Saturday, May 22, 2010

How should you construct your list of friends?

Accepting Facebook friends: One of the issues Facebook users need to deal with at some point is who to accept as friends. Some people accept every friend request. Some only accept family. Some -- especially teenagers -- only accept friends and no family (no parents allowed!), while others seem to be on a quest to amass the most friends possible regardless of whether they have any connection (even remotely) to them or not.

I've seen every kind of Facebook user. Teenagers not accepting their parents as Facebook friends usually do so to develop a form of natural independence from them. Those accepting only family are usually older and have only joined the bandwagon to keep in touch with their adult children and to see photos of their grandchildren.

Facebook users who amass more than 1,000 friends are ironically usually not very active on Facebook. Although there are certainly exceptions, they are either trying to sell you something, are broadcasters (not in the media sense) with a cause to promote, are nosy and want to see what everyone else is posting (but rarely share anything themselves), or feel like having that many Facebook friends makes them important.

However you use Facebook, ensure that how you're using it works for you. If you're willing to share with a network of 400 people -- and they're willing to share with you -- this can be a very powerful tool in order to build trust and credibility. It's the quality of the experience that matters, not the number of friends you have -- or don't have.

Another YouTube sensation: If you're a singer and not yet using YouTube to promote yourself, then consider this: Greyson Chance is only 12 years old but when he posted a video of himself singing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" on YouTube on April 28, he could have never guessed that the video would have around 20 million hits just a few weeks later -- not to mention on appearance on Ellen and, reportedly, a record deal with the recording company that handles U2.

Greyson seems to be following in the footsteps of another young singer who was discovered because of YouTube -- Justin Bieber. Social media outlets such as YouTube can be incredibly powerful mediums for promoting yourself, whether you're a teenager, filmmaker or other type of artist. You just never know who's listening!

You'd be pleasantly surprised at the number of very talented (and very funny!) comedians there are on YouTube. And no, they don't do the comedy club circuit -- they make their own videos right at home and post them online. The world is changing, folks. A lot of middle men are being cut out of the talent discovery process.

School reunions being nixed because of Facebook? I was interviewed a couple of times on CBC Radio last week regarding a new phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the world of school reunions. It appears that since Facebook has become the standard for reconnecting and keeping in touch with old friends, that level of curiosity about what your old classmates are doing and what they look like now has been taken away and high school reunions are being cancelled.

After all, why go through the time and expense of attending a reunion when you already know who lost their hair, who gained weight, who lost weight, who looks great, and who looks like death warmed over, when you can find out all that stuff just by joining Facebook and finding your classmates?

Personally, I think people need to step back and look at social media tools as just that -- a tool. They are not a substitute for in-person human interaction. Perhaps they're a reasonable facsimile, mind you, but you shouldn't avoid getting together in person with people. The in-person experience is still essential. You still need to hug people. You still need to shake hands with people. You still need to see and read body language. It's all an essential part of truly effective networking, as well.

The online experience is but one aspect of networking and socializing. The in-person experience shouldn't be avoided because online is seen as an acceptable substitute. In-person networking is still the preferred option whenever possible and feasible. With that said, if people you're interacting with online don't ever want to meet you, you may want to double-check what you're posting. If you're constantly critical or whining, there may be good reason why you're repelling people instead of attracting them. When it comes to why you may have no friends, checking the tone of your Facebook status updates is the new smelling of your armpits or checking for bad breath.

Google it! I often get requests to find out information for people as a favour. I usually do find it and they think I'm sort of genius. I'm not. I just use Google. By the time you e-mail your kids or a computer-savvy friend or co-worker to find information for you, you could have probably found it yourself in less time had you spent the time plugging a couple of words into Google instead of e-mailing someone else to do it for you. Trust me, whenever you ask someone to find something, they usually just Google it.

Celebrities on Twitter: If you're wondering whether the celebrity you're following on Twitter is real or an imposter, check for the blue checkmark followed by the words "Verified account" on the celebrity's Twitter homepage. This is found on the right-hand side of the page across from the celebrity's username.

This means that it's actually the celebrity (or an official representative) sending the tweets.

Just a word of warning, however, follow unverified celebrity Twitter accounts at your own risk. Many of them are not real. Twitter is a great tool for connecting with celebrities. Many of them actually respond to questions and comments from fans, but before you run all over town claiming a celebrity answered your question, though, ensure it was a celebrity with a verified account.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This week's Social Media Matters column

Today's Social Media Matters column touches on these subjects:

- Accepting Facebook friends
- Another YouTube sensation
- School reunions being nixed because of Facebook?
- Google it!
- Celebrities on Twitter

Social Media Matters appears every Friday in the Metro section of the Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow, however if you'd prefer to read it right away, click here to read it on the newspaper's website.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

American Idol: Recap of Top 3 results show

Some people get famous by competing on American Idol -- like Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox and Casey James -- and others get famous by being discovered in other ways, like Travis Garland and Justin Bieber, who performed last night.

Both Garland and Bieber were discovered through videos they'd posted to YouTube. Last night, though, was about those getting famous by competing on American Idol.

All signs pointed to Casey being eliminated this week. Every reviewer, every poll... everyone. But that's happened before and he always survived.

However... could he dodge the fateful final that seems to have been building all season long between Lee and Crystal? I didn't think he could, but nothing is certain until the votes are counted.

To find out what happened on last night's show and the names of the two contestants going through to next week's final, click here for my Idol Chatter column in today's Moncton Times & Transcript or click here for Idol Chatter in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Next week's final hour-long performance show airs on Tuesady at 9 p.m. Atlantic / 8 p.m. Eastern on Fox. The two-hour season finale airs Wednesday at the same time, when we'll find out who's named the 2010 American Idol.

Groundless criticism reflects badly on speakers

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

You know, it's interesting. When I hear someone criticizing another person for their success, I know what they're doing even though they may not realize it.

They're putting down the other person so that it somehow makes themself more important. "If I criticize Johnny, it makes me look like I'm smart and that I know what I'm doing." Uhm, well, no it doesn't. It actually kind of makes you look petty and jealous.

Celebrities are the main targets of these jealousy-based criticisms. Of course, you can't like everyone. Not every singer or actor is everyone's cup of tea. But really, is there a need to trash every person from head to toe for whom you don't have an affinity?

We all know people who are professional critics. They would criticize Jesus himself if he'd show up at their front door to save their soul. "What? You couldn't have worn something other than sandals? Your beard isn't trimmed very neatly. Don't you know it isn't kosher to serve red wine with fish?" I don't know if Jesus has a sense of humour, but if I were him, I'd just ask them to go for a long walk in the middle of a deep pond. That would put an end to all their whining pretty quickly.

Lately, the "in thing" to do is to criticize young celebrities such as Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. Some people call them every name in the book, thinking that somehow their opinions will have an impact on their success. But let's admit it, the newspapers likely won't be running headlines tomorrow proclaiming, "Justin Bieber's success ends suddenly over jealous criticism of his singing."

I'm just as guilty of this myself. I was no fan of having Miley Cyrus being a mentor on American Idol this season, but I was pleasantly surprised when she appeared on the show. She knew her stuff and was much more mature than two older guest judges who appeared earlier this season during auditions. If we're going to criticize young celebrities, let's criticize them based on their behaviour, not their success. Avril Lavigne and Katie Perry, the two guest judges on American Idol, were rude and childish.

With that said, I quite frankly don't care what anyone else thinks about certain young celebrities. Have you ever seen Justin Bieber interviewed? He's a perfectly nice kid. He's polite. He seems to be taking his fame responsibly and in stride. There are no reports of him being some sort of egotistical diva with fans or any others. Whether or not you like his singing, that's a matter of personal choice. But no one should begrudge him the fame and success he's currently enjoying.

Besides, I don't know about you, but I'd gladly switch bank accounts with him any day. And who hasn't fantasized at one time or another about having thousands of screaming fans go crazy for you?

The same can be said of the Jonas Brothers. I've seen them interviewed countless times on television (it's difficult not to -- they're everywhere) and they've always been perfectly nice and polite. And again, like Justin Bieber, there are no stories or rumours of them being rude to fans or anyone else. Whether you like their music is a matter of personal taste, but they're perfectly nice young men who put forward a positive image. What's wrong with that? Nothing!

I read comments by Facebook friends and people on Twitter all the time criticizing perfectly nice young celebrities. Of course, it's OK not to like people... but to just blindly criticize people only because they're successful says more about you than it does about the celebrity. Criticizing people for being successful doesn't reflect on the celebrity, it actually reflects on how you feel about yourself.

There's a 12-year-old boy named Greyson Chance who's all the rage on YouTube now after a video of him singing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" went viral. By the time you read this, the video of him performing at his grade six talent contest will likely be closing in on 20 million views after being online for only three weeks. This kid is good. And I do mean good. The tone of this voice is fantastic and he even appeared on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show after the video came to her attention.

Now, apparently Interscope Records has signed Greyson to a recording contract. And this is no rinky-dink record label. It includes 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Feist, Nelly Furtado, Guns N'Roses, Lady Gaga, No Doubt, Sting, Robin Thicke and U2. So, three weeks ago, Greyson posted a video to YouTube of himself singing. Within those three weeks, he gets on Ellen and also reportedly has a record deal.

I saw the interview he did on Ellen and, again, he's a perfectly nice kid who's very polite. I just hope people let him find his sea legs of fame before they start tearing him down.

Right now, though, he's the "teen celebrity du jour."

I just don't buy in to all this negativity about celebrities, except when there are numerous reports of them behaving excessively badly.

One or two negative reports can be ignored, but you just know that a constant barrage of negative publicity has got to be based somewhere in the truth.

The out-of-control Lindsay Lohans of the world shouldn't be lumped into the same pot as the Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus.

Simply being famous isn't due cause for criticism. And to those who criticize perfectly (at least seemingly) nice celebrities just for being famous, well, I bet you'd switch bank accounts with them pretty quickly if you had the chance. I know I would!

I wonder how much interest Justin Bieber charges on a $20 loan... you know, just until payday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The American Idol "moment" of 2010: Lee DeWyze singing "Hallelujah"

Enjoy this great performance of Lee DeWyze singing "Hallelujah" on last night's American Idol. Loved it!

American Idol: Recap of Top 3 performance show

The Top 3 -- made up of Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze and Casey James -- performed last night and we finally got "the moment" of the season.

Last year, it was Adam Lambert's performance of "Mad World" that earned a rare-as-hen's-teeth standing ovation from judge Simon Cowell. This year, Simon's only standing ovation of the year (so far) was reserved for Lee's superb version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", a song performed earlier this season by Tim Urban and a few years ago by Jason Castro. Lee was incredible.

I honestly can't see Casey surviving this week, but stranger things have happened. If the populous state of Texas was voting all night, perhaps we're in for a surprise! I hope not, but you never know. It's time for Casey to go.

For today's Idol Chatter column, click here to read it on the Moncton Times and Transcript's website. Although it was published in today's Fredericton Daily Gleaner, it was not published on the website.

Who will make it into next week's final? Tune in to Fox tonight at 10 p.m. Atlantic / 9 p.m. Eastern!

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about how easy many people find it to criticize celebrities for the simple fact that they're famous. Despite the fact that many of these people seem to be perfectly nice, they're the target of jealous people who think that putting someone else down elevates their own importance to others.

Yeah, just call me Dr. Phil, huh? :)

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. The column will be posted online here tomorrow.

Remember, if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Introducing: Every Monday Matters

Click here to go to the Every Monday Matters website.