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Please join me at my new blog home: http://prakky.wordpress.com/

You'll find all of my old articles, as well as many more new interesting posts on current social media topics.

See you there!

There’s been a lot of media attention on the subject of cyber bullying and sexting. And some great resources like Cybersmart have been developed to help families and young people manage their presence online.

What I want to blog about today, is the pain of being a teenager in the Facebook generation.

I am so grateful Facebook wasn’t around when I was in my teens.

I was a diary-keeping gal. And a photo-taking gal. I have hundreds of photos of my girlfriends and I, in very bad acid wash jeans, perms and knitted jumpers. Wearing braces, sporting spots, holding up Midnight Oil tickets, reading Dolly magazine, drinking cask wine, and all the things you generally want to forget now ...

If Facebook had been around, I would have undoubtedly been growing up online, sharing every painful experience and gauche thought, stumbling through relationships and avowing to the world that I wanted to dedicate myself to saving the seals.

Instead, I’m 40 years old and have reluctantly accepted the friend requests of a few teenagers. And their status updates make me squirm. It’s natural for teenagers to struggle along through puberty, to feel hyper sensitive at times, or like they can’t do anything right. But somebody needs to guide them and advise them: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHARE IT ALL ON FACEBOOK.

Let’s put together a 101 for teens. A 101 that will save them pain later on. Just as we do with career advice, or relationship advice. My top 3?

1.Less is more. Don’t give us a blow by blow – the highlights will do. Don’t post every photo, just the best one.
2.It CAN happen if it doesn’t happen on Facebook. Make sure you enjoy your time in the real world. Don’t get hung up on recording everything for your Facebook friends. Keep some things to yourself – it makes it more special. And you’ll look cooler. Not desperate.
3.Think of your Page in 10 years time. This is a digital record of your life that your future husband/wife/children/employers might read. Don’t argue with people online. Don’t wail at the world when your boyfriend dumps you. What seems like a disaster today will only be a blip in a few months time. Take a breath before you post. Write it down somewhere else if that makes you feel better.

What do you think? What would you say to the Teenage You?

I’d find it hard to be a journalist today.

Journalism is a fantastic career. I’ve got a BA in Journalism and played around in a role with the Rural Press for a wee while. Good journalists are inquisitive and energetic, and can be cynical and circumspect (which helps). Quite often, they’re eloquent writers who are passionate about communicating.

In other words, they like to be heard.

The reason I’d find it hard to be a journo, today? I don’t know if I could juggle the tug of social media with the demands of my media managers.

The world is changing for journalists.

In the traditional world of journalism, you get a story, write it up, submit to your editor, and if it’s good enough it’s published or broadcast. There’s a variety of means to distribute the news, and above all you always want to beat the competition.

But now we’ve got Twitter, right? It’s an instant broadcast medium. I’ve written on this blog before, that I’ve often received my newsbreaks on Twitter. Heck, people are taking it into their own hands now: this week Malcolm Turnbull announced his resignation on Twitter and Jim Carrey announced his divorce (not from Turnbull, but from Jenny McCarthey).

How do journalists feel about that?

Pretty darn frustrated and conflicted, is my guess.

How does it feel to sit on a ‘scoop’ while your story is edited, prepared for print or broadcast? You could easily share the news instantly on Twitter. But you have an obligation to your company, right? You need to follow their content model. Even if you have an online presence – say, an AdelaideNow – your story still takes more time to write up and post than a 140 character tweet.

This is just one of many issues facing journalism today – other vexing issues include paid/unpaid content, copyright, relevance and interactivity – all too complex for me to go into today! I don’t know what the answer is, but it seems to me that journalists need more forbearance and nouse than ever before.

What do you do, when you meet a ‘tweet’ pal for the first time In Real Life?

It’s a question that I wrestle with, because I regularly meet people face-to-face after first making a connection with them through Twitter. They’re not blind dates, but they’re pretty close in terms of how awkward you can feel.

In my experience, tweet-ups have been fantastic and I’ve not been disappointed with anyone yet (it’s true!) However I’ve come to recognise a few ‘dance steps’ and wonder if you have, too:

• Nervously wait at assigned meeting point
• Crane your neck, keep look-out for person who will resemble the thumbnail you’ve been communicating with for past weeks/months/years
• See someone vaguely resembling the thumbnail
• Wonder if it’s them
• Realise it IS them
• Wonder if it’s too late to pretend you’re not there
• Awkwardly start moving toward each other
• Think to yourself: do we shake hands? Hug? Cry and hold onto each other like reunited siblings?
• Go for an awkward hand shake
• Settle into warm and relaxed conversation

It’s the physical contact that I find most problematic. @Problogger recounted a story at the recent #cnow social media conference, about a follower who rushed toward him, embraced him fully, and cried onto his neck! She had been following him online for so long, she felt such a strong connection, that she was moved to make physical contact with someone who would ordinarily be a stranger.

I have been tweeting @Jadecraven for quite some time, she’s a fantastic Twitter pal. We met at #cnow for the first time and – knowing we live in separate cities and may not come face to face ever again – I rubbed her arm as we laughed and sighed with relief at finding each other. Later, we hugged goodbye, but when we first met IRL it still felt too forward to hug. (Though I reckon we should have, Jade!)

In many cases, your Twitter pals are your emotional crutches. They listen to you when you vent. They provide helpful information when you tweet a question. They LOL at your mishaps. They endorse your TGIFs. When other friends, or family, are absent or asleep or disinterested, there’s always a tweep available to fill the void.

So it makes sense that they’re pals IRL, right?

Or does it?

Photo by @idrewthis , with @markgamtcheff @missbiancab and @ashsimmonds at a #socadl tweetup.

This is my second blog about the positive power of Facebook.

To me, Facebook isn’t a ‘place of evil’ or ‘destroyer of young minds’ as some traditional media would have us believe. It connects people, resurrects friendships, reminds you of great times and helps you look forward to new ones.

Today I’m blogging about charities on Facebook.

Charities use all sorts of communications channels to tell us about their causes. For years, their efforts have been supported by direct mail, telemarketing, fundraising events, sponsorship and so on.

But Facebook has allowed charities to set up shop in a community environment, where people can connect with them and easily share their favourite charity with their social circle. When was the last time you deliberately set out to visit a charity’s official website? Then consider how often you come across a charity (or cause) on Facebook.

Here’s some good examples:

Australian Red Cross


World Vision Australia

McGrath Foundation

Of course, Facebook application 'Causes' has enabled many not-for-profits to share their cause on Facebook. It's an app specifically designed for mobilising the power of Facebook to support worthy causes, and is used by millions of people around the EVERY MONTH.

Do you have a favourite charity or cause on Facebook? Has Facebook enabled you to learn more about that cause and get involved? Tell me about it – see the Comments link above.

Yes, you read it right.

This is a pro-Facebook article.

It's not something you'll see every day. Nowadays, we’re used to media coverage blaming Facebook for most of society's ills: it's been blamed for everything from teenagers being distracted from their homework, through to increasing the incidence of syphilis. (Note: everything distracts teens from their homework - Facebook, TV, snacks in the fridge, a fly buzzing past the desk .. don’t we remember what it’s like to be a teenager? It’s hardly news).
I’m sick of it. This is the Facebook Fightback.

I’m going to start regularly featuring alternative examples of the world of Facebook. I’m going to publish a Facebook ‘happy story’ to remind us that it’s not all bad. And I hope you’ll contribute your examples too.

Here’s my first one:

March 2010 Facebook-is-Awesome-Example
I grew up in Whyalla, South Australia. There’s a Facebook group for current and former residents that allows us to share stories. Many of the posts are lengthy, with eloquent and colourful details that bring the town to life and even make readers emotional.

For those with a connection to Whyalla, this group – with its recall of local characters, the streets we grew up in, the schools we went to, the trouble we got into - broadcasts some powerful stuff.

There’s a Discussion called “The street you grew up in” which is nothing if not poignant. Here, you have people recounting their movements from house to house in Whyalla, and then coming across old neighbours. They can ask each other questions, sing out ‘I remember you!’ and piece together their funny stories.

Here’s some examples posts:
I remember Loring Street the most. I used to walk to school at Scott Street Primary and my brother and sister went to Stuart High. I remember walking to One Stop to get an icy pole in 40° heat and getting fish and chips on a Friday night.

I too remember walking to the corner shop ... with my empty coke bottle to get a big bag of 20 cent lollies ... and at the end of the street in those days was the bush, endless days out looking for sleepy lizards and bearded dragons and building cubby houses......sigh.....

I must certainly say that just the mere mentioning of Whyalla brings a lot of memories and feelings back. Whyalla, for me, was the entrance door to Australia, it was the first place/city I resided in, and also the place where I got married (Ada Ryan Gardens)... Now I have jumped to and lived in so many cities and countries that is hard to keep track of all the places, but Whyalla will always have a special place in my heart...

It's great reading these posts. My mum is in Adelaide too and she always runs into someone from Whyalla ... The town doesn't make the people, it's the people that make the town.

Omg Allison, reading your post is like reading verbatim my childhood and teenage years!!!
Jeez, weren't we so carefree, safe and happy in them days, as poor as we were.

I have had the best time reading all these memories.

Click 'Comments' above to post links to any Facebook groups or page that have made you feel warm inside. If you’re a Facebook fan, join the Fightback!