half a tank is all you need…

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The Power of Social Media

I will be the first to say that I do not quite get social media. I typically un-tag myself in Facebook photos. I’ve been known to make mistakes when using the past tense of tweet that would make one blush. For a long time, I thought LinkedIn referred to a concept as opposed to an actual website and online community. Over time and with a lot of help from some amazing and patient people, I’ve been able to get a handle on how to use use social media to both delight and connect with others. But, nothing that I had engaged in thus far prepared me for what I was going to encounter at SMARMIE.

Funny acronym right? When I first heard of it, my imagination ran wild with all the things each letter could stand for. What I did not expect was that this conference of a peculiar name would be so singularly powerful and educational that it could very well change the way that I view social media and its powers forever. Now, I realize this this sounds very dramatic but it wasn’t until the presentation by the keynote speaker (blew my mind) that it really hit me.

Social media is crucial in the development of a global community of volunteers and it directly contributes to and enhances our ability to respond to those in crisis.

For counselors and counseling students, it is so important for us to be aware of the ways in which we can be involved in the creation and maintenance of this burgeoning movement. Humanitarianism is going digital and if you are a counselor YOU are engaged in humanitarian work.

Below are a few things I took away from the conference. I invite and urge you to check these sites out. Sign up for updates. Be involved. Get connected.

iRevolution – This blog features short thought pieces on how innovation and technology are revolutionizing the power of the individual through radical self-sufficiency, self-determination, independence, survival and resilience. While you’re at it, follow the incredible Patrick Meier.

Standby Task Force – Tired of feeling like you could be doing more when crisis hits? STF organizes digital volunteers into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to deploy in crises.

Crisis Mappers – The largest and most active international community of experts, practitioners, policymakers, technologists, researchers, journalists, scholars, hackers and skilled volunteers engaged at the intersection between humanitarian crises, technology, crowd-sourcing, and crisis mapping.

iDisaster – The amazing Kim Stephens heads up this blog that seeks to provide exemplary practices, news and information about applications of new media, with the longer-term objective of improving practice and outcomes in emergency management.

Geofeedia – Identify “hot spots” by quickly performing situational awareness on impacted communities, prioritize resource allocation and logistical efforts using real-time intelligence from Geofeedia, and communicate with impacted populations using social media.

I’d also highly recommend keeping your eye on what’s coming out of Dr. Mark Dredze’s team at JSU. Social media for public health: very much here and now.


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Bloggers for GOOD

Like a kid in a candy store, I’m overwhelmed and delighted by the innovative ideas of others to invoke change, provoke questions, and challenge what it means to be an active member of society.  Bloggers for GOOD Challenge is bringing out some of the best in the community.  Below are the specifics posted by GOOD:

Blogs are entertaining and influential, and they’re radically changing the way we all share and receive information. Whether your blog is about fashion, football, or food, we think it has the potential to catalyze social impact. Perhaps you are profiling a nonprofit you love and inspiring your readers to get involved, or documenting your adventures in sustainable living and encouraging readers to check out a local environmental organization, or reviewing new books and want to support a literacy program. Whatever your area of interest may be, we have $1,000 for a cause that your work supports as well as a $500 prize for your GOOD work. We’ll also interview you and feature your blog on GOOD.

I have submitted and you can vote for me here:

The prize is wonderful but getting exposed to what folks are up to is even better.  Check out all of the submissions on Bloggers for Good.

Happy reading!

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Blogging as Therapy

With all the negative publicity social media receives in regards to the lives of teens, there exists a shining reminder of the role it can play in producing positive effects.  The NY Times recently released an article highlighting the positive impact that blogging can have on the mental health of teenagers based upon recent research.  Amid the furor caused by topics like cyberbullying, the idea that blogging can serve as a form of therapy for teens evokes a sigh of relief and casts light on the ways in which social media can serve to connect individuals and decrease feelings of isolation.

While nothing may ever truly replace the traditional diary, being able to express oneself through the written word has always been hailed as both an art form and as a cathartic endeavor.  These findings remind us of the value of documenting emotions and experiences.  The responses that teens may receive to their blog serve to validate their feelings and can empower them to increase their social support system.

This seems like yet another new and innovative way for counselors to engage their teenage clients by meeting them where they are and working with new forms of communication in a therapeutic context.  Blogging with feedback may serve the same purpose as a group with respondents offering feedback, validation, corrective experiences, and providing reality checks which can then be discussed in the therapeutic dyad.  Teens seem much more likely to talk about their blog posts than they ever were to allow entry to the private pages of their diary.

For those of us that still consider a blog to be frightening concept, it may be time to take another look at the ways in which we can use it to enhance our own therapeutic interventions with teenage clients.  You may even be tempted to try your hand at your own blog.  It might just be good for you.

Read the article in full:  Blogging as Therapy for Teenagers – Studied –