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U of O discouraged Gee-Gees social media accounts from posting about Bell Let's Talk – The Fulcrum

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Photo: Rame Abdulkader/The Fulcrum

Athletes given permission to post Bell Let’s Talk content on individual social media accounts instead

The University of Ottawa’s Sports Services discouraged the social media accounts of Gee-Gees clubs and teams from posting content about Bell Let’s Talk, an annual online mental health fundraiser held on Jan. 29, according to emails obtained by the Fulcrum. 

Refraining from posting content about Bell Let’s Talk would help support the university’s “efforts to promote the mental health initiatives that are specific to our community and continue to focus on making our on-campus services known to all students, our student athletes, and staff,” one version of the email claims.

However, student athletes were given permission via email to post Bell Let’s Talk content on their individual social media accounts, while teams and clubs were asked to reach out to a Gee-Gees marketing and communications officer if they did want to post about mental health. 

“This particular email from Sports Services was confusing and concerning,” said one person involved in the leadership of a team, whose identity the Fulcrum has agreed to protect due to fears of disciplinary action.

“It is completely understandable that the U of O would want to promote its own mental health and wellness programs and initiatives, but Bell Let’s Talk does not conflict with their programs in any way,” they wrote in a message. “In fact, it’s a promotional campaign that brings attention to the exact problem that the U of O seems to be trying to address.” 

A person responsible for a social media account affiliated with the Gee-Gees, whose identity the Fulcrum has also agreed to protect due to fears of disciplinary action, said that they were shocked by the email.

“I find it very shocking that Sports Services would devalue a mental health initiative that is very effective at raising awareness and destigmatizing mental illness, simply because it’s not centred around the university,” they said in a message. 

“I understand that promoting the university’s initiatives/resources is important and yes, they should be talked about more, however, they are not as visible and will not have the same impact without more involvement from the university.”  

One Gee-Gees athlete whose identity the Fulcrum has agreed to protect due to concerns of disciplinary action highlighted the positive impact the Bell campaign can have. 

“Bell Let’s Talk is a marketing scheme that is very clever and efficient, but it serves a greater purpose that is influential to our society,” the athlete wrote in a message. “The pros (of Bell Let’s Talk) outweigh the cons, … the movement is enough for me to support the cause.”  

The directive from Sports Services arrived just a few days after the U of O’s annual wellness week and comes after thousands of people petitioned the school in December to improve its mental health services in the wake of four student deaths in less than a year. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of U of O students have spent the past few days protesting a Scientology linked anti-psychiatry exhibit on campus, calling psychiatry “an industry of death,” and encouraging students to stop taking psychiatric medication. 

At least two social media accounts affiliated with the Gee-Gees posted photos for Bell Let’s Talk, but one account has taken down their post while the other post remains online as of publication time.

“Censoring any conversations around mental health seems really counterintuitive if the university’s mission is to further the cause,” said Laura O’Connor, one of the co-founders of the U of O Collective 4 Mental Health. The collective was formed in December 2019 following the string of U of O student deaths and is focused on lobbying the administration for better mental health services.

O’Connor said she does have mixed feelings about Bell Let’s Talk, calling the campaign an “effective marketing ploy” and questioning the corporation’s ethics, but argued that overall, it starts important conversations about mental health. 

“I would argue almost all of that good comes out of the people that share their experiences using the hashtag and help normalize that conversation,” said O’Connor, adding mental health issues take a toll on many athletes. “A lot of these athletes I’m sure have stories that they really want to tell and really want to be heard, and they’re being stifled.” 

Sue Hylland, the director of Sports Services, defended the email in an interview with the Fulcrum and said that the decision to discourage posting Bell Let’s Talk content was a university one. 

“We’re all supporting mental health across the country, it doesn’t matter who you’re doing it with, it just matters that you’re doing it,” said Hylland. “We didn’t change that, we just changed the focus of our communications to be around on our campus, what the U of O is doing … there was absolutely no movement away from supporting mental health.”

“The university launched a new Mental Health and Wellness Action Report this week and the communication was meant to promote it, as well as existing wellness services on campus,” the U of O’s media relations manager Isabelle Mailloux-Pulkinghorn wrote in a statement. 

“The health and overall wellness of our university community is of utmost importance to the U of O,” she added.

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Are You Missing Life’s Moments Because of Social Media?

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Recently my wife and I watched the movie Before Sunrise [1995], 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 nick.kossovan@gmail.com and him on Instagram and Twitter @NKossovan.

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Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck pictured kissing as ‘Bennifer’ returns

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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)

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TikTok debuts new voice after Canadian actor sues

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TikTok

After noticing a new female voice narrating the videos on the popular video-sharing social networking service, 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, a voice actor based in Ontario, 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 accessing popular slots like Purple Hot, 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.

(Image via https://twitter.com/VoiceOverXtra)

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.

 

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