Archive: Sep 2014

#NoFilter

It’s nearly impossible to log on to social media right now without stumbling upon mention of UVA student Hannah Graham’s disappearance. From the latest police news to timestamped maps of her suspected whereabouts the night she disappeared to Twitter hashtags supporting the search for the missing student — it’s everywhere. People wait for updates, post their own opinions and even do their own “detective work.” The public and news sources alike share information that has not always been accessible through traditional outlets.

The ease with which we can access and voice our opinions through social media allows for information to be shared quickly, freely and without filter.

Just look at the backlash aimed at the NFL this month surrounding the Ray Rice controversy. TMZ released a video of then Raven’s running back Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée (now wife), which created uproar stemming from the lack of discipline Rice received for the incident. Criticism is loud on social media, putting commissioner Roger Goodell in the hot seat for his neglect and passiveness in handling the domestic violence case.

Protestors even gave CoverGirl, the “official beauty partner” of the NFL, a photoshop makeover. In addition to Raven’s themed eyeshadow and manicure, the model in the “Get Your Game Face On” advertisement now sports a bruised eye. Millions have retweeted the doctored photo with hashtags like #GoodellMustGo and #BoycottNFL.

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All eyes are on the NFL. But the NFL is no stranger to criminal activity and violence. Drugs, rape, assault, dog-fighting and even murder fall on NFL players’ rap sheets. So why does it seem to matter now more than before? Before social media and modern technology, you had to search for news about what’s happening. Now, you can merely open your Facebook account and watch your News Feed populate with the latest news and events.

Social media levels the playing field, giving voice to those who would otherwise go unheard.

Anyone can broadcast via social media. Small groups of people can influence others, who then join in, and movements take flight. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, which strongly rooted itself in social media networking, changed the face of political campaigning. In 2011, Occupy Wall Street came to fruition overnight, receiving global attention with 1 in every 500 tweets representing the movement within 24 hours of park occupation. Social media was ablaze this August with real-time updates and protests surrounding the events in Ferguson, Missouri, trending worldwide with over 6 million tweets just days after unarmed teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer.

Social media has evolved from a networking site into an effective form of activism, changing how we view and engage with current events.

This shift to real-time digital news sources brings light to current issues like never before; however, with this free-flow of information, how can you trust the validity of the “truth”?

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Going Viral

You’ve seen it all over Facebook – people dumping buckets of ice water and challenging others to do so as well or else donate $100 to ALS. Everyone from your next-door neighbor to Former President George W. Bush is participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge. Even Bill Gates posted a video after being nominated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. (Though Guardians of the Galaxy actor Chris Pratt’s take on the challenge, drinking an airplane bottle of Blue Ice vodka and a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, might be my favorite.)

Sure, it’s raising awareness, but what is the ice bucket challenge actually doing for ALS?

Some argue it’s merely the latest trend in slactivism; i.e. douse yourself with a bucket of ice water to avoid donating money and feel good about yourself for “supporting” the cause without really doing anything. But are you really supporting the cause? Whatever your stance is on the ice bucket challenge, it has raised over $100 million dollars for ALS research, almost doubling the average yearly donations in just one month.

Why did the ice bucket challenge go viral?

Let’s face it. We live in a selfie-obsessed world. The ice bucket challenge capitalizes on this existing selfie craze, giving people the opportunity to post videos of themselves under the guise of a charitable cause. It takes very little effort to participate, and where better to reach people than where they spend almost 20% of their day — on social media.

Approximately 2.4. million ice bucket videos have been shared on Facebook, including participation from over 700 celebrities. Over 28 million people posted, commented on or liked an ice bucket challenge related post, and mentions of the ice bucket challenge on Twitter quickly approach 4.5 million. Instagram surpassed Facebook in videos posted, garnering 3.7 million videos with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge.

Is the ice bucket challenge here to stay?

Just like “Gangnam Style” and Grumpy Cat, the ice bucket challenge phenomenon will fade eventually, and a new viral trend will emerge in its place. Peaking in mid-August, ice bucket challenge posts have been on the decline since then, and the challenge will soon run its course.

Not ready to let the ice bucket challenge go? Have no fear, for you can purchase this Ice Bucket Challenge costume for Halloween, which is right around the corner.

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The seller will even donate $10 of each sale to ALS. Plus, you don’t have to dump an actual bucket of ice water on your head. Seems like a win-win situation if you ask me.

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Smoked meats with a side of southern hospitality

Walking into Extra Billy’s BBQ on Broad Street, with its low lighting and décor reminiscent of an old saloon, feels like stepping back in time. The side dining room features structures from an old-fashioned post office, including a wall of antique mail slots. Upon being seated, our server brought large mason jars filled with water to the table and took our orders, with no shortage of smiles or southern hospitality with every “what can I get you, sugar?”

Extra Billy’s definitely gives you more than enough bang for your buck, serving up lunch portions that rival many restaurants’ dinner plates. Each entrée comes with two sides, so we opted for pulled pork, brisket, ribs and sausage as well as just about every side dish they offer.

The pulled pork possessed a rich smoky flavor but lacked seasoning. Slathered up with some of their homemade BBQ sauce, it tasted juicy and a little sweet. Their ribs were moist but not exactly fall off the bone. As far as sides go, their steak fries had a nice seasoning to them, and the chunky apple sauce added a sweet balance to the place. My favorite part of the meal? Their fresh squeezed limeade, which lasted all of 60 seconds before I drank every last drop.

Overall, it was a decent meal, and unlike many BBQ restaurants in the area, it was easy on the wallet too. (Plus, they give you an Oreo at the end of your meal. Who says no to Oreos?)

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