Lost connections

We escape into our phones instead of talking to one another. Photo: Susanne Nilsson/CC/Flickr

By Jasmine Ryan @JasmineRyanTAFE

Kesha feels the love after court ruling


It was a sad day in court for pop sensation Kesha and women’s rights everywhere after a New York judge ruled on Friday that the teary and distraught singer would not be released from a recording contract with Sony Music and the producer she claimed was sexually and mentally abusing her for years.

Don’t read the comments


Don’t, seriously. Whoop! You did, didn’t you? You just couldn’t help yourself.

Yet again we witness, in the aftermath of a horrific event, the shockwave of social media opinion.

The time has come and gone.  Andrew Chan and Muyuran Sukumaran have met their long-awaited fate, at the hands of the Indonesian Government.

Their names became fixtures in our media, nation-wide.  In the wake of their execution, social media is rife with heated discussions surrounding their demise.  It doesn’t take a Newspoll survey to convey the divide in public opinion.

The pair’s infamy has elevated them to the status of untouchables, distanced from the rest of us, like Hollywood celebrities.  Their privacy, their humanity – public property.  A struggle for compassion towards their plight.  We have become desensitised by our own unrelenting press, and we are more than happy to put in our own two cents.

It is this desensitisation that plagues every corner of social media, every comment section of a major media outlet.  “Just shoot them, I’m sick of hearing about them.” “Should have been done nine years ago.” “They aren’t heroes, they are criminals.”

Our age of information overload has left us thick skinned and remorseless.  We have disconnected ourselves from compassion and from the gravity of death itself.

But where do we go from here? What lesson can we take from this unnecessary dismissal of life?

These two men were sons, brothers, nephews, cousins – human beings.  They were criminals and like all human beings, they made mistakes.  No they are not heroes. Survivors maybe, but only out of instinct. They were human beings.

It is easy to write-off human life when we feel people have got what they deserved. When they are a number, a headline, a world away from our own.  We can justify death because they broke the rules.

It is harder to walk a mile in their shoes.

“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution” – Nelson Mandela


Candle photo on home page: Jalal Hameed Bhatti/CC/flickr

Social media: Are you overexposed?

Are you overexposed on the Internet? Photo: love Maegan/flickr



Despite almost all of my friends jumping on board, it wasn’t until early 2008 that I finally joined Facebook (and after reviewing my first few posts, I didn’t enjoy the experience very much). But sure enough, as my list of friends increased, so did my interest in this social media app. By the end of the first month I was hooked; posting personal photos, writing candid and cheeky comments, liking all manner of things I stumbled upon. Privacy settings were the last thing on my mind.

Fast forward five years to 2013: social media is all around us now, and even this self-confessed technophobe is a frequent user of all things Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud. Additionally, I have a YouTube account, an IMDb profile, a few WordPress blogs, and I am still a daily user of Facebook, mostly via my phone.

Since stumbling across the “psychic” video below, and more recently following a teacher’s advice, I’ve started thinking more seriously about the long term implications social media can have on an individual.

Amazing mind reader reveals his gift. Source: YouTube.


Setting your profiles to private doesn’t necessarily mean your information can’t be found and shared with a global audience.

So, over the past week, I’ve revisited every digital footprint I’ve left across Facebook. Every comment, every photo, every like I’ve ever clicked – everything. Apart from being an incredibly slow and boring process, it’s also been a bit sad taking this trip down memory lane and editing the last five years of my life. Deleting comments I’ve made, which may be offensive to someone, or seem a little bit controversial. Untagging myself from party photos just because my eyes had rolled too far back in one shot, or I’m pulling a fake spew-face in another. Requesting friends remove certain things they’re posted about me, while explaining that I haven’t gone privacy mad. Reviewing my privacy settings and taking more control over who sees what. All of these private jokes from years past suddenly don’t feel so private anymore, and could be taken out of context by the wrong person, which could escalate into unwanted public attention for all the wrong reasons.

If you’re not prepared to wear it on a t-shirt in Martin Place, don’t post it online.

A lesson could be learnt from Australian sporting celebrities. Stephanie Rice, who lost a large sponsorship deal with Jaguar after posting a homophobic comment on Twitter; and Shane Warne, who angered his fans by promoting online gambling through his personal social media pages.

In order to avoid such social media disasters, we must learn to monitor what we share online and resist the urge to say anything negative about anyone, because some day it may come back to bite you.

I cringe to think about the generations who don’t remember a time before the Internet. They have enjoyed access to a global audience, to post whatever their angsty, teenage minds can think of, without fully understanding the repercussions of their own digital actions.

Remember: there is always someone watching online. Chances are, they’re on your profile right now.

Like me … plea$e

Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you likes. Illustration: ~Metalni/deviantart

In our first-ever STM podcast, NICK CAVARRETTA broaches the subject of bands buying facebook likes with Chris Penney from Glitter Canyon, who bought 1000 likes for his band’s page, and Matthew Carpenter from GetWithSocial.com, who sells facebook likes to anyone who is willing to pay for them. This is a common practice, but who is to decide if it’s white hat or black hat marketing? Is there a fine line between the two, or is it simply a case of real vs fake?

Since this podcast was made, facebook started deleting bots and Glitter Canyon lost the 1000 followers they bought. Other bands are sitting on 0 likes per day in their public like stats, which is a sign that they also bought facebook likes. This happened just after facebook introduced their advanced page post targeting option.

Will non tech-savvy promoters care about social media numbers in then end, or will people start listening to music again and making their own decisions?


Twitter connects Australian farmers

Apostle birds, Gulargambone, NSW. Photo: Brett Donald/flickr



Farming is changing. Most farmers are used to the tweeting of birds on their land, but Australian farmers are doing a lot of the tweeting themselves.

Farming group AgChatOz is an organisation whose aim is to use social media site Twitter to connect rural communities with one another. Targeting specific rural concerns, co-founders Sam Livingstone, Tom Whitty, and Danica Leys moderate weekly conversations online, coordinating participants using Twitter’s hashtag (#) feature.

“The goal is to have farmers discuss their issues and attempt to close the city – rural divide through social media,” Whitty said. Started in July 2010, the group has more than 800 followers and continues to gain momentum, using topics chosen by its followers and correlating them to topics trending on Twitter.  

“One of the biggest successes we’ve had has been our ability to engage with key organisations ranging across the industry and government,” Whitty said. Organisations regularly involved in AgChatOz conversations are the RSPCA, Lifeline, NSW Irrigators, and West Australian Farmers Federations. One tweeter, @pollyemj, wrote: ‘#agchatoz is great because it’s created a community…it’s easy to connect with our industry’. AgChatOz founders hope that a close virtual community will provide support for isolated farmers, allowing them to discuss concerns freely and implement change.

Technology is continuing to change the farming culture. Farmers manage their finances electronically, some capture their rainfall data using computers, and others use more advanced GPS and robotic systems to manage livestock and fields. There are iPhone applications designed to make managing farms easier, such as TankMix which calculates the amount of a product needed to treat a specific area of land.

“Farmers are definitely using technology in the fields,” AgChatOz’s Sam Livingstone said. “There are automated spraying tractors now where you never have to touch a steering wheel or accelerator.

“But the biggest problem farmers face is lack of equality. The infrastructure and technology in rural areas is substandard compared with the city.”

People living in rural areas are stuck with slow, unreliable, and expensive Internet connections. Some farmers report waiting for more than a month for Telstra to repair malfunctioning communication services. “There are a lot of not-for-profit organisations working on educating farmers, but the government really needs to step up,” Livingstone said. People working the land also need to be able to raise problems without being labelled ‘whingeing farmers’ by journalists, he said. “The media always focus on the struggling farmer, but there is a lot of innovation in farming too.

“We need to find a way to make farming sexy.”

Jonathan Dyer, a grain farmer from Kaniva in Western Victoria has embraced the new social media platforms. “When I started tweeting and blogging, I was really aiming to paint an accurate picture of modern farming to help people in cities understand agricultural life,” Dyer said. “The best thing about AgChatOz is connecting with other like-minded people.

“Rural life can feel isolating. Twitter counteracts that.”

AgChatOz hosts weekly discussions on Tuesday nights from 8-10pm at #agchatoz on Twitter


AgChatOz on Twitter and Facebook

Founders Sam Livingstone, Tom Whitty, and  Danica Leys