CultureHealthSkills

The first thing I do when I get online is go straight to Facebook. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m doing it. Next thing I know, I’m scrolling through my news feed clicking on links, reading statuses, and commenting on pictures. That entire process seems to take up a good chunk of my time. Why? Because the Internet is a black hole. It sucks away our life and we’re not even aware of it, until we shut down our laptops or tablets and look up to find that time passed us by while we read the latest celebrity gossip or watched the latest episode of our favorite TV show.

While the Internet can be an extremely wonderful place, the outside world has so much to offer. Don’t spend your entire break from school online because if you do, you will have missed out on your chance to get some fresh air or spend time with your family and friends.

I know what I’m about to say might be hard for some of you to do. This is why, before I put in my request, I just want to remind everyone that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest will still be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. Spending a few days away from social media and the Internet, in general, won’t make it to disappear into the cyberverse forever. That said (after you finish reading this article of of course), I want everyone to close out of their Internet browsers and shut down every electronic device. Those are two simple steps but it might prove to be really hard for some, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to stay connected at all times.

I am that kind of person too. I like being able to read what’s going on in other countries and, guiltily, what’s going on in the lives of celebrities I like. But, at the end of the day, I make sure to remember my own life. I am young. I still have a lot to explore and a lot to experience. I can’t do any exploring or memory making if I am always sitting in front of a computer screen.

And neither can you.

Get out there! The world is your playground. If you can’t travel to far off places just yet, take a walk around your neighborhood. Check out that store you haven’t gone in yet or maybe try the new coffee shop that just opened. Call up a few of your friends and go see a movie. Do something that doesn’t involve the Internet or social media. Unplugging is seriously one of the best ways you can seize your life because, whether you remember it or not, there was a time when we didn’t have laptops and smartphones and tablets. When we were kids, we still were able to find ways to entertain ourselves that didn’t involve the latest app or Twitter.

Pick up a book from the library, rock out to your favorite song,  and maybe help around the house or clean your room. Do something that doesn’t involve plugging in to the Internet. Do anything that will allow you to seize your youth because you don’t want to look up one day and realize that you didn’t seize every moment of your life. This moment in our lives have the potential to be the greatest. All you have to do is get out there and do more with your time than just stare at a screen. I know unplugging isn’t exactly an easy thing to do, but once you do it I promise you won’t regret it.

Image: Nomadic Lass

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Have you ever stumbled upon a Twitter feed where you find yourself 10 minutes later still laughing and scrolling through the tweets? This happened to us with Lyndsay Rush and her hilarious observations and comments. How she manages to make every day occurrences so funny in just 140 characters is a mystery to us, but we’ll happily continue reading and laughing.

Besides her obvious comedy chops, Lyndsay Rush is also a talented writer. She is a columnist for HelloGiggles, SheKnows, and The Everygirl, as well as a copywriter. Storytelling and writing has been a passion for Lyndsay ever since she was little, and she has honed her skills through different mediums – film, Spanish, and blogging. We’re huge fans of Lyndsay’s columns, as well as the advice and lessons she shares. With her great sense of humor, emphasis on being thankful, and dedication to her craft, Lyndsay definitely seizes her youth.

Name: Lyndsay Rush
Age: 31
Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas
Follow: Twitter / BrandBurst

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Lyndsay Rush: I think being aware and present and thankful for where you are in life is a trick that benefits everyone. As for seizing your youth, it’s so fantastic when you’re young to go big. Try new things, embrace what freaks you out, ask a lot of questions. Befriend failure because it means you’re out there, it means you’re making the most of life.

CJ: You went to college at the University of Kansas and studied Film and Spanish. How did you determine what to study?

LR: I always laugh at this, since it seems so random. But my justification now is that I knew I loved storytelling, I just chose the wrong medium (film) and I always loved language, I just focused on the wrong one (Spanish). But I wouldn’t change a thing. I still adore the Spanish language, and when I stumbled into copywriting, I found that having a unique background was actually appealing to clients and employers, because my tone of voice was different from someone who studied marketing or journalism, for example.

CJ: What sparked your love of writing?

LR: I have been writing since I was little. My mom had my siblings and me keep journals from the moment we learned how to read and write (which, ahem, for me was 4 years old. Child genius alert, I know.) So I learned at a really young age how fun it was to tell stories. And then when I quit my job in finance 3 years after college, I started a blog about being unemployed, and really found my storytelling and humor voice. That silly little blog ended up getting some serious traction and I eventually used it as a way to get other work, leading to my career today.

CJ: You are a columnist for Hello Giggles, The Everygirl, and SheKnows. What is your writing process and where/how do you find inspiration for articles?

LR: I’d say it is a mix of my original ideas, and then specific stories pitched to me by my editors. I’m so thankful, at all of these publications, for editors who really “get” me and let me try new things or go in directions that might be off the beaten path. It’s seriously the most fun job ever.

Lyndsay Rush 3

CJ: You are also a freelance copywriter for a number of different companies. What does being a copywriter entail?  

LR: Basically anything that businesses might need written, I write. From web copy, to naming products and services, to taglines and slogans, to ads, to social media, to bios to emails…there is so much that businesses need to communicate, and it all has to be specific to who they want to reach, which in turn feeds how they need to speak (write.) At the beginning of launching out on my own, I literally took anyone who would pay me. I was just stunned that I was getting paid to put words together. It was so dreamy. But then as I’ve gotten deeper into the field, I’ve been able to hone in on what I love the most, and only accept projects and companies that want my specific tone (conversational, witty, unexpected). This is a real treat, because I get to do what comes most natural to me.

CJ: You are an incredible, relatable, and hilarious writer. Your Twitter feed, in particular, is smart and laugh out loud funny. How does humor influence your writing, and how can one improve their humor writing skills?

LR: First of all, thank you, that’s so kind. Secondly, you’re right I am hilarious. Kidding. But really, I think observation is the key to humor. I think the best comedians and humorists are able to see at a layer deeper than the average person. They point out and heighten things that we may have missed but that always make us go, “That is SO true!” It also helps to keep track of the people you think are funny, and see how they write certain jokes, or tell certain stories. There is so much to learn from others and being well read is a huge help. Some people think that if you read other humorous writing that you will be tempted to emulate them and lose your voice, but I disagree. I don’t think people can fake being funny; I think it just feeds into your overall experience in life and adds different notes to your writing.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a writer?

LR: This is tough, but I think a big lesson I have learned along the way is that the more people there are reading your stuff, the more negative feedback you’ll get. This is just a numbers game. When I started writing for Hello Giggles, for example, and thousands of people were reading my articles, those were some of the first times I had gotten really nasty comments from readers. Similarly with bigger websites I’ve written. People love to hate stuff. We are a bunch of haters, these days. But try to focus on those who love what you have done, and then if (this is a big IF) there is actual constructive criticism in the comments or feedback, take that and grow. It’s all an opportunity to grow and get better and throw it in those haters’ faces. Just kidding. Mostly.

CJ: What is the best part about being a writer? The most challenging part?

LR: Best part for me being a freelancer is working in my pajamas. Most challenging part is being self-motivated, organized, and disciplined so that you get that work done…even if it’s while in your robe.

Lyndsay Rush 4

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

LR: This is going to make me look so un-glamorous, because I can be a kind of nerdy introvert. But I wake up, make coffee (a must,) get out my to-do list for the day (I am still old school on this, I write those suckers down. Nothing is more satisfying than crossing something off a list with a pen. Nothing!), and then I prioritize what needs to be done and when. Then I check and answer emails, and then get to work. If I have a big project starting that day I will go work form a coffee shop, since a change of scenery sometimes helps spark my brain. I take breaks whenever I need to, to ride my bike or meet a friend for lunch, or watch a show. I LOVE and thrive on a flexible schedule and consider it a luxury that I don’t have to be creative in that dastardly 9-5 window. I work a lot of nights with wine, especially if I’ve given myself the afternoon to play.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a writer do now to set themselves up for success?

LR: Read a lot. And take notes on anything that you observe that catches your interest. Take classes! Improv classes and writing classes. Pay attention to what your heroes are doing. Write every day, even if it’s minor, even if it’s 3 jokes about current events, or one line of dialogue. Have a time and place where you write and stick to it. If you truly care about it, prove it by making time for it and doing the work.

CJ: When you aren’t crafting clever tweets or writing your columns, how do you like to spend your time?

LR: I love to travel. Because I work for myself, I can go on trips and still get work done, while taking in a new culture. I like riding my red bike around Chicago and checking out new coffee shops and bakeries. I really enjoy improv and sketch shows, iO and Second City in Chicago, and UCB in New York. My dream night is a dinner party on a friend’s patio. Oh, and I consider myself a nail artist. Probably change my polish 3-4 times a week like a total psycho.

Lyndsay Rush 2

CJ: What motivates you in your everyday life?

LR: Hope, change, god, relationships, chips.

CJ: What’s next for you?

LR: Ideally, I would be writing for television. Either late night shows as a monologue writer or for sitcoms, or awards shows. That’s my next big plan, at least.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LR: I would tell her to stop trying to please other people. And to really stop worrying what other people thought; to be a little more open-minded and daring, and to put away her credit card. I would also tell her to cut it out with the tanning already.

EducationSkills

This generation is obsessed with social media. If we’re not sharing our thoughts in 140 characters or less, then we’re trying to take the perfect selfie for Instagram or updating our statuses on Facebook. We spend so much time documenting our everyday lives through social networking that we often don’t think about the other benefits of social media.

And there are other benefits.

While it’s possible to find a job or an internship through Facebook or Twitter, you don’t want either of those social outlets to represent who you are professionally. Those accounts are personal, so they’re less likely to feature any projects you’ve worked on or document the clubs and organizations you’ve participated in. Employers are not going to be on the lookout for your accomplishments on any of the social media sites that you frequent. I’m not saying that you should stop using them because we all know the likelihood of that happening is very low (I couldn’t give up Twitter). However, what I am suggesting is that you use social media to network to your advantage.

Take all of those extracurricular activities and your many accomplishments and start building your brand. When I first heard the term ‘build your brand,’ I didn’t quite understand what it meant. Then someone explained it to me like this: imagine two companies coming out with similar products. Both companies are known for distributing quality products and they both get great customer reviews. Knowing all of that, you have to ask yourself, what makes either one of them stand out? Which company will attract the most people and sell the most products?

Well, it’s the company that knows how to market themselves the best.

The same applies for us. There are always going to be people with the same GPA as us, people who participate in the same clubs, and people who produce the same quality of work. Just because you’re always going to have people who are similar to you, though, doesn’t mean that you are not unique. Like those companies that I mentioned before, we all have qualities or strengths that make us unique. You just have to play up those strengths and SELL YOURSELF.

You can’t do that on Facebook or Twitter, so travel to a different part of the social networking world and make yourself a LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college or still in high school. Make an account and start documenting the activities and jobs and/or internships that you have done thus far that help highlight your strengths and the qualities that make you stand out from the crowd. Make a personal website or online portfolio (both of which you can share on LinkedIn) and document the dual enrollment program you participated in, that summer abroad, or any project that you were a part of.

Building your brand is all about marketing yourself and marketing something is all about getting someone to buy what you are selling. Doing this now may be what gets you into the college of your dreams, land you the internship you’ve always wanted, or if you’ve already graduated from college, it may be what gets you into grad school. You are never too young to start thinking about your future because, before you know it, high school will be over and done with and so will college. It all goes by in a blur so use your time wisely and start using social media, not just  as a way to connect with family and friends, but to connect with professionals that your parents or people in your family may know as well. If you want to work for a particular company one day, there’s a chance that they’re on LinkedIn. Also, if you are in college, you can see what alumni from your school went on to do after graduation and see what career paths people who had the same major chose.

There are so many opportunities out there and a lot of them are online,  a place where we all love to frequent anyways, so put those fingers to work and instead of using them to type out your next status update, think about what you want to do with your future. It’s fine if you don’t figure it all out in a day, no one does, but it’s good to have an idea of what you want to do. It’s also good to start getting your name out there because you never know how far your accomplishments can take you. Not every high school or college student has a LinkedIn account or an online portfolio, so once you make that decision to start building your brand, keep in mind that you’re already ahead of the game.

Image: morguefile

EducationHealth

Have you ever wondered how specific magazines, spam letters, or specific ads find you in the large nebulous that is the internet? Well, Twitter’s recent refurbishment of their ad-revenue model, which now closely resembles the model used by Facebook, gives insight into just how media executives use your electronic history to sell products.

Currently the social media site receives payment for every ad selected by a user. However, in the coming month, Twitter will offer companies the ability to control how they repay Twitter for advertisements. For example, a clothing website could pay Twitter only when a user is steered towards looking at the upcoming collection. Other options include payments after seeing a growth in followers for that specific company, number of app downloads, or the company could even pay for social media user’s email addresses in order to bombard them with advertisements. Before, one had to go out of the way to follow companies or click on ads, make it a personal mission to find media which would direct away from normal social media interactions, whereas now something as simple as retweeting can lead to pop ups and filtration of what content is received.

Like Facebook, Twitter users will have to consciously think about the choices they make on the site. By choosing to download the app, you are giving the company the ability to see your search history and make ads that cater to your previously visited websites. By clicking on an ad, you are telling Twitter exactly what it is you are interested in and allowing them to alter the type of media you are exposed to while its website.

This means that social media has further filtered what people are able to access online. Yes, one could still search for other things in media, but what will be received more frequently because of this new model is very watered-down form of media; diluted media that only exposes the viewer to small portions of what the planet is going through. And although Twitter and Facebook might find this to be an attractive idea for ad companies, they are putting their viewer’s content and the amount of cash earned from ads at risk- now it actually takes more effort to see more ads and earn money.

Either way, this situation limits what can be seen and done online. Someone who finds the ads for polls on celebrities will never see world news pop up on their feed, just as people who follow CNN will never escape the newsroom’s melodrama. This circumstance forces users of social media to be more scrupulous of what they search for online, because using these outlets of communication forfeit privacy and choice over what they consume.

Image: Flickr

Skills

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” There is no proof that Mahatma Gandhi ever said these exact words, but either way, you are familiar with this quote. It was used in the valedictorian’s graduation speech, a few of your professors paraphrased it in their lectures, someone retweeted it on Twitter, it was printed across a cute shirt on the bargain rack at the mall, or maybe you’re just the kind of person who likes to collect inspirational quotes.

Whatever your story may be, there is no doubt that you’ve encountered this quote at some point in your life. However, your familiarization isn’t what’s important. This is solely because nine times out of ten people will look at that quote, think it’s inspirational enough to share on social networks, and go on about their day smiling at all of the likes and retweets and favorites they get from their friends and followers.

I’m not saying everyone is like that but how many people do you think will actually be the change that they wish to see? Now, that quote is obviously open to interpretation because we all want to see different things. We all have our own definitions of change and what we’d like to see change. But if there is one thing we all have in common, it’s this: we all live in an imperfect world. It seems like every time I go on the internet or turn on the TV, something horrible is happening. Even if I’m not aware of it, I still know that somewhere in the world someone is living in poverty or trying to survive in a war-torn country.

If you’re reading this article, that means you have access to the internet, which means you have a computer (or a smartphone), and that already makes you a little more privileged than a lot of people around the world. This is not to say that we don’t all have our own life struggles or that we’re all well-off, but I am saying that we have a duty to fulfill. Because while we all might not live in war torn countries or have to deal with poverty, it doesn’t mean that those issues will go away if we don’t think about it. The horrible things in this world aren’t fairies. They won’t disappear just because we say we don’t believe in them or because we aren’t forced to encounter struggles in our everyday lives.

So what is the point of all of this? Well, to put it simply, as young people (it doesn’t matter if you’re in high school or in college), we owe it to future generations to set a good example for them and to be the change. All change is change, so if you wish to see less animal abuse in the world, volunteer at an animal shelter, help fundraise for organizations whose missions are to end animal abuse. Whatever cause you’re interested in, find a way to become a part of it, because chances are there is a way that you can contribute. If you’re not really into joining any causes, you can still volunteer and make a difference in your community.

Look for local chapters of Habitat for Humanity. Put in time helping restore or build a home for a family in need. Pick up trash around the neighborhood, clock in some hours at the community center or an afterschool program or anything your heart desires! I’m not saying that doing any of these things will put an end to all wars or get rid of poverty forever, but as I said before, we live in a world that is imperfect and bad things happen everyday. Why not try to do something good to counteract the bad?

Volunteering is important because not only will it impact your life, but it will ultimately have a positive impact on the lives of others. No act of service is too small or too great. Poverty will not go away in one day and neither will famine or sickness. I don’t expect it to but I do expect to try to work at doing what I can, as a young person, as a college student, to make sure that I do things that honor the change that I not only wish to see but the change I want to see as well.

You have the power to influence others in a positive way. If you start to volunteer for a cause or an organization, one of your peers or family members might be inspired to get involved or to tell other people about it. That’s how movements are started. That’s how change happens.

If you’re like the queen from Alice in Wonderland and you don’t want white roses, paint them the color that you want them to be. In other words, if you don’t like the way things are, do something about it. Paint all of the things that you want to change red!

Also, the next time you come across the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world,” forget about liking it or sharing it or retweeting it; choose to live by it instead.

Image: morguefile

CultureSkills

It is difficult in this day and age to find an individual who isn’t connected to one account or another. It’s surprising if someone can honestly say they don’t have at least one social media account. I was born into a generation that has never experienced a world without social media. I opened my first social media account at the ripe young age of 11 on MySpace (not the required minimum age of 13…shhh).

Since then, I’ve always had something. But it hit me this summer how dependent I’d become to social media. It was scary, to be honest. My usual morning routine always included checking Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook before heading out for the day. It isn’t fair to say that social media isn’t important because it definitely has its uses. Social media connects people in ways that never would’ve possible 20 years ago. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts can be used not only for personal reasons, but also as a way for potential employers to learn more about you. A well-managed social media account can say so much about a person. However, it’s nice to disconnect for a while. The longest I’ve lasted is a week without checking any of my social media accounts. I realize a week is not actually a long time, but short as it was, it was extremely refreshing. So give it a try! Who knows what you’ll learn about yourself.

A few tips for managing a successful social media account:

  • Show your personality, but be wary of what you post. Don’t anything that you might be ashamed of later.
  • Be sure you have permission when posting anything involving someone else.
  • Post a variety of things! Even the most artsy shots of any specific thing can get boring after a while.

The dangers of social media:

  • Customize your privacy settings. Some accounts, like Facebook, connect you with not only associates and co-workers, but also family and friends. You may post something intended for close family members to see but not anyone else, or vice-versa. Make sure your settings are air-tight.
  • As I mentioned before, just because a picture of you and friends having a night out might be of interest to others, that doesn’t mean that it should be posted. If maintaining an account with only one privacy option (like Instagram – either private or not private), be extra, extra picky with what gets posted.
  • To put it simply, don’t post anything that may come back to haunt you later. Our parents don’t have to worry about an impulsive tweet posted at 2 am when they were 18 coming popping up somewhere. We do.

We’d love to know – do you tweet?

Image: DeathtotheStockPhoto

CultureEducationSkills

I used to work in a zoo. Yes, a zoo. While this may seem silly, bizarre, or abnormal, I learned a lot from being around seals, baboons, and alpacas. I would have never expected that volunteering would be useful for me, but it was a quite the experience.

I went to a high school that required community service hours, and most students fulfilled this by working at the local library or at a senior service center. Bor­ing! I wanted to work somewhere fun, something new and unexpected. After some searching around, I found out that the local zoo was in need of some volunteers. After an interview in the wallaby (tiny kangaroo) pen, I was accepted immediately and began spending my Saturdays hanging out with Brooke the sheep.

I was volunteering once a week that summer. Because of the free time, I was able to dedicate myself to learning the materials I needed to teach visitors about our variety of birds and mammals. Best of all, I didn’t need to worry about school. Volunteering over the summer lets you really give your all, so take advantage of it.

The reason I wanted to volunteer at the zoo was because it was a first­time experience. I’ve never, ever worked with animals before. All I’ve ever had was a pet goldfish! I was worried that someone (including the animals) would get hurt, and a part of me was a little afraid of them.

The great thing about volunteering is that many places are often willing to teach you what you need to know. They probably know you’re new (after all, you’re only in high school) so don’t worry about not knowing how to send that official e­mail or handle the Twitter account. If you can’t get a job because you lacked the skills, volunteering at a nonprofit can help you gain those skills. Volunteering opens you up to new experiences and lets you learn things that might come in handy later.

Another reason I wanted to volunteer was because it would allow me to try something I’ve always wanted to try (but never could!). I like being outdoors and teaching. Yet, I never quite found something in the neighborhood that allowed me to do that. Now that I’m in college (and deciding on majors, and looking for jobs, and all that “adult” stuff), I know what and who I want to work with. It turns out that I’m great with kids, but I’m not so helpful on a stage. Volunteering lets you find out what you like or don’t like, and that’s good too!

So this summer, go out and volunteer! If it’s three days a week, or just an hour or two on a Tuesday night, it doesn’t hurt to try. You’ll learn something new about yourself and hopefully enjoy yourself as well. Have fun!

Culture

According to a new survey of almost 9,000 teens, teenagers prefer Twitter over Facebook. The financial firm Piper Jaffray discovered that 26% of youth favored Twitter, while 23% preferred Facebook and Instagram. Reportedly, there are 218 million active Twitter users worldwide.

This new survey shows an interesting shift, as a survey of 8,600 teens earlier this year showed that Facebook was favored over Twitter by 33% to 30%. 

What is your favorite social media network?