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Talk About It: Join the Media and Promote What Matters

THE INSPIRATIONAL INTRO
 
  You've heard of the butterfly effect. Ol' Wikipedia describes it like this: "In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state." I know, that's what you were going to say, right?! (Yeah yeah, you were thinking of the Ashton Kutcher movie...). The bottom line of it is one small change could set off a chain of events that ultimately results in a large change. The tiny flap of a butterfly's wing fans the air which culminates into a mighty wind (hence the 'butterfly' effect). In our scenario here the mighty wind is what is being talked about and portrayed in the media. The butterfly wing is you.

  Stay with me! That's as poetic as this gets. I'm not saying you're a butterfly. You might be more of a dragonfly, or the goddam queen bee. What I am saying is that something you do can set off a chain of events that makes a huge impact on a person, or people, that could change a public conversation, and that's a fact. Just one comment, one post, one share, one "like" can make a person's day, can alter a person's perspective, can make a person rethink, can affect change. The media circus is a big, well-oiled machine and most of the time it feels like they are telling us what topics to be interested in and how to think about them. It would take a lot for us to change the media's mind, to inform topics or to demand broader representation and realistic ideals, to eliminate stereotypes and see the media become more reflective of a wider range of our viewpoints. The flap of a tiny butterfly wing seems almost insignificant. But thanks to Wikipedia (and Ashton Kutcher) we know better.



WHAT WE CAN DO

>> Support the brands, publications and people who are already trying to see positive change in the media. Buy their brands. Share them on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and snapbook and twitchat and facegram and whatever else social media platform you guys are using these days (honestly I can't keep up). Get behind the move that has already started and lend it whatever voice you have. As an example you can see what I've done regarding the representation of women in the media here. I've highlighted people, brands, publishers and governments who are promoting health over unrealistic and falsely constructed ideals of beauty, reinventing how we perceive the body, and encompassing a broader range of women in their representations. These brands and people need to see that we are behind their efforts. Even if you think sharing won't do much to affect the media, it might do a lot in helping one person, and while that may sound as cheesy as being a butterfly it is also just plain true.
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>> Hashtag properly. I have a love/hate relationship with hashtags. Largely because I #HateHavingToDecipherWhatPeopleAreSaying. I have learnt however that hashtags are helpful when used properly. They help facilitate public conversation. If you search on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for #Travel or #Fashion or #HumanRights you obviously pull up a stream of posts to do with these subjects, which is great because this opens up access to subjects and issues you care about and enables you to contribute to the public discussion on these matters. This only works though when you are mentioning and searching hashtags that are commonly used. Not when we are hashtagging things like #JustGotOutofBedAndAmNowEatingBreakfast. If you want to "hashtag" random moments no worries, but that's not the kind of hashtag that opens up public conversation. If you want to get involved on and promote a topic then you have to be hashtag savvy.

- Keep your hashtags simple. Use common words spelt correctly.  #Travel   #Politics   #Fashion   #Dogs   #Recipes - These hashtags are simple and more likely to be used.

- Pay attention to trends. Sometimes unique and more complex hashtags will evolve in the wake of a specific event. #RioOlympics or #RideWithMe are examples of this.

- Be repetitive and consistent. If you do want to create a hashtag that isn't a thing yet I am all for that, but be persistent. Hashtag it on all relevant posts and spell it the same time every time, otherwise it loses traction. 

- Search hashtags before you use them. Maybe you want to get involved in a topic but don't know which word to hashtag. For example a topic could be healthy, positive body image and building self-esteem. There are many words that could be used here, but using #health or #positivity brings up a whole stream of posts based on those broad subjects, not unique to healthy self-image. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have a search function where, if you start typing hashtagged topics, will suggest to you hashtags that are being used. Typing #Positive into Instagram, for example, will suggest   #PositiveThinking   #PositiveBodyImage   #PositiveLifestyle. It will also tell you how many people are using these hashtags, so you know these topics are being talked about.

- Use multiple hashtags. Coupling new or lesser known hashtags with popular ones will bring more people into the conversation (by factoring in followers of all the used hashtags), associate new hashtags with these subjects, and brings greater awareness to lesser known hashtags.
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>> Interact with the media. A lot of news programs, talk shows and publications encourage us to interact in the topics they are discussing. Twitter is good for this. Mentioning the official Twitter account of these programs and publishers (by using the @ symbol) engages them, as well as using relevant hashtags (see above) in conjunction. Maybe they'll respond, maybe they'll take note of what you say, maybe they won't, but they definitely won't know your opinion if you say nothing. On this point it is also worth remembering that you are most likely not alone in your opinion. It's that whole 'one drop' principle. One drop of water alone might do little but storms, floods, oceans, all these great, powerful bodies of water, are just the cumulative results of a lot of these drops of water. Jump on the bandwagon. Engage with the media. Promote what you believe in. You just might be the drop of water that breaks the dam and causes the flood.
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>> Do your own thing. This website is a case in point. You live in the 21st century, a time of great resource when it comes to media. You have so many avenues available to you to use your voice whichever way suits you best. There are multiple platforms and programs available to assist multiple talents.

- Are you better at the written word? Blogger and WordPress are great platforms to get you started in building a blog or website. They each have step-by-step guides to help you, simple interfaces, preset templates, and you don't have to be an IT whiz. Or, if you don't want to build your own website search for publications that publish blogs on topics you are interested in. Publishers are often looking for contributors, you can write articles and blog entries for those publications.

  Another option for writers wanting to do their own thing is self-publishing. Amazon are a great resource for this. They power a site called CreateSpace, a resource for writers that links you to a community of authors and gives you tools to help build your own ebook, such as editing services and tools to create your book cover. Amazon also offer tips on how to publish your book and to what platforms.

- Do you prefer the audio/visual? MySpace for example has become a platform for budding musicians. When Facebook took over the personal-profile platform MySpace altered itself to stay in the game, finding a niche and becoming more user-friendly for musicians. While not discovered through MySpace artist Jessie J did (does) have a MySpace page, which was established before she was signed and worked as a sort of live portfolio for those looking to sign her.

  Of course YouTube channels work much the same way. Musicians, actors, hosts, those of you who want to talk, debate, perform, host tutorials, you can do it here with your own channel. With a smartphone and some good lighting you'll be amazed the kind of quality videos you are capable of churning out.

- Convinced that a picture says a thousand words? Of course Instagram is great for photographers, because the premise of Instagram is based solely on photography. It's good to have another platform showing what you do of course, like your own website (and you can get blogging templates preset for photographers, check out these ones for Blogger as an example), but the good thing about Instagram is that it exposes you to a popular platform where people are already talking and hashtagging. This enables you to use your photography skills to add to the media conversation. 

- Got a creative flair? You see the memes, the funny pics, the comics and the photo quotes in your Facebook newsfeed all the time. Make one! Or several. Just googling "meme generator" will bring up multiple sites that help you make your own version of popular memes, but if you want to be more original you can make amazing creations with programs like PicMonkey (my favourite). It's labelled as a "photo editor" and while it does provide great services for that you can create images from scratch, like the quotes you see online. A lot can be done for free but it does have a premium level you have to pay for, which I think is worth it if you use it a lot. It only sits around $8 AUD a month.

  Also, if comics are more your thing, an online program like Pixton can help you build your own, allowing some scope for your personalized style.


  If you use a program/platform or have any other ideas by all means let us know! The comment section is below, you know what to do.
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THE MOTIVATIONAL SIGN-OFF

  You live in the 21st century, you have so many resources to help you create and build on your talents and skills, you have so many avenues through which you can communicate. I've only mentioned a few. The media is not a one-way medium, it's interactive. And however much we dislike it at times, however much we disagree with it or feel bombarded by it, the truth is "the media" is not an anomaly, it is not a stand-alone entity generating 'itself', it is created by people, informed by people, published by people. People are behind "the media". And if those people can decide what images to use and stories to publish and what discussions matter, then why can't you join them.
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