My “Whys” for My Social Media

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and me as a practitioner and blogger. There have been so many conversations about social media, social competency, best practices and debating back and forth on what is right or wrong, what is productive or not, etc. that I’ve been swimming in reading material. However, after writing my past few blog posts  I realized that I’ve been falling into a trap many seem to fall into. I realized that I was putting my opinions and perspectives out there on topics and issues, which is great for the knowledge pool, but I was not sharing my “why” for my stances, perspectives, etc. So I thought I’d give some context as to why my position on social media is the way it is.

I’ll be honest, my “whys” are both selfish and selfless. They come from personal and professional experiences. They also seem reflective of my personality and my individual identities. So after reading perhaps you’ll have a better understanding for why I have the perspectives on social media that I do. :)

My First Active Profile

I originally got on the social media bandwagon because of my part-time job in college. I worked for an abc affiliate and they were doing a series of stories on social media and asked all the student part timers to create profiles on this site called “Facebook”. Apparently this site had suddenly become all the rage, since it had opened up beyond Harvard University where it was created a few days prior. And since it required a school email the interns and student crew were requested by the reporters to get on and check it out.  So i guess you could say from the very beginning I’ve been analyzing the practical side of social media.

My Personality

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

For much of my life until college, I was more on the introverted and passive side. I lacked confidence in myself and who I was. I was always looking at my outgoing and confident friends as role models of individuals who I wanted to be more like. But I did not have an outlet to grow my confidence. With social media and blogging, I found a way to find confidence in myself and put myself out there on a platform that provided me a chance to expand beyond my physical limitations to interact with old friends who supported me, and meet new friends who had similar thoughts, feelings and perspectives.

More of My Personality

I’m kind of an awkward person in general, and when I meet new people, while I do my best, awkwardness just follows me. And for me, social media, helped me find a compromise between meeting a person and already having things to talk to them about prior to actually meeting them in person. Online  conversations allowed for breaks in conversation, time to think about answers, and an unlimited conversation timeline etc, unlike in person when you resort to weather and major/minor, and profession information when there’s a lull in the conversation. And this ability for free-flowing un-timed conversations are huge to a person who may not have spoken with a lot of new people and/or learning how to break the ice.

My Personal #SoMe BooBoos

I’ll be honest and let you know that I’ve gotten in trouble personally and professionally for social media because of the lack of education I had on it, lack of institutional policies that weren’t created yet, a void of trainings and a serious lack of mentors knowledgeable on these platforms. Granted part of it was due to the facts that it was brand spanking new and that no one ever thought this “fad” would be integrated into every part of life in under a decade; therefore many of us just had fun on the platforms with our profiles. However, it created a HUGE learning curve over the past ten years to learn to balance, be mindful and just understand the full ramifications of social media. And we’re still in this learning what those ramifications are, whether they are good or bad. So for me, I want to ensure that those who follow don’t make the same mistakes, or if they do, than that I am able to work with them, help educate them on best practices, and share my experiences with them in the hopes they create an online presence that they truly want and that they know there have been others who have made social media mistakes.

My Identities

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Perhaps its because I’m a warm fuzzy type of guy who needs support rather than critiques when I’m going through a hard time in my life. Perhaps its my fear of face to face rejection. But either way, social media and in particular blogging has been key in exploring my identities, both old and new. It’s been a space where I was able to turn to people who, at times, supported me more than those in my physical vicinity, especially as I began identifying as gay.

My Superhero Complex Reason

I know the good the bad and the ugly about it. I’ve experienced it, read about it and watched it happen right in front of me. And I want to help ensure social media is utilized for good and not bad. Call me a hopeless romantic for the ever-positive perspective but while social media has it’s faults and imperfections, it does help us do good work. Even when it brings forth the ugliness of humanity, it’s at least bringing forth some societal issues that we’ve been able to sweep under the rug until now. But now that everything is online and very little can hide any more, we’re able to finally confront the issues and have these conversations and taking progressive step towards improvement.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I love social media, as a professional and individual. It’s not perfect. And we have a LONG way to go until we really know the implications and ramifications of the good, the bad and ugly of this medium. However I’ve come to assimilate to it and assimilate it to me. And while I spout my views and perspectives, and hopefully offer helpful advice, I’m hoping that telling you some of my “whys” will give you a more rounded perspective of me and therefore a better understanding of my perspectives and make the conversation even richer and deeper. :)

So now I challenge you to consider….

Why do you have your stances and perspectives on social media?

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Foto Friday: My Journey at Marygrove

Today is my last day at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan, so I thought for today’s Foto Friday, I’d share my journey with you as I close this chapter of my life. :) Go Mustangs! Enjoy!

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Brian 06

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Brian 07

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Brian 08

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Brian 09

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Brian 10

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Panda Mug

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

2014

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Campus

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Campus 2

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Campus 3

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Orientation 2014.001

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Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Orientation 2014.002

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Orientation 2014.003

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Orientation 2014.004

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O Team!

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NSO 2014

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

 

SC

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Robyn Tsukayama

Brian 11

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Clubs

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Clubs

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New office

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Competence

Compassion

Commitment

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Why I Blog

Recently,I’ve had a couple of friends ask “why do I blog”? I’m a relatively new blogger with few readers. I’m definitely not the best blogger, nor do I have the most insightful posts, so why do I spent so much time blogging?

I have several reasons which include branding myself as a Student Affairs Professional and social media practitioner. But honestly, the most significant reason I blog is to help me process my thoughts and musings.

I love to write and I’ve always found writing a meditative and reflective process. When I was younger I wrote a journal. When I was older I wrote short stories and essays. And for about the last six years, every November, its me and my journal tackling NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). A challenge where you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. (Thanks to Shawntae who got me roped into it!) So its a natural outlet for me. Also, with blogging I’m able to share these with the world and get feedback and help with my thoughts and musings.

Courtesy of nikkiwoodsmedia.com

Courtesy of nikkiwoodsmedia.com

Now, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. It can be a pain to blog at times, especially if you’ve got what seems like a million deadlines looming and family issues and friends who always wanna go out, but its something you just make time for.

You also have to have a sense of confidence in yourself, your writing and/or your thoughts. The good thing about blogging is that you get feedback. The bad thing about blogging is that you get feedback. With blogging, you are putting your heart, mind and soul out for anyone to read and comment back on. Sometimes it can be positive and reaffirming while other times it can be harsh and critical. But if you can take it all in stride and learn and better yourself, then I promise you it’s worth it.

I do want to say that blogging isn’t for everyone. For many fields and professionals it’s becoming a “thing” to have a blog. But don’t feel the pressure to do it. If you can’t assimilate it into your life, and if you aren’t learning or benefitting from it, then you don’t have to blog. Some individuals will express themselves and share their thoughts and musings through vlogs, music, and/or art, through websites, virtual art galleries, and YouTube. For me it’s blogging/writing. But others may not wish to put it out in the world, and they should not be chastised for not having a blog, vlog, etc.

It is ABSOLUTELY a personal experience and process, whether or not the intended purpose is personal or professional. 

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

So that is why I blog. I blog for me. And if I am able to share my journey as I learn, reflect and develop myself into a better person and professional with others, then that’s just the cherry on top. And perhaps someone will be able to get a new perspective, learn something, or knowing my writing a good chuckle every now and then :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Must It Be Social Media vs. Social Competency?

Recently I read a great article, from the SA Collective, Tech Generation: Don’t Just “Deal With It”, by #sachat peep @jakegoldblum1, and I couldn’t agree more with him. I’ve also been preparing for my first ever conference roundtable that I’m co-facilitating with my former Grad School Mentor on social media in student affairs. And finally I’ve been hearing some…interesting stories from colleagues across the area about the social graces or lack thereof of students. So amidst all of this, I’ve been thinking a good deal about social media’s influence on social competency.

In conversations, I’ve often heard that it is horrific how our succeeding generations have been raised on computers, the internet and apps and that social media is destroying their social competencies. While there may be some validity in this all encompassing condemning statement, it drive me nuts. First, it generalizes an actually bright, dedicated and hungry generation into a simple minded conglomerate of drones. Second, it is creating a platform area where complaining and talking about the problems outweighs the actions to improve them.

For me, in terms of growing up on computers, the internet, and apps, there really isn’t anything bad about that. It kinda reminds me of Rey Junco and his analogy that they (the younger generations) have smart phones and older generations had their televisions, radios and newspapers. To me, what does it matter what platforms they use to be social and communicative, so long as they are? And let’s be honest, they are probably interacting and conversing more about issues locally, nationally and globally than we ever were even in the 90s.

And I’m not sure that social media and technology are destroying their social competencies. Take a look at the basics of social competence. At the bare bones it is how a person interacts with others and society. Reading through some basic research of social competencies, several general competencies include; 1) the ability to regulate emotions, 2) knowledge and experience of social interactions and 3) understanding social situations and customs. With these as a basic foundation, I have to ask,  are the younger generations not learning how to regulate their emotions on social media? Are they not becoming knowledgeable of nor understanding social interactions and customs over social media platforms?

Personally, I think they are. I do relinquish that, yes, there are some interactions they must learn in person, such as dinning etiquette, shaking hands, etc. However, let’s be honest, its more often easier to read about these customs online and then apply them to the physical world, rather than trial and error them in person, which could lead to misunderstandings, false claims of prejudice and insensitivity.

So with this thinking, I have a plethora of ponderings:

  • Perhaps its not that the younger generations are growing up on technology and therefore directly destroying their social competencies. But rather maybe its that they don’t know how to translate their social competencies from online to the offline world and vice versa?
  • Perhaps there is a need to have separate expectations and/or competencies for our online interactions and offline interactions?
  • Perhaps we need more education on the difference between personal and professional social competencies online, similar to what we do offline.
  • Perhaps a new perspective to have is HOW are we using technology social media platforms to create socially competent generations
  • Perhaps we need to consider how we, as the older generations, are helping to show a BALANCE of online and offline interactions?
  • Perhaps its a shift in approach; more “whats a good balance” and less “that’s wrong” or “that’s not what MY generation did”.
  • And finally, perhaps a big one is who is responsible for defining social competence for the future generations and what does future social competence look like? (Meaning, I bet the professionals of the 1800s are rolling in their graves seeing us text each other from down the hall rather than physically go to them, and are probably calling us socially incompetent because of it.)

A few ponderings for us to consider. Perhaps some are substantive while others are just that, ponderings, but I think that they are all valid perspectives to at least take into consideration as we continue to learn about this medium, its influences and how to best utilize it for the betterment of society and human kind. (As well as to help our students graduate and attain careers). :)

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Foto Friday…on a Saturday?

So I realized I’ve not posted Foto Friday in a couple week. And of course I started one for yesterday but am actually posting it on Saturday. However, posting my Foto Friday on Saturday is completely representative of the discombobulation and randomness that the photo represents but in the end it all works out.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Meet a core group of my BFFs. This photo was taken at Courtney’s son’s/my Godson’s Baptism. This group has been through it all with each other. The ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the ugly and the hideously terrifying. We’ve been through one another’s weddings, birth of children, change of identities and even a few “come to Jesus” moments over life, love, alcohol and other life issues.

Courtney is the farthest left. She and I met in our undergrad days when we served on Student Government together. I guess I could say she’s the Alpha Queen of the group. Always ready to act or make a decision, provide a good bitch slap when needed and one of the first people I ever came out to….and of course when I came out to her, her first questions was my preference between Brad Pit or George Clooney to make sure I was a Classy Gay.

HJohn is the one peeking his head over my left shoulder in the photo. Hmmm…how do I describe HJohn…loyal, cautious, cerebral, and vertically challenged? :) I first met him when he joined our fraternity many a year ago. Since then we have become best friends and brothers even though we are pretty much complete opposites. But he’s always sharing his big dreams and plans, and trying to find his place in life and the world and it keeps us on our toes and always is a nice reminder to always dream and have something to aim for.

Then finally, there’s Sara Jean, or SJ. She’s my longest running friend in the photo. We first met….well…shoot…I don’t remember. I was working at the local abc affiliate in Flint and she was a volunteer for the first Children’s Miracle Network Telethon that I worked at the TV station. Then we went Greek and had classes and it just went from there. We’ve been through so much and some crazy extremes but we seem to always come out standing up right and better. She’s always the planner and her and Courtney are most times polar opposites which balances everything out.

Its rare when the four of us are able to all get together but when we do, I always love it and cherish it. Metaphorically you could say we’re each others’ compass. Four completely separate, different and unique individuals who help each other stay on point as we journey through life; giving each other a good kick in the ass if we stray too far. So now you know some of the key friends who have helped shape me into the awesome person I am today :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Transitioning Out Right

Over the last few weeks there have been some great conversations via blogs,  Twitter, etc. about interviews and transitioning into a new position. We’ve discovered a plethora of hints and tips on how to learn the office environments, campus politics and best practices for learning your new job, etc. For me, it’s been hugely helpful, especially now that I’m about to transition to a new position with Michigan State University.

However, personally, the difficult part of a transition is leaving a position. For some reason, we don’t really think of transitioning out as a priority, however it’s just as important, if not more so, to transition out well.

So, I’ve come up with a few helpful hints that I’ve adapted for myself to help me transition out of a position. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as you transition.

 

Tip 1: Social Media Platforms

Don’t switch over your position etc. on your platforms until your VERY last day in the old position. While it’s fun to list a new position and change titles, you are still that role until you are gone, and to prematurely switch over titles on social media, is disrespectful to your position and the office/institution that you are leaving.

 

Tip 2: Create a Transition Out Plan

Work with your supervisor to come up with a plan for transitioning out. Make sure to cover what projects will transfer to other staff, how to communicate the transition and project transfers, what information the staff and your supervisor need during the transition and for after you have left. Set firm deadlines to help ensure that projects and programs are transitioned and as little as possible falls through the proverbial cracks in the floor.

 

Tip 3: Close Out and Assess Reports

Make a list of all your projects and programs that you have completed. Create reports on each one which includes timelines, budgets, contact lists, assessments, etc. Include what you would change or any suggestions or ideas that you have for future versions of your project or program. Submit these reports to your supervisor so they have a copy, and ALWAYS ensure to make a digital and hard copy of your reports for your successor. This will allow them to hit the ground running with an understanding of projects and programs as well as using those as resources, especially if they are annual events.

 

Tip 4: Current Projects and Programs

Make a list of all your active projects and programs. Create a folder/binder for each one which includes timelines, budgets, contact lists, etc. Include all of your next steps and future deadlines etc. Also one helpful thing is to write a vision/goal and learning outcomes for each of the events so your successor is able to understand the purpose of the project or program.  Make sure your supervisor has a copy and, again, ensure there’s a digital and hard copy for your successor.

 

Tip 4: Meet with Your Network

Make sure to meet with your collaborators and colleagues on campus before you leave. Get all their contact information. Use these not only for your successor’s benefit etc., but also for yourself, so you are able to stay in contact with them. Additionally, use this as a professional development opportunity and have a conversation with them about working together as professionals and what your strengths are and what you could improve on and other helpful professional hints and tips.

 

Tip 5: Final Transition Meeting

Meet with your supervisor the day before your last day to go over your Transition Out Plan to make sure everything has been transitioned to the best of your ability. Some things will not have gone as well as hoped due to differing priorities, time, or schedules, but this way you are doing your absolute best to ensure a smooth transition. Also use this time for professional development and get the good, the bad, and the ugly and what you can improve on as a professional.

 

Tip 6: Leave with a Clean Office

Make sure your office space/cubicle, desk, etc. is clean. Be respectful of the work you’ve done in that space and the future work to be done in the space. For me, I also like to leave a note to my successor, who ever it is, welcome them and give any hints or tips I’ve learned that may help them navigate their transition into the position.

 

Tip 7: Leave with Big Smile

No matter how you came to leave or transitioning out, leave with a smile and a positive attitude. Life is too short for negative or gossipy exits. Plus Higher Education is a VERY small field and why create a track record of negativity?

 

So, I hope that some of these might help you transition out of a position smoothly and professionally or to help you transition out one of your employees.

Courtesy of cheezburger.com

Courtesy of cheezburger.com

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

Posted in Higher Education/Student Affairs, Technology/Social Media | Leave a comment

It’s On Us for ALL of Us

I’ve debated back and forth as to whether to write this post. However at the end of the day, my hope is to remind #SAPros to about the vastness of the serious issue of sexual assault.

The “It’s On Us” Campaign, launched by President Obama last week, is a long awaited step towards attacking a serious problem that has plagued our society and campuses. In our work, as Student Affairs Professionals, it’s one of the most painful parts of our jobs when we see one of our students come to us for guidance and help as victims. Now with this campaign, the long overdue education and more importantly conversations are beginning to happen.

It’s a very personal issue. We all know a victim of sexual assault. Whether we know it or not. And it may be female OR male.

#SAPros are HUGE advocates and champions for the underdogs and victims. But it’s also where we tread a fine line of marginalizing other populations, in this case, the male population. Approximately 3% of males report being victims of sexual assault. While 3% is significantly lower than the 17% of females who report being victims of sexual assault, both statistics should never have been more than 0%.1

We will have both female and male students come to us and we must advocate for them both. We must eliminate sexual assault, regardless whether it results in female or male victims.

Perhaps I’m coming to this perspective because of the personal experience of being a victim, but have never felt comfortable with accepting it until recent years. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had both male and female students who have been victims come to me for advice and help.

But my point today is that, as #SAPros, yes, let’s advocate, and let’s champion for our students, our friends, our family, and each other who have been victims. But let’s make sure to champion for ALL victims purposefully and strategically. Let’s not fall into the trap of marginalizing male victims in our fervor of advocating for female victims. Let’s empower both female and male students, staff and faculty to educate and advocate for sexual assault victims without placing the blame on a single gender. Regardless male or female everyone can play a role in preventing sexual assault. Everyone is a peer to someone and it’s on each of us to prevent more victims.

Sexual assault is sexual assault whether the victims are female or male. Sexual assault is sexual assault whether the perpetrator is female or male. Sexual assault is sexual assault and it needs to stop no matter what the situation is.

I think Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of “It’s On Us” partner the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) gives us our best charge as #SAPros:

“One of the most effective ways to prevent rape is to mobilize men and women on campus to join together in stopping perpetrators before they can commit a crime,” Berkowitz said in a statement. “We also need to make sure that if a friend is sexually assaulted, students know how to support him or her and ensure they have access to the help they deserve through the National Sexual Assault Hotline and local resources.”2

  1. U.S. Department of Justice. 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2003.
  2. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/white-house-its-on-us-campaign-targets-culture-of-sexual-assault-on-campus-111139.html#ixzz3E8xhjZVK

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Note: Thanks to @cmmasiroff for supporting and editing this for me

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