As we all know college athletics has turned into big business over the past 5-10 years, especially behind the power of college football. There have been new networks created, new conference affiliations, and programs that continue to grow year after year. However, there are teams and conferences who are still struggling to get by, while teams like Alabama, Texas, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, etc. make near $100 million every year. I think that we expect college football programs and athletic departments to be profitable, due to the power five conferences and teams that we see dominate the ratings and headlines year after year. However, we don’t see how the New Mexico States, San Jose States, Buffalos, Central Michigan’s of the world are doing, and we don’t realize that they are not capable of producing the money to stabilize their athletic department like the other schools are. Like we learned about in the PowerPoint, in college athletics the rich continue to get richer, meaning the power 5 schools such as Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, etc. continue to get national television games, they get their “opportunities for institutional branding” which leads to higher enrollment, more applicants and more benefits making it easier for them to keep producing high profits. What isn’t realistic to expect sports such as baseball, soccer, gymnastics, field hockey, wrestling, and lacrosse to be profitable, which means that the football/basketball revenues are used to cover the losses that the schools take from those sports. It is unfortunate that those sports are not profitable, but due to the popularity of football, basketball, baseball and soccer, these sports do not get nearly the attention and funds needed to be profitable. I don’t think that universities should cut these programs, because that takes away the ability for a student-athlete to experience living out a dream of playing Division 1 sports. I believe that more money from these other sports should be used to help cover the expenses necessary, so that these student-athletes are able to get the equipment, facilities and help needed to play the sports they have worked so hard to earn. With the continuing rise in tuition, fees, room and board, and other things around the college campuses, I do think that they should help cover the costs that support the athletic programs. D1 sports in my opinion are a necessity for students, and provide much more than a hobby or entertainment. I have learned during my time here in the SPAD program, that sports have been used to round out the college experience, making it an education in itself, meaning it is educating the mind and body. College sports provide students a way to get into college, and way to continue learning time management, hard work ethic, sportsmanship, teamwork and many other valuable life skills, and to cut that simply because the athletic department and schools are putting enough time and attention into them is simply ridiculous. I believe that the University of Louisville is a trend setter in this area. When you look at the campus you see top notch facilities for field hockey, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and many others that do not get the attention that football and basketball garner. We see why our athletic director is one of the best in the nation, he puts his time in attention in ALL sports not just the ones where he gets the majority of the profits from. Yes we have great basketball and football facilities, coaches and stadiums/arenas, but that is not enough for Jurich. He has worked his butt off to make sure that every single athletic sport at UofL gets the attention it needs, because it is not just a sport or a money making outlet for the University, but a way for student athletes to live out a dream and a way for them to enhance their time at the University, learning things that cannot be taught in the classroom. I think that Texas has gotten so caught up in how much money they are making from the TV network, and from the media obligations and banking on the fact that fans will come no matter what. When you watch Texas football and basketball (up until last year) you see that there is no longer the passion, and will to win like there was a few years back when the team was competing for championships, the greed has caught up to them. Everyone has settled for just making a lot of money, and not actually putting their all into these sports and student-athletes. Then you have a school like Grambling State who is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, struggling to even fund basketball and football. The problems that have occurred at that school are unlike any other, at least that I have seen in my life. When your programs combine to win less than 20 games over a 5 year period, you know that-that is not an athletic program but a University problem and something must happen from the top down for them to get to being successful. I believe that the athletic director should plead for funding, and present to the University and the NCAA that the school has a rich tradition and can back to their winning ways, IF they get the appropriate help. They need to renovate the facilities, get new equipment, get new traveling routines, do whatever it takes to get student-athletes to come back to the school.
It is so interesting to learn about the history of facility funding because of how many of these “mega stadiums” have been popping up around the country over the last 4-5 years, especially Cowboys stadium in Arlington. I believe that arenas can be used as way to improve a city’s economy but really should not be completely funded by the government, no matter what. When you think about it Professional sports is a “private good” USUALLY. The only ones who benefit from the team and new arenas are the team itself and the millionaire/billionaire owners who get to walk away with more money in their pockets, while taxpayers are stuck having to pay extra money from their income to cover the costs that come with a multimillion dollar arena or stadium. Public funding is something in my opinion that should never take place, because the government can use tax payers’ money to take care of things in the community that will actually produce a stable environment, whether that’s building more public libraries, or public buildings where corporations can come in and hire the townspeople, or whatever the case may be. I just have a hard time believing that a sports arena is something can be beneficial to everyone due to how quickly they become commercially obsolete. I think the Fully Loaded Private-Public partnership is a beneficial to everyone and is something that can help both our economy, and sports teams get the arenas they want. Corporations who are financially capable to make the investments into these stadiums are going to continue to do so because of the brand recognition that will come from it with having their names on the building and all over the place associated with that particular team.
Another characteristic that I believe should continue to be included in stadiums and arenas that are built should be the model that AT&T (Cowboys) Stadium has. You see that stadium being used for all sorts of things, sports and non-sports related. We have seen obviously the Cowboys play there every single year since it opened, but also College Football games, NCAA Final Fours, Boxing Matches, Concerts, Band Competitions, Conferences, all taking place. This allows the stadium to be “multi-purpose” and have more use and more of an impact for the community and the economy. The “arms race” between Universities and the Professional leagues has been an interesting one to watch over the past few seasons as more and more universities are looking to build/renovate stadiums. We all know that recruiting is the biggest factor when it comes to Universities, and they know the better the facilities they have the better players they get, the more the fans are willing to come out and use those facilities and the more money they make in return. However, we also see that universities do not have the leverage with the government and rarely ever get any kind of help funding these projects and therefor are left out looking for private investors to help pay the high costs the schools are left with to avoid being 2nd tier schools. We see more schools are becoming associated with corporations, like the KFC Yum! Center here in a Louisville, and they are leading to bigger and better facilities for teams on and off campuses. The NFL/NBA/MLB are always going to have the better facilities because when they do not get the proper funding from governments in one city, they always have the potential to pick up that team and move to another city, for example St. Louis Rams possibly being attracted by Los Angeles due to a lack of a new stadium/resigned lease in St. Louis. However, like Professor Hambrick pointed out in the lecture we will NEVER see a university leave town and head for a better city to get appropriate funding. I think that the government should be more involved in the College/University aspect of funding than professional because of the impact it can have on education and the improvement of education, but I know that is something that will probably never happen due to the fear of insignificant revenues. I think that when we take a look at the future of facility funding we will see more than ever, Corporations willing to fork over big bucks to have their name associated with sports. Like we saw in the lecture sports interest is at an all-time high and corporations are going to want a piece of that because of the revenue that could potentially come from that brand association. I also think more stadiums are going to be built with plans of using it as a multipurpose venue like Cowboys stadium, and that they will build as many amenities as they can to attract more usage from across the country. I think government funding will be less and less used due to the interest rates that will come from it, and the potential hit they could take if the economy takes a downward spiral again, and tax payers like me and you will rejoice not having a tax increase to pay for the latest and greatest arenas. I think we will see a lot of renovations coming to some of the oldest stadiums with too much tradition to tear down like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, etc. in order to stay away from becoming obsolete.
Cost of Revenue 475
Gross Profit 485
I believe that in the next year we will see GoPro’s revenue go up just a tad bit due to the amount that was spent in research and development in the past calendar year, the sales and marketing, with partnerships such as Red Bull and endorsement deals with new athletes, which will lead to a higher number in total sales. In 2011-2013 we saw the numbers jump significantly with new sales and I think we will continue to see that trend in 2014.
I believe in 2014 we will see the cost of revenue go down as GoPro will be able to find ways to lower that cost, as we bring out new products and spend more money in the research and development department. Why does research and development have anything to do with the total cost of revenue you ask? Well as we know, GoPro is still relying on third party manufacturing which brings the cost higher, but in the next year we anticipate bringing more and more of that manufacturing in-house as we want to open our very first manufacturing and distribution center.
I believe that this number is the key to the future of GoPro. Like we have discussed all year long GoPro is funneling large amounts of money into company, and industry wide research into how we can create new products that will continue to grow the company. We are going to be researching three main things 1) how we can turn a profit from users uploading footage to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
2) How we can begin to use our own manufacturing and distributing centers to make our products and send them out to wholesalers
3) How we can create new products and new accessories to go along with the product lines we already have in place.
I got to the number of 165 because of the significant jump in R&D that we have seen over the past 3 years. I believe 2014 is the BIGGEST year for GoPro and has the chance to really take over a giant piece of market share from competitors due to the innovating products we produce.
Sales and marketing is the second biggest piece of spending that GoPro will do this year, as we focus on getting our name out on everything. We want to sign more endorsement deals across more sports including basketball, baseball, football, soccer, swimming, track/field, skateboarding, snowboarding, etc. We also want to sponsor more events that we believe go along with our product and the mission statement of our organization. There are many events that could really get GoPro into the public eye and get people talking and generating more word of mouth sales. We are going with the old quote of “you have to spend money to make money,” in order to increase revenue for GoPro in 2014.
General & Administration 50
With higher costs in sales and marketing, research and development we are estimating higher costs for our staff all across the board. We know that the more money we spend on creating new products and research for creating our own manufacturing and distributing plants the more staff/workers we will have to hire and pay. This number has increased every single year since 2011 and we see this to be no different in 2014.
Other Expenses 10
Just like General & administration costs, we expect other expenses to increase slightly in 2014. All numbers show us from 2011-2013 that this cost has risen or stayed the same every year and we have to account of expenses that may come along the way in 2014.
Total Operating Expenses 420
Operating Income 65
Net income 50
I think there are several strengths that GoPro can use to its advantage over the next year, in order to maximize profits and limit expenses to the best of their abilities. The first strength GoPro needs to use is the fact that when customers are making purchases, they are not just buying the camera. Instead they are going out and purchasing a camera, a tri-pod, a helmet attachment, etc. I believe that GoPro can maximize profits by continuing to develop new accessories that will enhance the GoPro camera users experience with the camera, and they will allow them to capture even better footage while using the GoPro camera. The second biggest strength in my opinion is that GoPro has a lot of “word of mouth” advertising due to the footage that is constantly being uploaded to YouTube, and to other social media sites. People see this cool, inspirational, and unique footage and they say to themselves, “I want to go out and film myself doing _________.” There is no one who benefits more from this than GoPro, because then these new customers go out, buy a camera (and some accessories) and go out and then shoot footage themselves. Then someone else sees this and the cycle starts all over again. If GoPro is able to get the footage uploaded into one general area, and charge a subscription fee, that will produce a lot of extra money for the company, to then go out and produce more accessories, more selections in cameras, spend more in marketing and endorsements, do more research on producing and manufacturing, etc., which will in turn allow the company to continue to grow to unprecedented levels.
I believe GoPro has a few different opportunities that could increase potential revenue and sales for the upcoming year’s Pro Forma income statement. The first opportunity being something I have mentioned before is the potential for new customers and new products. GoPro has had a very solid and well-selling line of products thus far, but this year could include some game changing products and accessories that will go a long way into increasing our potential revenue and sales across the board. With new products comes the potential for new customers, and with the increase in marketing and endorsements this year across all sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and hockey, GoPro has the potential to reach a brand new market of customers. If GoPro is able to just reach two of those four new sports we will increase our clients and market share by close to 25-50% of what it is now. With these new sports will come a demand for new products which we hope we are able to produce within the next year to satisfy those consumers. The next potential opportunity will be to sell more stock in the growing company, which has only been public for a few years now. GoPro believes that with the increase in sales over the last three years, the increase in sales and marketing and word of mouth advertising, more people will be interested in buying stocks in the company. GoPro can then use this extra revenue to spend in the research and development/sales and marketing departments in order to better the company and its products all the way around.
Of course with opportunities that can grow GoPro, there also comes threats which has the possibility of hurting the company if handled properly. Over the past ten years we have seen technology products come and go if they are not able to continue producing gear that is wanted by its consumers. For example the Flip Video camera that was very popular during the mid-2000s. We saw that camera take a large portion of the market share because it was not bulky like the rest of the cameras being produced at that time, it was easy to carry with you, easy to use and you were able to upload video directly to your computer after shooting. However, they were not able to stay relevant because they did not continue to make new products that satisfied the customer’s wants and needs. GoPro can end up being just like Flip if they are not able to listen to feedback from customers and make changes and as well as new products for consumers. Another threat that could affect the sales of GoPro could come from the economy. If the economy is not doing well, people are not going to be able to go out and spend a good amount of money on a camera, especially with the power of the iPhone and other smartphones these days. GoPro is only going to continue to do well if the economy is doing well, which as of today it is, but plans have to be made on how to continue to make sales even if there is a downturn.
Below will be the factors that will go into the GoPro scenario analysis for the best-case, worst-case and most likely.
Best Case Scenario:
- GoPro is able to find new wholesalers, a la Walmart, Target, etc. that can increase the sales of GoPro cameras and accessories
- GoPro is able to find new ways to manufacture and distribute the products produced, instead of relying on 3rd party manufacturers and distributors
- GoPro signs new endorsement deals with powerful athletes such as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Rob Dyrdek, Ryan Lochte, Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Johnson, Lionel Messi, etc. to spread the GoPro products to new sports and new countries
- GoPro is able to partner and sponsor new events such as the X-Games, NBA Finals, etc.
- A new website is created by GoPro that allows all footage to be uploaded and for customers to purchase subscriptions, giving them access to all footage, available for download, etc.
- New stocks are issued onto the stock market for people to buy and become share holders
- GoPro is able to increase sales during the first three months of year instead of relying on heavy sales during the holiday months
Worst Case Scenario:
- GoPro is not able to sign deals with independent companies or wholesalers and the sales of cameras and accessories decrease
- A new product is created for a cheaper price by another technology company and GoPro sales decrease and prices must be lowered to stay in competition
- GoPro is still not able to find a way to distribute and manufacture the new cameras without signing deals with 3rd party manufactures
- 3rd party manufactures raise the prices on GoPro
- The economy takes a hit and people don’t have extra money to spend on cameras
- Sales drop during the holiday season
- GoPro is able to sign new endorsement deals with star athletes which creates a new market for the cameras and accessories
- Some 3rd party manufacturing is brought in-house which lowers the cost of expenses for GoPro
- The economy does not take a hit during the sales year, and GoPro is able to raise the prices of the new products that are released during the year
- New stocks are issued
- GoPro takes a slight hit in sales due to the new iPhone 6 and 6+ as customers decide to spend more money on the new phone, instead of a new camera
- Sales do go up during the first two quarters of the year, allowing more profit to be made
After filling out the ratio report for GoPro you can begin to see that they are doing very well for themselves considering that they have only been a publicly traded company for just a few years. When you look at their numbers with everyone else you see that they are making great use of their assets to generate profit for the company, they are collecting money in a short time back from products that they sold on credit and they are staying away from being in debt. I am going to break down how well GoPro is doing in this fiscal term for themselves, and compared to everyone else in their competitive market.
- Current Ratio
GoPro: When you look at the current ratio of GoPro, which tells us whether or not the company’s current asses will cover their current liabilities at the moment you see that they are at 1.32. This means that they are able to cover those liabilities at a good rate.
Comparing: GoPro which like I mentioned above is at 1.32, they come in second to last behind Kodak (2.23) Daktronics (2.05) Real D (1.50) and then behind GoPro is Sony at 0.88. This shows us that for being a young company they are avoiding debt and high expenses
- Quick Ratio
GoPro: When it comes to the quick ratio which excludes the inventory that is not able to be converted into cash at that moment, will they still be able to cover current liabilities with the assets they do have. As we learned in the lecture anything below 1 means no, and GoPro is at 0.88 which of course is below 1. GoPro has a lot of unsold inventory and must figure out a way to sell that inventory in order to cover the current expenses.
Comparing: Compared to everyone else GoPro is mightily struggling. Only one other company is not able to cover the current expenses without including inventory, that being Sony. Everyone else is doing very well with Kodak leading the way. This is not something that would scare me away from GoPro, because like I mentioned before and like you will see for the rest of this post, they are a very young company only being traded publicly now for a few years. The fact that they are above Sony who has been in business for years and is a powerhouse across the world, shows me that GoPro is doing something right.
- Cash Ratio
GoPro: Cash ratio shows us if a company is able to only use their current cash to cover the liabilities that they have at that time. GoPro at the moment does not have enough cash alone to cover their current liabilities and therefore must make moves in order to do that if needed. They are currently at 0.54 which is quite a bit lower than 1 which is where they need to be to cover the liabilities
Comparing: Comparing GoPro to Daktronics, Kodak, Sony and Real D shows us just how young of a company they are and that they will need time to create more cash flow. We have learned a lot about GoPro over the last five weeks and one thing that really sticks out to me when it comes to this category is the fact that they require a lot of help in producing their cameras. With time and more money spent on research and development, GoPro will be able to bring this number up but at the current time the bigger and more established companies are leading the way but none of them are above 1.
- Total Asset Turnover
GoPro: GoPro is VERY efficient in using the current assets to generate sales and revenue for the company. This is something that is very encouraging, and would be a huge factor when deciding whether or not to invest in their stock. Total asset turnover shows us if a company is effective in using their current assets to generate sales. Coming in at 2.65, tells us for every dollar in assets, GoPro is able to make $2.65.
Comparing: When you take the number that GoPro is making off their assets and compare it to the rest of the company’s, they are doing the best by over a dollar. This shows us that GoPro is very productive with their money and they are able to use them efficiently. It is quite surprising in my opinion that companies like Sony and Real D are not making a higher number and are both below 1.
- Average collection
GoPro: The average collection ratio tells us if a company is collecting money for products that are lent out to other vendors and indepdent companies on credit in a reasonable amount of time. At the moment GoPro is collecting money in almost 18 days, which is a very good number and would be another reason to consider investing in them. They are lending out a lot of products as we saw in the previous lectures and they obviously are selling well (or at least somewhat well) and they are collecting in a very effective manner
Comparing: when you compare GoPro to the other four companies you see that they are again the best in this category. The next closes company is Sony and they are collecting in 49 days!! GoPro is doing something right in order to collect the money for their products in such a short manner. This could be high sales, or just a very strict policy on lending products on credit. Either way it is for sure contributing to the high number of turnover in assets.
- Debt Ratio
GoPro: When you look at the debt ratio for GoPro you see that they have a “middle of the road” debt ratio, still relying on borrowing to finance operations. This can go back to the point of using other companies for production. With GoPro being a young company this is something that is not alarming, but is to be taken into consideration when looking at buying stock in GoPro.
Comparing: When you compare the 5% of GoPro to the other four companies you see that a lot of them are not doing well in this category, especially Sony and Kodak. We know that both of these companies have struggled with profits and making money and have required a lot of borrowing to stay away from going bankrupt. However, we see that Daktronics and Real D are both doing very well in comparison to GoPro, but it is not bad that GoPro is still not on the same level as them.
- Net Profit Margin
GoPro: The net profit margain of a company shows us the true earnings after taxes and interest hits the income made. GoPro is still not making a large profit after interest in taxes. However, I know I keep touching on this, but being such a young company they are doing just fine at 5%. They will take time to pay off the rest of their debt, and using extra money for research and development, and soon I guarantee that number will be higher.
Comparing: When you look at the 5% of GoPro compared to Daktronics, Real D, Sony and Kodak you see that they are again somewhere in the middle. Sony and Real D are both at negative numbers which shows us that they are losing money. While Kodak is making 85% total profit after interest in taxes. I believe that when looking at the yearly financial statements of GoPro you see that this number has increased, and will most likely continue to increase
- Return on Assets
GoPro: The return on assets shows us the profits earned on investments of assets. GoPro is at 12% which is fairly high for a younger company. This says that they are investing their money wisely with the assets that they currently have.
Comparing: When you compare the 12% of GoPro to the other four larger companies you see that they are doing very well, coming in second behind Kodak who is at 65%. I believe that this says a lot about the future of GoPro as they are using the money wisely for research and development and may be on the brink of doing things such as, finding profits in sharing (Facebook, twitter, Instagram) and producing a lot more of their own pieces of equipment and cameras. This will go a long way in producing more profits for GoPro in the future.
- Return on Equity
GoPro: Another category that shows us just how successful GoPro has been since becoming a public company. The return on equity ratio shows us the profits that are earned on investments by the current stockholders. Right now the stockholders are getting a 50% return, while we have seen that the average is 8%. Obviously, it is still too early to tell whether this number will last, but stockholders have to be encouraged by this number.
Comparing: GoPro is doing very well for a young company at 50%, but obviously Kodak is destroying the competition at 316% return on investment to stockholders. However we have seen companies who have done great, have epic collapses and with new technology coming around you have to wonder if Kodak will be able to survive in the long term.
In looking at the five companies that are competing in the electronic, technology markets we see that size does matter, but not to the extent that you may think. When looking at these companies for the first time you see two powerhouse names, Kodak and Sony. These are companies who have produced products that everyone for the most part has used, however the numbers tell a different story. Sony has very low numbers in nearly every category and is on the verge of collapsing in my opinion, whereas Kodak, a company who has produced technologies that we really have no use for anymore is doing the best of everyone at the moment. However you see that companies like GoPro, who have only been public for a few years, are beginning to grab a large portion of the market shares. GoPro is already doing a great job of making a great return on their current assets, the stockholders are seeing a great return on investment and the company is still able to spend money on research and development in order to take a giant step in their business. If I was given $1,000 today to invest in one of these five companies I would really struggle between two of them. One being GoPro and the other being Kodak. GoPro really does strike me as a company that can be successful long term because of how well they have done in a few years, but we have seen multiple camera companies who have created the “latest and greatest” products that sell for a few years and then are nowhere to be found in a couple of years. Kodak has been a big name for a long, long, time and they continue to reinvent themselves, finding ways to get their products out to people in whatever way is possible. If you put a gun to my head, I would probably invest in Kodak just because of how long they have been around and what they have done to reinvent themselves the past few years. The way technologies come and go is what would honestly keep me away from GoPro.
Saying that I need technology on a daily basis would be a bit of an understatement. Just like the dad in the second article that we read for the blog entry I would say at times I am a tad bit “overconnected.” I love to take pictures of just about every thing I do. Whether it is of my food at dinner when my girlfriend and I go out to eat, or texting my girlfriend all throughout the day when I am at work, or at school, and while she is at home or whatever the case may be. I constantly am checking on Instagram and Facebook for the latest posts and pictures because of my fear of missing something, which in all honestly I never do. Why do I care so much about what other people are doing? It all relates back to the first article, I suffer from FOMO, fear of missing out. In all honestly I could care less what some random guy from high school that I haven’t seen in years is posting on Facebook, or pictures from Instagram, but for some reason I am wired to look every 15 minutes. The first thing I do EVERY SINGLE morning when I wake up is check Instagram to see what I missed over night. After that I instantly head over to Hoops Hype which is my favorite NBA rumor website where I catch up on all the news that was tweeted out over night, and the pictures that the NBA stars tweeted after the late night games. Then I head over to the NBC Sports blogs to check out the latest NFL, NBA, and College Basketball news. This is all stuff that I could live without seeing, but for some reason I can’t get enough of. Throughout my entire workday I have Facebook up, chatting with some of my close friends or my dad. I am endlessly browsing the same websites over and over again, Hoops Hype, NBC Sports, Walter Football, CNN, and WHAS11; just to see what news I have missed. My life revolves around the Internet and information, and just like the first article talked about, sometimes I get information overload.
Throughout this past week I tried to map out which day I was going to “disconnect” from my iPhone, MacBook laptop, or whatever technology I had around me, because I wanted to find a time where I knew nothing was going on. This was my first mistake, and honestly you should fail me on this assignment for that. Finally, Saturday afternoon got here, and I said you know what I am going to leave my apartment and not take my cell phone with me. If my Mom knew that I did this she would seriously have killed me because I wouldn’t have been able to get ahold of anyone if something happened, but it was a risk I wanted to take for once. I decided I would go on a run with no music, no phone, no cares in the world. I would then come home take a shower and go get some lunch by myself with no phone and just see what it was like. Honestly I can tell you it was HELL at first. I wasn’t used to not having music when I worked out because I always have music, it’s what gets me through my run, not focusing on how bad it really sucks. I got back and out of instinct I went for my phone, but right before I grabbed it I thought twice. “Jacob, you can do this, there is nothing on that phone that you need to see,” I told myself. So I got ready and headed out for a quick lunch with no technology. I actually found myself enjoying the day. No one could get ahold of me and I couldn’t spend my entire time ignoring the world around me and browsing endless amounts of wasteful information that meant nothing to me. I found myself with this sense of clarity that the guy in the first article mentioned. I didn’t care what everyone else was doing, what party they were attending, or what food they were eating. I found myself ENJOYING my day and no one else’s. In this world today we get so caught up in what everyone else is doing instead of really trying to focus on our own lives and enjoying the fun that we are having. This was the first time in a long time I just thought about enjoying my own day and honestly it made me think that I could really get used to this if I put some effort into it. It took me a couple of hours to get used to not having access to my phone and Facebook and the Internet, but finally I realized why do I need to do this? When I got back to my apartment I started to read the articles that were posted on blackboard and it gave me all sorts of things to really think about. This was a great opportunity to me to think about my mom and dad growing up and how they got by with no cell phone. I could really do this, only if I tried though.
This class has really been such a great opportunity to learn about technology and how it can be used in such positive ways to influence our lives and how it can be used so negatively. I really love using my phone for internet and social media, but there is one thing I think about using it for above all us. I am a strong practicing Christian and I know that phones were put here for a reason and the same with social media. I should be using my social media as not a way to boast about my life and all the cool things I’m doing it, but as a way to reach out to those who don’t have God in their lives and really try and show them just how great He can be. And that is the only positive that can come from social media. The class has shown me that there are so many negatives to social media and things that I really want to stay away from. One thing that really stood out for me during our semester with Professor Esrock was the privacy issues that come along with the internet. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE to think that there is always some one out there following my every move on the internet and Social media because they want to sell my information to advertisers and Big data companies. I don’t think that is right, nor do I think that should happen to anyone. It made such an impact on me that I thought do I really need social media? Is it worth looking at all these peoples lives that I really don’t care about, and run the risk of my information being stolen or my name being sold to some one who just wants me to buy something? The answer was no! But I do like having my Facebook and Instagram for the reasons I mentioned above. I think it is terrible that we are being sold as products to companies who just want to make money, and to me that is what is wrong with this world and why technology is not good. I also learned throughout the semester just how big of an impact technology has had on our society. Who would have thought that there were theories on technology and all kinds of information, enough to teach a full class on it, WOW!! We have come such a far way from fire, horses and no technology. I think our society has developed into a bad place because of technology. Anyone can use technology seriously just for about anything and if that doesn’t scare you I don’t know what does. Everything is becoming digitized! They want to put my medical history on the web, and my drivers license, and track my license plate to know where I am at all times, and to me that is a complete break of the privacy laws we have today. Of course we have gotten great medical advancements from technology. We talked about some of the self-driven cars that are being developed by Google, and the technology that is working on helping humans not age, but is this something that is really helping our society? I love that we can use technology to help people hear again, walk again, and able to live normal lives, but we cannot escape the realities of the world using technology. I thank you Professor Esrock for the great opportunity to learn from you and all the information you have been taught in your years in technology, and I think that this class is a great learning tool for us college students. It is a way to find some positives out of technology and how we can use it for the better.
This week while going over the lectures in class on privacy really has become the first time I have put any thought on my personal privacy and just who is tracking me and what I am doing. I have never taken the time outside of setting my Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram profiles to private, to really think about who’s watching me. Just by looking at the ads on the websites I get on, I can tell my data is being sold, because ads like Amazon, Regus (where I work), Sporting Equipment, etc. pop up as things that can be sold to me, but I never really looked into how these ads were so personalized, until this week.
After the lecture on Monday about “Big Data” companies I did a little research into Axioum, and the other companies who may be following me as I browse the web and what they could know about me. It was funny that Professor Esrock made a statement that went along the lines of “these companies know more about you than your mom and dad” and honestly the more I looked into it the more it was true. I just imagined every website I got on, there were those little tracers that was shown on the 60 minutes video of who was tracking me and honestly it freaked me out. I have never really been “concerned” with who is tracing me and what they may be doing with my information because I never post anything on my accounts that would be traceable, but now I am going to take action. For a brief moment on Tuesday I considered deleting my Facebook, and cleaning up my browsing history, but I thought to myself what would that really do? They can still follow my internet history, and sell my information even if I do delete my accounts, because like we saw in class the privacy settings on Facebook change based on what Facebook wants to sell. As I saw in the first article that was posted on blackboard, no matter what I delete, or turn off, or who I trust, my data will be traced, my browsing history will be monitored and my data WILL BE SOLD. I think why? Who really cares what I do, I’m not hurting anyone, or looking into things I shouldn’t be. But it’s all about having accountability for people (including myself, your average White American) and being able to SELL my personal data to advertisers, who want nothing more than to sell me anything they have and make more money. That’s what it’s all about, MAKING MONEY for them. If you think about it, we as Facebook users are not the ones they are worried about, they are worried about anyone who wants to buy advertising space for them, so they are technically selling us as their “product.”
I have been an avid social media user since I was about 13 years old like I talked about last week in the Social media blog. At first growing up I didn’t really know the ramifications of what I was posting and honestly I would post anything that popped into my mind that I thought was cool or that would make people laugh. As I have grown up and gotten more mature, and realized how private my life should be I have become smarter in what I post and who I allow to see my profile. It took years of hearing stories on TV and through the internet about the kids who would post that they were home alone, or where they were going and having weird creepy men stalk them, and sometimes even kidnap them. For the longest time I would say “that would/could never happen to me,” I was ignorant and thought I was invincible, but after years of growing up and encountering certain situations I quickly got over that and realized anything could happen to me, I am no different than anyone else. The first situation where I realized I was posting things I shouldn’t be was my senior year in high school; I shared this story the other day in class with our classmates and Professor Esrock. Like most of us do, I was partaking in illegal things, things that could easily get me in trouble with not just my parents but with the police. I thought that since I was on Twitter and my mom only had a Facebook that I could post whatever I want and she would NEVER find out. Boy I was very wrong. I posted about what I was doing, and how it made me feel, and just how “cool” I really was. I remember like it was yesterday, I came home one day after school and saw a big stack of papers sitting on my table, and next to it was a home drug testing kit. I instantly knew that I was trouble, but I didn’t know what the papers where until my mom came out of her room, with a very very alarming look on her face. She had been searching the internet that day with her friend, who also happened to be my best friends mom and they wanted to take a look at our Twitter accounts because they didn’t have any other access to them. At that time, my account was not private and anyone could see the tweets I was sending out about the illegal things I was doing. She had printed out all my tweets and went through reading them one by one, and at the end I expectedly failed the over the counter drug test. This was the first time I thought that maybe I one, shouldn’t be tweeting about smoking and drinking, and two that my twitter & Facebook accounts should be set to private. I don’t think people realize how easy it is for not just parents, but school administrators and future employers to access your accounts and see every post you’ve ever made. The bottom line is that why do you even want to share the most private things with the world? That’s the whole point of privacy, and today nobody really cares about that. Social media has been the death of privacy and nobody treats it with the respect that they should, and they wonder why they can’t find a job! I asked my boss this morning about when they hired me if they took a look at my Facebook and Twitter, and he said yes that was one of the first things they looked at and there was nothing that was red flagged, but if that incident with my Mother wouldn’t have happened when it did, who knows what I would have been doing.
We as citizens really need to start thinking to ourselves when we are browsing the internet and posting things on to Facebook, “would my mother want to see that” or “would my employer be okay with that being public,” and if the answer is no THEN DON’T DO IT, it is really that simple. I know when it comes to these Big Data companies stalking us that there is not really much that we can do, we really can’t “opt out” but what we can do is be careful with what we do, and who we allow to see what we are doing. Big data is a big business and they are going to continue to try and hack into our computers to learn as much about us as possible, but we can stop them from seeing things they shouldn’t by simply not doing them. Remember Would my mother be okay with seeing that?
Social media has been a constant in my life since late middle school until today as we speak. I started off using a social media site that until the other day I didn’t even consider social networking, that was AIM. My first screen name was “CanJimmyPlay213” (look up the video can jimmy play, it was a Gatorade commercial, funny stuff back in middle school) I then jumped from AIM to MySpace where all I ever wanted was to be in as many people’s Top 8 as possible. Social media for me was a way to show off my popularity and looking back on lack there of. I think as a kid in middle school all I wanted to be was popular and be friends with as many people as possible, even though that really wasn’t the case at all. I then made the jump from MySpace to Facebook, which was something I wasn’t very excited about at the time. This was the first time in my long history of Social networks that I was hesitant of using a different site. I didn’t know what Facebook was besides the few things my sister who was in college at the time told me; I didn’t want to get away from MySpace because that’s what everyone else was doing and at the time all I wanted to do was fit it. I think that social media and social networks have really turned into people just wanting to fit in, and show a different side of them. On the internet you can make yourself into anybody you want to be, and that is something that people will see and it could maybe make them think differently of you. I then went from Facebook to the most popular social media there was at the time and that was Twitter. Again I was hesitant because at that time I had been using Facebook for over 5 years, I had really developed a liking for the site and I knew how to operate the ins and outs of the website. Twitter was a whole other ball game, and for me 140 character limit was the stupidest thing I had ever heard of, and it really forced me to try to be clever which is something I am not.
Social Media has really had an impact on my life in both positive and negative ways. I remember in early high school I actually went through some cyber bullying, there was a couple of kids that were in my group of friends who really liked to make fun of literally EVERY single thing I did on Facebook. Whether it was a picture I posted, a status I updated, or a comment I put on somebody else’s wall, and the thing was there was nothing really I could do about. Did it bother me? Yes absolutely, it made me feel like I wasn’t as good as everyone else. Did I let others see that it bothered me? No, why would I? I wanted everyone to think that I was this big tough dude, who wasn’t afraid of anybody. This is where I really started to hesitate with what I did on social media and honestly I’m really glad all of that happened. Looking back on things in high school and the early part of college I wanted to try to show people that I was somebody who I really am not, and honestly I think that is what people use social media for. You see all these girls posting selfies of themselves all made up, and looking good. But then you see them in person, and it’s almost like, what the hell happened to you? You don’t look anything like you do in your pictures. Now my whole purpose of using Facebook and Instagram is to build relationships with the people I am already friends with. In High school I wanted to have as many Facebook friends as possible so that others would like at my page and think wow that kid knows a lot of people, how do I not know him? Maybe they would add me as a friend and want to get to know me or whatever. Now I use Facebook to talk with my dad and my brother who both live all the way on the opposite side of the United States in Washington. I use it at work to talk to my friends who I am really close with, or whatever the case may be. I take pictures on Instagram so my mom can see pictures of what I am doing, or so my closest friends can see what’s up with me. I don’t want people I don’t know to see what I am doing because to me, if I want you to know what’s going on then I’ll tell you. So for me I don’t use social media anymore to update the world on what I’m doing, or to pretend I’m something I’m not, I use it to build the relationships that I already have made.
Social media is becoming too much of a game, a game that I really have no interest in playing. It can really become an escape from real life communication and for me as a communication major that’s not something I want. I think that people can hide behind these sites and use that as a way to make people think a certain thing about them, that maybe they wouldn’t think if they met them and were really friends with them outside of that. I use Social media as a way like I said to build my existing relationships, use it as a way to get information from the pastors at my church, or from news stations like WHAS11 or CNN, to keep current on sports issues, which is a hobby of mine, and to listen to music and that’s it. I think that social media can have a positive impact if used for the right reasons, like finding jobs, enhancing your connections, building relationships, listening and finding new music, catching up with sports, etc. It can be detrimental to society because of its’ escapism and because it doesn’t really teach you to be able to communicate face-to-face.