There’s not enough time.
Time to work. Time to exercise. Time to reconnect with my wife. Time to think about all the things we’ll never have time to do.
Oh, and time to be a good parent.
Most of my dad-friends agree there’s never enough time for that. We want to be good dads, but it takes time — good, quality time.
For me, being a good dad means spending “some” time every day with my kids. That’s not always quality time, but I do try to talk to them about their days. When time permits, we stray into conversations about deeper issues about life.
Yes, this makes it sound like a chore, like something I’ve added to the to-do list. It’s not. But spending quality time with them had been challenging of late, especially as my older kids have, well, gotten older.
They’re 14 and 12 now. They want their own time — their “alone” time, or at least time away from Mom and Dad. That’s OK with us (most of the time).
The best part is, I actually like hanging out with my kids. They’re funny, inquisitive and talk about our lives in ways that give me hope for the future. But there’s a 10-year age range among them, so spending quality time with all of them on something they all like to do and talk about is a challenge.
My go-to solution to get everyone in on dad-time is technology.
Read more at https://www.vindy.com/opinion/community-columnists/2020/02/tech-helps-find-time-to-be-a-good-father/ (may encounter paywall).
I’m a sucker for a good science experiment that I can share with my kids.
My wife knows this. So as soon as she reads cool science news on Twitter, she shares it with me.
The problem is, I’m also easy prey for bogus social media posts that show these experiments in action.
Yes, I should know better. But when really smart people fall victim to the same hoax, it kind of lessens the sting.
Surrounded by our kids last Tuesday morning, my wife shared with us a tweet about the NASA Broom Challenge. After a lengthy search for a broom (“where’s the [expletive] broom you guys?”), she returned to demonstrate the experiment.
We were all amazed of course.
Not to be outdone, I went to the back porch with a broom to shoot my own #NASABroomChallenge video. After a few edits, my masterpiece was ready to post.
The Facebook post was up in seconds, already receiving likes and comments. I was about to post a pithy tweet with my video when—low and behold—a dear friend texted me to say, “You know this is all b***s***, right?”
I wasn’t alone.
Sports stars and other celebrities all got in on the “Broom Challenge” and shared their pictures and videos on social media.
Even some of our friends in the news industry fell victim to the same pseudoscience claim, posting their own shots of brooms delicately balanced on the newsroom floors.
My good friend, WFMJ’s Danielle Cotterman, got caught up in the hype and posted a picture of her broom to Twitter. I replied, of course, with “It's true! @mbexoxo (my wife’s Twitter handle) did this today. Impressive!”
Those same news outlets quickly realized their mistake (much faster than me) how dumb we all were, and turned the story on its head. WFMJ went to YSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy to get the real science scoop behind the hoax.
According to Dr. Snjezana “Snow” Balaz, you can do this all day, every day, all year long. “It’s physics. It’s science. It’s simply a balancing act,” Balaz told WFMJ. “The broom has a center of gravity directly above the edge it wants to tip over. So when it’s lined up like this, it stands in balance.”
NASA posted a response to Twitter the next day. Just like Dr. Balaz, astronaut Alvin Drew and scientist Sarah Noble showed in a video that basic physics works every day of the year, not just February 10.
Okay, that all makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is that we’re still falling for this stuff on social media.
Shouldn’t we know better by now?
Maybe we’re still so easily duped by these claims because they’re cool and—especially in the case of the broom challenge—they’re relatively harmless. But give us some completely bogus information with “NASA says” or “scientific test” and many of us will believe without question.
The fact is, even though this prank was mostly harmless, the next one might not be.
Fact checking is still a necessary skill for all of us who get at least some of our news via social media. Hopefully I’ll remember that before getting “swept up” in the next viral social media craze.
This column first appeared in the February 9, 2020 PRINT edition of The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers:
It’s a tale as old as, well, America.
Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on anything, and it’s newsworthy when they do.
Today, that agreement is overwhelming bipartisan distrust of social media.
This distrust may come as some surprise to leaders at Facebook and other social media companies. They claim to have implemented new security and privacy measures, and tried to stop fake news over the last few years.
They did this, in part, regain our trust and win back daily active users.
A new study from the Pew Research Center looked at this lack of trust in social media. A large majority of Americans are familiar with the major social platforms (e.g., Facebook) and many say they still use social media to find political news, even if they don’t trust them.
The study was conducted as part of Pew’s ongoing Election News Pathways project, which examines our news habits, our attitudes about what we hear and perceive, and what we think we know about the 2020 election.
“Indeed, Facebook, the most widely used of the six social media sites examined when it comes to getting political and election news, is distrusted by about six in 10 U.S. adults,” said report authors Mark Jurkowitz and Amy Mitchell.
Nearly half said they distrust Twitter, and four in 10 said they skeptical of Instagram.
Some Americans who said they get their news through social media are equally reliant on it.
“Overall, 18 percent of U.S. adults cite social media as the ‘most common’ way they access political news — relying on it more than other platforms such as TV, print, radio or news websites and apps,” Jurkowitz and Mitchell said.
Adults who rely mostly on social media for political news also had more trust than others in platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They continue to use social media as a place to get political news. They’re less concerned about the spread of fake news.
Video-sharing site YouTube was not immune.
“YouTube is also distrusted by greater portions of each party than trusted,” Jurkowitz and Mitchell said. About 15 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats say they trust it.
“Republicans and Democrats also largely agree about LinkedIn and Reddit, where distrust exceeds trust in both parties by at least a two-to-one ratio.”
Coincidentally, when Pew researchers asked voters about their trust of specific platforms, a large percentage said they hadn’t even heard of some companies.
For example, 27 percent were unfamiliar with LinkedIn and nearly 40 percent didn’t know about Reddit.
Unfamiliarity wasn’t a problem for all platforms.
“Of the six social media sites examined in this study, most are known to a large majority of Americans,” Jurkowitz and Mitchell said. “About nine in 10 U.S. adults say they have heard of’ Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.”
Don’t be so quick to equate this distrust of social media with “other” media. When it comes to trust in specific news sources, the chasm between the parties is as wide as their trust of President Trump (e.g., CNN vs. Fox News).
Still, anyone who has broken trust with another person knows it takes time to repair.
Social media are no different.
Although Facebook and others have tried to eliminate fake news, improve security and protect users, they clearly have a long way to go before they earn back our trust when it comes to politics and news.
This column first appeared in the February 2, 2020 PRINT edition of The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers:
It might be depressing to think about what our dying words or wishes will be, but that’s where my head is right now.
I didn’t know legendary basketball star Kobe Bryant. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I respected his accomplishments and I was always impressed with stories of his financial success post-basketball.
The day before his death, Bryant was passed on the NBA’s all-time scoring list by Lebron James. Bryant took to Twitter to react to James’ achievement:
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother” followed by the hashtag #33644 to represent the number of points it took James to pass Bryant.
Last words from celebrities and other personalities can be uplifting, but some are peculiar, and others are disputed for authenticity.
Did so-and-so really say that?
Unless we are there, we’ll never know for sure.
We rely on witnesses to share last words. One can only assume that some have been altered to preserve some dignity for the deceased.
Most last words make complete sense to those that hear them, especially if you know something about the person who spoke them.
For example, Nostradamus reportedly made one final prediction with his last words, “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.”
Other obvious last words come from death row, often filled with apology and regret. Some are more bit more sarcastic.
When asked if he had any final requests, convicted murderer James W. Rodgers said, “Bring me a bullet-proof vest” before being shot to death by a firing squad.
On a more spiritual note, some last words make us wonder what that person might be sensing or wondering as they pass on. According to his sister, Steve Jobs’ last words were, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.”
But what if no one is there to hear them? What if no one reports those words?
What’s probably most true about our last words is that no one will remember the last thing we say.
When my dad passed away 10 years ago, I wasn’t there. So I asked family members if they heard the last thing he said. “I think it was, ‘Get me some tea,'” my mother reported.
This made me smile because my father was obsessed with iced tea. Did he really say that, or did my mother tell me this because she knew I would smile?
The last thing I remember my father saying was, “I love you, too” as I left him for the last time at a nursing home.
The beautiful thing about social media is that we can use it for this very purpose — to capture our thoughts, inspirations and reflections on the world around us. We can use Twitter and other platforms to uplift and praise the accomplishments of those around us.
We can use it to share our love of life.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is special assistant to the provost and professor of communication in the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes on a variety of topics including communication technologies, relationships, and sports (with an emphasis on fandom). His work has appeared in Mahoning Matters as well as The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers.