Friday, May 23, 2014

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Free Yourself: Cell Phone Detox

Brianna Brents, Marketing Intern 

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Social media, texting, emails, apps, you name it; it all keeps us glued to the screens of our smart phones. Remember the days when we would communicate with people face-to-face with no hesitation? Or the times we would actually pick up the phone and call someone to have a conversation? It’s no secret that technology is a part of who we are now. Having the internet at your finger tips is great, but moderation is key—I think it’s time that we unplug from our cell phones every once in a while. 

How many times have you been at a restaurant and seen a table full of people on their phones instead of talking to each other? Or have been in a classroom with students on their phone instead of focusing on the lecture? Probably a lot! Below are some things you can do to break free from your “cell phone addiction.”

Take a Break
Choose a few days out of the week where you turn off your data connectivity for a few hours—give yourself some “recovery” time from all of the text, emails, tweets, and news updates. Think of it as a reboot for your brain. 
Although it may be more convenient to use the alarm clock on your phone, try using a regular alarm clock instead. That way, your phone won’t automatically be in your hand when you wake up—you’ll be able to do other things besides scroll down your Twitter news feed, or check how many likes you got on a post you made the night before. 

Silent Serenity 
When you’re in class, in a meeting, or even out with friends, it’s okay to turn your phone on silent. Leaving your phone on vibrate or having the sound on constantly makes it harder to focus on whatever you may be doing. When your phone is on silent, it gives you a chance to live in the moment, instead of constantly being interrupted by your phone. You still have the freedom to use your phone, but at least you’re not jumping every time you hear a tone or feel it vibrate. 

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“Do Not Disturb” is a great option for people that have a hard time studying or doing homework. When your phone is in this mode you won’t receive any notifications. Even if you’re just eating dinner or watching a movie, this mode gives you the chance to enjoy things with no strings attached. You can even control whether or not you want to receive certain phone calls, which is found in settings. For iPhones, simply tap “do not disturb” and a moon icon will appear in the status bar…and don’t worry, if someone calls more than once, this mode will accept the call in case of emergencies. For androids, download the app in your Google Play store and follow the same instructions.  

Get Connected    
Next time you’re thinking about sending a text to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, try calling instead. Verbally talking to someone is more meaningful than sending a typical “hey what’s up” text every once in a while. Interacting more over the phone and face-to-face can make a big difference in the relationships you have with others. You will notice a change in the way you connect with others when you interact with them on a more personal level. This is due to the fact that you can actually hear and see their expressions, versus just reading them in a text.

A cell phone detox is not going to be easy; believe me, I tried it myself. In the beginning I felt anxious, and being disconnected from social media made me feel like I was missing out—but I survived. It won’t hurt to take a break from your cell phone and unplug every once in a while. Start your cell phone detox by trying this app created by Unicef USA. For every 10 minutes you don’t touch your phone, Unicef and other donors will help people across the world that don’t have access to clean water. 

The Male Pinterest

Adam Field, Marketing Inter

Every male has at least some knowledge of what Pinterest is. A majority of us can agree we have seen at least one girl in every class sit on the pin-board style website going crazy about some new do-it yourself project and pinning it to their “DIY” themed board. Pinterest has been criticized as a female only website full of wedding ideas and makeup tips even though it does have masculine subjects such as cars.  It has become a social stigma at this point that only females should have an account. In fact according to Business Insider, about 97% of people who like the Pinterest Facebook page are female, but that shouldn’t stop any guy from joining the website. From a male’s perspective, such as my own, it is hard to find much that is of interest and could really catch my attention. But what if there is a male version of Pinterest, would it be attractive? Something that has pictures of “man-caves”, cars, and just pure manly entertainment. I am talking about a website that truly represents a real male mentality. Let's be realistic though, could something of this nature actually exist? Yes! Let me introduce you to Dudepins.

Dudepins not only has the same layout as Pinterest, but it also encourages you to share various posts that you find interesting. When you first enter the website you notice the neutral colors and that it has a masculine feel about it. The first words you read state: “Dudepins is the site to discover and share everything that’s manly.” That alone should hint that this is a safe place for the male community.  After visiting the site, and realizing that this could be interesting and something you can relate to, create an account or as Dudepins refers to it “Man up. Sign up. Post up.” Signing up is simple, just like any other social media website. Create a username and password and you are ready to start exploring the manly universe. But, wait! How could it be a male version of Pinterest without creating “boards” to collect all of your awesome posts? This is where your “montages” come into place. These allow you to pin posts that you find interesting on an easily accessible page. You’ll notice a few montages pre-made for you such as “My Style” and “Virtual Garage”. 

If you haven’t visited the site yet there is a nice menu bar at the top of the website. This bar allows you to search certain categories like “Man-caves”, “Music”, and “Sports”. There is also a tab for videos, trending (most popular posts), shop (manly items collected and available for your purchase), and a search bar. You can also invite all of your friends to join you. With followers and people to follow, Dudepins will never run out of content for you to view. Now that you have a basic knowledge of the lay out for Dudepins, what content does it exactly have? I made myself an account and started to repost things that I thought were cool, manly, and funny. 
I really like cars so my first category to look through, obviously, was “cars and rides”. This category quickly filled my Virtual Garage montage (a default montage) with pictures and posts of blacked out jeeps, testosterone charged muscle cars, and gorgeous exotic cars. Besides cars though, I also wanted to find posts for a man cave (easily a popular category, because every guy needs a space to escape the yoga and fro-yo world we live in). This category has amazing posts of creative and spectacular spaces that men can relax in and get their masculine fix. It also has posts with items to decorate your own space and add your personal touches. The final category I explored was “food and drinks” and I was not disappointed. Imagine a page filled with all types of meats and bourbon. I thought a page like this only existed in my dreams, but here it was staring me in the face. Needless to say I created another montage for this category and have been salivating over it since. 

Pin-board style websites don’t have to mainly consist of the dream wedding ideas and solely live on Pinterest. I say we raise a toast to the man who had the courage to create Dudepins and allow us all to share our manliness. Check out this amazing site and witness pure masculinity for yourself here. I promise you won’t be disappointed and before long you’ll have a list of montages just like myself. If you want to follow my personal Dudepins, find me at AwField11. If Dudepins doesn’t really fit your style, then try one of a few other sites such as Gentlemints or Manteresting, or brave the frill of Pinterest to explore cars, recipes, and all things manly. All are full of great posts for guys and work the same way. 

Small Talk: A Necessary Life Skill

Madalena, Marketing Intern

In today’s society, avoiding conversation is easy. We go to the ATM instead of the bank teller; we go through the self-checkout instead of to the cashier; or we sit with our headphones in and stare at our phones, instead of approaching the boy or girl that has been in our class all semester. People try to avoid what they assume will be an “awkward situation” all the time, but we can’t avoid small talk our whole lives. It pays off to be bold—that is how you meet people and eventually grow relationships. The reality is, small talk is a necessary life skill we all must learn. 

If you need to break an awkward silence, it’s easy to fall back on the classic, “How about this weather we’re having?” But, talking about the weather can often be very cliché. Plus, if you really want to connect with someone, talking about today’s chance of rain probably won’t help. When you feel stumped, nervous or just downright anxious when you are talking to someone that you just met, remember that there are thousands of other subjects, and even more ways, to make small talk enjoyable. 

I’m not saying you should immediately dive into a random stranger’s deepest feelings and philosophical thoughts, but there are other ways to make the conversation move forward. Whether you’re chatting in line at the store, packed into a small elevator or among a new group of people, these suggestions will help you strike up (and keep up) small talk with practically anyone you meet.          

Start off by being in the moment:
You both are obviously in the same place for some common reason, so take that angle and go with it. The best way to initiate talking to someone could be commenting on your similar experience or surroundings. If you’re sitting next to someone outside a classroom, don’t be scared to ask, “How did you do on that last exam?” or “Isn’t our teacher hilarious?” it is an acquaintance, ask them about their week or weekend. Once you break the ice, introduce yourself and take off on a subject, then you can delve into the deeper questions. You never know what kind of mood people are in, but initiating a conversation may just make their day! 

People love talking about themselves:
Think about it, you know yourself better than anyone or anything, so there’s never a shortage of information. Ask people about their lives, and the conversation may unravel. If a person asks how you are, you should always answer and reciprocate with another question. It doesn’t have to be “how are you?” But ask them something, anything, to avoid silence and to try and initiate a conversation. Small talk is brief and typically doesn’t go very deep, but it can help relieve temporary awkwardness. 

Filling in that awkward silence: 
Don’t leave any time for the awkward turtle. If you sense the conversation is beginning to slow, jump in immediately with a new, random subject or question to keep it going (preferably something about them).

Ask open-ended questions:
The best way to keep a conversation going is to ask questions. If you ask open-ended questions, the other person can answer more elaborately, and the conversation could possibly progress. A question that leads to a one-word answer can stop the convo right in its tracks. Most open-ended questions begin with a “why,” “how” or “what” instead of “is” or “does.” Spin a question like “is math your favorite subject?” into “why is math your favorite subject?” The question leaves room for more interpretation and explanation. If you repeatedly get one-word answers, the person may just not want to talk, and you should politely exit the conversation. 

If you compliment them, follow with a question:
Any compliment you give is most likely going to end in a “Thank you!” To avoid the awkward pause that follows when they don’t compliment you back, ask a follow-up question, like “where did you get it?” or “how did you find it?” The question will lead into a longer story that may open up more conversation points. 

If you find something in common, elaborate:
Hear something that interests you? Go with it! If you start talking about a topic you both like, you can be more engaged and will definitely have more to say on the subject than you would on something boring like the weather. Don’t be afraid to ask about their interests to try to find a topic that interests you, too. 

Smile and keep eye contact:
Looking away all the time to try and think of something else to say can make the other person feel uncomfortable. And staring for too long may give them a creepy vibe (see meme below). Try only looking away when you are laughing or doing hand gestures to exaggerate what you’re already saying. And don’t forget to smile! If you smile and laugh, chances are they will join you. 

When to get out:
There are common social cues that can let you know when to get out of a conversation. If the person starts to get antsy, looks at their watch or looks around, simply wrap up with a reason you need to leave the scene, like “I better get going!” and end with a general comment that shows you enjoyed talking to the person. I always use the friendly, “It was nice meeting you, [insert name here]!” Saying their name again shows interest and that you were paying attention. It will help you remember their name in the future, should you meet again. 

Gain more confidence. Easier said than done, right? Confidence truly is a skill, and practice makes perfect. If you tell yourself you are confident and pretend to be, eventually you will realize it’s not as hard as it seems. Putting yourself out there and taking the initiative to talk to someone will build confidence over time. Positive affirmations never hurt, either. 

There’s really no reason to avoid small talk. Take a chance, be bold, and talk to someone! No matter how awkward you feel, the situation will probably only last a couple minutes, and you can use these tips to turn the conversation around. Meeting new people and making new friends is just one conversation away. And like I said, practice makes perfect!