetings with possible supporters.

Here are a few examples of Prezi’s being used on Infographics

Internet Marketing Land

NHS Governors Demographics 

Western Lowland Gorillas

If the infographic aspect of this post scared you away – don’t worry. Infographics are easy to make and don’t require prior graphic design knowledge. There are several sites (free and paid) that will help you get started.  Piktochart is very popular, as well as  Visual.ly. If you want to make it yourself for free, you can use image manipulation software (like GIMP), some infographic templates you can find on Google image searches or freepik.com, and a little bit of time to make something beautiful.

If you need help creating infographics, Prezi’s, or anything related – feel free to shoot me an email to Rjlendzion@gmail.com or you can also visit the Prezi’s support forum. Have you used Prezi? Share your thoughts below!

Kristie Holmes is Running for Congress Despite Hurdles

There are seven social workers in the U.S. House of Representatives. Kristie Holmes wants to be the eighth. An adjunct associate professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, she is one of 21 candidates who will compete in the June 3rd primary to replace the venerable Henry Waxman as the Democratic candidate for California’s 33rd Congressional District. She is 39 years old with an MSW from USC and a Ph.D. in community social work.

Kristie is facing formidable hurdles including two strong opponents in Wendy Gruel who ran for mayor in Los Angeles last year and State Senator Ted Lieu. Yet, she has chosen to spend her time and money in an uphill run for Congress. Social workers should support her because we need more social workers in Congress and other legislative offices. A strong showing of support for Kristi will encourage others to run. In this day and age, policies matter, but politics perhaps more. I got the opportunity to talk to Kristie about her improbable run and why she is willing to take risks to win a seat in Congress.

How did you get the idea to run for Congress?

I was talking to friends and it occurred to me that I seem to have hit a wall when it comes to making change. It’s not happening because we’re not in the places we need to be. I said maybe I should run for Congress or something. I didn’t mean it seriously but they said it was a great idea and I should do it. Then I got a text message that Waxman was retiring and his seat was open. I have been talking to students in my class about making change for years. And with the opportunity to be at the UN and watch how organizational change is made in the world made me even more interested in how our government works. I was probably among the more apathetic social workers when it came to politics other than voting and signing petitions. I had no interest in getting involved politics.

When did you get serious about running?

Kristie Holmes
Kristie Holmes

We talked about the vacant House seat in my policy class and someone said we should go to the pre-endorsement conference in Norfolk. I posted it on Facebook and suggested that someone should run. So I decided to attend the conference to see what the process was like. It was confusing but I stayed and made a two-minute speech. When I went back to class there was great interest and then I had to make the decision to file as a candidate. I decided to pay the nonrefundable $1740 filing fee because I figured that’s about how much I would pay to go to a conference. Next I was told that I would have to file forty to sixty signed petitions and that they were due by 5:00 p.m. that day and had to be collected in the district in Los Angeles.

I was an hour and forty minutes from the district but discovered candidates had five additional days to file if the incumbent was not running. After I turned in the petitions I was told there was another fee of $18,940 if I wanted to have a blurb with my information as well as my name printed on the sample ballot in English and Spanish and it would cost more if I wanted the blurb printed in additional languages. It was Monday when I turned in the ballot and I had to hop a plane to New York City for a conference at the UN. While in session I got a call that only 38 out of 60 of my petitions were valid. My husband was able to get the additional signatures to the office and I was officially on the ballot.

What is your strategy for winning the primary?

I realize there is going to be an incredible of money spent on stuffing mailboxes. I suppose Ted Lieu and Wendy Gruel are going to spend a lot of money on television advertising. My idea is to mobilize younger voters who are more electronically connected, especially social workers. We can make a huge difference and that doesn’t cost much money or time. I have students and we have campus full of students. I know I have to raise money but we can do a lot with eighty to a hundred thousand dollars. I have many talented friends and supporters who are good with things like creating online videos. We do need to raise some money to do thing like targeted mailings and I have friends who are willing to help.

So are you beyond the point of no return . . . fully committed?

Even my father was not very happy about the idea at first. He was worried about the bad things that can happen in politics. But he’s come around and says he’s proud of me and that I shouldn’t jump off the moving train. My colleagues are very excited about it and want to be helpful. They are introducing me to their networks. There’s no turning back now.

What are your expectations?

I’m worried that if I start making headway in the race, my opponents will come after me. I’ve seen what’s happened in past races and it makes me nervous. I don’t want to expose my family to any grief. One of my opponents hired a very scary guy and that gives me concern. I would not want to reciprocate but the truth is I cannot afford to go there so I have to do something else. People are weary of negative politics. The one thing I can do is research and I know traditional methods of outreach like TV advertising are reaching a smaller percentage of voters. One thing that motivates me is that only eighteen percent of the members of Congress are women and there are few members under the age of fifty years old.

Do you see your candidacy as inspirational to other social workers?

That is the hope. That is truly the thing that is driving me because of the apathy I’m seeing. I want to see more social workers doing this at a younger age. I have nothing against older people but we need a variety of ages and perspectives. It’s hard to get young people to be politically active unless they see other young people involved. I am more surprised than anyone that I am doing this. It took me paying the filing fee and taking a look at the process to make me realize there is a whole other well that impacts our clients that needs to be addressed.

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