Month: January 2014

On privacy online – a serious threat or a way to success?

Let’s face it: people live on the network. We wake up, read our e-mail, check our messages on Facebook, interactions on Twitter, Snapchats, Whatsapps, Instagram and what else not. We use credit and debit cards, oysters, mobile devices, digital records and so on. We create communities and platforms online. We live online. Internet creates a great space for creativity, but is it a way to personal success and fame or is it a serious threat?

As I mentioned in my previous post, being active on social networks online is playing a great part of the great success in the jobseekers world nowadays. However, where is that boundary of privacy we are willing to step over?

With every trade we make, comment we leave, person we flag, badge we earn, we leave a reputation trail. (Rachel Botsman, TEDGlobal)

All the bits and pieces we share online automatically become a part of who we are and how people perceive us. It is a massive part of modernised social recruiting strategy and, in my opinion, there is a fairly bigger possibility to succeed by actually using these networks the same way people would use their private networks and people they know 50 years ago. The difference here is how much easier Internet makes everything for us. But as they say – with great power comes great responsibility. By having this powerful tool of sharing and connecting online, we have to be careful not to open ourselves up too much as it can become an enormous threat to our privacy and personal life.

The variety of social online platforms nowadays allow us to kind of distinguish between our personal lifes, family, travel and friday-nights-out and professional online networking on sites like LinkedIn. However, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have started to overlay professional vs. personal. And only us – users – are there to blame for their popularity. Anyone with an interest in modern technologies and successful business knows that these social platforms are the key to success in countless ways – advertising, recruiting, branding. And it is not only the personal vs. professional lifes we can talk about. For example, online dating sites, the odds are based on what your profile says and what pictures you put up.

However, what I want to focus on now is the idea of candidate screening through their somewhat private social media. I sometimes catch myself posting pretty personal bits of my everyday life on Twitter, sometimes in English, sometimes in Latvian, which is obviously my own responsibility as my Twitter is public. They are never embarrasing or in other way compromising, but they still are opening a door to see what I am doing in my spare time, what are my interests or where I ‘check-in’ on Foursquare. And to think that my possible future employer or partner would look at the picture of my dinner or where I go on a night out makes me shiver.

In 2012, a research was carried out within 300 employers and a suprising total of 61% of employers had rejected applicants on the basis of viewing their social network pages. 61%!!!!!! That means, more than a half of applicants had their social networks “wrong”. Has it come to the point where your spare time activities, pictures or personal views come between you and the position which you would possibly do great in?

Obviously, it is not all bad. There are things you might miss out on your CVs and other things, but have mentioned in your online profiles which make you more appealing. There might be things like this pointless blog, which shows you from a different light even though you haven’t mentioned it anywhere, except your own platforms. The great opportunities that come out of an innocent internet browsing sometimes open up an extraordinary path to self-discovery. The problem is, can we balance it out?

Last year I decided to ‘clean’ my Facebook account. I started with old pictures of my ‘teenage rebel years’ (which, to be honest,were not that rebel at all). But then after first couple of pictures I stopped. Why should I erase my memories because of fear that I might be declined a spot somewhere? Obviously, there is always a chance of changing your privacy settings (which I did, I’ll admit). But then we come back to the same question – what does it matter to another person what I do with my spare time (as long as it is legal)? How can I be judged for something that doesn’t in any way compromise me as a professional?

Privacy is implied. Privacy is not up for discussion. — Mikko Hypponen

My problem with the internet and privacy is the fact that we can’t control the content. Someone anonymous can take a snap of you on the train and just post it. That snap might or might not go viral, but why should we take a chance? Someone you know can share pictures of you or write about you on their sites and it all has no limits of sharing (at some point). My problem is the fact that the information once being unique, valuable and most importantly forgettable (erasable) now can easily become global, searchable, immortal and not at all private.

“You use your money to buy privacy because during most of your life you aren’t allowed to be normal.”
– Johnny Depp

Daniel J. Solove (2007) in his work “The future of reputation : gossip, rumor, and privacy on the Internet” is talking about the ironic truth of the Internet communication era – the free flow of information sadly threathens undermining our freedom in the future. As the author argues during his book, internet is a great tool of destruction: “People have profound new ways to communicate, yet the gossip, shaming, and rumors that are being spread online are sometimes having devastating effects on people’s lives.” (p.4) Does being free online mean actually not being free at all? And since when do we allow our online lives determine our offline identity?

So where is that balance between privacy and free speech? I don’t believe the idea of just a binary privacy that something is either private or public. No not at all, we should be able to relax and share our fun times with those we love and at the same time have the ‘luxury’ of privacy when it comes to strangers. We should not be judged by our pictures on Facebook, but by our knowledge and skills. We should not be treated like clothes on manequinns in shop windows, where the customer chooses the one that looks the best without trying it on. It should always be a two way interaction, otherwise the only thing I can compare it with is stalking. Plain and disgusting stalking.

I feel confident sharing my thoughts, ideas or impressions online, however I do think there is a line where people should stop. I do respect another persons privacy and expect anyone to do the same thing.

Even though during this post I took a clear stand of being against invading someones privacy online, I did not mean at all to say that social networking and professional social networking is all bad and intrusive. That is definitely not the case. If you ask me, I completely defend the idea and I am definitely one of the examples of “showing off my personality” on social media platforms. All I am arguing about is the fact that we should have the right of sharing our private things online without putting our future in jeopardy.

And to add to that here is some fun cartoon on the topic 🙂

Further readings:

1. Online and offline social networks: Use of social networking sites by emerging adults
2. Solove, Daniel J., The future of reputation : gossip, rumor, and privacy on the Internet, 2007
3. Motivations for Social Networking at Work
4. Does the Internet Increase, Decrease, or Supplement Social Capital?
5. Internet social network communities: Risk taking, trust, and privacy concerns
6. The ABC of Social Media Security
7. 11 tips for social networking safety
8. James D. Montgomery, Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis, The American Economic Review, Vol. 81, No. 5. (Dec., 1991), pp. 1408-1418.

On #YOP, my experience and tips for jobseekers…

This post will be a bit different, maybe more personal and less academically supported, but hopefully entertaining and useful. I’ll try to stay short.

So, today I attended a very interesting event, which definitely would classify as a different Saturday from those lazy all-day-in-bed-with-movies weekends. I went to a youth recruiting day organised by Aspira Consulting at the nice venue – Gilt Bar. Let’s start with first impressions… A nice and smiling person greeting me at the door and sending me upstairs to join the other attendants. I think – we’re off to a nice start. And we were.

I’ll skip the introductory details (although everything was calm and atmosphere was friendly) and will cut straight to the case.

PART 1 – CV, cover letter, interview.

Firstly, I have to point out that on a Saturday like this when everyone is still half asleep it is important to play your cards right when it comes to presentations. I have to admit, first presentation by Neil Hingorani (sadly I can’t find a link to add here, if someone can help me out with that, it would be greatly appreaciated) was spot on – perfect volume, enthusiasm and the level of engagement.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. [Vince Lombardi]

We’ve all been in a situation when we go over and over editing our CV’s, cover letters, personal statements, applications etc. until you think you’ve reached a perfection. However, at events like these we always get to see that difference in how people think when they are looking over your applications. Funnily enough, it is easy to skip some elementary details and points when you do your own feedback. People love themselves too much to not be biast.

perfect

It is through seminars like these that you understand you have been asking yourself the wrong questions. It is not about “what is wrong with me?”, “what should I have done differently?”. It is about – how can I get the attention, how can I sell myself more.

The answer is pretty easy, in my opinion: Stay loud, proud and thruthful to yourself. Pay attention to details. Pay attention to what you are interested in, maybe there is a pitch you can pick up and make it relevant. And for the love of God – DO NOT LIE.

Moving on… PART 2 – Understanding Social Media.

I have always enjoyed my fair bit of social networks.. Oh well, that is a lie – people who know me will say I am on way too much social media platforms. I say – so what, that is who I am and how I operate. I am curious, so I find my ways to deal with it.

A presentation by Matt Hodkinson continued to make my day enjoyable and fun. Discussing all the features of social media and it’s meaning in networking and jobseeking has always taken a special part in my mind. And let’s face it, in our globalised world that is constantly online it is a great opportunity for employeers and jobseekers to find one and other.

So what is this all fuss about? It is about non-existant limits, about no borders about the noise (credit for the noise metaphor goes to the presenter). It is about hashtags and keywords, about covering different platforms and doing background research. It is about being yourself, being opened to adventures and being discoverable. In other words – search for what interests you, but do not forget that somebody might be looking for you, so: KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS.

PART 3 – Present yourself.

As you probably guessed, I really enjoyed myself during this presentation (I secretly love presenting myself even when I am not asked to). And dynamic and passionate Scott Summers is to blame for this.

So what are the things that build up a great presentation of yourself?

You need to be interested to be interesting. [Scott Summers]

That is the basic idea, isn’t it? You have to be human, you have to interract to get the feedback. It starts with first impressions and end with the moment you shake hands and say goodbyes. It is all about the communication – body language, words and sounds. It is everything we do during our contact with another human being, whether it is our future boss (fingers crossed) or just a guy next door. People learn unconsciously to read signals and interactions, so that is the main thing to concentrate on when presenting yourself.

At the end of the day, who are we? We are who we want to be. And don’t be afraid to be curious; ask questions you do not know answers to, as this is the way to learn.

PART 4 – Networking PA Access All Areas.

I have to admit, this was probably the best way to end the seminar sessions. Fun, light and adorable presentation by Josephine Green and Merryl Futerman from PA Access All Areas.

Fake it until you make it! [Josephine Green and Merryl Futerman]

Might sound a bit bad. But it is a great advice – faking it for a bit might turn into a real passion and no faking at all. And it almost always does. A great scope on icebreakers, networking events and full of great jokes. Networking covers everything from preparation before to interesting personal and not so personal facts. Be not afraid of approaching people that might determine your future. Be not afraid to say thank you and approach the host. Be not afraid to engage! Simply – mingle, have fun, be polite, be personal (with respect to boundaries of course).

Conclusions…

As far as I am concerned these events, no matter how much leader trainings, seminars or lectures I’ve attended, always give me a new insight. They give me a confidence boost. They give me power. I met some great people today and I would not change this Saturday for anything else today. This is a type of thing I would suggest more and more people to attend. This is the way of learning from those, who have proven themselves in the area. This is the way to get prepared.

Lastly, stand out, don’t be a gray mass, don’t be afraid to ask questions and most importantly – stay true to yourself! Only then can you deal with whatever the life throws at you.

Thanks to all the speakers and organisers for a wonderful session of learning today!

Relevant links:

http://www.aspira-consulting.com/
https://twitter.com/aspira_consult
https://twitter.com/Kim_Aspira
https://twitter.com/Alice_Aspira
https://twitter.com/Natasha_Aspira
https://twitter.com/Stevie_Aspira
https://twitter.com/theskillsfarm
http://theskillsfarm.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/matt_hodkinson
http://www.influenceagents.com/
https://twitter.com/PAAccessAllArea
http://www.paaccessallareas.co.uk/

On intercultural communication, learning the language and globalisation.

As Anthony J. Liddicoat has said in his paper “Teaching Languages for Intercultural Communication” (2005):

“Learning a foreign language is more than a simple task of assembling lexical items in grammatically accurate sentences. It involves fundamentally learning to communicate with others in that language and such communication involves an engagement with culture.”

So I decided it is time for this kind of post.

As stated by Gupta and Ferguson, changes in political and economic systems and migration of people has led to the situation where we have to re-evaluate the ways of exploring the cultures and maybe even redefine the concept of culture as a discrete phenomenon (1992). Culture is not a simple concept, therefore in my mind, changing it would mean changing the small components constructing it. The work of Gupta and Ferguson overall raises the wide issue of ‘place and space’: location, displacement, community and identity; it deals with change in Anthropology and it’s concepts due to the development of society, science, economy, politics etc. It talks about culture and cultural differences within the context of the modern globalized world. How big a part of a culture depends on where we come from? Does the certain culture only exists within a certain society, or it travels and changes together with people; or does a politically geographical distinction dictates the way of perceiving the culture as a part of certain people and territory?

Migration, nomads, foreign studies or work – are you supposed to have more than one culture or maybe none of them the same time? And where do we draw a line between cultures? Are there even several cultures or there is just one thing – a culture? Multiculturalism is a clear example of non-isolated cultures, of a movement as a part of human nature and culture, plurality concept (even though dividing cultures into subcultures seems to be an attempt of a distinct cultural view of world). National identity vs. Ethnic (cultural) identity: As J.Rotschild (1999) states, even though most countries are multi-ethnic; ethno-national self-determination is critical on a mental level. Dominant culture + ‘the others’ (concept of the otherness), plus mixture of cultures based on the power of dominant culture; (In my mind I would link this idea to A.D. Smith (1997) -> ethnic groups tend to form either by union or disunion of certain units -> Assimilation vs. Proliferation).

As a foreigner living in the United Kingdom, I can definitely say that it has not been easy for me to learn the “language”. And no, not in a grammatical sense of the word. Being here and studying anthropology I felt lost for at least the first month or so. I felt lost mainly because both – the environment and the study area – were completely new. I had to EXPLORE people through anthropological studies without having any idea how these people are different, are they different at all and what are their customs and mentality. With this we come back to the unloved idea of ‘the others’. During our classes we talked about ‘the others’ mostly when talking about groups of people that are considered to be not as developed technology-wise. But it isn’t as easy as that, is it?

When I told my supervisor I will carry out my research right here in the UK and, even more complicated, on people of my own age group and nationality, he called me crazy and offered me to go to the easy way. He offered me to write on the ancient pagan rituals and use of them nowadays in Latvia. For him, I was ‘the other’ from the place somewhere else which made this theme fascinating. For me the UK was “the other place” and I wanted to explore what I thought would help me to fit in. Basically, by looking for the reasons in other people like me I set myself straight. In time, I obviously made lots of friends who are British, learned the ideas, picked up some accents, social customs and even fell for a guy. I didn’t feel like ‘the other’ anymore, nor do I now. However, that had changed me – I feel more as ‘the other’ back home.

Language for people is like a marker of identity. Our language implies certain things about us and using a language means constructing our social identity. Language allows you to express yourself. In my opinion, learning the language is somehow showing respect for the other person and in addition to that, you enrich your world by engaging with another culture and more importantly learning to understand it.

Recently I had an interesting conversation in my friends car on what I value the most about learning foreign languages. I replied that in my opinion it makes you more tolerant as you learn a part of the identity through the language, you participate in a cultural exchange without even knowing it. Every language is a way to explore and understand. And exploring a second language is the most obvious way of intercultural communication. It is important to keep in mind that when someone communicates in their second language they automatically encode the ideas in language which is located within a certain cultural context. Hence, language learners have to engage with culture as they communicate which is not always the easiest of tasks.

This leads to exactly what S. Tambiah had said in his work “Magic, Science, Religion and the Scope of Rationality” – he points out four main themes: rationality, relativity, translation and comparability and commensurability. All these points are tools to communicate, to understand “us” and “them” by explaining the information we gather in terms of our own understanding (S. Tambiah: 1990). In my opinion, it raises the question of “being lost in translation” or in other words misinterpretation. By interpreting cultures on our own knowledge basis, can we be objective or rational? Are any of the cultures better than the other? Even though Tambiah’s work has been written just over 20 years ago, a lot has changed since then. Global connections and information systems have been upgraded every day and cultures mix due to networking and social and economic organisations collaborating globally hence cross-culturally. Cross-cultural communication is happening not only in professional but also personal levels – people are migrating, i.e. labour migrants, integrate in the “local” society and become a part of it, but still with a different background, creating a new kind of cultural identity. However, the diversity of cultures has not been eliminated, as long as we acknowledge that we are individuals, there is a diversity in thoughts, traditions etc.

Models of intercultural communication have greatly changed accordingly, and one of the main communication changing aspects is globalisation. If we look back for almost forty years, E. Leach wrote: “Our internal perception of the world around us is greatly influences by the verbal categories which we use to describe it (…) we also use language to tie the components together again, to put things and persons in relationship to one another” (E. Leach: 1976, p.33). If we look at the ideas ten years later from that point on, late 80s and start of the 90s – anthropology has shifted from a clear idea of distinction between cultures who communicate to a much more open debate between relativists and rationalists. Ten more years later, Norman Long argues that globalisation is not uniformity but is to be considered diversity, since it allows more individual and self-organized system to operate and people become less united (N. Long: 2000, p.185). This leads to discussion on heterogeneity of society even modern and high-tech communication systems and media development should allow more easy communication. At some point it does. It is definitely much easier to find information on a certain project or interest, transfer information, check the facts etc. But this also allows the information to be more manipulated, used by the third parties or to be false.

And to conclude, it is always about understanding each other not about learning dry facts.

Further readings:

1. Hannerz, U. Mediations in the global ecumene in G. Palsson (ed.) Beyond Boundaries. Understanding, Translation and Anthropological Discourse, Princeton Academic Press, 1993.
2. Leach, E. Culture and Communication: the logic by which symbols are connected. An introduction to the use of structuralist analysis in social anthropology, Cambridge University Press, 1976.
3. Palsson, G. Introduction: Beyond Boundaries in G. Palsson (ed.) Beyond Boundaries. Understanding, Translation and Anthropological Discourse, Princeton Academic Press, 1993.
4. Tambiah, S., Magic, science, religion, and the scope of rationality, Cambrige University Press, 1990.
5. Liddicoat, A.J. and A. Sacrino (2013) Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning Wiley and Sons, New York.
6. Crozet, C., & Liddicoat, A.J. (2000) Teaching culture as an integrated part of language: Implications for the aims, approaches and pedagogies of language teaching. A.J. Liddicoat & Crozet, C. (Eds.), Teaching Languages, Teaching Cultures. Melbourne: Language Australia.
7. Gupta A., Ferguson J., Beyond “Culture”: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference,
Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 1, (Feb., 1992), Wiley, URL