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Armchair Activism Doesn’t Count as Doing Good

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Armchair activism slactivism

The world as we know it is coming to an end. Well no, maybe not actually coming to an end, but there is plenty of turmoil and angst to go around. While many are contributing to the upheaval, there has also been a surge in goodwill amongst people as well. There are some who wholeheartedly wish to do their part in trying to make this a better world. Unfortunately, these people are also lazy. These are the armchair activists. Sharing a link to a good cause, retweeting a powerful message, hashtagging to spread awareness… sure it sounds nice, but is that actually doing anything to help? Most likely not. Remember #BringBackOurGirls? Or #IStandWithStandingRock? Yeah, a lot of good those tweets did to create real solutions. So what can YOU do? Plenty. First, you have to figure out where you want to help – the rest will come easy.

How To Choose The Charity That Is Right For You
There is a never-ending amount of charities, good causes, and missions all over the world, in every state, and in every city, so finding one shouldn’t be all that difficult. Ask yourself, what are your passions? Do you feel strongly about animals? Poverty? Do have a strong political stance? Take a step back and think about what good you would like to see in the world. Where does your attention lie? Take a note from Dan Pallotta, creator of Breast Cancer 3-Day Walks and AIDS Rides that raised millions, anyone can make a difference. “I want people to consider themselves a philanthropist no matter how much or how little they are giving. Even if you are giving $25, you are still a philanthropist. I advise people to figure out what cause they want to have an impact on, and take time doing research to find out the organization they feel is doing the best work on that problem. Then, make them your charitable partner for life,” says Pallotta to the TED Blog.

Once you have nailed down where you would like to put your efforts, there’s a slew of different ways you can make more of an impact than just clicking and sharing. From the hands-on activist to the check writer, there’s something for every giving heart.

Contribute Financially
Although many would say it is the easiest way to help out, financially supporting a charity can help set the groundwork for all the positive things that can come from such an organization. Writing a check, donating a sizable amount, or even just collecting your daily pocket change can all be viable ways to give back. Charities may provide services to others who don’t have such means, but they need funding to be able to do such things, so your money can help others even if it’s not coming directly from your hands. Your pennies can a long way to help an organization helping those less fortunate. If you’re too busy, too far, or even too shy, financially contributing can make a world of difference without much effort on your end. Find out if your employer has a foundation or charity where they match contributions. Check out how to make your dollar count here.

Volunteer Your Time
Writing a check may be the easiest way to lend a hand, but it’s not always an option if you don’t have any wiggle room in your personal budget. The most fundamental (and cheapest) way of giving back is to volunteer. At the root of volunteering is time – the most precious gift we receive each and every day. What could be more valuable than giving your time to a greater good?! The only question is, where do you spend your time? From reading to small children to building a home with your own two hands, there are an unlimited amount of places you can volunteer your time. A great tool to help you search for where to get started is VolunteerMatch. Here you can find any and all kinds of organizations that would love to have every minute you can spare. Your time can stretch further than any dollar, good, or like whether it is an hour a week or hours every day.

Donate Goods
One of the most popular ways of contributing to a cause is by donating goods. Used clothing, furniture, household items, and even your old car, are all items that may be extraordinarily beneficial to someone in need. Your interests in giving back may lead you toward or organization that helps clothe people living in impoverished areas with nothing to cover their backs or one that provides struggling families with appliances for their homes. Any such organization would be thrilled to receive your donated goods. This is also a fantastic way to rid your home of clutter and things you may not have any use for. What better way to help someone less fortunate than by donating your own items to them? Don’t know where to send that pair of jeans you can no longer squeeze into or that pair of boots that has seen plenty of snow storms? Check out this article for ideas on where to go.

Get Vocal
Outside of charitable organizations, taking an active part in giving back can also include making your voice heard on issues that affect your life. Given the ever-changing political climate of the world, activism in the form of taking a stance on the issues we face on a daily basis is a hot button topic for nearly every individual. Even though news and opinions spread via social media, commenting on an article or visiting a fan page are not always enough to be heard. Often, we are encouraged to contact our lawmakers directly. But how do you reach an individual with such a position? Writing letters and making phone calls, that’s how! Learn how you too can make a difference by expressing your thoughts to those that can help mold your future. Visit this site for more information.

Armchair activism is most definitely lame. With plenty of options available to help you do your part, there is no reason why the extent of your efforts should be at your computer desk.

How to Spot Fake News on Facebook

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How to Spot Fake News on Facebook
How to Spot Fake News on Facebook

The primary reason that fake news flourishes is because people do not do their due diligence in researching where a claim is originating from before spreading the rumor. You must put in some real investigative work to determine if a headline is blatantly false, true, misleading or simply an opinion piece. Fake news outlets capitalize on the fact that humans are naturally inclined to emotionally react to information before they will truly test the validity of it. Mainstream media and alternative media alike are both guilty of casually tossing in bias or misleading “alternative facts” to appeal to their known reader base. The only way to steer clear of fake news is to investigate the source, verify the story with other sources and seriously examine the author’s claims.

2016 Election “Fake News”

This out-of-control “fake news” phenomena played a major role in the 2016 election. During the first presidential debate of 2016, Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton made the bold statement, “Well, Donald, we all know you live in your own reality,” to highlight this glaring fact. Various media outlets including PolitiFact, NPR, Bloomberg TV and FactCheck.org offered real-time live fact checking during the first debate. Each candidate’s respective websites, hillaryclinton.com and donaldjtrump.com, even became live fact-checkers during the debate. The real problem was that each fact checker was so biased that they only served to reinforce the relative reality they were representing in the first place.

One of the most shocking “fake news” stories during the election was the beginning of the now infamous Pizza Gate conspiracy. Rumors that the New York Police Department had found incriminating evidence in John Podesta’s emails that indicated an ongoing democratic involvement in a pedophilia ring caused a major stir in the alternative news community. These claims were never verified, but the rumor continues to provide fuel for independent truth seekers.

Similarly, the mainstream media picked up on and spread an unsubstantiated claim that Trump supporters were chanting hate messages like “We hate Muslims, we hate Blacks, we want our great country back,” as a celebration to Trump’s victory. Upon closer inspection, the original tweet came from a parody fake-news journalist who never intended the message to be taken seriously (http://www.snopes.com/trump-rally-chant/).

Know the Source

If you suspect that an article may be misleading or misrepresenting certain facts, then the first thing you should do is investigate the source of the article. Always navigate to the website’s contact information to build some credibility for the source. Any reputable source will have an authentic way to contact the company.

According to BuzzFeed, the most widely spread fake news story of 2016 was published by ABCNews.com.co and was shared, commented on or reacted to on FaceBook over 2.1 million times (https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/top-fake-news-of-2016?utm_term=.kjLllXzBO#.dyqYYoQwe). At first glance, this source appears credible because it contains the reliable and well-known ABC News stamp. Upon closer inspection, however, it’s clear that this website is a fraudulent site made to look like the real ABC News site.

To the trained eye, the URL of the above article would be a huge red flag. Any “com.co” website should be investigated. Major news companies typically purchase the established “.com” domain name.

Trusted Sources

This election cycle has thrown into question the legitimacy and bias of some of the most well-respected mainstream news sources. Donald Trump has called CNN a “fake news” source, while others have bashed Info Wars as fake news.

Melissa Zimdars, a professor at Merrimack College, created a list of “fake news” websites that commonly show up on your Facebook feed to help her students stop the spread of misinformation. Some news sources included on the list were InfoWars.com, Project Veritas, Independent Journal Review, CoastToCoastAM.com and WorldTruth.Tv (http://d279m997dpfwgl.cloudfront.net/wp/2016/11/Resource-False-Misleading-Clickbait-y-and-Satirical-%E2%80%9CNews%E2%80%9D-Sources-1.pdf). The list went viral and furthered the ongoing debate over what should be considered a trusted source.

Chris Rossini published a counter-list of “fake news” sources that singled out journalists who directly colluded with Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Fake news perpetrators included representatives from ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNBC, CNN, Huffington Post, NBC, MSNBC, Politico and New York Times (http://www.ronpaullibertyreport.com/archives/revealed-the-real-fake-news-list).

As a rule, know that every single article is written with some bias. The only way to combat consistent bias is to trust your sources, but always verify them.

Trust, But Verify

If the headline story is real news, then it’s likely being reported by other news sources at the same time. In many cases, a simple Google search can quickly verify or debunk a story you read on Facebook. Other well-known and reputable news sources should be reporting the same event or facts. When in doubt, verify a story by comparing it with other sources.

In some cases, corporate media bias or other factors can prevent a story from being covered in the mainstream media. When this happens, alternative media will typically pick up the story and it can still be found on multiple alternative news outlets. Scan the article for indicators of the original source of the story, and use this information to research the original source.

Those who primarily use only a few outlets or news sources are the most likely to fall into a fake news trap. Avoid this pitfall by creating more balance in your news feed. You may not literally “like” Fox News or CNN, but giving them a like on Facebook will help keep your perspective balanced. A more well-rounded perspective will help you recognize when an article is overly biased or glaringly false.

Examine the Author’s Claims

Take the time to examine each of the article’s claims. Is the article mostly opinion based with very few sourced facts? Does the news story include sourced research studies, witness accounts or reports from credible agencies? Fake news stories rarely include any real, provable data or any accounts from verifiable agencies.

You look like a bot: How I Went from Bot to Hot

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You look like a bot: How I Went from Bot to Hot
You look like a bot: How I Went from Bot to Hot

As a blogger, it was important for me to get my ideas across various platforms. I have over 3,000 followers on Tumblr, over 5,000 on Instagram, and even 2,500 subscribers on YouTube. For the longest time, I ignored signing up for Twitter. I heard from fellow bloggers that the site was full of celebrities and users who tweeted about mundane things like going to the bathroom. So I put off of Twitter for years, but without my knowledge, I was selling myself short in doing so.
When I tried to reach out to my followers, they felt intimidated by me and my strong social media presence on Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube. I felt as if my blog was too professional to make announcements or small text posts about cool small things about me or my life. When I met my followers in real life, they asked if I had a Twitter and were disappointed when I inevitably replied, “No, sorry.” Even on television, shows held contests involving Twitter and voting for your favorite contestant. I quickly realized I had to sign up for Twitter if I wanted to remain relevant on social media.
So I finally signed up for the site. It was nice to start from scratch with no followers, but I wanted to start posting cool tweets with lots of ‘likes’. I announced on all my other social media accounts that I created a Twitter account and would love to gain some followers. I waited a day before logging into Twitter and checking my follower count. Shockingly, I had only gained six returning followers from my other social media accounts. How could this be? I had to fix it quickly but to my dismay, my follower count would stay frozen at six for months.
I felt like a failure. How can you raise your follower count? It wasn’t as easy as other sites. I asked my friends who had follower counts towards the thousands, about what I could do. All of them replied with, “Well, to be honest, you sound like a bot. You never talk about what’s hot and trending.”
I was shocked to hear this feedback from them, but as I scrolled through my tweets, I realized they were right. I sounded like a spam bot. I began to research some way to improve my tweeting and this is what I came up with: The Three Golden Rules of Twitter.
The first rule was to correctly tweet using the trending hashtags. They’re hot and trending for a reason. People want to hear about what’s fresh and new, not about generic stuff like what cereal you ate for breakfast.
The second rule is to follow celebrities and retweet interesting posts or announcements from them. Celebrities are tied in with the hot and trending hashtags and people want to hear about the things they have to say.
The third rule is to share cool announcements about yourself and things you have discovered, and make an effort to engage the material with your followers. Don’t just tweet a couple lines about what you had for dinner, instead share pictures of your fancy dinner. Followers love pictures of food. There are whole Twitter accounts dedicated to food and celebrity chefs sharing pictures of meals they prepared.
After a month of following these rules, I noticed my follower count was rapidly growing into the hundreds and eventually the thousands. I was ecstatic! I didn’t sound like a bot anymore and my followers returned to turning to me for hot news and trends. My followers felt like they could approach me and have casual conversations. Try out these three golden rules and you will sound real, rather than some spam bot looking to steal credit card numbers.

The Best Memes of 2016

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The Best Memes of 2016
The Best Memes of 2016
The Presidential election, record heatwaves, dearly loved celebrities dying left and right, and those were just a few of the things that made 2016 such an incredible, dumpster fire of a year. At least it left us with these top ten memes of 2016.

10. Left Shark
Oh Left Shark, you were so long ago, it doesn’t even seem like you should count in 2016, does it? Nevertheless, Katy Perry’s Left Shark who didn’t know what was going on during the Superbowl. XLIX Halftime Show was 2016’s first big meme, and probably one of the funniest.

Mtv GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
9. Miley, What’s Good?
Another blast from early 2016, after Miley Cyrus was quote in the New York Times saying, “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite.” Nicki responded with this endlessly useful phrase, “Now, back to this bitch who’s had a lot to say about me in the press. What’s good Miley?”

 

8.Crying Jordan

This was the year that Crying Jordan reached its height. Both the original photographer and Michael Jordan himself have spoken about the meme, that is largely used to show extreme devastation, particularly in sports. Crying LeBron takes a close second.

7. Sad Ben Affleck
2016 was a sad year, and Sad Ben Affleck was everywhere. Originally from an interview where it seemed he suddenly realized “Batman vs. Superman” was a steaming pile of crap that no one wanted to see, Ben’s dropping face was used everywhere that Crying Jordan wasn’t appropriate for.

6. Obama + Biden Bromance
President Obama and Vice-President Biden truly have a bromance for the ages. In the closing months of 2016 as we all counted down to the installation of President Cheeto the Obama Biden bromance memes came fast and furious. Many show Uncle Joe trying to get Obama to go along with a practical joke on the incoming president, while others depict Biden sad that Obama is going forward without. These memes were hilarious, but they gave us all the feels at the same time.

5. Tea Lizard
This one is kind of a two for one. The original Kermit the Frog sipping tea meme is used to indicate, “That’s none of my business, but also you’re totally wrong.” When ABC’s Good Morning America erroneously referred to Kermit as “tea lizard” the internet blew up, making the hashtag #tealizard forever burned in our brains.

4.Me to Me
This is another meme featuring Kermit. In the meme, he appears to be facing himself in the mirror, but the mirror image wears a hood, much like the hood of The Emperor in the Star Wars films. The good Kermit typically suggests doing the right thing, while evil Kermit suggests doing the wrong thing in an exaggerated way. One of our favorites is:
Me: So tired, can’t wait to go to bed.
Me to Me: Pick up your phone

3.Bernie or Hillary
As election season started to heat up, the Bernie or Hillary meme popped up everywhere. A poster showing both the candidates faces, with a topic at the top, each candidate answers in kind. As you would expect, Bernie typically gives a laid back answer such as offering his answers when the topic is “homework” or saying “I love the little guys!” when the topic is “lizards.” Hillary, however, is always depicted as a by the book rule follower, responding only with the page number of the questions for the homework topic, or simply saying, “No” in response to lizards. This one gained so much traction because it could be used for simply any purpose, and each candidates answer was always readily apparent.

2. Netflix and Chill
Netflix and Chill has been around for awhile, and it doesn’t have a specific image associated with it, but it really blew up in 2016. Netflix and Chill is, of course, slang for come on over for some sexual activity.

1.Me at the Beginning of 2016
Nothing sums up the horror of 2016 like the Me at the beginning of 2016 versus Me at the end of 2016 meme. This is often Luke from Episode III of Star Wars versus Luke as shown at the end of The Force Awakens. Its popularity was surely due to the fact that we were all a bit of a mess by the time this dumpster fire of a year was over.

How to Fail at Reddit

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How to Fail at Reddit
How to Fail at Reddit

Some people shy away from Reddit because they don’t understand the mechanics of the site but others know they can do just about anything there, like posting links and different text with followup comments that include pictures and videos.

Reddit is simple. Even failure is a subreddit topic designed for laughing at people who fail. Reddit designates their subreddit community of failures as “feeling sympathy for those who fail will result in a permanent ban and a swift kick to the pelvic area.”Your text to link…

Hey, everybody likes to laugh through the good and bad, so why not do it at the expense of some Reddit failures. Here are a few hilarious examples of failures on Reddit, which just might arouse a chuckle or two and a quizzical thought such as, “Why would someone do that?”

Bar or Liquid
In the janitor’s defense, he did put soap in the soap dispenser…

Only problem is, he forgot one small detail, which was to fill the dispenser with real, live liquid soap; instead, he replaced it with a humongous bar of soap. That’s the easy, “don’t do it right” attitude that goes with the janitorial landscape these days. The only not so funny part is that bar of soap seems to be irretrievable. If you can manage to get the bar out of the receptacle, it becomes a disease spreading mechanism. Who wants to pick up some creepy crud because of a wet, slimy bar of soap? Yuck!Your text to link…

Warned you! It’s not going to stay put.
Exhibit A – in why you mount these on the wall.

Good grief, any idiot knows you don’t set a flat screen television on a tiny narrow mantle piece, which can come loose from the wall, especially if it is not anchored in the right spots. No thought was obviously given to the ratio of weight to structure and balance. What a waste! Then again, it might be a old model that needs replacement. Insurance, anyone?Your text to link…

A New Barbie, or a Mishap
Must be the “Wandering Eye Barbi” version

It looks as though Barbie had a misunderstanding with her factory plastic surgeon. Too bad the adjustments didn’t work. Will she sue, go for a redo, or create a new gender identity with her eye mishap. Maybe she’ll become an activist for the wandering eye crew. She’ll always be Barbie, no matter her condition. What can you say? Her hair is still voluminous; the nose looks good, perfect eyebrows, nice lips. Hmm, she’ll sue.Your text to link…

Bit off More than He Could Choke
Choking during Chubby Bunny Challenge #FAIL!!!!!

Well, it seems the Chubby Bunny challenge is a bust for now. He couldn’t quite make the Guinness world record for marshmallows stuffed and went down early in the round; however, can we get a recount on the number of marshmallows stuffed and expelled? That sink has to be clogged and bogged to the limit. Choking during such a high-stakes challenge is no way to compete, unless you want to melt the goods in the micro or on the stove-top and swallow them that way, but that would be too easy, messy and sickeningly sweet. No, there has to be a