Talking With Young Adults About Dating Abuse Through Social Media

I was very honored to lead a Twit Chat this week with The National Online Resource Center on Domestic Violence (@VAWnet on Twitter). It’s so important to engage teens with the technology they feel comfortable with and are already using. I was excited to talk to fellow community managers about the unique challenges of discussing dating abuse with online channels. It’s harder with our issue. It’s incredibly difficult to have such a personal conversation (we’re asking teens to reflect on their boyfriend/girlfriend) on very public media. Not to mention, we have safety concerns that other brand managers don’t have to consider. What do you do if a young adult talks about how they’re being abused on your Facebook page? What responsibility to do we have to protect teens from themselves in terms of publicizing something that could essentially worsen their situation? What happens if their partner views that post?

It was also great to discuss what terms and tone resonate with teens online. To talk about the difference between “dating violence” versus “unhealthy relationships.” We heavily rely on pop culture to meet teens through topics they are already interested in. I hope more youth-oriented organizations to join these conversations in the hopes of using a trending topic as a learning moment for our young users.

Please check out the Storify of our Twit Chat. Major thanks again to VAWnet for hosting.

[View the story “Engaging Youth Through Social Media” on Storify]


The Time That Guy Shoved Me And Loudly Called Me A Bitch to a Large Group of People

This is not exactly the follow up blog post to SXSWi that I had envisioned writing. Not to mention, I worry about my parents’ reaction, particularly my dad’s, to this post. But I feel it would be a disservice to the many brave women who have written me in my position as a community manager for the National Council on Family Violence to not discuss what just happened.

I was at the Belmont for a wrap up party for SXSWi. There were a lot of people there and it wasn’t exactly easy to navigate through the crowd. I admit I am tired and stressed. My friend Kelly and I were making our way to the exit when a girl rudely shoved me in order to pass me. I turned to Kelly and commented on how it sucked that people from outside of Austin come to SX and then are so genuinely rude. Right as I say this I get shoved. Really hard.

My reaction was immediate. I didn’t think, my action was not premediated, I just pushed the person who pushed me back. I don’t know how hard it was. I’m sure I threw weight into it, but it was such a tight space that no one even had room to move. The person I pushed was a man. A muscular man.

I wish that my first reaction hadn’t been physical. I do. I regret that. As I sit here, still shell shocked by what happened next, I can still think clearly enough to say that I do regret that.

Next thing I know this guy shoves me back. He shoves me so hard that thirty minutes after I have left, I am currently sitting at home in my house, I can still feel where his hand touched my arm.

We were already walking towards the exit. He, being the person right behind me, is also moving towards the exit. When he pushed me, he shouted loudly, “BITCH I DIDN’T EVEN PUSH YOU!”

After he pushed me, I looked back at him, sneered and countered, “What the hell!?”

He followed me in the crowd and yelled at me. He followed me. I walked through the exterior Belmont gate, and he was less than a foot behind me, screaming obscenities at me as we parted the crowd. He followed me for a minute. I didn’t look back. I honest to God thought he might deck me in the face.

And I was really afraid.

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SXSWi Day 3

Everything feels like it’s moving… slower. It may be because my brain is moving slower. As a SXSWi newbie, I now know why the veterans say this is a marathon and not a sprint. Early mornings, late nights and more information than a brain can handle. But we’re here, badge-sporting, coffee-sucking, laptop-donning and we’re going to give it our best shot. Today my team is much more focused on the non-profit track (the “greater good” ones).

I will say that yesterday was pretty brilliant. We brainstormed all day on how to apply these bits of info to our organization– even at night. You know you’re in a good creative mindset when talking about work at a bar is exactly what you want to do.

Highlights of the conference:

At the Tocquigny party, strange man approaches Brian as we’re about to get in the elevator and starts rambling and asks a question. Brian’s response? “I’m anything that will get me through this elevator ride.”

OH: a 20 something couple, guy says to girl, “Your demographic is cool and all…”

Talking life lessons and religion at the back corner at Casino El Camino.

Having Kelly B. become a solid part of our entourage.

Core convo where the presenter didn’t show so we hosted it ourselves and it rocked

More to come

Day 2: SXSWi on Saturday

I just got out of an awesome panel and I’m surprised by how I feel. I’m frustrated. Like, very frustrated.

It was a core conversation with Cathy Brooks and Ellen McGirt, the latter is a senior writer at Fast Company. Both women were witty, relevant and enthusiastic. The conversation focused on identity and self-narrative within social media. We had insightful people in the room and people really participated. On the one hand, it was wonderful to share thoughts and common issues with people who understand. I joked afterwards that it was essentially a Social Media Anonymous meeting– all of us finding the support we are looking for in those around us. The only issue is that every single question we asked was virtually unanswerable.

Now I’m all for theoretical knowledge and animated intellectual debates, but this was just frustrating for me. I understand why we’re having this conversation here. The people at this conference are the ones who have –and will– shape the media itself and how we use it. It’s important that we ask ourselves these questions. Questions like: what are the rules for managing our multiple selves on multiple platforms–can we be exclusive? Can there be a work you and a personal you that do not exist in your reader’s mind simultaneously? For a writer, does your online, personal voice weaken your authority as your brand’s voice? The last one was my biggest question.

The issue is that we can’t answer these questions. I don’t think we can ever answer these questions because it’s on an individual basis and these are issues that will evolve as social media tools evolve.

As I continue thinking about that panel, one thing does strike me as interesting. One man started talking about how Millennials and younger use new media. He was saying that he worries that we are completely unaware of how marketers are using data collected through our social networking to sell us things. The concern of Millennials/young adults/teens sharing too much information came up too. Part of my frustration may stem from the fact that the conversation is often about Millennials, but rarely with Millennials.

And that may be our fault.

I know the reason that SXSWi skews older– passes are damn expensive and if you’re lucky enough to have work pay for it, they’ll probably send someone more valuable than the new kid. Makes sense. I’m feeling very fortunant that I get this chance. I guess I would just like to feel like we could have more of a voice in some of these sessions. Especially since tech moves quickly and soon these issues will be ours to a further extent than right now.

Anyways, this post was a stream of consciousness. My frustration may just be that it’s almost 2 and I haven’t eaten. The bottom line is that these questions (and that SXSWi session in particular) are ultimately good. We just need to find a way to turn these endless questions into more than a dialogue.

And on with SXSWi I go…

SXSWi: Friday

We were in the parking lot of Counter Cafe. Wade and Brian chatting in the front and I preoccupied with finding where to click in the seatbelt. Both hands groping for the seatbelt, travel coffee being held between my knees when Wade throws it in reverse.

Coffee all over me.

It was my own fault admittedly. Thank God Brian travels prepared and had a mini bottle of Oxi Clean in his backpack. (No joke) A few minutes later, a performance by that blessed cleaner worthy of any infomercial and I was restored to normal. Nothing, nothing in the world, can deter my excitement for the ultimate geekfest- SXSWi.

Day 1 was good. I’m quickly learning that the greatest assets of this conference are not necessarily the presenters but rather the attendees. I had a few “but of course” presentations where the information given was pretty much common sense, but the crowd quickly increased the value with their insights and questions. I think the biggest take away idea from yesterday was to let interns develop the intern guide for the next batch. Simple, I know, but it was something I hadn’t thought about.

The parties have been cool. I got to see Pains of Being Pure at Heart at an awesome range, met some AWESOME people (I’m looking at you fellow Kelly) and got to tour Toquigny (spelling?) at the top of the Frost tower. The conclusion from the Toquigny party was that every work space should have thinking pods. Just saying.

All in all, a very good day.

Have you seen this ad? Most likely.

I noticed something was happening. The first time I saw it, I just softly “hmm”ed and moved on. The next time, I made sure to make a mental note.

We’re seeing old ads on TV. As in, pulled out of the vault, dusted-off 1980s ads.

I wish I could remember the first example of it happening but my brain mostly likely got rid of that memory in order to process the new band search. The most striking example that proves I’m not seeing things is a wonderfully nostalgic Era spot.

Note! IT’S NOT THIS SPOT. I googled endlessly but couldn’t find it. It’s a lot like this ad, except with this song.

Pretend you can envision this ad. It has a gravy boat overturning. It has wine glasses spilling. It has a Laura Ingalls Wilder-esque floor-length dress on a woman (no heads of people are ever visible). Then, like a beam of light breaking through the clouds, comes Era — spelled out for the viewer directly on the stain, E-R-A, the one thing that can save the clumsy, stain-prone population. Then two water jets criss-cross over one another, showing Era’s impressive spot-removing ability.

Part of what I love about this ad is that EVEN THE VERSION RUNNING NOW is unabashedly dated. The dress’ collar. The fuzzy graphics. The corny, frenzied orchestra piece it’s set to. There was little to no attempt to bring this ad up to modern speed.

And yet here it plays in 2010, when a middle-schooler with a MacBook and his iPhone could probably replicate the ad AND place it on Youtube in under a day.

My first reaction to this ad is, “Hey- I remember this!” which almost leads me to wonder if that’s what the Era team had in mind when they unfroze it from its cryogenic chamber. Were they banking on the fact that we may get a cheap thrill from recognizing an old ad? Or were they trying to remind us about how they’ve been around for a while, always helping us with our stubborn stains?

Maybe they’re running this ad because we’re in a tough economy and there are still many elements to this ad that ring true about the brand. I always particularly liked how they spell out the brand name in the detergent and a magic “E-R-A” is spray-washed clean through the built-up stains. It’s memorable and does, in a weird way, make me believe that Era can get the job done. Not to mention, if they’re saving money in the creation of the ad, they can focus more on placement.

In some ways, this is what Coca Cola does when it annually unpacks the polar bears and lovingly restores them to our TV screens. And there’s always that Christmas M&Ms commercial that I can recite by heart. “He really does exist!” “They really do exist!” THUD! Maybe Era is simply mimicking these brands. Unfortunately, these spots are perfectly paired holidays, when nostalgia is not only at a premium, but particularly effective. This Era spot has no season in the editorial calendar helping it out.

It’s interesting to see old spots run. I hope to see a few more trickle through so that I can yell “AHA!” at my screen, while feeling as if I just ran into an old friend on the street.

Gr, why aren’t all old ads on YouTube?

Well folks, I have a new blog post ready to go except I can’t find the video I’m looking for. Also, I’m ridiculously pressed for time today. Apologies all around, but know that an upcoming post (maybe tomorrow?) will be about old ads playing on TV now. Particularly a very 80s laundry detergent ad that I  keep seeing.

To tie you over, I laughed when a friend drew my attention to this case of an intern manning a corporate FB account:

No, this doesn’t help my case that interns are trustworthy w/a company’s social media campaign. Just know that while not all interns are capable, not all professionals are either.

Maybe we should initial everything we do, like CJ here. It would be like we’re artists, claiming our work.