A Guide to Emoji Etiquette

(Image Credit: WavebreakmediaMicro)

(Image Credit: WavebreakmediaMicro)

It’s pretty amazing how much power Emoji hold, isn’t it? It’s entirely possible to carry out entire conversations, text lyrics and spell out movie plotlines using a series of cute little icons. But here’s the thing: there’s a whole lot of crazy going on with Emoji, too. Have you ever swiped through the lesser-used pages? Things get weird really fast, folks. Like really, what is up with this black-eyed, seemingly soulless demon family? Continue reading

‘WhereToWatch’ shows where entertainment lovers need to be.

(Image Credit: Where to Watch)

(Image Credit: Where to Watch)

I like doing things the hard way. I’m the person who pulls up a new window instead of just opening a new tab. I just got a smartphone after stubbornly holding out against the “newfangled contraptions” for many years. When I first heard about WhereToWatch, I was naturally opposed to the entire concept. I clung to my right to painstakingly search each VOD website individually and comparing my price options over several open browser windows. Now the improved, smartphone-owning me is much more open to new ideas. Combating my technophobia, I decided to head over to WhereToWatch and see what all the fuss was about. Continue reading

One Week Without Social Media: A Diary

(Image Credit: WavebreakMediaMicro)

(Image Credit: WavebreakMediaMicro)

Day 1. February 4, 2015.

First urge to check Facebook: 11:35 a.m.

Total number of times desperately wanted to check Facebook: 4 (v.good).

Actually cheated and checked Facebook: 1 (v.bad).

Asked my sister to look at something on Facebook: 3. Eye twitches because I could not check Facebook: too many to count.

Total number of ignored notifications: 8

 

11:35 A.M.

Dear Diary,

Well, it’s happening. I’m starting my one week purge of all things social media just for the sake of writing what will hopefully be an entertaining article. I’ve taken Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat and placed them all in a DO NOT TOUCH folder in the very depths of my iPhone (deleting them altogether just seemed far too harsh and unnecessary; I’m way too lazy to go through and reinstall and reverify all that info in seven days’ time). I have NOT turned off my notifications because in some way I am sick and twisted and want to further tempt myself. It’s like working out with a big bowl of candy only a few feet away from you. Finishing the workout always makes you feel great, but it feels even better when you finish without immediately sticking your hand in the bowl. But…I am known to go for a mini Snickers when I finish an especially vigorous workout. They have protein you know; not a total wash. Have bad feeling about this…

Today has been far easier than I anticipated. Yes, it’s not even noon, but I’m holding out hope that I will remain strong, feign disinterest in the latest going ons in my social circle and find other forms of entertainment when I have the strong desire to scroll through Newsfeed. Bring your worst, spawn of Mark Zuckerberg!

12:55 P.M.

I’m off work now and the temptation is growing. Just received a notification that I’ve been invited to a pub crawl to celebrate a friend’s 30th. If I don’t RSVP immediately, will that be rude? Texting a mutual friend for the invite info as we speak.

10:25 P.M.

Damnit. I caved. All day I’ve been dutifully avoiding it. Okay, that’s a lie; I asked my sister Abby to check something fishy out for me. I had to go on just now though or I would have seriously ticked off a co-worker who went out of her way to write a status dedicated to me. Abby told me about it. Was I really not supposed to acknowledge it and risk a bad case of stink eye the next time I see said co-worker? Not chancing it. I did NOT look at my notifications and I did NOT go through Newsfeed. So one comment on one status is no big deal. REALLY. Tomorrow I will prevail and be social media free all day.

10:59 P.M.

Not being able to tweet during Broad City should be a crime, just sayin’.

 

Day 2. February 5, 2015.

First urge to check Facebook: right when I woke up. (BAD).

Number of notifications gained while I was sleeping: 4.

Actually went on Facebook: Once. (punishing myself).

Productive activities done: 5 (v.good).

Total notifications ignored: 21 (damn you, red alert number).

 

7:49 P.M.

Dear Diary,

I’m weak, so very weak. BUT it was extremely appropriate that I went on Facebook today due to the fact that it was my favorite Spanish teacher’s birthday and it would have been horribly inconsiderate if I didn’t shoot her a ¡feliz cumpleaños! That was all. It’s not like I have her cell phone number.

Birthday incident aside, today was a major success if I do say so myself. During lunch with Mom I was completely focused because I wasn’t constantly checking Instagram every five minutes to see what interesting things people were doing. Did she seem to notice my newfound attentive ear? No. Not at all. But was I able to think clearly in Marshall’s about which picture frames would best match my bedspread? Yes, yes I was. I was focused on myself and not on whatever Jimmy Fallon did on his show last night that all my friends were talking about. (P.S. Jimmy, I love you.)

But really, I’m starting to wonder what’s up with those 21 Facebook notifications, 3 Snapchats and 1 tagged photo on Instagram. Thankfully, Twitter notifications are shut off because I just can’t deal. Phone just lit up. Facebook again. Leaving phone upstairs for remainder of night. Temptation is growing.

 

Day 4. February 7, 2015.

Number of ignored notifications: 38.

Times tricked into opening a Snap: 1.

Times opened a Snap on my own accord 2 (v.bad).

Urges to check Facebook: blah.

Urges to check Twitter: none (v.good).

Noticed differences in mood: actually less agitated than normal.

 

8:45 P.M.

Dear Diary,

I must admit that this social media free thing is getting slightly easier by the day. Initially, as I watched my number of notifications growing, my anxiety levels continuously shot up a bit more each time. But today, the increasing number really isn’t bothering me so much. It’s taken four days, but I have realized that whether or not I’m active on social media sites does not play any huge role in the way my day to day life unfolds. I haven’t missed any catastrophic events, my friends have not started to ignore me and it actually feels good to not constantly be aware of what is happening in every single acquaintance’s life. I even feel slightly less agitated than normal.

It wasn’t until I was technically off Facebook and Instagram that I really started to notice the effect that notifications had on my mood. Getting notifications must be the equivalent of a drug, or caffeine at least. If I put my phone down and return to find I have new notifications, my mood increases by the tiniest amount. If I go a whole day without looking at my phone only to find I have no notifications, my mood goes down quite a bit. It’s actually sort of sick. I may only be happy being off social media right now because I currently know I do have a lot of notifications waiting for me. I actually really may only be feeling loads happier because I’m finally done PMSing for the month and social media may not be playing a role in my mood at all. Writing this, I feel like a completely crazy person. Really hope other people out there know what I’m talking about. Hmm.

I did cheat yesterday. But when a cute guy sends you a Snapchat, you’re going to open it even if the President himself has given you orders not to. Sorry, not sorry.

 

Day 5. February 8, 2015.

Times looked at Facebook indirectly via my sister: twice (weird circumstances, neither bad nor good).

New notifications: 7. However, total number of notifications has gone down…does Facebook start deleting your notifications if you don’t check them??? Must google search this. Also found out that multiple Snaps from one person continue to show up as 1 Snap total.

Things I’m focusing on instead of Social Media: 5 (organizing sheet music, feng shuing my room, catching up on Gilmore Girls, drinking coffee and the fifth I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you).

 

5:21 P.M.

Dear Diary,

For some reason, I feel like I now remember fully what it’s like to live in the 90s. Yes, there weren’t texts, or really even awesome cellular phones, and yes, I was only 9 when the 90s came to a close, and yes, I still have 24/7 access to the internet and am plugged in socially constantly through text, but I do have less distractions and life just feels a little simpler.

Now that I’m halfway through day 5 of my social media free week, I’m shaking my head at how ridiculous I was on day 1, literally tweaking out that I wasn’t going to be able to make it a week. YES I KNOW, I’ve cheated a few times, but I’ve been completely social media free the past two days so I consider that winning. Maybe I’ll even extend this experiment (J/K you totally know the minute Wednesday morning rolls around I will be right back on my social media grind). My mood has remained fairly good; my focus has been on point. My closet has never looked more organized. I say the good in this situation far outweighs the bad.

5:26 P.M.

Oh dear god. I just looked at my Timehop (full disclosure – no idea if Timehop counts as social media or not). Definitely extending my social media free week to social media free forever to save myself from further social media embarrassment. Or at least deleting Twitter forever.

11:28 P.M.

Wow, Beck, wow. And get over yourself Kanye. Seriously wish I could Tweet right now.

 

Day 7. February 10, 2015.

First urge to check Facebook: hasn’t come. Who am I?

Number of ignored alerts: Too many to count, definitely over 50.

Productivity level: very high (v. good).

Times I’ve felt inadequate because of stuff I was seeing on Facebook or Instagram this week: Zero.

Number of pictures on camera roll ready to be Instagrammed: 3 (not too shabby).

Time left in experiment: about 20 hours.

Feelings about being able to go back on tomorrow guilt free: undecided.

 

3:58 P.M.

Dear Diary,

How is it even possible that it’s already been a week? I swear I’m not trying to be overly obnoxious and act like this challenge was super easy just because the time has gone by fast. I’m just genuinely surprised about how fast it went. I can’t really even whine today about my cravings to log on or admit to having cheated because I pretty much haven’t at all in the tail end of my social media free week. Oh, well, wait. Yesterday I did send out one mass snap, but only because it was a snow day and I walked in on my sister doing this:

 

 

How could I not share that moment?

AH, I just had that light bulb go off in my head. Maybe, just maybe, this experiment has led me to realize that less is more when it comes to what I post on Facebook and Instagram or Snap and Tweet to my friends (Snap, Tweet, are those verbs in the dictionary yet?). There were very few moments this week where I was like “Oh wow, really feel the need to share this on every social media platform I’m on because it’s just way too awesome.” So I came to the conclusion that I post things that really don’t need to be posted because I might be bored and not thinking about what other stuff I could be doing.

In addition to this realization, I retract my statement that I needed to be tweeting during the Grammys because Timehop once again reminded me that I’m just not good at Twitter. For example, during the Grammys two years ago I felt the need to Tweet “Johnny Depp could be in drag and id still be gaga for him.” Sarah of two years ago, keep certain things to yourself, always use proper punctuation, and don’t say gaga, you sound like someone from a bad black and white noir movie. Thank you, Timehop, for unexpectedly becoming my voice of reason.

 

February 11, 2015.

Eagerness to check all social media outlets this morning: Ehhh.

Total number of missed Facebook alerts: 52.

Unopened Snaps: 23.

Instagram notifications: 5 (for all you “like” obsessed people, I didn’t post any pictures a few days before this challenge so stop laughing!)

Twitter alerts: Yeah right, Twitter is deleted thanks to TimeHop. J/K, not really, but not willing to go on it for another few weeks.

Lessons learned through a week without social media: more than 5 (v. good).

 

11:09 A.M.

So, I am officially done with my purge and could log onto Facebook or Instagram guilt free right this second if I wanted to. But before I do, I just wanted to do a quick recap on a few surprising lessons I learned while attempting to stay away.

  • Staying off of social media actually caused my stress levels to go down in some weird way. That might be saying a lot about me as a person, but I feel like when you’re constantly flooded by what everyone else is doing or has going on, you can tend to compare yourself to them. For example, every time I see someone is engaged at my age I wonder should I be engaged? Not really, but the thought has crossed my mind once or twice.
  • Not being able to log on if I was bored made me do more productive things. It’s not like when I’m on social media I’m this lazy blob incapable of doing things that need to be done, it just helps me to procrastinate more.
  • As a society, we are obsessed with all things Facebook and Twitter. By not actively being on either, I started to notice more and more how often other people were on it. Waitressing this weekend, I could not get over the number of people who had their phones out and were scrolling through newsfeeds the entire time they were out to eat. I’m guilty of having done it, but I’m going to try really hard not to (we’ll see how I hold out).

These were the big three lessons, and if you’ve stuck with me and read all of my ramblings, you know there were quite a few others. I think for now, I’ll keep everything in that Do Not Touch folder, only so it’s not so easily accessible. Just for now. I’d love to stay and chat some more, but…I have a few notifications to check out!

TDQ Tags TDQblogger019

Would You… Try a Paid Online Health Service?

(Image Credit: Tinatin)

(Image Credit: Tinatin)

With the advent of the Internet, it’s no wonder that we rely more and more on the services offered to us online. But should our healthcare be treated the same way? My personal answer? The quality of professional, in-person health advice or assessment will always trump an online health advice service, at least given the state of health information and communication technology right now. Continue reading

A Modern Girl’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette

(Image Credit: Ra2 Studio)

(Image Credit: Ra2 Studio)

Everything we say and do communicates the kind of people that we are, and now that almost everything we say and do is posted publicly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the list goes on…we ought to put some deeper thought into the content. The trouble with social media is that it distances us from our audience, which causes us to be more daring and frankly more careless about the things we say and do online. This distance opens us up to bash on other users and be unnecessarily nasty and disrespectful, and also to get too personal with our own posts and status updates—boldly stating what a lonely wreck we are, etc., a.k.a. attention seeking. It’s one thing to be ironic. It’s another to actually fall into these unhealthy habits. Continue reading

The Best of Instagram: Cutest Dogs Edition

(Image Credit: @montethemaltese)

(Image Credit: @montethemaltese)

Oh, Instagram. I thank you for making my photos look better, but I don’t thank you for the never-ending stream of the same type of photos on my feed. Yes, the quality of those already beautiful flowers is really boosted with Valencia, and sure that millionth picture of a cup of coffee looks so good with Lo-Fi. I’m tired of the scenery, food and selfies. Now, I turn to Instagram for man’s best friend. Continue reading

(Image Credit: Taylor Hannan)

My Life According to Instagram

(Image Credit: Taylor Hannan)

(Image Credit: Taylor Hannan)8

Instagram: A magical place where filters can be thrown on a not-so-stellar sunrise to transform it into something magazine-worthy, unsightly skin imperfections can be blurred to nonexistence and posting photos of your own face regularly is expected, not considered narcissistic. Sure, it’s a reflection of our daily lives in a sense, but maybe just a bit “improved.” Continue reading

(Image Credit: Zsolnai Gergely)

Dealing with the Temptation to Social Media Creep

(Image Credit: Zsolnai Gergely)

(Image Credit: Zsolnai Gergely)

It happens to most of us. I’m talking about when you’re on a social media website and you’re reading someone’s comment on a mutual friend’s photo or post and next thing you know you, find out everything about this stranger. You even find out the name of his or her dog. Kind of creepy for not knowing this person at all, right? Continue reading

Kindle (Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin)

5 Reasons Kindle Unlimited is Awesome

Kindle (Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin)

Kindle (Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin)

Amazon has just rolled out a new service that readers everywhere should at least consider. Similar to Netflix or Hulu, book lovers can now sign up for a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. For a low monthly fee, subscribers gain access to thousands of book titles, making the new subscription something to definitely consider. Here are five reasons why Kindle Unlimited is awesome. Continue reading

Nap (Image Credit: Flickr User Marabuchi)

Google Naps parody site causes an internet stir

Nap (Image Credit: Flickr User Marabuchi)

Nap (Image Credit: Flickr User Marabuchi)

I make last minute decisions about where to eat, get gas and shop. The choice is usually prolonged by just wanting to see what’s around when I get closer to a destination. Apps like Around Me make that easy. My phone uses that app to tell me what entertainment, food, etc. is near based on my coordinates. Options are a beautiful thing. Another thing I wish I had options for is places I could mostly easily stop for a siesta. Enter, Google Naps. Huffington Post deemed it “a million times better” than Google Maps. Continue reading

Facebook (Image Credit: Neeraj Kumar)

How private is your Facebook account?

Facebook (Image Credit: Neeraj Kumar)

Facebook (Image Credit: Neeraj Kumar)

There goes an “ancient” saying that states, “if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see or hear it, neither say nor do it.” But in the age where our actions or words are only truly validated through social media, it is best for you not to post it. This is especially true for Facebook.

Being the oldest child of the social media family (Myspace doesn’t count) Facebook has tweaked its site so that it has become more and more specialized, and in that way more private. There are certain features that allow users to set their profile to private, allowing only friends to view specifics such as photos and posts. For those who have opened their profile to the public, there are still settings that can make some of the content on their page private. However, let’s be honest – nothing on the Internet is completely private. Which in that case, gets us to the main point: how private is your Facebook really? Continue reading

YouTube (Image Credit: Rego Korosi)

Is YouTube interested in their community?

YouTube (Image Credit: Rego Korosi)

YouTube (Image Credit: Rego Korosi)

I’ve been watching (and occasionally making) videos on YouTube since I found the Vlogbrothers in early 2007. I go in and out of phases in which I comment on videos regularly, but since I do regularly like and favorite videos or put them into playlists, I consider myself part of the YouTube community. I’m one of the people who was wary, but decided to see wonderful possibilities when Google bought YouTube. I mean, there is so much more that Google’s power can do than even YouTube could have done before that.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing that YT is doing good things with their new power though. Continue reading

Netflix (Image Credit: Mike Petrucci)

An Open Letter to Netflix

Netflix (Image Credit: Mike Petrucci)

Netflix (Image Credit: Mike Petrucci)

Dear Netflix,

For the first few months of my subscription to you, I didn’t like you. You were a thoughtful gift from my parents, meant to fill the void left by a defunct local movie rental store and a downgraded cable package. When I first received you, I looked through your catalog of movies and felt disappointment. You offered plenty of good older films, but had a serious shortage of recent movies.

What you lacked in current films you made up for in your massive array of television shows. Pfft, I thought. Though I had been on enjoyable series binges before, I hadn’t the motivation to invest time in yet another show. I closed the Netflix page on my browser and went about my day. For months, not only did I not touch you, but I barely even thought of you (which was an awful waste of money, I know). And every time I did think about you, I thought about how I should probably just cancel the subscription. It was a relationship that I felt was destined to fail. Straight out of a romantic comedy, though, on one fateful day, my feelings for you did a 180, and I fell hard for you.

Netflix, I can’t give you all the credit for putting me under your spell. We both have BBC America to thank for that. For had I not come across and immediately fallen in love with Doctor Who last year, I would still to this day have no use for you.

But I did fall in love with Doctor Who. After randomly catching an episode on television, I was desperate for more. I searched the channel guide to find out when the show would be playing again, and to my dismay, the next scheduled reruns were all wibbly-wobbly and out of order. I felt defeated. I was ready to give my heart to a new show, but I didn’t know how to do so. And then, I remembered – you basically showcase every television show that has ever been created, so surely you offered Doctor Who. For the first time in a long time, I logged into my Netflix account (after trying a few wrong passwords first) and very happily embarked on my journey to become a Whovian. Netflix, you went from being something I thought would be totally useless into something that ruined changed my life.

After spending so much time with you, I have indeed grown to love you, even with your strange assortment of movies. You’re still not the best at keeping up-to-date with current releases, but I can tell you’re trying. Our relationship started off rocky, but honestly, now I don’t know what I’d do without you. Thank you for feeding my obsession, Netflix. I will always love you for it.

Casey

TDQ Tags TDQblogger004
Jason Schwartzman for the YouTube Music Awards (Image Credit: YouTube)

Voting begins for the first ever YouTube Music Awards!

Jason Schwartzman for the YouTube Music Awards (Image Credit: YouTube)

Jason Schwartzman for the YouTube Music Awards (Image Credit: YouTube)

The other day on the morning radio show in my hometown, 1075 KZL, the DJs were talking about the MTV Video Music Awards. They said, “I’m not sure why it’s still called the MTV Music Video Awards because I never go to MTV to get my music. I always go to YouTube now.” Honestly, they had a point. It’s not very often MTV is the medium used to find music, so why doesn’t YouTube have a music awards show? Well, actually, they do.

On Sep. 30, YouTube announced via their spotlight channel that they would be hosting the first ever YouTube Music Awards live from New York. The stream will be shown on YouTube on Nov. 3 and will feature performances from Seoul, Moscow, London and Rio. There will also be live performances from some of today’s biggest YouTube stars and other well-known, big name artists. Continue reading