Tag Archives: Twitter

March/April Instagram

March 1, 2018 by

Here are the nine images featured in our March/April issue. Include the hashtag #OmahaMagazine with your Instagram photos to be featured in the next issue of Omaha Magazine.

Follow Omaha Magazine on social media via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Find us at @omahamagazine.

@sarxcasey

@rayheckert

@eternal_and_unchanging

@boipinoy

@cooper_333

@bartyandlalo

@sherry_591

@wanderrockphotography

@lolasblest

These photos were printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Big Omaha

May 24, 2017 by
Photography by Big Omaha

Rewind to May 8, 2009, and you will find a community of 400-plus graphic designers, entrepreneurs, creatives, developers, small business owners, and even a handful of investors seated in tidy rows at KANEKO in the Old Market. It was a first-of-its-kind conference for Omaha.

Many of these people knew of this event through casual conversations—mostly on Twitter—about a little-known conference coming to town called “Big Omaha.” It was the brainchild and second-born of friends Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson (the previous year’s Silicon Prairie News being their firstborn). The two recognized a movement and a simmering energy surrounding the local tech community. It was a cadre of women and men who decided start-up and tech success could happen not on the West Coast but in their own backyards.

The inaugural Big Omaha sold out 10 days prior to the conference. The energy it created has sustained these past eight years. The result? Omaha is now a destination for start-ups seeking new ideas, new energy, and even new money in the form of investors.

“Big Omaha provides inspiration for people to start something,” explains Brian Lee of AIM, a not-for-profit organization that promotes technology to empower people, enhance organizations, and create brilliant communities. Lee serves as managing director of Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News.

Two years ago, Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News were acquired by AIM. Although the ownership structure has changed, the Big Omaha experience remains true to what Slobotski and Davidson created with the first conference in 2009.

“Big Omaha has had a huge impact on our community,” Lee says. “It is part of a larger movement in the past eight years that started with Big Omaha.”

Now the conference welcomes a sold-out audience of 700 attendees with guest speakers in a range of tech- and entrepreneurial-based industries who have crisscrossed the globe. When the speakers take the stage, the majority are candid about their successes and their failures, which they are encouraged to share in engaging, meaningful, transparent, and memorable ways.

“We ask our speakers to address overcoming challenges, which helps our audience find inspiration,” Lee says. “In the Midwest, we appreciate authenticity. Hearing those struggles helps a lot.”

Part of the splash of Big Omaha’s first conference in 2009 was its clever cow branding, developed by Omaha-based Oxide Design Co. The cow visuals have remained, although design duties changed hands in 2015 from Oxide to Grain & Mortar.

Now that Big Omaha is owned and operated by AIM, its goal is to cover costs through sponsorships and ticket sales, Lee says.

The conference continues to be a hot event. Tickets that cost as much as $599 are scooped up annually by local, national, and even international attendees.

Big Omaha could move to a larger venue, selling more tickets and earning more revenue. But Lee says from his vantage point, the Big Omaha culture isn’t about a bottom line.

“Our goal is not to outgrow KANEKO. We want to preserve the charm and the experience (of Big Omaha) for as long as we can.”

Part of this charm is the togetherness. Everyone who attends Big Omaha hears the same speakers in the same order. Speakers are encouraged to remain the entire two days of the conference, immersing themselves in the experience and networking with Big Omaha ticket-holders. (The pre-party and post-party have become a popular part of the two-day conference.)

Graphic design, architecture, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship ideas abound here. UNL architecture students provided an art installation in 2016, and a guest speaker in 2015 and 2017 was fashion entrepreneur Mona Bijoor, a favorite among the fashion designers and fashionistas
in attendance.

The conference’s first row is filled with familiar faces each year. One of them is Megan Hunt of Omaha, who has attended every single Big Omaha since 2009.

“I remember the incredible momentum that had built up in the Midwest startup community for this event,” Hunt recalls. “The desire we all had for a space to come together, share the work we were doing, and learn from the superstars in our field was palpable. The way that Dusty and Jeff harnessed that energy and built Omaha’s reputation as a hub of entrepreneurship is nothing short of legendary.”

Hunt has owned a web-based bridal design company, a co-working space, and, most recently, a web-based clothing retailer known as Hello Holiday that also boasts a very visual storefront in the heart of Dundee.

“I love going to Big Omaha because, for me, running a business is not just dollars and cents and strategy around growth,” Hunt adds. “It takes a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Big Omaha is my favorite conference because they do understand this so well, emphasizing how interdisciplinary business and technology can be, and welcoming artists, musicians, designers, and writers—people who may normally be in the minority at
other conferences.”

Big Omaha 2017

Big Omaha returned to KANEKO for the ninth consecutive year May 18 and 19. Below is the lineup of speakers.

Joe Ariel, co-founder and CEO of Goldbely

Mona Bijoor, managing partner at King Circle Capital and founder of JOOR

Christina Brodbeck, founding partner at Rivet Ventures

Daniel Burka, design partner at GV, formerly Google Ventures

Shirley Chung, chef and owner at Steamers Co.

Baldwin Cunningham, vice president of strategy at Brit + Co., co-founder of Partnered

Diana Goodwin, founder and CEO of AquaMobile

Alex Klein, co-founder and CEO of Kano Computing

Brandon Levy, co-founder and CEO of Stitch Labs

Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix, CEO of MoviePass

Margenette Moore-Roberts, global head of inclusive diversity at Yahoo

Nish Nadaraja, former Yelp brand director, partner at Rich Kid Cool

Brian Neider, a partner at Lead Edge Capital

Vanessa Torrivilla, co-founder and creative director of Goldbely

Shandra Woworuntu, founder of Mentari

Matt Zeiler, founder and CEO of Clarifai

Visit bigomaha.co for more information.

Big Omaha participants try virtual reality goggles at a previous year’s event.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

The Other World-Renowned Kobe

January 7, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kobe Paras had never heard of Omaha when Creighton called this past summer.

He spent the first 15 years of his life in the Philippines before moving to Los Angeles to chase a basketball scholarship. At the time, Creighton was just one of dozens of prominent basketball programs in pursuit of the high-flying 6-foot-5-inch tall guard. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott had coveted Paras since he first spotted the native Filipino while recruiting his high school teammate. Paras had committed to UCLA at the time, but he withdrew from the school in early June after failure to meet academic requirements. With Paras back on the open market, McDermott wanted to make him a Bluejay.

During his July visit to Creighton’s campus, Paras toured the $13 million Championship Center and posed for pictures with McDermott’s Naismith player of the year trophy, but it was the personal connections Paras made that led him to pick Creighton as his future home.

“I got to bond with the coaches and my teammates, and it really felt right,” Paras says.

He will need those bonds. Paras enjoys celebrity status in his home country, as the basketball-obsessed nation looks to him as a potential NBA player. The Pacific archipelago has never produced a professional player in the world’s most coveted league.

“I am not a regular student-athlete,” he says. “I have a lot of people looking up to me.”

Paras’ earliest memories are of hoards of fans stopping to ask his father, Benjie Paras, for autographs and pictures. Benjie was a two-time MVP in the Philippine Basketball Association, and has since become an actor. His father’s fame caused the younger Paras to grow up in the limelight, but Benjie tried to instill a sense of perspective in his son.

“When he was my age, he had to do laundry for other people to have enough money,” says the younger Paras of his father. “He kept telling me how blessed I was.”

Basketball was not something Paras picked up until the third grade. Before that time, he played badminton and table tennis. A growth spurt in seventh grade helped the now-taller young man to fall in love with basketball. Meanwhile, basketball continued to grow in popularity throughout the Philippines.

“Basketball in the Philippines is a religion,” Paras says. “Wherever you go, you see people playing basketball.” 

NBA games were constantly broadcast throughout the country, which helped Paras, whose first name pays homage to the recently retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, become familiar with the sport’s biggest stars.

In 2013, an encounter with his favorite player, Lebron James, took Paras’ fame to a whole new level. During a trip to the Philippines, James took part in a camp for the country’s most promising young players. In a pre-game warm-up, Paras slammed home a one-handed dunk as James leapt to the side of him in a half-hearted effort to play defense.

“I didn’t really plan it,” says Paras about the moment. “My friends were like, ‘do you realize who you just dunked on?’”   

The original video of the dunk received over 2.5 million views. That clip would bring about a whole new level of fame for the then-15 year old.

Paras’ move stateside to aid his basketball skills would come just months after the dunk. It was at Cathedral High School, under the guidance of coach William Middlebrooks, that Paras, living away from his family, honed his leadership skills and focused on building his brand.

“I told him, now that you are here, your popularity can only grow,” says coach Middlebrooks. “Especially as people better understand Kobe Paras the person.”

Paras also developed as a basketball player with more than just raw athleticism. He will bring those skills to a Creighton team poised to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid.

“He already has the body to play at this level,” says McDermott of Paras. “He also really knows how to put the ball in the basket.” 

And even thousands of miles from the Philippines, Paras’ enthusiastic fans have been able to follow his every move.

“We found out pretty quick that the media in the Philippines was going to find him wherever he went,” says McDermott, who has spent many a Skype session this fall with the media outlets in Paras’ home country.

Paras also keeps in touch with many back home via social media. On Twitter he has over 114,000 followers and on Instagram he has more than 454,000 followers.

“On social media people always reach out to me,” Paras says. “Anywhere I am, I feel the support.”

Even though he knew almost nothing about Omaha before his visit in July, he has come to appreciate his new home. He says his favorite place is the gym, and he loves that there is less traffic here than in Los Angeles. He also knows that the start of basketball season means winter is coming.

“He is getting ready for that snow,” Middlebrooks says. “He called me and said, ‘coach, I think I need boots.’”

Visit gocreighton.com for more information.

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A Hole Truth

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There are two things everybody has…” Those are the wise words of my grandfather, Johannes, who hated Kaiser Bill, loved bacon ends, and worked the hard soil of northern Iowa for most of his life. I won’t complete his sentence because people are easily offended these days by references to certain anatomical features of the human animal. 

One of those things is an opinion. I’ve got one—an opinion that is—that matches up with about any subject. So do you. We’re all opinionated.

In fact, we live in the Golden Age of Opinions. They’ve never been easier to access: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, pundit TV, talk radio, YouTube, and your inebriated uncle at every family gathering no matter whether it’s a funeral or a feast.

Surveys and polls suggest that 95 percent of us have an opinion about everything. We opine about subjects left and right with barely a breath in between. Vapor trails in the sky, head football coaches, the kids today, whether pumpkin spice flavor has any place in a sane world, and politics—whatever the subject, we have our own personal take on the matter. The five percent who answer “no opinion” are bald-faced liars. At least, that’s my opinion. As for “undecided” voters, don’t get me started. As the Mean Farmer once said, “They know. Oh, you know they know.”

Now, it is also true that most of the opinions we have are not original. Mostly, we just parrot other people’s opinions that our sources are repeating from other sources that are sourced somewhere in the same mysterious underworld where dirty jokes come from. For example, it’s likely that we all have some political opinion that a pithy, made-up quote from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, or Nelson Mandela will back up. As Lincoln himself once said, “There are two things everybody has…” Again, I can’t complete the sentence.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned religion. That’s because Faith is a special case. Our own religious beliefs are just that, beliefs deeply held—a whole different basket of loaves and fishes. Our creeds are beyond any mere earthly opinion, except perhaps what we thought about last week’s sermon. We do, however, have any number of opinions about other people’s religions because…well, just because.

You may have also noticed that I have not mentioned “facts.” There is a simple explanation for that. When it comes to opinions, “facts” don’t matter. They are troublesome things that, most of the time, don’t fit comfortably into our mental pockets. Besides when my grandfather said, “There are two things everybody has…” trust me, he was stating a fact.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. Omaha Magazine

OtisXII

Kamrin Baker

January 27, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The common trajectory for aspiring journalists is that you work at the school newspaper, get into college, work at that college paper, graduate, then take a lowly entry-level job somewhere and work your way up from there. Then, after years of amassing a portfolio, maybe, just maybe, you can get a gig at a place like The Huffington Post

But thanks to a quick reply to a call for contributors on The Huffington Post’s Twitter feed, Kamrin Baker, 18, pole-vaulted past all those traditional, dues-paying markers and landed a spot as a contributor for the popular news site…all while still working on the high school yearbook at Millard West, where she’s a senior. She co-edits the yearbook with Keegan Holmes (also a senior).

The first major news story Baker remembered was the September 11 terrorist attacks. She was a pre-schooler in 2001. In kindergarten, Baker said she wrote a picture book, and in third grade, she brought stories to her Georgia Wheeler Elementary class.

Kamrin-Baker-2Now sitting with her mother, Grace, at Stories Coffeehouse, Baker says she originally thought about being an English teacher.

“Then, I started realizing I was really impatient. And don’t love children. Or ignorance,” Baker says.

Baker has written blogs both serious (a call for schools to better handle mental health issues) and not (a eulogy to Parks and Recreation). Like many Huffington Post bloggers, she is an unpaid contributor. However, the freedom to write about the topics she wants, and the site’s flexibility with her busy schedule, were worthy trade-offs for her.

“I’m not super keen on the politics and the economy of The Huffington Post,” she says, “but I like what they’re doing.”

Stirring a strawberry Italian soda, Baker recalls one of her most popular posts, one about living with anxiety.

Though Baker and her mother went back-and-forth trying to figure out when her first panic attack occurred, Baker definitely remembered the first one that sent her to the school nurse. It was during an intro to behavioral sciences class. She was watching the movie Mockingbird Don’t Sing.

“I was watching it…and then I couldn’t breath. I thought I was just sick,” says Baker.

She went to her teacher, who quickly sent her to the nurse.

“I sat there for an hour, and I just shook,” she recalls. “I had no idea what was going on.”

Baker was diagnosed with panic disorder. She used her position at The Huffington Post to unveil her Joy is Genius campaign, which is an online resource on Tumblr for teenagers struggling with anxiety.

“I’m at a point where I don’t think it’s smart or cool to ignore it,” Baker explains.

In our post-newspaper media landscape, the mode you select is almost as important as the content. Like many savvy journalists, Baker quickly toggles between Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and, yes, even print.

“I usually use Pinterest for yearbook design and dog pictures. I’ll post more comedy-based things (on Twitter). I like Instagram because I can tell more of a story with it. The caption content is longer.”

Baker is currently weighing going to UNL or UNO to study journalism. She’s sure to find new role models in college, but for now, she explains, ”The two people that inspire me the most, and are not on the same spectrum whatsoever, are Diane Sawyer and  Taylor Swift.”

Visit huffingtonpost.com/kamrin-baker to read her work.

Kamrin-Baker-1

Sharing Omaha

June 16, 2015 by

This article appeared in in the summer 2015 issue of B2B.

Of the 318 million U.S. citizens, can you venture to guess how many use social media? The answer came at a recent eTourism conference—67% of us in the U.S. are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to connect with our friends, family, and favorite products. What is interesting for tourism is that most people use social media to brag about their vacations, and, as the official agency in charge of inspiring visitors to travel to Omaha, we love that.

Currently the Visit Omaha Facebook page has nearly 100,000 followers. Facebook provides the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) with a platform to promote Omaha, and it allows residents and visitors to easily share Omaha’s story with even more people. The OCVB social media strategy is simple—showcase Omaha as a visitor destination, or, in other words, inform people why Omaha is worth the trip. And more people are spreading that message than ever before—thanks to Visit Omaha followers, 6.6 million Facebook users were exposed to the Visit Omaha message in 2014.

Two-thirds of Visit Omaha’s Facebook fans reside outside the metro-Omaha area. In fact, the page has fans from 44 different countries, including Germany, Italy, and India. Visit Omaha fans range in age from 13 to 65-plus, and the majority of them are women (62%).

The Visit Omaha social media presence extends to a number of other platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Visit Omaha also uses creative ways to engage and encourage the social media audience to share Omaha’s story. One way is with the Omaha Weekend Insta-map, which invites visitors and locals to take pictures of their Omaha experiences and share the photos with us. All they have to do is tag their photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #OmahaWeekend, and those photos will automatically populate the Insta-map. And stop by the Omaha Visitors Center to take advantage of our photo booth. Guests can take fun Omaha-themed selfies in our iSnap photo booth and instantly post them to Facebook and Twitter. To date, 1,223 people have shared their photos with more than 112,000 of their friends and family.

You are invited to join the conversation and help tell Omaha’s story – just use #OmahaWeekend on your favorite social media platform. Happy sharing!

Deb Ward

Deb Ward is the director of marketing/communications, Omaha Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

How Should Your Business

April 21, 2014 by

When approaching Twitter as a tool for business, consider that you can use Twitter lists—curated lists of users relevant to a specific topic—as a resource for closely following conversations of key influencers.

For companies like Phenomblue, a full-service agency using strategy, creative, and technology to connect people and brands, Twitter lists have become a way to both demonstrate an authoritative position as well as bring together credible voices in an industry.

“We maintain Twitter lists as part of an ongoing effort to provide our followers with content that helps make sense of today’s increasingly fragmented marketing landscape,” says Kate Richling, Vice President of Marketing at Phenomblue.

Twitter lists keep conversations together, providing convenience and utility for followers. The subjects of lists can vary from industry-related topics to event attendees to previous clients—whichever topic followers can identify with.

When vetting which key influencers to include on a particular list, be mindful to incorporate those who contribute meaningful content relevant to the list’s designated topic. Select users with proficient expertise or those who contribute with valid sources. When searching for profiles to add to a list, reference related Twitter lists that may already exist.

“Try identifying a profile that would fit into [a] desired list…view the lists that the profile subscribes to and which they’re a member of,” Richling says. “It’s quite possible the profile you’ve chosen is already included in the perfect list for you to follow.”

Users can both create lists and subscribe to others’ lists, so the pressure to aggregate profiles for a list lessens. You could choose to simply follow a few existing lists that cater to your business’ interests instead.

For more on Twitter Lists, read the Twitter Help Center post on Lists.

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My mom ruins my social media vibe

April 4, 2014 by

I have a big extended family, and everyone lives far away, mostly in Texas. At some point, my mom and I thought Skype would be a great idea. Then she busted me for rolling my eyes at her, which was a bit awkward. All these years, she couldn’t hear me rolling my eyes over the phone.

But the kids are busy and have a lot of activities. It’s hard enough to get us all seated for dinner. Sitting down to video chat wasn’t working well. That, and my mom couldn’t quite figure out how to dial in on Skype. So that was the end of that.

Eventually, we embarked on the social media scene, primarily Facebook. It’s been fun to share pictures and stories with my aunts and uncles and cousins. But there have been a few hiccups.

I have a love/hate relationship with my mother and Facebook. I love my mom. And I love Facebook. But the two, as proven time and time again, should never mix. Ever. Don’t even get me started on that farm story game.

Sure, I can block and remove mean people. But what are the ethics of blocking people we love (ahem, my mom) who have a tendency to hinder our very funny and very cool social media vibe with the click of a comment?

The upside to having my mom and family on Facebook is that we can share pictures, funny stories, and accomplishments. The downside is when my mom is so proud of the picture that she shares it and makes it public. That’s a Facebook security no-no for Momma. Fortunately, Facebook settings allow me to share pictures privately, banning my mom from sharing my kids’ photos. I have to update the setting on occasion.

One thing is for sure: Learning privacy settings and having conversations with my mom have prepared me for current Max and Lucy’s emergence onto the social media scene.

Teaching my mom about the social graces of family on Facebook is a good lesson for me as my own kids start surfing the social media wave. Oh God, I’m going to be my mom on Instagram with my kids. Maybe that’s a good thing. It’ll keep my kids in line. Or maybe I’ll treat my kids as I want to be treated, and it’ll keep me in line. Just please don’t tell my mom about Twitter.

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Hashtags 


January 8, 2014 by

Thanks to Saturday Night Live’s runaway hit sketch “#Hashtag” last September, even people living under rocks have heard of hashtags. If you’re in charge of your business’ social media, however, you may not be any more confident as to how to make the humble pound sign work for you.

But it’s not difficult, promise. Maren Hogan, CEO of Red Branch Media, makes it simple: “It’s just a quicker way to search.” A social media post (usually in Twitter, though Facebook is playing along) that’s tagged with #BigOmaha or #HRTechChat is instantly added to an entire conversation that other social media users can follow. “If you want your content to stand out,” Hogan says, “or if you’re trying to reach a niche audience, you can use [the hashtag] in skill-specific chats.”

What if you’re not ready to jump into a real-time chat on Twitter just yet? Hogan says blog it, tweet the link, and tag it with the chat’s hashtag. But don’t be afraid to chime in eventually. “You can chat with real professionals all over the world,” Hogan says. “You can establish yourself as a thought leader.”

Even if you’re not adding to a Twitter conversation about your industry or laughing with other tweeting conference-goers about the latest keynote, you can search hashtags for some basic lead generation. “Even by following something simple like #omaha,” says Ben Pankonin, founder and CEO of Social Assurance, “I can start to follow what people in Omaha are saying about a given topic.”

Third-party applications like Hootsuite allow users to create “streams”—feeds that contain only tweets pertaining to certain topics. One of the ways to filter a stream is, of course, by following a particular hashtag. “In health care, you may want to know what nurses are looking for,” Pankonin says. “So you might follow #RNChat. If you’re looking for people who are in finance, you might follow #finserv.”

Hogan relates one innovative lead-generation technique she’s seen: “Someone wasn’t able to attend a conference for her industry, but she followed the hashtag and took note of people who were tweeting from it.” Ta-da! A target market list based on hashtag users.

Okay, but how does one find these hashtags in the first place? “To find hashtags already in use, you have to be paying attention,” Pankonin says. “Listening. Trying out keywords. You have to look around. It takes a bit of discovery to get you there.”

The hashtag is nothing if not versatile. Other uses aside from search include cross-posting. Simply adding #fb or #in can send your tweet flying to Facebook or LinkedIn if you’ve linked your accounts.

And let’s not leave out the faux hashtag. Tagging a photo of an employee’s dog in the office with #newrecruit isn’t so much beneficial for search or lead generation as it is for, well, a light laugh. “They can be a great way to be relevant and human and funny,” Hogan says.

“People are social,” Pankonin points out. “Companies recognize that we see people face to face less frequently than we used to. In social media, humor translates very well.”

“Just recognize when a trend is happening, when it’s cresting, and when it’s over,” Hogan cautions. “The only one who’s going to hashtag YOLO these days is someone who’s desperately out of touch.”

Unless part of your online presence is you cheerfully being 15 minutes behind the times, she adds. Then, yeah. Go for it.

Social Media

December 7, 2013 by

Social media has become a constant in our daily lives over the past few years. For my generation, Facebook started the trend. Everyone had an account during its prime. Facebook was essential in keeping up with everyone’s social lives. Pictures, birthdays, and other trivial news kept us up-to-date with current events.

Today, most teenagers use media sites that are accessible on mobile devices. These sites allow them to stay up-to-date no matter where they are. Twitter and Instagram are at the top of social media for teens today. Twitter allows a person to tweet updates about themselves in 140 characters or less. Instagram is a social media application where users post pictures to their profile for everyone to see. These sites help my friends and I stay connected without seeing them in person. This is especially useful if everyone attends different schools or does not live in the same city.

Almost everything in life is now connected to social media. It is necessary for a teenager to have at least one social media account to help with their daily lives. They can keep you updated on news, sports scores, or other information. Schools and teachers have also started utilizing social networks. Schools use social media to keep students well informed about activities going on within the school. Some teachers have started to use Twitter to post homework and class reminders. A teenager would miss out on current events and school information if they were not connected with social media.

I enjoy social media, but I have also realized how much it has become a distraction. A balance between social media and face-to-face interaction is the healthiest option. Too much online interaction can be counterproductive. Sometimes, people need to put down their electronics and enjoy the life around them.