Tune in and Listen

There is too much happening on a daily basis and I can hardly keep up. This administration is purposefully overwhelming us in order to obfuscate. Everyday is an entirely new issue to absorb, unpack, and challenge. This makes it difficult to be organized. It makes it very easy to spread yourself thin trying to keep up with it.

For me personally, this shock and awe tactic isn’t super effective because nothing these deplorables do shock me anymore. I’ve seen the most heinous things both in history and in current events. White supremacy is a helluva drug. It’s got us believing en mass that the threat to America is Muslims and not white cis-hetero males.

I’m no longer in shock, I haven’t been for a while. I expected him to win and I expected the minions (who are sure to benefit from the chaos) to fall in line, I expected these cash grabs and power plays.

You know why, this party has shown its hand time and again. Their president did every single thing he could to prove his unworthiness, to prove how dangerous he is going to be and y’all still put him in the top spot, as I predicted you would white America. You never cease to disappoint with the depths you’ll go to protect your white Christianity.

Anyway, I digress. Today I want to talk about how I am tuning all that fuck shit out and focusing on trustworthy voices of reason and facts throughout these trying times. Media outlets are finally figuring out how precious Freedom of the Press really is. There are reliable publications and people out there doing their best to report. Here’s who and what I’m tuning into at the moment.


Dan Rather – News and Guts

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Photo Credit: News and Guts

Just when I was starting to lose all hope that journalistic integrity had died and gone to hell, in comes Rather, taking a hot, steaming, pile of honesty all over the Orange Menace and his “team” of siths. Coming out of semi-retirement to remind everyone what the press is actually for, he quickly became my #mediabae and I have been following ever since. THEN he puts down the remote and picks up his laptop to create News and Guts…a Facebook “channel” dedicated to reporting reliable news during these unreliable times! If you don’t know, now you know! Go find and follow!

ProPublica

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Photo Credit: ProPublica

I watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver…he’s kind of the shit. He did several segments on toupee fiasco and reliable reporting. ProPublica happened to be #1 on the list and I tuned in right away. As their tagline proudly exclaims, “We’re not shutting up.” So should we follow suit. They are non-profit so if you have the funds, throw some their way!

PBS Newshour

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Photo Credit: PBS NewsHour

For traditionalists who like staying power, PBS Newshour is for you. A staple of PBS for over 40 years, Newshour doesn’t sensationalize. Instead, they rely on factual reporting of current events to provide real non-biased news. Or as close to non-bias as American can possibly be. They provide current, thorough, and reliable information for the masses.

Teen Vogue

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Photo Credit: Teen Vogue

In one million years I would have never bet Teen Vogue would be on my list of smart media but look at that cover photo up there! Ever since Elaine Welteroth took the reigns we have been seeing the kind of hard-hitting truthful reporting not seen in Mainstream Media since Nixon. Even my #mediabae Dan Rather had to give them props! I see them too and I am ever hopeful for the next generation, that is, if they are reading Teen Vogue!

Remezcla

remezcla
Photo Credit: Remezcla

Remezcla is a Spanish word for remix and that’s a great analogy for what this publication is doing. Remixing the ways Latinx people are being represented in the media. While this isn’t necessarily a news outlet, they certainly report reliably on issues specific to LatinX people.

Women of Color

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Photo: Angela Peoples – Women’s March

Listen, 94% of black women and 68% of Latina women (most probably non-white) voted against the Menace. We knew what the deal was gonna be, remember when I said I was not surprised by this election? I meant that shit. Women of color, especially black women, knew and tried to warn everyone. That means, those are the only voices I’m really shutting up and listening to. There are so many smart, savvy, daring, and courageous women with whom you should tune in and follow. My condensed list includes:

Franchesca Chescaleigh Ramsey, Elaine Welteroth, Linda Sarsour, Leslie Mac and Marissa Janae, Feminista Jones, Jessica Williams, Rosa Clemente, Angela Peoples.

Marginalized Voices

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Photo Credit: Highersights

There are so many ways in which marginalization intersects. Fortunately for us there are also many women who are working to represent these voices in appropriate ways. I am no expert on LGBTQIA+++ nor can I relate to living with a disability. These voices help me put things into perspective and remain, always inclusive.

Maysoon ZayidJudy Heumann, Angelica Ross, Trans Women of Color Collective, Disability Visability Project

Obviously this list is so very limited and I am sure I will spin the last two “voices” into thier own posts here but I really needed to get all this down and out to you guys.

I know there are more voices, more publications, and more people speaking facts out there and I know my Smarties are tuned in! Please share your favorites. Also, if my content was helpful and/or resonated with you in any way, please consider a contribution to help me keep it going!

Donate now! Click the pic below! Thank you!

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Societal Dysmorphia

Societal dysmorphia:
A collective abnormality wherein large groups of people deny the facts of a situation in favor of believing an idealistic illusion of that situation. Coined by me to help me describe why so many people still deny racism is an issue in the United States of America. Really it applies to many groups or factions in this country and beyond.

Where the expression “post-truth” describes an individual replacing feelings for facts, societal dysmorphia describes a collective denial of facts, going as far as enabling each other in the delusion.

I have come up with a few examples to help me elaborate my point.

The ‘manosphere’–  The men’s “movement,” began in the 1970’s in response to feminism.  Today it has morphed into the manosphere. According to the Southern Law Poverty Center, “The so-called “manosphere” is peopled with hundreds of websites, blogs and forums dedicated to savaging feminists, in particular women.”

This is a great example of societal dysmorphia. Hundreds of men, completely ignoring statistics about how unsafe it is for women, instead imagining they are the ones oppressed and in danger.

Climate Change Deniers – This is a little bit more complicated than a group of people with hurt feelings. Corporate America will be forced to make sweeping billion dollar changes in order to accommodate our planet. This is true across every industry. Big oil companies also stand to lose a considerable amount of money as we inevitably shift to clean energy. The facts are, we can’t sustain life unless we make that shift.

There are millions of dollars invested in denying climate change. Still, large groups of people readily believe the science is bogus. Despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Anti-vaxxers – The fear that vaccinations lead to autism was based on a real study. That study has since been found to be bogus and it took years to right the wrong. Autism research was set back due to the time invested in debunking or proving the fraudulent study.

However, medical professionals have since collectively agreed there is absolutely no link between vaccinations and autism. Groups of people still insist on the connection. Going as far as to claim a conspiracy on the part of the entire medical community, pharmaceuticals, and the United States government. As if our government could ever work with anyone that effectively.

Post-racist Americans – This is the example that lead me to coin this term to begin with. Dozens of, mostly white people, have accused me of “race-baiting,” and “making racism a thing when it isn’t a thing.” While I would love to think that individual person is just ignorant. I don’t believe that for one second. In this information age, ignorance is can’t be a thing anymore. There are thousands of Americans who believe this nonsense and no shortage of social and mainstream media outlets willing to validate that delusion. There is a definite refusal to accept the truth, facts, statistics, data, historical context as presented.

In all these examples, you have large communities of people standing in their collective dysmporphia, refusing to see things realistically. Instead, they are creating elaborate alter-realities, where their personal ideals are the reality and the actual reality is a conspiracy theory. In these realities conspiracy theories replace scientific data, love conquers hate, Martin Luther King passed peacefully in his sleep, and science is hogwash.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so reckless, if it didn’t endanger vulnerable groups of people and the balance of all of creation.

Societal dysmorphia erodes and deteriorates sensibilities and replaces it with ideals and propaganda that aligns. It is definitely the reason large groups of post-truthers, clung to unfounded fears and their white supremacy. Seeing the world through their dysmorphic lens, they collectively decided a pedophile, endorsed by the KKK, with absolutely no experience was a worthy candidate for POTUS.

Despite insurmountable evidence to the contrary.

It is also 100% self induced and those who have it absolutely fucking know better. They are neither ignorant to facts or unable to process them. They just refuse to accept and live with the truth and its consequences. The cure for this “condition,” is to simply seek out the truth.

For the sake of those reading this article climate change is real and so is racism, men do not need men’s rights and vaccinations do not cause autism. Thank you for reading. I look forward to being cussed out in the comments!

 

 

Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Met with ‘Alt-Right’ Freedom Party Leader | Teen Vogue

FYI Smarties…

It seems Teen Vogue has taken on the task of investigative journalism. With Elaine Welteroth at the helm we get to see smart media at its best…

From the article:

The “alt-right” is known for its extremist and racist views, as well as being severely anti-Semitic. It seems like the association between the Trump campaign and neo-Nazis won’t be broken any time soon, as his chosen national security advisor, General Mike Flynn, recently met with Heinz-Christian Strache — the head of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, which was established by former Nazis after World War II”

#RESIST

You can do this by

  • contacting your local representatives with your concerns
  • Joining and donating to watchdog organizations like pro publica
  • Staying informed and tuned in to smart media
  • Buy a subscription to Teen Vogue

Normalizing Hate: AKA Sympathy for the Devil

This morning I woke up and learned A&E will be premiering a reality show that follows several families in the Klu Klux Klan. You read that shit right, because in 2016 we still haven’t abolished these people right to hell.

Not even close actually. Instead, A&E is asking us to let these hate mongers right into our living rooms. Then they have the nerve to package it as “anti-racism” and ask us to follow along as they try to combat pure evil with love. On a scale of smart media to total trash this is a hot steaming pile of shit.

The news here isn’t the show or the Klan or the people centered in it.

The news here is that mainstream media is legitimately normalizing hate and that’s what the fuck we need to be reporting. From the moment they allowed the Orange Menace to get away with (for the sake of their ratings) his brand of racism, sexism, and xenophobia, they have been slowly but surely trying to convince us that this is all somehow normal.

It started out subtle, like when The Daily Show invited Tomi Lahren to its studios to “hear her side,” (though I’m sure there are plenty of examples of this prior to the election) MSM has been doing their part to slowly but surely convince us hate now has an opinion and a side worth hearing. A&E, in particular, is telling us that hate experiences trauma and we should open up our hearts (via our televisions) and give it some understanding.

Through “Generation KKK,” we get to follow the hate. Through this “documentary” we humanize a group that exists solely to assert superiority and dehumanize, by any means necessary (violence or policy or policing), anyone not like them.

Here’s the thing:

For its part, the Ku Klux Klan dedicated itself to an underground campaign of violence in an effort to reverse the policies of Radical Reconstruction and restore white supremacy in the South. – History.com

Violence = Lynchings: almost 5,000 just between 1882 and 1968

Neither the violence nor the lynchings have stopped. An almost endless number of hashtags and the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is testament to this fact.

That is what you support and center by tuning in to this.kkk_car

It is a psychological head fuck to force people to “relate” to hate. When one can relate to a Klansman, the next logical step is asking, “how bad could the Klan be?”

This program is akin to giving ISIL a reality TV show under the guise of anti-terrorism.

This entire endeavor is abusive on a collective scale.

This is triggering to me, I can not imagine the trauma this dredges up for black people.

FUCK YOU A&E.

This “documentary” scrapes the bottom of the barrel. According to A&E,

 “This series pulls back the curtain on the organization that the Anti-Defamation League calls “a racist, anti-Semitic movement with a commitment to extreme violence to achieve its goals of racial segregation and white supremacy,” to show its effects on American families as member’s grapple with the consequences of leaving.”

“That the Anti-Defamation League calls…”

“Grappling with the consequences of leaving.”

FUCK YOU A&E!!!

Your attempts at normalizing this, your attempts at trying to make us feel….sympathy for the devil…FUCK YOU…seriously. I just can’t find the vocabulary to say it any other way.

The Klan is growing again in both numbers and popularity. Along with that growth are the hate crimes that will surely follow. A&E just added more fuel to that fire with this piece of shit show.

Since when do Klansmen, their families, their trauma deserves to be centered in America? Are you listening? A&E is centering KLANSMEN in their programming – not their victims – not the horrors they have wrought on this country – not the hate undoubtedly married to them – but actual Klansmen and their actual families, like this shit is absolutely normal and OK and this hate group should totally not be illegal!!!

kkk-comeback-us ku-klux-klan_3153153b

THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

I will not ever be tuning into A&E ever again.

I CAN RESIST THIS.

We CAN resist this….

If you are as disgusted with all this as I am, tweet your disgust to A&E @AETV and go to their Facebook pages and express your outrage to this trash disguised as story telling.

Speak up and speak out against the normalization of hate! RESIST!

Stay safe smarties! You matter and you are loved.

Five Ways to Spot Fake News

I’m going to rant a little bit today. I find myself arguing with otherwise reasonable people over fake news. It’s an issue. So much so, I have to talk about it here and probably more than once.

The onslaught of fake news and websites dedicated to producing click bait grows by the day. My news feed is consumed by hyperbolic headlines that are complete bullshit. We have reached a pinnacle of, ‘feelings as facts’ reporting. It is more important for publications to get clicks than to do their due diligence. For most people this seems ok, as long as the content reinforces their own ideology. Those people can fuck off.

In fact, post-truth became the Oxford Dictionary international word of the year in 2016. Defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

In the information age, objective facts have become less influential than emotional and personal belief. This is ridiculous, reckless behavior. Please know, I do indeed judge you harshly if you are the type of person to put your personal feelings in place of factual information.

Journalistic integrity is dead and that feels tragic to me. The press is supposed to exist as a checks and balance to those in power.

They gave the First Amendment as a way of giving a fourth branch of government — in fact, the press — an ability to question those in power in any of those three branches of government. -Ken Auletta, Writer, The New Yorker

The irony of it all is, we have the power to debunk, dismiss, and denounce this practice, by using the power of the internet to research any given topic, at any given time. What is the point of having access to all of the information in a device that can fit in your pocket if you are going to exist with your head in the sand, gravitating only to content that soothes you and affirms your personal dogma?

Dear friends – get your heads out of your asses and start digging in deep…our very lives depend on it. I am here to help you, help us end the business of bullshit news and teach you how to spot a fake.

#1 – Trustworthy writers credit their sources

Any writer of worth knows they are nothing without their sources and reference materials. I have seen writers of all visibility use the words of others as their own, claiming content mysteriously appeared to them without citing even an anonymous source. A good story has a lot of breadcrumbs that the reader can follow. If an article or news source is stingy with sources, chances are it’s fake or plagiarized. Please understand fake news and bullshit writers can exist within real news publishers.

#2 – Reliable reporting is balanced

Above all else, news is meant to inform, not delight us. There is no rule that it cannot do both but it must do the first thing…inform. If it is not an op-ed there should be no slant to the reporting. Balanced news does not take sides, it reports the facts and tells the story without any bias. If you are reading something and it is heavy on the hyperbole or it doesn’t present all sides, chances are it’s fake or propagandist news.

#3 – Authentic publications have a track record

Fake news often comes from publications more interested in getting you in front of their advertisers. This is how they make money. Pay attention to the website you’ve landed on. If it is full of advertisements and pop ups, chances are its existence is to get you in front of sponsored ads and not to report the news. Pay attention to how long the site has been in existence. Check their archives and research their body of work. If there is little substance, it’s a good sign it isn’t a reliable source.

#4 – Poor editing is a huge giveaway

As stated above, fake news exists as a way to bait you over to the site so they can sell you things. They don’t much care about the quality of the content. There is no editor working tirelessly to ensure the story is accurate, never mind proof reading. They only want your eyes on their advertisements because this is how they are profiting off serving you fake news. If the content is full of bad spelling and even worse grammar, it’s fake.

#5 – Misinformation and skewed facts

In a lot of cases the news has becomes a propaganda machine. Post-truth, feelings have replaced facts. Many fake news sites intend to misinform and change the narrative to fit their ideology. Check your facts, if a reporter cites a statistic, look it up. If you come across enough conflicting information, chances are your news source has an agenda other than giving you accurate information.

Bonus tip:

Keep in mind that technology to manipulate photos and videos exist. In this day and age, a good rule of thumb is, “question everything and do your homework.” In this way you can be your own reporter and get to the bottom of any subject on your own.

Too many times we are so quick to hit that share button in order to get some type of information out. Do a little homework before hand.Sharing a fake story can often have the opposite effect of raising awareness and instead cause more confusion.

Here is a comprehensive list to help you weed out the less obvious offenders.

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Google, Racism, and Media Bias

Try this experiment at home:

Do an image search using the phrase “Three black teenagers” you are likely to get these result

Three black teenagers google search

Now do an image search with the phrase “Three white teenagers” and you are likely to get these results:

Three white teenagers google search

I’m sure you are seeing some pretty blatant and pretty racist differences. These differences aren’t unique to my computer or searching habits either.  This is actually a reflection of the personal biases of thousands of web publishers.

Try searching images for “unprofessional hairstyles for interviews” and then “professional hairstyles for interviews” and see what pops up. Did it look something like this:

google_profhair2 google_profhair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice anything?

I do, we live in a super racists society. One where black women’s natural hair is considered unprofessional and three black teenagers are only talked about in the context of criminal activity.

In order to really understand what I’m talking about though, you need to understand Google algorithms, web searching, and page ranks.

According to the Internet research firm Netcraft, there are nearly 150,000,000 active Web sites on the Internet today [source: Netcraft].

Search engines like Google work to sift through those sites and “serve” you with the most relevant information you are looking for in relation to your search. To do this effectively and efficiently search engines use complex algorithms – which, simply put, are a series of mathematical instructions that “teach” the search engine how to find what you are looking for.

Web publishes use search engine optimization in order create appropriate keywords, terms, and phrases to meet search engine page ranking requirements. Digital marketing agencies and content marketers spend a lot of time and money researching high-ranking words, terms, and phrases consumers might use in order to get their content in front of an audience.

This is how Google’s PageRanking system works:

  • PageRank assigns a rank or score to every search result. The higher the page’s score, the further up the search results list it will appear

  • Scores are partially determined by the number of other Web pages that link to the target page. Each link is counted as a vote for the target. The logic behind this is that pages with high quality content will be linked to more often than mediocre pages.

  • Not all votes are equal. Votes from a high-ranking Web page count more than votes from low-ranking sites. You can’t really boost one Web page’s rank by making a bunch of empty Web sites linking back to the target page.

  • The more links a Web page sends out, the more diluted its voting power becomes. In other words, if a high-ranking page links to hundreds of other pages, each individual vote won’t count as much as it would if the page only linked to a few sites.

  • Other factors that might affect scoring include the how long the site has been around, the strength of the domain name, how and where the keywords appear on the site and the age of the links going to and from the site. Google tends to place more value on sites that have been around for a while. [Source: How Stuff Works]

What this means is, search results are a combination of the content web publishers produce and publish and the algorithms search engines use to find that content. How often people and other websites interact with that content determine the importance Google and other search engines ascribe to it.

We already know media, whether digital or mainstream, exhibits extreme bias. Both in the stories they choose to tell and in the way they tell them. I have spoken about media manipulation here before. This means that search engine results will reflect that manipulation and bias. When we talk about Google being racists what we really need to do is place the accountability squarely on the web publishers creating the biased content being served to you when you search something like “professional hairstyles for interviews.”

The typical news outlets (online or on TV) often depict people of color via negative images of black men in handcuffs and Latinos invading our borders. Time and again we see white women being praised for hairstyles and looks that black women are usually hated for. This bias plays out time and again in movies, books, television, and yes search engine results.

To be honest the easiest way to see racism in America is to do a series of searches similar to the ones I displayed above. In doing so we can see systemic and personal racism being played out in real-time over and over again. The best thing we can do about it is unpack our own personal biases and call out the bias being played out in the digital media you are consuming, immediately and frequently. Consider it a personal mission to diversify your search results.

The Gap and Black Girl Magic

Fuck you Gap. Black girls are magic. Black Girls Matter. Black. Girls. Are. Magic.

I was minding my own business this weekend. Getting my home into some semblance of shape after having a new baby a few weeks ago. I was working pretty hard and felt I deserved a break. So I took one and as per usual logged into Facebook to see what was going on. To my shock and horror this is the fuckery that greeted me:

The_Gap

Your ad campaign aimed at making young girls see themselves as whatever they can dream of set little black girls up to be arm rests for adventurous white girls.

You suck and everyone who isn’t a racist asshole knows it.

I want to thank Fatima LaJuan Muse for bringing this troubling content to my attention. She breaks it down on her Facebook page so succinctly here. The Root has also done a piece on this here. They have said much of what needs to be said regarding this controversy in better ways than I ever could.

Instead, I want to talk about it in the way I talk about a lot of things around here. This is what lazy content looks like and we deserve better. Our girls deserve better.

This is what content looks like when there is no diversity behind the scenes. Without a black person and other non-black persons of color working in collaboration, with mostly white people, there is no one who can say, “this is inappropriate, people are going to feel a way about what is depicted here and I’ll tell you why”

Without that input we get this unedited, white person version of what (white) girls are capable of being – a dancer, gymnast, adventurer and what (black) girls are capable of being – A prop? Arm rest? Inanimate object? I’m not sure who this was supposed to inspire but in me it evokes something wholly maternal and viscous.

I want to snatch this baby girl out of this photo and tell her, she’s better than an armrest, she’s MAGIC!

 

As I’ve said so many times, representation matters. It matters how we see ourselves reflected in the pages of magazines, on TV and the big screen and (white) America has done a shit job of showing the depth and breadth of who we are as a wholly colorful civilization (see #oscarssowhite).

To flip through a magazine, channels on a television, or any movie trailer in the last 80+ years would lead any alien society to believe this earth is full of mostly dominant white people with a smattering of subservient brown people.

I’m not even exaggerating. According to a 2014 Women in Media Report, white people are cast in lead roles more than twice as often as people of color, and white film writers outnumber minority writers 3 to 1. In 17% of films, no black people had speaking parts.

So, ads like this just reinforce and validate this disparity with a giant exclamation mark thrown in for good measure. I can’t even begin to tell you what an image like this does to the mind of a young black girl, who will spend most of her life questioning her worth and her place in a world that consistently tries to deny her humanity. It is wholly degrading and wholly despicable.

If you are a smarty, and if you are reading my blog I know you are, you know what I am going to ask next – please boycott The Gap – please reach out to them through any means necessary and voice your outrage.

Shout out their shame on Twitter or Instagram

Contact them via Facebook or email

You can even write them a strongly worded letter the old fashioned way:

Gap Inc./Synchrony Bank
PO Box 965004
Orlando, FL 32896-5004

Put your power as a consumer to work and let The Gap know they fucked up and we aren’t having it!

 

Apps to Help you Survive a Busy Life

Running a household is tricky business. Keeping everyone organized, fed, clothed, smart, and fit takes careful consideration, planning, and in the 21st century, a handful of apps to keep things in place. That’s how it works in my world, I’m a digital mom, raising five kids, my smart phone is a lifeline. With it I can keep track of all the myriad appointments we have in a week, log every school function, all the extra curricular activities and play dates, share it all with my partner and vice verse.

I’m plugged in and do my best to use my devices and apps to my benefit. Sure, there are always going to be time sucks – anyone with a Facebook profile knows this – but for the most part I like to think of my gadgets as sidekicks. Reliable, agreeable, intuitive, and ever ready to lend a helping hand. My smart devices are like electronic butlers, personal assistants, event coordinators and even confidants.

Some might say I am too dependent on technology, they are probably right but, I don’t have the luxury of “going off the grid,” no, I’m firmly entrenched. However, like everything in life, balance and moderation is key. If you are plugged in like me then you are going to love this post. I have long wanted to share the apps I use to help keep me and my family organized. Today is that day. I hope they are as helpful to you as they are to me!

COZI Calendar 

Cozi_app

With this calendar I am able to keep track of myself, my partner, and my kid’s myriad appointments and plans. I wish life worked so simply, everything color coded and put in a place. I can open up my calendar and see a snap shot of appointments and know who they are for immediately. I can also sync my calendar with my husband and share the kid’s important events to co-parents, grandparents, and bonus parents. I can also plan recipes, keep shopping lists and manage to-do lists through this app. For a free version this app packs a powerful punch!

Yummly

Yummly_app

How many times can you make meatloaf before everyone just gives up? How many ways can you really make chicken? These questions plague me. I want my kids to have a healthy relationships with food, be open to trying new things, and make good nutritional choices as they grow. Yummly helps me keep things interesting by providing a large library of recipes to choose from when baked chicken and mashed potatoes is gets old.  I can organize my favorites in collections of my own choice, add as many collections as I please and share my recipes via email or social media app. So far I have tried several recipes and I have not been disappointed.

MagicPlan

MagicPlan_app

 

If you are redecorating, reorganizing, or just want to move some furniture around for a change of pace, this app is for you. You can use it to take an accurate measurement of the rooms, windows, doors, floors and even stairs in your home. The app creates a floor plan for you and allows you to build home decorating projects. You can also, connect and share plans. It’s a genius little app and I find myself using it more and more everyday.

CamScanner

camscanner_app

 

Several years ago we decided to go paper-free. We converted registered all of our accounts online and requested email bills instead of snail mail wherever possible. Our school district uses e-backpack and other online browser-based programs to keep us informed on our kids homework, classwork, and grades. We hardly ever print anything but, every so often we will receive a note from school or a letter in the mail that requires a signature before emailing back. This is the brilliance of CamScanner. It takes a photo of your document and converts it into a PDF, files it and allows you to upload it to a cloud, email or share it with recipients of your choice. Perfect for permission slips, summer reading lists, and doctor’s notes!

Pinterest

Pinterest_app1

I’m a pinhead – I really love this social media app so much. It keeps my to-do’s, have-to’s, and must try’s all in one place. I use it for everything from planning my daughter’s party to saving recipes, knitting patterns, and arts and crafts projects. It’s empowering to put mini-vision boards together, where each photo contains it’s own practical tutorial to help you get it done. Not every project is a winner, there are tons and tons of #pinterestfail posts on the web to attest to that but when you find a project that wins – it’s a thrill for the whole family!

Trello

Trelllo_app

Project management simplified is how I can best describe this app. Create projects of any kind from a block party to the PTA bake sale, set up to-do lists, and use color coded labels to keep everything and every one assisting on the project organized. You can also share projects and “project cards.” Trello is a browser-based app so you can access it from any device, as well as, on your PC. I have used this app for a ton of both personal and community projects.

None of these companies have offered me any payment in return for my favorable endorsement. I am just a modern gal trying to live an organized life in a busy world. These apps make things that would usually seem tedious or overwhelming more manageable and fun. A lot of these apps help keep me interested too. It can be very easy to put your day on auto-pilot but what fun is that. Engaging with smart tech can keep us feeling not only in control but inspired as well.

I love apps, from the old reliable like Facebook to the new and exciting like Dubsmash.  I would love to hear what your favorites are. What keeps you organized, entertained, and connected? Share them with me here or let’s talk on Facebook or Twitter xoxoxox

 

 

Are You a Smart Media Mom?

Everyone who reads my blog knows my philosophy: smart media is sincere, authentic content thatinfluences smart people in positive ways. I never really thought to define it before I was a mom.

Then I had a baby and everything changed. When my daughter first started speaking, I heard her humming some commercial jingle. I don’t remember which but I remember thinking, “holy shit, my kid is a sponge.” Everything from television commercials to Elmo had some kind of influence on her tiny little brain. I introduced her to Baby Einstein immediately and then I became a smart media mom.childrenmedia_info

Being a smart media parent is hard work, it takes dedication and a willingness to learn new things. How can you tell if you are a smart media mom?

You screen media before your child consumes it. 

Data shows that exposure to violence, inappropriate sexuality and offensive language can have negative effects on our children. Extensive research by the American Pediatrics Association indicates that “media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed.”

For this reason, we screen and research the media our kids want to consume. When my kids are into a new video game, we find out what it is. When they are assigned a new book at school, I read it too. If they are interested in the latest blockbuster movie or up and coming artists, we are also interested. This keeps us in the loop and in touch with the things they are in touch with and that keeps me in touch with them.

You keep cellphone use on a tight leashChildren & Cellphones

Most teens – 85 percent aged 15 to 17 – 69 percent of kids aged 11-14 and 31% aged and kids between 8-10- have cell phones. According to WebMD, twice as many children have cell phones today as in 2004.

Our household falls into the 11-14 bracket – middle school felt like the right time to give our kids the privilege. After-school obligations and extra curricular activities means we need to stay in touch.

However I have a lot of rules around this privilege:

  • No phones during school hours
  • No phones at the dinner table
  • No phones in the bedroom overnight
  • Parental locks and permissions must remain in place
  • No new apps or game downloads without permission
  • Grades slip or rules broken and no more phone

We monitor their usage and retain the right to examine their phones at any time we choose until the child is 18 years of age. We set very strict parental permissions that can not be adjusted without a password. So far, so good but, my eldest will be 14 in a month so check back with me on that.

You keep them from social media for as long as possible.

The rule in my house is simple, mom and dad MUST be your friend or the social media account is deleted. That means it is irrelevant if I want  to be on Instagram or not. My daughter did and I had no reasonable argument why she couldn’t, so I downloaded it and now we have a new way of communicating.

Like anything else there are rules:

  • No over sharing
  • No identifying information
  • No follows from people you don’t know in real life (except celebrities)
  • No suggestive language, pictures or other media
  • No bullying

I retain the right to change, add to, or alter those rules at will, if they don’t like it, they lose phone privileges and all accounts are deleted.

You keep the lines of communication open

No matter how hard you try to screen and regulate your kid’s media consumption, they will have access to ALL of the information anyway and it is rarely accurate. Therefore, it’s important to be realistic. Talk to your kids as often as possible about what they might be seeing and hearing in the great, big world out there.

They will roll their eyes at you but don’t be deterred. Parents, your voice must be the loudest voice in their heads. You must give them the tools they need to make sense of what is going on in the world around them.

We will be our children’s first and greatest influence, they will look to us for guidance first and we must fight peer pressure and the constant media barrage aimed at them. We can not fail them.

If you are a smart media parent, how do you help your kids navigate the digital world? What’s on your smart media checklist?

My Favorite Debunked Viral Stories: 2014

The 21st Century has seen a serious decline in journalistic integrity, I’ve talked about it a few times already. The priority seems to be ratings, clicks and visits with legitimate news channels jumping on trends rather than actual stories. This year was ripe for fake news going completely viral and being reported on as truth. The 24 hour news cycle has forced reporters to stop caring about things like research, I guess.

The moral of all of these stories: If you are a reporter, working a story, do your research, make some phone calls, dig a little deeper, like you know, it’s your job or something.

Here are some of my favorite debunked viral stories in 2014:

Drunk Girl Video

2014 was a big year for combating the catcalling issue. Dozens of videos popped up on the internet showing what women experience just trying to get a bagel in the morning. A dozen more videos popped up discussing the issue and providing their own commentary.

One video in particular saw it’s week in the spotlight – Drunk Girl in Public – which featured a women who was obviously intoxicated, trying to get home and hoping for some assistance. Throughout the video the assistance she receives is from men trying to take her to their own homes instead, so creepy, right? It was very scary and people were outraged. Problem was, It was all a fake, the men were tricked and the woman was an actress. You can get the full story here.

The Lady with Three Boobs

When this story first hit my news feed, I thought – “this isn’t true” – it was ridiculous for anyone to think this was biologically and scientifically possible. So I laughed it off and kept on scrolling until I realized that sites like Huffington Post and the NY Post were actually reporting the story.

So, after many, many websites rode the controversial (though completely fake) story, it was revealed that *GASP* the whole thing…this is stupid, I can’t even finish this entry. Read about it here if you want.

Macauley Culkin is Dead

I feel like Culkin dies every single year, I don’t know why people like reporting this.

culkin_tweet

I think people on the internet see a headline, react to it, then share it, without reading the full story or digging any deeper. He’s not dead, all any reporter needed to do to learn the truth was make a few phone calls.

Little Girl Kicked out of KFC

People were foaming at the mouth when they heard that a KFC restaurant asked a little girl to leave their establishment because of the scars on her face. Everyone from CNN to the Daily Mail were talking about this. Through some actual sleuthing it was discovered that the whole thing was a hoax and of course those same news outlets reported on that too – like it was actual news.

Banksy arrested w/mugshot

Guerrilla street artists and followers were in a tizzy when it was reported that the beloved Banksy had been arrested, complete with a mugshot revealing his identity! The story was picked up and shared via the National Report – a fake news website – and was ultimately viewed 6 million times.

Eventually Banksy’s publicist had to make a statement – he’s still roaming the streets with spray can in hand!

Siri – Where do I hide the body?

Back in August, news sites like Business Insider, Yahoo, and Fox reported that a Florida man, on trial for murder, asked Siri how to hide the body. Every one of them attached a photo of the supposed screen shot.

siri_hideroommate

However, According to trial reports, the image was probably something the defendant just scrolled past on Facebook and not an actual query he made himself. You can read about this and other BS viral stories here.

Since journalists are not doing the job they are supposed to be doing, it’s up to us to dig a little deeper and do some research. Never take a story at face value, if you are unsure, search and be sure all the sources being shared are reputable. Happy sleuthing, smart media peeps!