Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moments That Excite Me

People who know me also know that  I am somewhat reserved and introverted in person, (ok, i heard that!) BUT I do have a tendency to get excited about making new friends online. At times I like to think of myself as the Queen of Social Networking because I enjoy using social media so much.  Recently, I have begun to use social media tools to enable me to travel, explore, and learn about people in other countries and I have found it to be a rewarding pasttime as well as helping me to practice my people-helping skills.

A month or so ago someone crossed my path who spoke very little English.  Having had 3 years of Spanish in high school and having visited Mexico City over 30 years ago, I immediately rose to the challenge of trying to communicate with this person.  I discovered very quickly that this person lived in Spain (yes, the country .... not another little town somewhere in Texas).  So from that point, my interest piqued in trying to communicate with this person. 

In the beginning, our conversation pretty much consisted of "hola, muy bien, gracias, and no lo se" (hello, very good, thank you, and I don't know).  In an attempt to alleviate the frustration we both were feeling from our mutual inability to understand each other, I initially tried to find a Web 2.0 tool to allow us to communicate through the use of a translator.  I discovered that Google has a translator application and helped my friend to learn to use this tool as well.  The application allowed me to type in English and it would translate my words immediately into Spanish for my friend.  Eureka!  We are now understanding each other !

From this point I easily discovered that my friend's name was Javier and his wife's name was Eugenia and works as a carpenter.  Javier asked whether I used Facebook, or CaraLibro in Spanish, which of course I do.  We agreed to become Facebook friends and from there we were able to share photos of our homes, families, cultures and lifestyles. Javier has posted some wonderful photos of the coast of Spain and of the work he has done as a hobby building and restoring boats. We then found that Facebook will allow you to add the Google Translator application which will enable the user to copy and paste translated text into the chat window.  Another new discovery to enable us to better communicate !

I learned that Javier had a strong desire to learn to speak English.  Eugenia speaks a little English from her years in Mexico City, but Javier's English was minimal at best. Communicating in text only was not helping Javier improve his English skills.  He needed to be able to hear and repeat the English words he was reading and studying in his English textbook. Now Google Translator will also enable you to hear the words in the new language, but what we discovered was that sometimes phrases do not translate into another language in a way that makes clear sense.  Example:  When I would say the word "blessings" to Jaiver, it would come out "benedictions", which of course does not have the same connotation in English at all. So it is better to have a person who speaks English who can deliever and facilitate the instruction.

Next, I asked Javier if he had ever tried using Skype.  He had not but was willing to try and mentioned that he had a webcam on his computer.  Javier was able to quickly set up a Skype account and in no time he and Eugenia and I were looking at each other face to face and hearing each other's voice.  This was the very first time Javier and Eugenia had ever Skyped with someone outside their country, so needless to say we were all very excited.  From my end, it was like watching two children on Christmas morning !  We were all so happy to be able to communicate with each other and to meet each other face to face and we found ourselves laughing out loud.  Javier and Eugenia were holding up their family dog Xana (Shana) which is like a child to them.  Sadly, Xana did not seem too excited to meet me. (haha)

I gathered that Javier and Eugenia live a very simple life with few material possessions and yet they appear to be extremely happy with their lives.  Javier has plans to continue working hard to perfect his English skills and I have already found that my Spanish is coming back to me in increasing measure just from talking to my friends from Spain.  What a delight it was to help someone find the tools to expand their world and to better communicate with the world around them!!! 

These are the moments that excite me!   Technology tools have the ability to change lives and benefit people in incredible ways.  We take so many of the powerful tools we have at our disposal for granted.  Seeing somone be able to broaden their horizons and achieve their goals inspires me to go out there and make more new friends and venture into the unexplored worlds around me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Did You Know? Prepare for the New Global Economy in 2011

Think Before You Post

The famous evangelist D.L. Moody once said "Character is what you are in the dark." What this means is a person's true character comes out when others cannot see what the person is doing.

I was prompted to write by a post I saw on facebook this week where someone was ranting about how they blasted their neighbor who's child had threatened their child. This person seemed to be looking for someone to agree that their actions were justified and necessary. This person freely and openly shared about how they apparently put the "fear of God" into the neighbor in order that they nor their children would have no further contact with their child.

I was very tempted to comment under the post something like ...."Way to go! You sure taught your neighbor a lesson. Wonder what lesson your children learned from all this??" Ok, maybe now I am ranting too. Guilty.

The point is this ..... Technology is a very powerful tool. Social media is a powerful tool. It can be used to build up or to tear down. It enables you to develop relationships with lots of people and is a great tool for networking. But alot of people can get the wrong idea about social networking from observing the type of negative behavior that I mentioned in the story above.

The fact is what this person was doing has a name and it's called CYBERBULLYING. The anonymity factor that the Internet provides allows users to have instant access to their victims and a wide audience for their bullying behavior. Cyberbullies are more likely to be women than men, because they don't need to be physically superior to their victims, and they often act impulsively without thinking through the consequences of their actions.

Personally, I have also been the target of rude facebook behavior, or let's call it what it really is .... CYBERBULLYING, and it wasn't pleasant.

Because alot of adults who are "digital immigrants" have not been educated regarding cyber ethics, we are seeing a great deal of misuses today of technology "power tools". Here are some guidelines that I share in my workshop entitled "Your Online Presence" about using social media responsibly.

1. Don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother to hear (includes content or images).

Social media is not private. Once you post you have no control over what happens to your message. Many are under the impression that their audience is limited to their friends but they are more often mistaken about who has access to their posts.

2. Don't be passive- agressive.
Even if you don't mention the person by name, there's a good chance someone will know who you are talking about. You not only do damage to your relationships but to your own reputation as well.

3. Don't have arguments on social media.
Praise publicly and critize privately. Having an argument using social media demonstrates you don't really care about finding a resolution.

4. Don't whine.
No one wants to hear a constant complainer. Keep your "tweets sweet".

5. Do be real.
People connect on social media because they want to get to know the real you. Don't shoot off stuff that sounds like it came from a Hallmark card.

6. Do connect with other people.
Use social media to connect with people you can learn from, who can learn from you and people you would like to know better. Don't be afraid to be selective, choose people you want to follow based on the value you will develop from the relationship.

Ok, I feel better now. In writing this article, I reminded myself that I can learn something even from the negative behavior I see in others. Plus, the fact that there are plenty of people out there that are in need of this message. We are all in process of learning and growing, me included. Hopefully, I have shared something here that is valuable enough to make you "think before you post".