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Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?

one seedy aspect of social media is when people use it to make their lives seem better (to others or themselves) than they really are.  the short film what’s on your mind? does a great job highlighting this behavior and some of its consequences by showing what’s really behind one man’s facebook posts.

how does this video compare to your experience on facebook, twitter, instagram, wordpress, etc.?  via co.create.

related: real-life photoshop


what’s really behind your social media posts?


20th century headlines rewritten to get more clicks

10/28/13 2 Comments


this xkcd comic satirizes the different ploys social media sites like buzzfeed use to get you to visit their pages (via the atlantic).  similar to tabloids that decorate the grocery checkout line or the teases on your late-night news, too often the stories that follow these headlines fail to meet the expectations relayed in the title and/or are simply a waste of time/attention.

i pulled a couple of the comic’s rewrites to further highlight what makes this approach to media both attractive and repulsive.  think about how the headlines/stories fall in line with ones that you’ve heard, read, seen or maybe even written:


inspired by: albert einstein discovering the theory of relativity

what makes the rewrite attractive:  “shocking new” (something you haven’t seen/heard before); “dad proves scientists are wrong” (posits einstein as a common man outsmarting brainy establishment); “wrong about everything!” (that theory isn’t just “shocking new” but also earth-shattering).

what makes the rewrite repulsive: intentionally underselling einstein as just a dad instead of calling him another scientist; the use of “everything!” deliberately exaggerates what the scientists were wrong about.


inspired by: space shuttle challenger exploding seconds after its launch, killing everyone on board.

what makes the rewrite attractive: “video of terminally ill child” (faulkner once wrote “between grief and nothing i will take grief.” speaks to why some people will knowingly gravitate toward things that will make them feel sad); “will break your heart” (beyond the aforementioned pursuit of grief, it’s also a challenge to see if this will actually affect you as much as the headline suggests).

what makes the rewrite repulsive: using a terminally ill kid watching a tragedy to make the circumstances around said tragedy seem even worse.  as if, the death of seven people isn’t sad enough.

“watch out where you think outside the box”



chicago bulls center joakim noah has this drawing in his locker, possibly as a reminder to not say anything too “wild” to the media.  the imagery shows the tendency of some to pounce on others for their flaws, quirks, or even simple differences, which is sadder than that little goldfish.  spotted by the bulls show.

in “death goes digital,” usa today looks at the impact technological advances have had on the way we grieve.  see how it has played out over the past few centuries in the timeline below:

  • 2000

    Social networking goes mainstream

    As social-media sites such as MySpace and Facebook became popular, people gravitated to them in times of grief. Mourners expressed their sorrow on their own profile pages, as well as on the profile pages of the deceased. Now, it’s common for friends and family to turn the departed’s Facebook page into an interactive memorial in which they post condolences, photos and even speak directly to the dead with such comments as, “I miss you,” “Thinking of you,” and “Happy birthday in heaven.” Source: Pew Research Center

    [gigya embed src=”″ bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” flashVars=”videoId=1662074637001&playerID=102195605001&playerKey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6Fnyou4pHiM9gbgVQA16tDSWm&domain=embed&dynamicStreaming=true” base=”” name=”flashObj” width=”500″ height=”340″ seamlesstabbing=”false” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowFullScreen=”true” swLiveConnect=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” pluginspage=””%5D
  • Mid- to late 1990s

    Internet use swells

    Those on “the Net” convened in chat rooms to talk about their distress at the deaths of notable people such as Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. Tech-savvy Web users built online memorial pages for deceased loved ones. Entrepreneurs launched businesses that charged a fee for such services. In 1998, the online obituary publishing service made its debut. Its database currently has more than 10 million obituaries. Sources: USA TODAY archives; BBC; Associated Press

  • 1950s and 1960s

    TVs become living room fixtures

    In November 1963, Americans gathered around their televisions to watch the funeral service and procession for President John F. Kennedy. Since then, funeral Masses, memorial services and burials of prominent people such as Michael Jackson, Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II have been broadcast to huge audiences. The recent funeral for singer Whitney Houston was watched by millions of people on several networks, including CNN, E Entertainment Television and BET. Sources: NBC; The Nielsen Company

  • 1800s

    Railways expand across America

    Lengthening railways brought about a new way to express grief: the funeral train. In April 1865, a train carrying President Abraham Lincoln from Washington to Springfield, Ill., made stops at cities where the coffin was removed from the train and taken to public buildings for viewing. Mourners lined the sides of the tracks on the 1,700-mile route to honor the assassinated president. A century later – June 1968 – mourners gathered at railroad tracks to honor assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. His body was transported by train to Washington from New York. Source:

  • Early 1800s

    Dawn of modern photography

    Advances in photography helped fuel the custom of taking memorial portraits of the recently deceased. These formal death portraits showed the departed in various settings such as resting in bed, propped up next to family or lying in a casket. Mourning photography was often used to remember young children who had died. Frequently, larger portraits were displayed in homes, and smaller ones were sent to those who couldn’t attend the funeral. Before 1900, most of these images were taken by professionals. From 1900 on, more amateurs took such photos, mourning photography collector Anthony Vizzari says. Source:

  • 1700s and 1800s

    News spreads through publications

    Death notices and longer obituaries notified the community not only of an individual’s death, but also of how he or she had lived. These small biographies first appeared in magazines in the 1700s, then expanded to newspapers, The Obituary as Collective Memory author Bridget Fowler says. Centuries after they first began to appear, obituaries are still clipped and saved by family and friends of the deceased. Source: “Writes of Passage: A Comparative Study of Newspaper Obituary Practice in Australia, Britain and the United States,” by Nigel Starck

death goes digital


all my life i was a motormouth. now i have spoken my last words and i don’t even remember for sure what they were.

when roger ebert’s battle with thyroid cancer took away his ability to speak, the film critic’s laptop became his primary means of communication.  in this ted talk, ebert, with his wife, friends and “alex,” explains how technology has helped him press on with his disability.  you can hear more from him on twitter and his webpage.

remaking my voice

04/29/11 1 Comment

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