I was inspired to write this piece after taking out the trash this morning. Our canisters were filled with post-Christmas wrapping paper and dinner scraps. As I looked up at the sky en route to the curb, it was filled with contrails. Occasionally, I see Tweets about these clouds, and how they are being “used by the government to control the weather or even our minds.” Yep, seriously. Did this make the list of 5 weather or climate social media posts that need to disappear in 2020? Keep reading.
“The meteorologists are always wrong or just guessing.” I continue to harp on this point because it is so pervasive in social media. I am amazed at how many people actually believe this. It means my colleagues and I may not be doing a good job conveying the dramatic improvements in weather forecast over the past 50 years. From my perspective, there are several factors driving such statements:
- lack of understanding of probabilities (You would be surprised at how many people don’t understand what 20% chance of rain or the hurricane cone of uncertainty actually conveys);
- “wishcasting” or seeing desired outcomes in a forecast rather than what the data actually conveys (very common in snow forecasting);
- unrealistic expectations for pinpoint forecasts at their exact location when the science is not quite there yet; and
- the tendency to exhibit recency bias (remembering a recent “bad” forecast and overlooking the overwhelming number of good forecasts over the long haul).
“It came without warning.” This is a staple for many people and media outlets after a bad storm or tornado. For example, I heard claims of “it came out of nowhere” after the horrific 2018 Duck Boat tragedy in Missouri. I plowed through language from the National Weather Service the day before that tragedy. Here is what the NWS Convective Outlook said on July 18th, 2018 for the region:
The potential for one or more early day thunderstorm clusters complicates the forecast scenario on Thursday. Any such cluster may present a localized severe wind risk early in the day, especially across portions of MO … Further south down the Mississippi Valley, a more conditional severe risk will be present. Any early day thunderstorm cluster that survives may rejuvenate across portions of southern MO/northern AR during the afternoon. Later-day storms that initiate further north may also merge into a cluster that moves southeastward into this region. Some damaging wind risk would be possible in either scenario, with some marginal hail risk associated with any more discrete convection that may develop.
In 2019, it is rare that the potential for severe weather activity is going to be overlooked given the advances in short-range weather models, dual-polarization radar, and rapid-scan weather satellite imaging capabilities. I will concede that “out of nowhere” is a relative term. Though the possibility for severe weather or a tornado may have been warned for, if a person didn’t receive the information or chose to operate in a “business as usual” fashion, the appearance of a 60-mph gust of wind might seem sudden. This is where emerging social science research within atmospheric sciences is so important. We must understand how people consume weather information and why they make the decisions. For example, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” is a cute little slogan, yet people still drive through flooded roadways. What risk assessment do they take (if any) before making that decision? For some people, the value proposition of not being late picking up a child at daycare may outweigh the risks because of optimism bias (the tendency to think a bad think won’t happen to them).
Meteorologist and social scientist Kim Klockow-McClain says that social science work is starting to pay dividends. Klockow-McClain, a research scientist at The University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, gave a real-world example in an interview a few years ago. She pointed out a study in the Delaware River basin:
Social scientists found that several flood warning tools, while scientifically state-of-the-art, were difficult for people to use because they were overly technical. Researchers recommended changes to key flood risk graphics that made these tools more understandable and useful to the public. Some of the changes involved clearer titles, better use of color, and more specific geographical information on flood risk forecast maps. The National Weather Service has made some of these changes to products offered in this region and the findings may help inform improvements in other areas.
“It’s just a tropical storm.” I am hopeful that the weather enterprise continues to hammer home that category or rating may not fully represent potential impacts. Tropical Storm Imelda (2019) never became a hurricane but dumped almost 4 feet of rain on parts of Texas still recovering from Hurricane Harvey (2017). When Hurricane Michael (2018) was approaching the Florida panhandle, some people were hesitant to leave because it was “just” a certain category storm. Unfortunately, Michael rapidly intensified to a Category 5. Each hurricane is different so past experiences do not prepare you for the next storm. It is increasingly important that the public consume weather information from the standpoint of “risk potential” rather than simple a category or number. A new study, of which I am a co-author, was recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. It presents an intuitive metric for conveying rainfall hazards in hurricanes that may not be captured in the Saffir-Simpson scale.
“It’s snowing or cold outside so that means no global warming.” Yes, I used global warming. I don’t fall for the distracting tactic of saying “we changed the name to climate change.” I deal with that in a previous Forbes article at this link. To be honest, I am still amazed that people still Tweet or say things about cold weather refuting climate warming. Numerous articles and social media explanations, including by this author, have been written to explain why weather in a given day or week doesn’t refute or confirm climate change. Weather is your mood, and climate is your personality. Many of us use this little analogy to drive home the point, but my hunch is that Tweet and perspective will not go away any time soon. By the way, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, one of my favorite scientists to follow on Twitter, is projecting 2019 to finish as our 2nd warmest year on record. On December 17th, he tweeted:
With Nov GISTEMP anomalies posted, 2019 is #2 YTD, and this will be 99.9% likely to be the ranking for the full year.
– 5th year clearly > 1°C above late 19th C (Century)
– closes out warmest decade in record
“Earth always had hurricanes and extreme weather.” While this is a true statement, it really doesn’t mean anything within the context of a climate discussion. To me, that is like saying trees always fell in the forest or grass always grew naturally. Neither of those statements refutes that chainsaws can still cut a tree down or that fertilizer affects how grass grows on your lawn. Credible peer-reviewed articles, National Academy of Sciences reports, and virtually every professional society in weather-climate fields have noted that naturally-varying weather systems, including extreme events, are being affected by anthropogenic changes to our climate system. You may see “one-off” articles or studies disputing this statement, but I tend to stick with the larger body of evidence rather than confirmation bias. To be fair, there are exaggerated claims about extreme events on both sides of the ledger so consume your information carefully.
“The government is controlling the weather with chemtrails.” If you think that I am exaggerating this, ask a meteorologist. National Weather Service and TV meteorologist colleagues tell me they respond to calls, messages, and tweets about these clouds all of the time. You also might be surprised at how much pops up after a quick Google search for the word. The chemtrail conspiracy is the flat earth corner of atmospheric sciences. In reality, there is a very simple explanation rooted in basic science explained by the National Weather Service below:
Condensation trails, commonly called contrails, are narrow cirrus cloud streamers that form behind high flying aircraft. Contrails are formed by two basic processes. The first method of formation relies on hot and humid engine exhaust mixing with air of low vapor pressure at low temperatures. As the added moisture and particulate matter from the exhaust mixes with the cold air, condensation occurs and the streamer is born. These types of contrails are sometimes called exhaust trails.
Are You Missing Life’s Moments Because of Social Media?
Recently my wife and I watched the movie Before Sunrise , starring Ethan Hawke as Jesse and Julie Delpy as Celine. While travelling on a Eurail train from Budapest, Jesse, an American, sees Celine, who’s French. It’s Jesse’s last day in Europe before returning to the US. Jesse strikes up a conversation with Celine, and they disembark in Vienna to spend the night wandering Austria’s capital city.
Summary: Before Sunrise is a back-and-forth conversation between a romantic [Celine] and a cynic [Jesse].
During the closing credits, I turned to my wife and said, “That wouldn’t have happened today. Jessie and Celine would have been staring at their respective smartphone throughout the train ride, which in 2021 would have free Wi-Fi, not noticing the passing scenery, their fellow passengers or each other, let alone start a conservation.”
How much of real life are we trading to participate in the digital world?
I have this problem; actually, it’s more of an addiction I need to keep in check constantly. I suffer from FOMO [Fear of Missing Out].
You’ve probably heard of FOMO. Odds are you suffer from it to a degree. FOMO is that uneasy feeling you get when you feel other people might be having a good time without you, or worst, living a better life than you. FOMO is why social media participation is as high as it is. FOMO is why you perpetually refresh your social media feeds, so you don’t feel left out—so that you can compare your life. FOMO is what makes social media the dopamine machine it is.
FOMO has become an issue, especially for those under 40. More and more people choose to scroll mindlessly through their social media feeds regardless of whether they’re commuting on public transit, having dinner in a restaurant, or at a sports event. Saying “yes” to the digital world and “no” to real life is now common.
Your soulmate could be sitting a few seats over on the bus (or Eurail train), or at the diner counter, or in the doctor’s waiting room. However, you’re checking your social media to see if Bob’s vacationing in Aruba with Scarlett or if Farid got the new job and may now be making more money than you. Likely, your potential soulmate is probably doing the same.
Look around. Everyone is looking down at the screen in their hand, not up at each other.
We all know Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, et al. [even LinkedIn] doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. Most of what people post is cherry-picked to elicit self-affirming responses, such as likes, thumbs-up and hand-clapping emojis, retweets, shares, and those coveted comments of “Congratulations!”, “Way to go!”, “You’re awesome!”, “Looking good!”
The Internet, especially its social media aspect, equates to “Look at me!”
Sometimes I wonder, if bragging and showing off were banned on social media sites, how much would posts decrease?
“Stop paying so much attention to how others around you are doing” was easy advice to follow pre-Internet (the late 90s). Back in the day, it would be only through the grapevine you were a part of that you found out if Bob was in Aruba with Scarlett and that be without pictures. Evidence of how others are doing, strangers included, is pervasive because undeniably, most of us care about status. In 2021 how people are doing is in the palm of our hands, so we tend to give more time to the device we’re holding at the cost of neglecting the real-life happenings within our immediate surroundings.
Social media has made us a restless, anxious bunch underappreciating the present moment. With lockdown restrictions lifting and more social activities taking place, people will be hunkering down on their smartphones more than before to see what others are doing. They’ll see the BBQ they weren’t invited to or people they consider to be friends having a few laughs on the local pub’s patio or camping or at the beach without them. Loneliness, questioning self-worth, depression will be the result.
Trading engaging with those around you to feed your FOMO angst is what we’ve come down to. In my opinion, Guildwood is the GTA’s most walkable neighbourhood. You can choose to take walks around Guildwood, getting exercise, meeting people or stay addicted to the FOMO distress social media is causing you.
Instead of catching up with an old friend or colleague in person over lunch, coffee, or a walk in Guild Park & Gardens, people prefer to text or message each other on social media platforms eliminating face-to-face interactions. Instead of trying to reconnect with old friends verbally, people would rather sit at home with their technology devices and learn what their friends are up to through social media platforms, thus the start of a slippery slope towards anti-social behaviour.
Social media’s irony is it has made us much less social. How Jesse and Celine meet [you’ll have to see the movie] and the resulting in-depth conversation they have as they gradually open up to each other, thus beginning a postmodern romance wouldn’t have happened today. They’d be too preoccupied with their smartphones feeding their FOMO addiction to notice each other.
Social media will always nudge you to give it attention, but that doesn’t mean you have to oblige. Take it from me; there’s more to be had in enjoying life’s moments outside of social media.
Nick Kossovan is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Director of Social Media (Executive Board Member). You can reach Nick at email@example.com and him on Instagram and Twitter @NKossovan.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck pictured kissing as ‘Bennifer’ returns
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have been pictured exchanging passionate kisses, apparently confirming weeks of fevered rumors that they have rekindled a romance that dominated celebrity media almost 20 years ago.
Paparazzi photos printed in the New York Post on Monday showed the two actors kissing while enjoying a meal with members of Lopez’s family at Malibu’s posh Nobu sushi restaurant west of Los Angeles on Sunday.
Representatives for Lopez, 51, declined to comment on Monday, while Affleck’s publicists did not return a request for comment.
Lopez and “Argo” director Affleck, dubbed “Bennifer,” became the most talked about couple in the celebrity world in the early 2000s in a romance marked by his-and-her luxury cars and a large 6.1-carat pink diamond engagement ring. They abruptly called off their wedding in 2003 and split up a few months later.
The pair have been pictured together several times in Los Angels and Miami in recent weeks, after Lopez and her former baseball player fiance Alex Rodriguez called off their engagement in mid-April after four years together. Monday’s photos were the first in which Lopez and Affleck were seen kissing this time around.
Celebrity outlet E! News quoted an unidentified source last week as saying Lopez was planning to move from Miami to Los Angeles to spend more time with Affleck, 48, and was looking for schools for her 13-year-old twins Max and Emme.
Max and Emme, along with the singer’s sister Lydia, were also photographed walking into the restaurant in Malibu on Sunday.
Lopez married Latin singer Marc Anthony, her third husband, just five months after her 2004 split with Affleck. Affleck went on to marry, and later was divorced from, actress Jennifer Garner.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
TikTok debuts new voice after Canadian actor sues
After noticing a new female voice narrating the videos on , users of TikTok were baffled as to why. It actually turns out that the Canadian actress behind the old voice filed a lawsuit against the platform for copyright violation as her voice was apparently being used without her permission.
Bev Standing, , is taking China-based ByteDance to court. TikTok’s parent company has since replaced her voice with a new one, with Standing reportedly finding out over email after a tip-off from a journalist. On the matter, Standing said: “They replaced me with another voice. I am so overwhelmed by this whole thing. I’m stumbling for words because I just don’t know what to say.”
TikTok is said to be considering a settlement for Standing outside of the courts, but nobody knows whether or not this is true. According to legal experts, the fact TikTok now has a new voice on the popular social media app suggests they acknowledge Standing’s case and potentially understand that she may have suffered as a result of the company’s actions.
Thanks to the emergence of the powerful smartphone devices of today, alongside taking high-quality images for Instagram, getting lost down YouTube wormholes, and , people are turning to relatively new platforms like TikTok. The service has 689 million monthly active users worldwide and is one of the most downloaded apps in Apple’s iOS App Store. This latest news could harm the platforms future, although many of its younger users potentially aren’t aware that this type of scenario is unfolding.
For Bev Standing, the ordeal is a testing one. She wasn’t informed of the voice change, there is no mention of it in TikTok’s newsroom online, and the development is news to her lawyer also.
This all comes after her case was filed in a New York State court in early May after the voice actor noticed a computer-generated version of her voice had been seen and listened to around the world since 2020. Speculation is rife as to how TikTok managed to obtain the recordings but Standing believes the company acquired them from a project she took part in for the Chinese government in 2018.
The Institute of Acoustics in China reportedly promised her that all of the material she would be recording would be used solely for translation, but they eventually fell into the hands of TikTok and have since been altered and then exposed to a global audience.
According to Pina D’Agostino, an associate professor with Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and an expert in copyright law, the fact that the hugely popular social media platform has now changed Standing’s voice could result in a positive outcome for the distraught voice actor. She said: “It’s a positive step in the way that they are mitigating their damages. And when you’re mitigating, you’re acknowledging that we did something wrong, and you’re trying to make things better.”
When assessing social media etiquette and how both companies and users should act, this type of news can only do more harm than good. Not only does it make the company look bad, but it could have an effect on revenues and, ultimately, TikTok’s reputation.
With a clear desire to move on and put this whole process behind her, Bev Standing is eager for the case to be resolved and get back to the daily work she loves and has been doing for a large part of her life. TikTok has until July 7 to respond to her claim.