Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Social Media Misgivings

If I were to classify my relationship with social media according to one of the most popular social platforms, Facebook, it would rank as: It's complicated.

Yes, I admit social media and I spend time together almost daily, but it is not a very balanced relationship. I take more than I give. When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, I am more of a spectator, browsing the news feed and checking in on life events, activities, thoughts, and interesting articles/videos/pics posted by my family, friends, and acquaintances. But, whenever I think about actually posting on social media, I become old-fashioned. I find myself questioning, "Why am I even posting this in the first place?" Is it just because I want to feel accepted, heard, approved of and "liked?" Do I just need a quick pick me up? I start to think that maybe this relationship is completely self-centered.

Some days after browsing my news feeds, I have found myself dissatisfied. Being with social media makes me unhappy about myself and how boring my life is. Everyone else is traveling to Europe, going out with friends, capturing picturesque moments everywhere they go, and looking beautiful all of the time. Then I stop and do a reality check. If I compare my life to the highlights of everyone else's, then of course the fact that I'm sitting alone in my bedroom spending time on Facebook looks very boring in contrast. What we miss when we log onto social media are the mundane moments. Who posts about making their breakfast in the morning, or walking to the bus, or doing hours of studying at night? Well . . . some of us actually do. Yet, even if these moments are captured on social media, it is amazing how different they look from real-life. An Instagram filter can make even the most commonplace situations look magical. A recent speaker I heard said, "Thanks to Instagram, I've realized that the only thing between me and looking good in a photo is the lighting." Social media's focus and filters do not help my self-esteem.

Undoubtedly, social media offers us opportunities to talk with, share with, see pictures of, and connect with people all around the world, and this is both a good thing and a powerful thing. The danger is that this technology can distort our perception of reality. Life is made up of more than just the moments that we share on social media. We start to blur the line between our online lives and our real lives, and begin to think about events in terms of what a great Facebook post it will make. In order to have a healthy relationship with social media, we need to realize that all is not what it seems.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Just do it. Read!

          Although I would have considered myself a bookworm when I was younger, it is surprising how much the lifestyle change at college absorbed the time that I used to spend reading. Of course, I spent a lot of time reading textbooks and class notes, but after all of the studying, my brain needed a break. Reading was the last thing on my mind. My extra time was quickly filled with other social and extra-curricular activities. (Like many of my fellow graduates, I can probably count on one hand the number of books that I have read for pleasure during my undergrad.) In the back of my mind, I have always known that reading is a good thing, but recently a few influences have helped me to realize just how important it is.

           Some of the most successful individuals that I have met or learned about consistently emphasize reading. Dr. Ben Carson, is one of my new heroes. Raised in the  Detroit area, by an illiterate single-mother who wanted a different life for her two sons, Ben overcame racial barriers and all odds to become one of the youngest major division directors at John Hopkins hospital as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at age 33. In one of his books, he attributes much of his success to his avid love of reading and constantly points to it as the easiest way to better ourselves. On the first day of our leadership class, Professor Brach told us that the simplest way to make sure that we stand out from our peers is to begin reading literature about our future field. Also, I thought that this graphic illustrated well how one of the most basic things can be so valuable to our future success, yet reading is what we're not doing. This year, I am inspired to challenge myself to just do it. Read!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

DC. Data. Doughnuts. My Orientation Experience.

DC: Walking into orientation bright and early on the morning of August 19th, in the city of Washington, DC, I sensed expectation and apprehension in the room. My classmates and I tried to look awake and make small talk in our stiff and professional looking business suits. We were embarking together on a yearlong adventure towards a Master’s degree in Business Analysis! The sense of apprehension was augmented by the impressive credentials of the professors who would serve as our instructors and mentors. Gathered in the lecture hall, the 27 members of our cohort were brought together by a program that promised to teach us practical business principles, to make us comfortable with the small talk and the suits, and to help us become moral professionals.

Data: In contrast to the high-energy, larger-than-life-whirlwind of undergrad orientation, this day was focused. Amongst the many topics, I noticed a theme: the relationship between business and data. It reminds me of a video I watched about the enormity of data and technological advancement. ( It captures the overwhelming weight of data that we generate with every living moment and begs the question, “So what does it all mean?”

As we learned at orientation, employers are asking the same thing.  We will need to know problem solving just as much as processing and analyzing data. It was really exciting to find our coursework full of structured thinking, analytical skill, and decision-making. I know that by the end of the year it will be possible to make a little sense out of a lot of data.

Doughnuts: are delicious! They treat us nice here.